Image Credit: Fittest of the Coast
Charleston, South Carolina, USA
This is the fifth year of the Fittest of the Coast and the competition has grown every year. Beginning in 2020 with just over 200 athletes, it is now a three-day competition with two competition floors, an offsite running event for all individual divisions, and nearly 1,400 athletes competing across over 40 divisions. The logistics of pulling off an event of this magnitude are challenging, but equally important is choosing a good location for it – Charleston, and the Charleston Convention Center, check a lot of those boxes.
The airport is ten minutes from the venue. There are a dozen hotels within a few minutes drive, and for the staff there’s a hotel that’s on the same property. There’s an outlet mall nearby and plenty of restaurant options. Parking was at a bit of a premium, but other than that, a lot of the small things that make a competition weekend both practical and more enjoyable for everyone involved are met by the location selection.
Day 1: Friday, Individuals Only
In order to accommodate the multitude of divisions and athletes, individuals compete from Friday morning through midday on Saturday, then the teams take over competing Saturday afternoon into the evening and all day on Sunday.
Event 1: Run
This was a 4,000 meter offsite run on a combination of trails and pavement for all athletes in all divisions. Each division started as a group and a new division started every five minutes or so for a majority of two hours.
Once in a while competitions have the ability to program something that everyone can do, which gives athletes in different divisions a chance to measure themselves against the pros in something- even if it is a single modality test. For both the men and the women the fastest runners were not in the pro-division:
Top Male Runners:
- Jackson Barnhill (male intermediate) 15:15
- Michael Lugo (male intermediate) 15:22
- Evan Rogers (male pro) 15:53
- Noah Wilson (RX male) 15:53
- Patrick Mitrovioch (masters 35-39) 15:54
- Quinn Robinson (male pro) 15:56
Top Female Runners:
- Leanna Ehlrich (RX female) 17:40
- Rachel Byerly (masters 35-39) 17:43
- Jenna McVey (female pro) 17:46
- Caroline Klutz (female pro) 17:50
- Sarah Jacobs (RX female) 17:56
Event 2: Trident
*Note that other than the offsite run, and one Pro CoEd event, all the Pro division workouts were livestreamed on @brianfriendcrossfit Instagram page.
Back inside the convention center for the remainder of the five events individuals would face the order of events was actually different for male and female divisions. This is because there are two competition floors which back up to each other and face opposite directions. The main floor is 50 feet across and has full rubber flooring, all the big decals, and the higher part of the rig for rope climbs of up to 15 feet. The other side is a 25-foot floor with strips of rubber mats in each lane, and the lower half of the rig with both pull ups bars and ring for muscle ups or toes to rings.
“Trident” was event 2 for the men, and event 3 for the women, it took place on the smaller competition floor. On the men’s side of things Evan Rodgers coming off a competition the previous weekend at Wodapalooza in Miami, and an event win during the run in the morning, battled rep for rep with Dre Strohm who was making his return to competition after breaking a bone in his foot in January of 2023. For Rodgers it was back to back event wins to start. Strohm was fourth on the run, and second here. And Quinn Robinson, who was second on the run, backed that up with a third place on Trident.
Trident was a 3-round MWG style workout with calories on the c2 bike, sandbag squats and carries, ring muscle ups in rounds one and three, toes to bar in round 2.
The top women had very little separation in the first round. Caroline Klutz pulled ahead by a considerable margin in the middle round. But, she hit a wall in the final set of muscle ups with three reps remaining allowing four women to pass her. Fastest amongst them was 2023 CrossFit Games team athlete Hannah Hardy, who edged out another team Games athlete from this past summer, Shaylin Laure, and North American East Semifinalist in 2023, Amanda Fischer.
Event 3: Pump Sesh
The third event of day one saw the barbells come out in a big way. A four-rounder of 24/18 cals on the rower, 12 dumbbell bench press (70s/50s) and decreasing reps (4-3-2-1), but increasing weights, on the cleans. The final bar for the women was 215 lbs, and for the men was 325 lbs.
