CrossFit Open 2014 – What The Hell Was That?

by Richard Bird

Dave Castro tried to kill me. The weapon used? 14.3 with a 14.5 chaser.

Part 1: 14.1 and 14.2

This year’s CrossFit Open was pretty crazy. Not because of the typical burning lungs, screaming quads or shredded hands. Those are everyday concerns in the world of “better today than yesterday”. No, my crazy barometer for this year’s Open was measuring the massive amount of discontent that I heard from CrossFit athletes of every skill, scale and level. From the opening bell of double-unders – literally followed by the statement “really, seriously – double-unders” by just about everyone I know – to the hellaciously nasty 14.5 torture fest (I think I started seeing leprechauns halfway through the set of 15 thrusters) the negative and unhappy commentary I heard at my gym and across the world from other friends in the sport got me to wondering.

Mathematically, how bad was the Open in 2014? More importantly, could the suck be quantified in a way that might give the community pointers on one of many possible explanations? Was it bad programming? Was there an actual effort made to “weed out” a large part of the field right out of the gate? Is CrossFit destined to become Cirque Du Soleil, where only those with ridiculously honed skills stand an iota of a chance of placing in their age, gender, region, etc.? Or, conversely could it be that a very large part of the CrossFit population is just weak? We have to consider all options – even if it means that we might have to admit that we’re not as collectively bad-ass as we think we are. Well, as you think you are – I feel pretty bad ass – in general; if I belt up, and have my Strength Wraps on, have 45 minutes to stretch and then if there aren’t any stupid muscle-ups in the workout. (Yes, I’ve seen the Darnell Sanders video – like 280 times – because it is awesome).

So what does the math say? Actually, a class by class analysis of individual scores was enlightening. I want to make a disclaimer and say that there are no compelling conclusions in these numbers. No smoking gun. But, there is certainly a lot to think about – in particular, I think the figures indicate that CrossFit headquarters might want to be thinking about whether they actually are living up to their marketing related to the “community” aspect of this sport.

First, I had to make personal assumptions about what constituted an “acceptable” performance in each of the Open workouts. These are my assumptions and mine alone. You might completely disagree with them and I can respect that. I actually feel that I set the bar low/conservative for each event (except for 14.5, which was a bear-mother to try to figure out a decent threshold for) and that the assumptions used are supportable. Second, there is definitely the potential for data inaccuracy, but not to a significant enough degree to invalidate the directional results. The reasons for this inaccuracy is that you can’t download the results easily from the Open site. It took me several days to crunch numbers that would have taken 5 minutes with an Excel dump and pivot tables.

Let’s put the “community” aura to the test first. I heard a lot of hype about the number of registered athletes this year many times on the workout broadcasts. 170,000 was a number that kept getting tossed around. Interestingly, the number of recorded scores in 14.1 was actually more than 214,000. The number of posted scores from 14.1 to 14.5 might be a good place to start if we wanted to attempt to measure what “community” looks like. We had 214,000 people pay to get into the Open and we have to assume that they had not only a financial but a personal interest in registering. So if we analyze the trend from 14.1 to 14.5 in terms of how many people actually participated – this could be an indication of the level of community support for the event, the programming and the perceptions of the worldwide body of CrossFit athletes at all levels. How big was the delta over time? Well, I think it is a troubling sign that more than 1 in every 4 athletes didn’t finish the Open.

14-1 Score Trend

If 1 of every 4 registered athletes decided to watch March Madness instead of finishing 14.5, what does that suggest about the “community” and the Open programming?

Something else that jumps off the axis in this set of numbers is the trends related to which workouts inspired athletes to give it a go and which ones clearly had them running for the door (or not running in the door at the gym). The downward trends are certainly suggesting that 14.2, 14.4 and by a huge margin, 14.5 were very unpopular pieces of programming. One striking oddity is that apparently female competitors in the Master’s Women over 60 class were really pumped up about 14.3. You go ladies!

