When the CrossFit Games finally wrapped yesterday, almost nothing turned out as expected. Some of the best athletes were overthrown in the early stages of the competition, and fresh new faces were claiming their spots on the podium. Of course, a few veterans proved that they’ve still got it, facing new challenges and higher stakes than ever as CrossFit’s popularity has continued to grow rapidly both at home and abroad.
1. It all started on the beach
The Games kicked off with a swim-paddle combination on Hermosa Beach in LA. Think Baywatch, but with fitter girls and wrap-around sunglasses.
2. There were tons of fans
Held at the Stub-Hub Center (site of the 2003 Women’s World Cup, high-profile boxing matches, and Taylor Swift stadium gigs), the CrossFit Games attracted 50,000 people over the six days of the event.
3. The Games required crazy equipment
Set-up for the event involved 57 truckfuls of equipment, supplied by Rogue. From 200-pound kettlebells to enormous sandbags, the Games required an enormous spectrum of gear and set-up—far more than what’s needed for traditional sports.
4. It was a rookie’s game
Nobody knew for sure who would end up on the podium at this year’s games—least of all the competitors who made it. First-time competitors Tia-Clair Toomey and Ragnheidur Sara Sigmundsdottir placed second and third, respectively, among women. For men, 22-year-old newcomer Bjorgvin Karl Gudmundsoon finished in third place behind Matt Fraser in second and Ben Smith in first.
5. Icelanders dominated
If you weren’t familiar with the -dottir suffix before the 2015 Games, you should be by now. Icelandic athletes dominated at the games, earning half of the podium spots between men and women in the individual competitions.
6. A legend struggled
The most famous Icelandic CrossFitter, two-time winer Annie Thorisdottir, would perhaps have performed better in her native climate. She suffered from heatstroke during “Murph,” a workout that involves two mile-long runs, 100 pullups, 200 pushups, and 300 squats performed in the hot California sun. The podium-favorite had to withdraw from the competition.
7. But another legend prevailed
Rich Froning won the team competition, after winning the men’s individual competition 4 years in a row. His team “CrossFit Freedom Mayhem” included James Hobart, Matt Hewett, Elly Kabboord, Jackie Cox, Kristin Reffett, and Lauren Neal.
8. A familiar face took all.
Ben Smith came out on top in the Men’s individual, finally getting to number one on his seventh trip to the CrossFit Games.
9. There was a lot on the line.
Winners took home $2 million between them; Ben Smith alone earned $250,000 for the top spot.
10. A good time was had by all.
According to CrossFit’s site, when Tia-Clair Toomey found out she earned second-place, she burst into tears. Favorite Lindsey Valenzuela went to comfort her, telling her she should be proud of herself for doing so well. But Tia-Clair replied, “I just didn’t want to come in last.” The support between athletes was evident across social-media, as well, where athletes sent out the twitter equivalents of a pat on the back to each other.