2023 Offseason World Tour Memoirs: Sweden and the Halmstad Throwdown

September 26, 202314 min read

Photo Credit: Rickard Eimecke

Stop five, Sweden. If you’ve missed any of the others:

Stop 1: Finland – Turun Tuomiopäivä

Stop 2: Utah – The Iron Games

Stop 3: Three Rivers, Michigan (Pit Teen Throwdown) 

Stop 4: Madrid Championship

Following four-straight weeks of broadcasting events, the trip is taking a turn in a bit of a more relaxed direction. 

I went to Sweden to visit my friend Roger Gillros and attend one of the several competitions he runs throughout the year through his company, the Halmstad Throwdown in Halmstad, Sweden. However, since I had a couple days to spare in between I went to the capital city, Stockholm, first. 


Unlike most of the rest of the trip, the time in Stockholm was unplanned. No one specifically to see, nothing specifically to do, nowhere specifically to stay. Sometimes it can be a fun change of pace to travel that way; sometimes it can be stressful. 

I walked out of the airport and got a cab into the city, destination CrossFit Nordic. This spontaneous decision ended up being perfect. I ran into several friends there and was able to get a workout in to shake off the travel. I booked a nearby hotel and paid way too much for laundry before getting a good night’s sleep. 

Disc Golf in Stockholm

The next day I hitched my way around Stockholm by Uber in search of two different disc golf courses. One which was supposed to be the most professional course in Stockholm, and the other which was advertised as the oldest disc golf course in Europe. 

Both courses lived up to expectations. Spectacular views, crisp air, challenging shots. Very fulfilled. 

CrossFit Nordic

After the disc golf escapades were complete I made my way back to Nordic to do my first and online practice for the competition I would be participating in that Sunday in Halmstad. 

Very impressive gym overall with a set up that can accommodate classes for three different levels of experience at the same time and still have space for weightlifting on platforms and open gym in a semi-adjacent area. All the members seemed to have a clear understanding of the rules, expectations, and operations. They had some nice amenities, and a lovely front desk area which made visitors (like me) feel very welcome. 

Train from Stockholm to Halmstad

One of my favorite ways to see a new country is by train. Rather than flying from city to city and seeing nothing but clouds for the most part, you get the on the ground traverse of the rural areas of a country. Countryside, hills, mountains, small towns, and occasionally wildlife. You pass through and stop at some smaller stations along the way as some travelers leave and others join the journey. 


Brian Friend 2023 Halmstad Throwdown 9 copy

Photo Credit: Rickard Eimecke

The small town of Halmstad is on the south west part of the country bordering the North Sea. A few friends in Stockholm had mentioned that Halmstad was famous for its beaches; so I made sure to pop down to Tÿlosund where I could breathe the air off the water and run my hands through the sea. 

I took a nice stroll through the town to appreciate some of the art, architecture, waterways, and boats docked in them. Grateful for the time I had to experience a little bit of the town before getting to work. 

Halmstad Throwdown

The structure of this competition was different from the previous ones I’ve been at on this trip. There were a total of about 400 athletes competing over two days, however not all athletes competed both days. 

All divisions had teams of two options of male/male, female/female, or male/female. The rx divisions would compete both days, the scaled divisions would compete Saturday, and the intermediate divisions would compete Sunday. 

The main competition floor was in the Halmstad Arena. It’s always nice to use pre-established venues when possible because they eliminate or greatly reduce several costs. This year for the Halmstad Throwdown there would be two other competition sites as well. One was on a turf field behind the arena which was rented for a few hours each day. The weather was great that weekend, so it worked out well, but certainly could have been a risk given the uncertainty of the weather in Sweden during September. 


The third and final competition venue for the weekend was reserved for the elite divisions on Saturday night. They were given the opportunity to do an Olympic Total (though the format was a little different) on the lifting platforms at the Eleiko Sports Complex.