What about each of the individual workouts?

It seems fairly clear that the great gnashing of teeth related to double-unders was actually a lot of whining. Sorry, told you earlier that we need to hold ourselves accountable as well. The assumption for 14.1 is that the mark of reasonable performance was very conservative – that being the completing of the first 30 double-unders. 14.1 was a couplet of 30 double-unders into 15 light power snatches (75, 55, 65, 45). The vast majority of heartburn that I heard about this workout was that the double-under skill was an insurmountable task for many athletes but the number of individuals who did not move in to the snatches was actually very small. With the exception of Master’s Women over the age of 60, anywhere from 9 out of 10 to nearly 10 out of 10 (Individual Men) were able to finish that first set of double-unders.

Not a bad wash-out rate when it comes to double-unders. Wonder if this trend holds for the other 4 workouts in the Open?

Not a bad wash-out rate when it comes to double-unders. Wonder if this trend holds for the other 4 workouts in the Open?


So we came out of the gates like rolling thunder for 14.1! 214,000 athletes with a better than 95% completion rate of the dreaded double-unders. Unfortunately, the party started to get a whole lot less fun in 14.2. The second workout was a time-bonus WOD starting with a 3 minute couplet of Overhead Squats into Chest-to-Bar pull-ups. The performance assumption for this workout is pretty simple; getting into the second 3 minute round was the measure of success. So how many CrossFit athletes made that first cut? Way fewer than I think anyone would have expected – but more importantly, the workout seems to give the first indications of a fundamental programming problem.


Whoa - something went really wrong in 14.2.

Whoa – something went really wrong in 14.2.


The failure rate for 14.2 was nothing short of mind-blowing. Only Individual Males (athletes under 40) came close to a 10% failure rate, moving into at least the second 3 minute round. But the failure rate for all other male athletes up to the first scaled age group (Master’s Men 55 to 59) escalated rapidly to over 20% of all scored athletes. The story for female athletes is really eye-opening though. Not only did every age category of females in the competition clock in at a failure rate ranging between 47% and 68%; female performance was nearly always 4 times worse by category than the same male category. The red lines represent that gap. And lets not mince words on what this means – the confidence interval in the numbers clearly shows that something was consistently and programmatically wrong with this workout. If the progressive increase in failure between each male age group was less than double the next younger group – there is no other explanation for the 400% greater failure rate among female athletes. The female-related scaling was completely wrong and it had an enormous impact beyond percentages. We’re talking individual human beings here, this many:

29,526 Individual Women impacted by the 14.2 programming decision - thinking that might have had an impact on athlete enthusiasm for future workouts.

29,526 Individual Women impacted by the 14.2 programming decision – thinking that might have had an impact on athlete enthusiasm for future workouts.


I’ll dig further into 14.3, 14.4 and the big whopper – 14.5, in my next posting. But I want to leave readers with an important note. This is a mathematical evaluation and not a personal attack. When I use the terms “failure rate” and “washout” it isn’t an grading of any single person’s performance. In fact, 14.1 was a disaster for me personally – it took me three times as long to do my notoriously unlinked double-unders as it did to do the power snatches. I just want to dig a bit beyond the sweat, blisters and dry heaves to determine what we can do better in CrossFit – better today than yesterday, right?

Originally published on on April 8th, 2014.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Printable Version

We Are Scouting Top Writers

Are you passionate about fitness and have something to say? Reach a huge online community and get the discussion going - start writing for Tabata Times today!