This was event 2 of the day for them, and the leaderboard was completely toppled for almost every athlete as compared to the run. Only Klutz showed consistency across those two events, taking second in both. Fischer, who had been 11th on the run, took the event win here in commanding fashion. McVey, who had won the run, dropped to 15th on the heavy cleans. Laure was fifth on the run and eighth on pump sesh, and Pip Clarke had a good start to her competition taking eighth on the run and third on the heavy barbells.
Everything flipped on its head for Rodgers on this one- after two event wins to start the day, he ended up 14th here and opened the door for a couple other men to overtake him. Those men would be Strohm, who would take the win here, and Robinson, who would finish third. Middling them was Brian Killinger who showed tremendous strength after a pair of 16th place finishes early in the day (he’d show up in a relevant way again on day two as well).
Day 2: Saturday
Final Day for Individuals
First day for Teams
The final two workouts for the pro divisions both had five minute time caps, which means athletes needed to be prepared to HURT because there was no time for a break here… or was there? We’ll ask Dre Strohm when we get to the men, but first, let’s take a look at how the women finished up.
The women began the final day with the down and back chipper, “Nessie”:
35’ Handstand walk
8 dumbbell snatch (70lbs- 90 for the men)
2 rope climbs (3 for the men)
70’ dumbbell suitcase lunge
2 rope climbs
8 dumbbell snatch
35’ handstand walk
With not a lot of margin for error, it ended up coming down to cycle rate on the dumbbells for the women. A surprising number of women seemed to struggle with the 70 lb dumbbell… but not Amanda Fischer. Those looked routine for her and allowed her to secure her second event win of the competition. Unfortunately for her, Caroline Klutz took second meaning Fischer could only claw 5 of the 15 points she was trailing by away from Klutz who would now carry a 10 point lead into the final.
Women’s Final: “Leviathan”
For the women the final was three rounds of 9 burpee box jump overs and 21-15-9 thrusters at 85 pounds, a nasty combination and a tight race at both the top, and for the final spot on the podium meant drama was to be had.
It was Fischer once again, capitalizing on her proficiency with the barbell and going unbroken from the start on the thrusters while most other women broke them up. As she lay on the ground having secured her third event win out of five, Klutz was holding down the second spot once again… and then, with a couple thrusters left, Klutz started to slow and Shaylin Laure, who was tied for third with Hannah Hardy to start this event, sped up and ended up stepping across the line one second before Klutz. That one second, meant Fischer and Klutz were tied on points at 455. Three event wins for Fischer meant she would take the overall competition win, but as I realized what was happening I thought back to the 4k run. It was by far her worst finish, taking 11th out of 15, but she won a sprint to the finish by one second over Jessica Schwartz, and that one second, and those points, were critical in the end. A testament to the enduring theme of this sport, which is fight to the finish and for every point, because you never know when a second here or there can make all the difference. Huge win for Fischer, and earned from first event to last.
The men went through the final two events in reverse order to the women, starting with the burpee box jump overs and thrusters, and finishing with the down and back chipper including heavy db snatches and lunges, rope climbs and handstand walking.
The top three coming into the day were the top three on this one, but Quinn Robinson, who was in second place by five points behind Dre Strohm ended up taking the event win. Strohm would finish second and Evan Rodgers would take third.
Heading into their final, “Nessie”, it was a dead tie at the top for Strohm and Robinson, while Rodgers was all but locked into the third spot. There’s nothing better than a winner take all final scenario in the sport of fitness, but Strohm took the drama out of it with a commanding performance. The 90 pound dumbbell looked effortless for him, and he shimmied up and down the rope with ease. He’d wind up second overall in the heat behind Jackson Drohan who had a scintillating performance to vault himself up into fifth overall. But the moment ultimately belonged to Dre Storhm.
Pro Team Divisions
We won’t dive as deep on these as we did with the individual divisions, but the format of the weekend was once again notable. Following individual competition on Saturday an awards ceremony took place for the individual divisions as judges and volunteers got a break for a couple hours before team competition began.
