The 5 Most Jaw-Dropping Feats of Fitness From the 2016 CrossFit Games

 

In any normal gym, any of the 80 athletes at the CrossFit Games would probably be the fastest, strongest, and straight-up most unbelievably muscle-bound people in the room. But when the planets align and Games begin in sunny California, the best of the best go head to head—and that’s when the real fireworks begin.

Over five days of competition in both Aromas and Carson, the elite tackled some familiar challenges (the Ranch Trail 7K, Murph, Double DT) and a few new monsters (The Separator, 100%). What ensued looked like a lot of seriously painful exertion—and a few utterly incredible individual performances that set some new standards for fitness everywhere.

Our top five picks:

1. Sam Briggs Races Past the Pack

Even among elite CrossFitters, not many people have the physical range to heft around fully loaded barbells and survive pure endurance events. Not so for Sam “The Engine” Briggs. In Event 1, the 7K Ranch Trail Run, the ultra-fit Brit not only dominated the women’s field, but also beat 38 of the top men in a time of 36:08.65. (She actually raced paced third-place Brent Fikowski just before the finish.)


2. Brent Fikowski Proves His Mettle

Fikowski missed the last two Games after getting knocked out in Regionals the past two years. But once he finally arrived in California, he made a big impression, taking first in the Ranch Mini Chipper, Climbing Snail, 100%, and Rope Chipper—all events that rewarded patience and steady effort.

This moment. This moment right here was worth everything. I gave it all I had on that final event, leaned on the wall, and some fan yelled into my ear "look at how far you've come". And I burst into tears. I did my best to leave no points on the table all weekend and I'm so happy. Some quick thank yous, more thoughts tomorrow. – my girlfriend Claire I love you – my coach @rawstrengthandconditioning – my sponsors @sabretoothlifestyle @alignedchiropractic @floatkelowna – To the @crossfitgames crew and the volunteers. The weekend exceeded my expectations. Thank you. – my family, friends, and fans. Overwhelming support all weekend thank you. My #emotionalshepherd @mitchbarnard Time to win the social tonight! #supporttheprofessor

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3. Cole Sager Separates Himself

Sager had a solid if unspectacular start to the Games, but he seriously turned on the jets in the second half—and nowhere moreso than in “The Separator,” a murderers’ row of handstand pushups, squats, and burpees. Sager needed only 12:03 to power through an event so brutal that even the tenth-place finishers hit the 15-minute time cap. 


4. Katrin Davidsdottir Dominates Double DT

The returning champion started strong and ended stronger. Matched up right next to fellow Icelander (and, now, fellow two-time champion) Annie Thorisdottir in the last heat of Double DT—deadlifts, hang cleans, and push jerks—Davidsdottir kept her cool and ground her way through the barbell complexes for an event—and Games—win.


5. Mathew Fraser Keeps the Pedal to the (Gold) Medal

Fraser only captured one first-place event finish in this year’s Games—the Ranch Trail Run, which came as something of a surprise performance from the stocky athlete—but he absolutely dominated in consistency. With the exception of the Ranch Deadlift Ladder, Fraser never placed outside the top 10 in any given event, and placed second a whopping seven times. Ultimately, Fraser was so dominant throughout the competition that he could have totally skipped the last three events and still won.