Photos by: Athlete’s Eye
Stop number 10 in the B.Friendly Fitness World Tour is seemingly appropriate in corresponding with the most prestigious of all the offseason competitions: the Rogue Invitational.
This was the fifth iteration of the competition, my second time being there in person, and the first time I’ve had a chance to actually work for the competition directly in some capacity. That capacity was being part of the Iron Game Tailgate show which was available on the premium stream; a very cool thing to be a part of as it’s the first time (that I know of ) where something like that was available in the CrossFit world.
This year’s Rogue Invitational was four days, nine events, and became a week-long battle against the elements of nature as rain came and went at some predictable and unpredictable intervals.
Arrival and a Dose of Disc Golf
Seeing as Rogue does occasionally have a surprise workout the day before the advertised days of competition, Patrick and I weren’t planning to miss it in case it happened again this year (which it did). So we came on Wednesday and hit the ground running.
While he took advantage of that day to support athletes and events they had organized, I met up with an old friend from college (I went to school in Austin) and played two rounds of disc golf. It rained hard during the first round leading to wet clothes, difficult conditions, and a few slips down muddy hills for each of us. But, in a preview of what the CrossFit athletes would endure later in the weekend, we did not shy away from the elements. Neither of us willing to give up the first chance we’ve ever had to spend time doing something we both love.
Thursday: Day One
Only one event on tap today, and it was in the evening, “Texas Heavy”.
As is customary at Rogue, a Ruck of sorts would be kicking things off for the 20 male and 20 female athletes who managed to qualify through either the Games or the “Q” to get here. This time, Rogue upped the ante: the workout started with a 1 mile ruck at 100 lbs for the men, 80 lbs for the women.
As I was watching, and later reflecting on the event, I became curious as to how much that first mile mattered relative to the mile and a half plus the sandbag drag that followed. So naturally, I set out to find out:
|Athlete||Placement AfterFirst Mile||80 lb miletime||Texas HeavyEvent Placement||Total Time||Diff from FirstMile to Finish|
|Tia Clair Toomey||2||9:07||1||20:24||1|
|Elena C. Sanahuja*||15||10:37||11||23:28||4|
|Athlete||Placement AfterFirst Mile||100 lb miletime||Texas HeavyEvent Placement||Total Time||Diff from FirstMile to Finish|
|Björgvin Karl Gudmundsson||14||8:49||12||20:16||2|
|Jonne Koski (WD)||20||11:34||19||23:35||1|
How Much Did Mile 1 Matter?
All told there were:
- 6 women who maintained the exact same placement
- 6 men who maintained the exact same placement
- 9 women who moved by one spot up or one spot down following the heavy mile
- 7 men who moved by one spot up or one spot down following the heavy mile
- 5 women who moved by more than one spot
- Fisher moved down two, while Flores moved up two
- Horvath dropped three spots, while Sanahuja moved up 4
- Loewen was the biggest change dropping six spots
- 7 men who moved by more than one spot
- Gudmundsson improved by two spots after the first mile
- Dukic moved back three spots
- Smith and Hopper each moved up three spots
- Garard and Mayer both move back three spots
- Fikowski was the biggest mover improving by three spots
Friday: Day Two
The first full day of competition of course featured three separate groups of competition:
- Elite CrossFit for male and female (our focus)
- Legends (an exhibition of some of the best CrossFitters who no longer compete as elite individuals in the sport)
- Strongman, which has become a mainstay and a very cool addition to the Rogue Invitational.
In particular, the Strongmen has been a really cool parallel to the CrossFit competition at Rogue the last three years. And Rogue has additionally woven in more and more strongman elements to the CrossFit events; and in some cases (like the Duel for Strongman this year) the other way around as well.
Only two events on tap for CrossFit on day two, but the effects of them would linger for the entire competition.
Event 2: “Seat at the Bar“
The day began with “Seat at the Bar”, a hybrid from two of the events from the 2022 Rogue Invitational. They brought the log bar muscle-ups from “Ski Bar” back, only this time paired them with heavy back squats, which we saw in “Back Attack” last year.
Some adjustments were made including:
- Having the men do more log muscles ups than the women (last year they had the same amount, but the diameter of the bar proved more challenging for the women and none of them finished under the cap). With the adjustment this year the parallel from men to women was much more similar with 6 women and 5 men failing to finish under the cap.
- The reps of back squat remained the same (15), but the rep scheme and weight changed. Rather than a 5-4-3-2-1 as there was in 2022, it was three sets of 5. And therefore the weight was lowered from 405 and 275 in 2022 to 375 and 260 in 2023. That’s a 7.5% decrease for men and a 5.5% decrease for women
The result was that the women were faster than the men, with the top 5 women’s times beating out the top male time of 6:20, including the female winner, Alex Gazan, besting that time by just over a minute (5:19).
