2023 Offseason World Tour Memoirs: Rogue Invitational (Part 1 of 2)

November 1, 202315 min read

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: 


AthletePlacement AfterFirst Mile80 lb miletimeTexas HeavyEvent PlacementTotal TimeDiff from FirstMile to Finish
Laura Horvath19:06421:22-3
Tia Clair Toomey29:07120:241
Gabriela Migala39:11220:371
Emily Rolfe49:23321:131
Emma Lawson59:27521:300
Lauren Fisher*69:33821:59-2
Danielle Brandon79:34721:540
Bethany Flores89:34621:372
Arielle Loewen99:391525:47:00-6
Manon Angonese*109:42922:511
Paige Semenza1110:031023:231
Alex Gazan1210:041223:340
Karin Freyova1310:191424:54:00-1
Emma Cary1410:341324:25:001
Elena C. Sanahuja*1510:371123:284
Paige Powers1611:151626:06:000
Dani Speegle*1711:321827:16:00-1
Christine Kolenbrander*1812:071726:57:001
Kyra Milligan*1914:071929:37:000
Shelby Neal2014:332031:35:000


AthletePlacement AfterFirst Mile100 lb miletimeTexas HeavyEvent PlacementTotal TimeDiff from FirstMile to Finish
Jelle Hoste18:31219:15-1
Jeffrey Adler28:34119:081
Roman Khrennikov38:34319:310
Ricky Garard*48:36819:47-4
Travis Mayer*58:37920:01-4
Jay Crouch68:37719:44-1
Lazar Dukic78:381020:07-3
Chandler Smith88:39519:413
Jayson Hopper*98:40619:433
Brent Fikowski108:42419:366
Will Moorad118:441120:070
Patrick Vellner128:481320:49-1
Noah Ohlsen138:481421:02-1
Björgvin Karl Gudmundsson148:491220:162
Garrett Clark*158:501521:590
Dallin Pepper169:021622:200
Tudor Magda*179:041723:060
Bayley Martin189:411823:240
Victor Hoffer*1910:032023:39-1
Jonne Koski (WD)2011:341923:351

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

Danielle Brandon Rogue 2023 1

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 RankBack Attack RankSeat at the Bar Rank
Emma Lawson1*114
Arielle Loewen312*16
Danielle Brandon919*17
Gabriela Migala11*58
Manon Angonese111312
Laura Horvath141*2
Dani Speegle15*614
Athlete (Male)Ski Bar RankBack Attack RankSeat at the Bar Rank
Chandler Smith2*94
Ricky Garard3*181
Patrick Vellner4*42
Björgvin Karl Gudmundsson67*7
Roman Khrennikov7*510
Noah Ohlsen886
Jonne Koski1115DNP
Jeffrey Adler12*28
Lazar Dukic15*1913
Jayson Hopper19*1319

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”

Jayson Hopper Rogue 2023 1

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. 

Part II

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.

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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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