I had mentioned how cool of an opportunity this would be to Roger and Phil Hesketh (who was programming for the competition) and they asked if I wanted to lift. As long as it didn’t interrupt the competition, absolutely! What an incredible opportunity that was, and although this was not part of the competition for me, it worked out really well in terms of setting the stage for the following day. 

Competing in Halmstad

After observing the first competition day for the most part, Alex Elgh and I were lined up to compete in the men’s intermediate division on Sunday. We had three time slots for competition with four opportunities to earn points. 

Event 1

After a relatively short and efficient briefing in the morning we had a later heat for event 1 which would happen around 10:30. It was a burner of synchro burpees and alternating dumbbell snatches with a 1000 meter row thrown in the middle for an extra score. Pretty good way to start things off, get the heart rate up and blood flowing without overly fatiguing any local muscle groups. 

Event 2

Our second event was a relay of box jump overs, handstand walking, dual kettlebell front squats and dual kettlebell lunges outside on the turf. Our heat was around 1:30 pm. There was a modification made to this one late on that actually really hurt us when everything was said and done from a scoring perspective. 

It was originally written as intervals for reps on the lunges. But changed to rounds for time. Alex got caught up in the middle round and we ended up getting time capped. A theme had been developing for me where I was outperforming my expectations every time we took the floor; probably never more so than with the kettlebells on this one. 

Either way, two down and one to go, back inside for the final. 

Event 3

We hadn’t placed very well relative to our division, so we got bumped to the first heat (the competition reseeded at this point so the best teams were next to each other in the final heat). A little bit shorter turnaround as we were to go around 4:30. If you watched the video above you’ll know the final consisted of heavy sled pulls and a variation on Fran. I was more nervous than this than for any of the others for two reasons:

  • I tested the sled weights with Phil on Friday and knew it was HEAVY
  • Thrusters; synchro thrusters to make it even worse. 

There was an aggressive time cap on this one for the intermediate men (nobody finished, which  I don’t really love for a final). After finishing 20th, 17th, and 20th on the first three scoring opportunities, we placed 8th on this, by far our best finish of the day. I’m not sure if it was because we moved the sled well, had zero no reps on the synchro gymnastics and weightlifting components, or because we had a strategy that seemed to pay off; but regardless of why, it was a great way to end the competition.

Award Ceremony, Breakdown, and Future Opportunities

The award ceremony is one of the things I often struggle with when assessing competitions. It’s really cool for anyone in any division to sign up, compete, and do well enough to get onto the podium. And yet, nobody who doesn’t have to stay for it ever does. 

Halmstad, as most competitions do, saved the top divisions for last. But even everyone else who had made the podiums in other divisions had left by then, meaning for the most difficult accomplishment, the least people got to acknowledge it in the end. 

I do have an idea for how to potentially fix this, but it would require a very organized competition already. If you think that is you, perhaps reach out if you’re curious. 

Breaking down the Floor

After a full day of competing, I still wanted to be of help to Roger and the crew who needed to break down the floor, the rig, and everything else before the end of the night. The most difficult and physically demanding part of that process is the floor. I helped despite knowing it probably wasn’t best for my body. It felt good to contribute, but I paid for it physically. 

Driving from Halmstad to Oslo

The following day was a boys road trip. Roger, Alex, and I drove from Halmstad, Sweden to Oslo, Norway, making a couple of stops along the way. None more important than a visit to a potential future competition venue location. I don’t want to say too much about the actual spot (I’ll wait to see if they choose to use it), but the process was informative for me. 

There are many, many things to consider when selecting a location. It’s one of the first things you have to do when organizing a competition, but if you get it wrong it can totally sink you from a financial standpoint. Roger and Alex have a lot of experience with this, so it was extremely insightful to observe their interactions and questions with our hosts, and then also to have a debrief and conversation about what we had learned after leaving. 

I mentioned earlier that trains are one of the best ways to see a country; well, driving is right up there too. For a majority of the ride the scenery was spectacular, maybe not to them who have driven those roads often, but for me who never had, I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

Sweden, you were wonderful, next up, Norway.  

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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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