Overall there was a strong correlation between the performances on “Ski Bar” and “Seat at the Bar” for the athletes who did both, making me believe the log muscle-ups were more critical on this one than the back squats for most of the competitors:
|Athlete (Women)||Ski Bar Rank||Back Attack Rank||Seat at the Bar Rank|
|Athlete (Male)||Ski Bar Rank||Back Attack Rank||Seat at the Bar Rank|
|Björgvin Karl Gudmundsson||6||7*||7|
It was actually quite balanced on the women’s side with three athletes having more similar results on “Back Attack” as compared to “Ski Bar”.
On the men’s side the back squats didn’t seem to factor in much, as the result from “Ski Bar” last year was more indicative for all but one athlete (Gudmundsson).
Ohlsen and Angonese had such similar results on the two that there was no difference in correlation.
Events 3 and 4: “The Circus” and “The 10th Inning”
This event featured a lot of skiing, a strongman dumbbell, and traverses on the “Killer Kage” monkey bars.
I had the chance to be on the livestream desk for this event, the first time I did so throughout the weekend, and Josh Bridges (who helped program the competition) was on as one of the other guests. Towards the end of the event, as the results were becoming known, he mentioned that he didn’t know how much the bigger guys would end up dominating this event.
Given that the “Killer Kage” has only been seen in competition once before (during the CrossFit Games in 2011), I couldn’t have been sure how much it would factor into the results. But, the other two movements would clearly favor a bigger stronger athlete, so I don’t think I was necessarily surprised by the trend.
As I left the set that night, and thought about the event which would start things on Saturday morning, “10th Inning”, which would include ring muscle ups, handstands pushups, and light weight barbell snatches, I thought these two events actually might end up offsetting each other in terms of “type” of athlete who would do well.
Watching the heats play out Saturday morning, I thought that was probably the case, but I still had to run the data to find out:
|Better “Circus” Finish|
|WOMEN (10)||MEN (8)|
|Dani Speegle (+17)||Roman Khrennikov (+14)|
|Laura Horvath (+13)||Jayson Hopper (+13)|
|Karin Freyova (+8)||Jelle Hoste (+12)|
|Paige Powers (+7)||Brent Fikowski (+8)|
|Gabriela Migala (+5)||Tudor Magda (+6)|
|Kyra Milligan (+3)||Bayley Martin (+6)|
|Paige Semenza (+3)||Dallin Pepper (+3)|
|Danielle Brandon (+3)||Patrick Vellner (+1)|
|Bethany Flores (+2)|
|Alex Gazan (+1)|
|Better “10th Inning” Finish|
|WOMEN (10)||MEN (10)|
|Manon Angonese (+13)||Victor Hoffer (+13)|
|Emily Rolfe (+12)||Lazar Dukic (+11)|
|Elena Sanahuja (+9)||Jay Crouch (+10)|
|Christine Kolenbrander (+8)||Will Moorad (+6)|
|Shelby Neal (+6)||Ricky Garad (+6)|
|Lauren Fisher (+5)||Travis Mayer (+5)|
|Emma Lawson (+4)||Noah Ohlsen (+4)|
|Emma Cary (+2)||Björgvin Karl Gudmundsson (+4)|
|Arielle Loewen (+2)||Garrett Clark (+3)|
|Tia-Clair Toomey-Orr (+1)||Jeffrey Adler (+1)|
In the charts above you’ll see the athletes who fared better on each event, and in parenthesis how many placements they were better by.
We see most of the bigger athletes on both the men’s and women’s side with the largest discrepancies between these two events (Speegle, Khrennikov, Horvath, Hopper, and Hoste being the athletes with at least a 12 placement difference in favor of the Circus).
On the contrary, the biggest advantages on “10th Inning” weren’t as obvious, there were also five athletes with at least a ten point difference in favor of this event (Hoffer, Angonese, Rolfe, Dukic, and Crouch), but they are not necessarily all the smallest or shortest athletes in the field. In fact Rolfe is listed at 5’7” which is tied with four other women for the tallest athlete in the field, and Dukic is one of four men listed at 6’0” or taller (the other three are the three men who showed at least a 12 point disparity in the opposite direction).
The conclusion is that “The Circus” was more favorable for taller athletes than “The 10th Inning” necessarily was for shorter athletes. And that, of course, there are a variety of other variables to consider- none more so than the fact that it was raining on and off that day and grip decision on the “Killer Kage” had a massive effect on “The Circus” for some.
That brings us through 4 events, and almost to the halfway point of competition. Because the studies on each event are such deep dives, I’m splitting this one into two articles. Part II, beginning with event 5, “The Duel III”, will be out soon.