The road to the 2018 Reebok CrossFit Games (part 2)

In part 2 of this exclusive feature, we share Cape CrossFit Wolfpack athlete Nicole Warburg Mackenzie’s experience at the recent CrossFit Meridian Regionals.

Image via Twitter @CFGMeridian

Missed part 1? – Click here to read it

She competed with teammates Matthew Bowerman, Christian Oman, Vicky Polydorou and Richard Wollbolt to finish as the best team in the region, ahead of fellow local teams CrossFit Valley Road (2nd) and CrossFit PBM Unite (4th).

All the teams are now preparing to compete at the 2018 Reebok CrossFit Games – the unquestionable pinnacle of the sport – which take place at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Wisconsin in the US from 1-5 August.

Train insane

The training for Regionals was on another level, but the environment we prepared in was awesome. We generally had time to fit in 2 workouts. They were fairly challenging so we needed around 40 minutes to an hour of rest between workouts to recover, which I really think benefitted us at Regionals because the events were so close together.

Our coach programmed workouts for us using as many different combinations as possible, so we could get used to working in different ways. We included a few workouts from previous Regionals events, as well as some really interesting workouts that only our coach could come up with – he can be very imaginative!

Workout structure

From Monday to Wednesday and on Friday we generally trained twice a day. Thursday was generally an active recovery or complete rest day. Our first session generally consisted of an aerobic fitness workout. I often managed to do this at home thanks to my Rebel Elite Fitness sponsorship, which means I have all the equipment I need to train at home between my personal training sessions with clients. Our second session was generally more skilled-based and team work.

The Regionals workouts were released about 2 weeks before the competition, so the week before we had a complete run through of the 3 days to simulate how Regionals would go. One of the workouts included “the worm”. We trained using the “African Worm”, as it’s known at Cape CrissFit. It consists of 2 bags latched together with carabiners. It’s a lot shorter and heavier than the actual worm used at Regionals, which makes it awkward to pick up and move, so we were forced to work together to get things moving. The first time we tried to pick it up we dropped it and stared at it for about 2 minutes trying to figure out how we were going to get through the workout.

Cape CrossFit Wolfpack’s toughest Regionals WOD:  6 rounds, every 5 minutes of 15-calorie Assault AirBike interval + 15 x 10kg Wall Balls to the men’s target.

Final run in

After our run-through sessions we started to taper down. A few of us left for Spain on the Sunday, and others on Tuesday, which meant we were all together as a team by the Wednesday. We were fortunate enough to train at the local CrossFit box, which was within walking distance from our AirBnB. Our workouts were fairly easy and light to keep us moving and working together to fine-tune our communication skills.

We went shopping as a team and cooked our food together, which was really awesome as we were all on the same page. We all made sure that we were in bed on time and were all up and ready early in the morning to make our way to catch the train to our event. The stadium was about a 40-minute train ride, but thankfully we had someone with us who was “streetwise”, as I had no idea where to go and how things worked!

Time to compete

Registration was when things really sank in for us. Being there with so many phenomenal athletes was such an incredible experience. Our first day went much better than expected as we won our first 2 events. We thought these were going to be our worst events, so we were really on a high.

Unfortunately, day 2 wasn’t nearly as successful. For some reason, between the worm and our judge, things just didn’t go our way and we walked away with 2 fairly bad placings, which left us bitterly disappointed.

That left day 3 to salvage our Regionals performance and hopefully book our place at the Games. We knew exactly what we had to do and we had a plan, which we executed 100%. We managed to pick up a good lead, which we maintained as we were able to secure another event win.

Our ability to pull together as a team really was phenomenal and I can honestly say we all pulled our weight when we needed to, which is the hallmark of a great team. With that, Regionals concluded and we waited on the floor to hear the results. We didn’t know where we had finished as our coach didn’t let us know our standing.

First place was announced – Team CrossFit Riviera from the Europe South region placed first. But then the surprise of the weekend happened. Cape CrossFit Wolfpack was second – we had done it. We had qualified for the Games! (CrossFit Riviera was subsequently DQ’d after the comp, placing Cape CrossFit first in the region.)

What’s more is that two other South African teams had finished in the top 5. It was such a phenomenal experience. I remember been so excited initially, but that emotion soon gave way to an overwhelming sense of trepidation as I realised that we’d now be training for the Games. I’ve always said competing is the easy part. It’s our training that’s really tough.

Team effort

Now, I must add that our trip to compete in Spain would not have even been possible without our incredible community. They came out in full force and opened their hearts and their wallets to make all kinds of contributions for the team to afford to travel and compete. Fundraising is never easy, but the response from everyone was overwhelming.

Now the real work starts. The CrossFit Games is one of the most physically demand challenges a person can do. I can’t begin to imagine what our coach has planned for us over the next two months. I personally have a lot to work on, but I hope that the Games workouts will suit us and we can pull together as a team and do what we do best while enjoying every second!

Watch this space as we take you on our journey to the CrossFit Games.

Follow Nicole’s journey on Instagram

Author: Pedro van Gaalen

When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.

When he's not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He's worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *