2023 Offseason World Tour Memoirs: Masters Fitness Championship

October 11, 20239 min read

Photo Credit: Bruce Williams for the Masters Fitness Championship

Back on the competition circuit after a whirlwind week at Power Monkey Camp and that means it’s the Masters Fitness Championship in Fort Wayne, Indiana for stop 8 of the tour. 

This year’s iteration of the MFC had a total of 40 divisions:

  • Elite individuals from 30-34 all the way up to 65+ for both men and women (16)
  • Rx Individuals from 30-34 all the way up to 65+ for both men and women (16)
  • Teams of 2 from 30-39 up until 60+ for men and women (8)

Masters Team Divisions

Teams were introduced last year, they brought them back this year, and the participation improved in year; including the presence of several multi-time podium finishers at the CrossFit Games including Rob Ortiz, Jenn Ryan, Cheryl Brost, Shanna Bunce, Linda Elstun, and Carl Giufre. Many of these athletes have been competing for a long time at the highest level and it’s possible they were out there having fun, in a masters team division, competing against people who may have at one point been inspired by them. 

Three Day Masters Competitions

Within the CrossFit Games season the Age Groups only get one live competition, it’s the CrossFit Games. This year it lasted three days and consisted of seven scored events. The Masters community longs for more live competitions and back in 2020 when there was no CrossFit Games for the age groups, MFC was one of the competitions which stepped up and created an opportunity for that. They’ve decided to keep it going for four years now, and this year once again offered three days of competition.

Day One

Two events in two separate venues on day one.

“Landscaping Duty” was a late change in programming due to equipment availability. This is something that people don’t always consider when evaluating programming for competitions:

  • Sometimes you think you have something and then it’s not available
  • Sometimes you are told late in the process that because of a sponsorship agreement you now need to use something that you weren’t planning on

Both of those are realities many competition organizers and programmers encounter; so the question is, are you prepared to navigate those late changes when they happen? And if not, how can you be more prepared for it in case it happens? Perhaps a good topic for one of those programming shows out there.

The version of this event that athletes had to face included burpees, shuttle runs, and HEAVY sandbag cleans plus carries. It is the first of at least one workout each day that will include a strength element which is not a one rep max, but is heavy, and will ultimately leave us with a question about how to taper both the weightlifting and high skill gymnastics movements across the eight different age group divisions beginning with 30-34 and climbing all the way up to 65+. 

“Sharkbait” was the swimming event this year, and it was just a straight up 500 meter swim with a 12:00 cap. MFC loves to get their athletes in the water, and yet there continue to be big populations of athletes there who struggle with it. This surprises me a little, because especially as we age, swimming seems like such a great alternative, or addition, to running, rowing, biking, etc that doesn’t have a big impact on the joints. 

Overall, the balance between moving the heavy bag and getting in the water tested athletes on two very different fronts on day one. 

Day Two

Three scored events today, starting with a really nasty barbell test, “Triple Threat”. This was a very challenging workout, so much so that almost no one finished. I’m always curious at competitions when this happens as to why it’s happening, but my general thought is that unless the workout is an AMRAP you want more people finishing than not. 

The middle workout of the day was a fast one. “Bjorndalen” was a 1000 meter ski erg for time, but at 0:00 and every other minute afterwards do 20 crossover single unders. The coolest part of this workout is that all divisions could do it. Depending on your proficiency with the jump rope this was either a skill test, or a power output test. And for those who had both, the margin for error was small with several athletes in each division finishing very close to each other. 

The final event on day two, “The Gallows” was an interval style workout that ended upon completion of 150 feet handstand walking. However, the buy-in was both heavy and difficult for many of the divisions, and the mandatory nature of the unbroken handstand walk distances prevented some athletes from even trying during the last seconds of the intervals. Both of those things somewhat detract from what you typically want to see in an interval style workout. 

The programming up to this point is challenging, but lacking in some areas, primarily most of the workouts did not seem to be scaled appropriately for each division. Of course with 40 divisions, that’s a difficult thing to get right, but it also should be the expectation. For any individual athlete or team, their division is the only division that matters. As the organizer and/or programmer, there should be a desire and passion to serve each division as if it were the only one. 

Day Three

The final day consisted of two score events. The first, “Every Second Counts” was a very simple test, but as we all know, simple is generally effective. The only thing strange about this one is that it was power cleans and burpee box jump overs… and we already had sandbag cleans (at basically the same weight) with burpees and shuttle runs on day one. When forced to make the change on day one, maybe just change the barbell movement here to a snatch and make it lighter? Just a thought. 

The finale, “The Hunter Becomes the Hunted”, was another workout that I love. Very effective triplet of echo bike, muscle ups, and overhead lunges that is scalable for all divisions, and even within an affiliate. The simplicity of the last day is what really stood out to me. 

Overall Thoughts

Despite some of the observations with regards to the programming, the experience at MFC was phenomenal, and the results on the leaderboard suggest the programming was pretty good at assessing fitness anyway. I mostly make those points because they are things which many people were talking about throughout the weekend, and they are valid. There will always be little areas of criticism, but in this case I think some of these were easily avoidable. And despite the fact that the testing did it’s job anyway, it’s always nice to give people less to talk about in a negative sense and keep the focus on the awesome performances that will undoubtedly happen. 

Have a week off this week, then it’s off to South Carolina for Crash Crucible.

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Brian Friend

Brian stumbled upon CrossFit in the Fall of 2013. He has been a writer, data analyst, content creator, commentator, and broadcast coordinator. He's worked at a majority of the largest CrossFit competitions over the last three seasons, is a regular guest on the Sevan Podcast, and has been amongst the leading sports analysts in the sport in recent years. He has a passion for advancing the sport of CrossFit, and spreading the CrossFit methodology, by living it out in both his personal and professional life.


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