There were three pro team divisions:
- Male / Male
- Female / Female
- Male / Female
Several of the athletes competing in these divisions had also done the individual competition, and for the competition organizers that means being very mindful of programming and attempting not to have much duplication, while also using mostly the same floor layouts and equipment.
PRO Male Division
The overall talent and depth of this division absolutely elevated this year. Two time defending champions AJ Nicely and Justin Reidelbach were in the podium battle throughout the competition, but so were 6 other teams and they ultimately finished 6th.
Emerging from the pack were a pair of young athletes who we’d seen previously at Crash Crucible, Quinton McQueen and Daniel Sterling. They wound up being the only team with all top five finishes, and that was good enough for the win.
Josh Hardin and Brian Yeung closed well with back to back second place finishes to lock up the second spot on the podium, and by just four points Nick Dimarco and Hank Grenda snagged the fourth spot on the podium away from twin brothers Seth and Weston Beck.
This division ended with “Davey Jones Locker”, a four round interval style workout with worm thrusters and double unders as a buy in, and max machine calories as the score. The energy at the end of Sunday in the last round for this division was about as good as anything I’ve ever seen at a CrossFit competition, and was a snapshot of a fantastic environment inside the Convention Center over all three days of competition.
PRO Female Division
Defending champions Theresa Harvey and Emily Torrez showed up in Charleston to defend their crown, but after three workouts were done they found themselves in third place. The final time they took the floor 200 points would be available in a three part workout called the Bermuda Triangle. The Krypton Girls, consisting of Autumn Mongold and Jasmine Woods sat two points ahead of them, while Bridget Gorman and Melissa Houff of All Grit Athletics occupied the top spot.
To put it simply, Lean Machines took care of business. Harvey took first on the AMRAP of snatches, hitting 25 at 115 lbs in two and a half minutes. Torrez put on a show snatching 190 lbs in the waning seconds to win the 1 rep max snatch. And the duo cruised to an event win on the final metcon of dumbbell bench, sandbag to shoulders, and rope climbs.
Saving their best for last, Harvey and Torrez did what they came to by defending the crown. Mongold and Woods closed strong with a second place on the metcon to edge out Gorman and Houff for second place by 5.5 points.
PRO CoEd Division
Two teams pulled away from the field here, and in the end they were separated by only two points! With the three part final no one was quite sure how it would end up. Team CrossFit MayHim/Her featuring Caroline Klutz and Jordan Lundin had taken first, third, and first heading into the final, while a late addition to the field from Training Think Tank including Lee Sharum and Ashleigh Wosny (Sharum had been slated to do male / male teams but his teammate had to withdraw prior to the competition) had gone second, first, and fifth and took the floor for the last time trailing by 15 points.
Wosny got the better of Klutz on the AMRAP, erasing 5 of the 15 points. Sharum snatched five more pounds than Lundin, biting into the lead by three more points. And the final metcon was a runaway for Sharum and Wosny who only needed one other team to finish before Klutz and Lundin. As they stood there at the finish line and looked left and right however they realized no one was doing them any favors, Klutz and Lundin crossed next, and it wasn’t clear who had won until the scores were tabulated.
When the dust settled Klutz and Lundin were the Pro CoEd champions, with Sharum and Wosny firmly in second. Pro Female individual champion Amanda Fischer teamed up with Patrick Long creating team ‘Kyle Spears’, and emerged from the pack with a first, second, and seventh on the three parter to claim the final podium position.
Doing a Lot with A Little
What Kyle Oland has created in five years at Fittest of the Coast is pretty impressive. For the most part it’s a family-run operation, but they have figured out how to handle many of the small things which make a big competition feel small for athletes, volunteers, and spectators alike.
Our media team, including myself and Lauren Kalil, was a total of six people. Besides the two of us there were two videographers and two photographers, one of whom was also manning the instagram handle for the most part. Both the volume and content that was put out seemed appropriate to both highlight the pro divisions, and represent the community aspect of FOTC which is the driving force behind the competition as a whole.
They’ve already got dates and a venue booked for 2025, and if you’re looking for a competition in the run-up to the Open that’s well run and community driven, FOTC is a hell of a good option.