Share this post
@TabataTimes on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook 
Advertise Here

Most Popular of All Time

savfmarie published the post Eating Paleo on a Budget on Tabata Times
Unless you’re actually a caveman, you’ve likely heard about the caveman diet: Paleo. The...
CrossFit Roseburg shared a link on Facebook

Three sets of: Bench Press x 6-8 reps @ 20X1 Rest 60 seconds Pull-Ups x Max Reps OR Pull-Ups x 3-5 reps @ 51X1 Rest 60 seconds For time: 50/30 Push-Ups 300 Meter Run 30 Heavy Kettlebell Swings 300 Meter Run 50/30 Push-Ups 300 Meter Run 30 Heavy …

lycan714 published the post Breaking Band on
From your local CrossFit box all the way up to the larger commercial gyms; no doubt you've seen...
CrossFit Roseburg posted an article
CrossFit Anacortes shared an image on Facebook

I believe there's even a hefty burpee penalty for doing this in our gym...

CrossFit Southwest Portland posted on Facebook

Friday: WarmUp Run 600m 1 Lap SpiderMan 3 Rounds (barbell) 6 FrontSquat 6 HPClean 6 Press WarmUp for PowerClean+PushPress **Mobility: couch, bandy ham 1 min each side 5 Sets 6 PowerClean+PushPress TnG 9 TTB AFAP Run 400m Rest :90 Cool Couch Roll $$ 3X20 GHD

CrossFit Anacortes shared an image on Facebook

Chiropractic Functional Movement Clinic this Saturday at 11:30 with Dr. Bigge! Learn about chiropractic and it's benefits. Discounted adjustments after the clinic! 23OCT2014.

Fearghal CrossFit shared an image on Facebook

20141023 Ok so I had to jump on the TBT ban wagon ;-)! About a year ago these shenanigans were happening under our roof! Lol! Love our Fearghal Family (whether they are near or far). Finishing up our deload week! Hope you are all feeling refreshed! I know a few of you took today's WOD and made it a PR kind of day!! Great job! A Coach H Warm Up :-) Skill: Press 5-5-5 WOD: 2 mile run

CrossFit A.P.E. shared an image on Facebook

Jake you're an animal! Nice squat and row times bud:)

Rogue Valley CrossFit shared a link on Facebook

Rogue Valley CrossFit posted an article
Mahoney CrossFit shared a link on Facebook

Friday Deloading Oct 24th/tier-2

CrossFit Salem shared a link on Facebook

Check out this awesome event we will be hosting in December!

CrossFit Roseburg shared a link on Facebook

4 sets of: 1 DB Power Snatch + 2 OH Squats Rest 60 seconds 30 Second Side Plank (each side) Rest 60 seconds 4 Rounds of 30 seconds on/30 seconds off Row Sit-ups Mnt. Climbers DB Push Press

CrossFit Southwest Portland posted on Facebook

Nice work 9:00am Warriors!

CrossFit Portland shared a link on Facebook

You'll be seeing Coach Jonathan Thom around at CrossFit Portland. Here is a Q&A with him and please welcome him to CFPDX!

CrossFit Portland posted an article
Newberg CrossFit Rebuilt shared an image on Facebook

Please come in a drop off toilet paper and paper towels for the Henderson house. The domestic violence house in McMinnville. Not only is October breast cancer awareness month it's also domestic violence awareness month !!! Let's show our support!!

Rogue Valley CrossFit shared an image on Facebook

**SCHEDULE CHANGE** Tonight only. Kids Barbell class starts at 5:30. Also, kids halloween party is next Wednesday! All past, present and future kiddos are invited to join the fun!

Seth Oberst DPT CSCS published the post Going Barefoot for Strength Training on
Whether or not you've read my prior piece on the short foot position, this bears repeating: the...
Tracktown CrossFit posted on Facebook

No video. D had a Pr on her Pw/Jerk+Split jerk at 125lb. That's 5lb's more then her best jerk.

Bridgetown CrossFit shared a link on Facebook

No 5pm or 6pm on Halloween

Bridgetown CrossFit posted an article
Bridgetown CrossFit posted an article
Tracktown CrossFit shared a link on Facebook

Logan hitting a Behind the neck Pw/Jerk+Split Jerk @ 210lb. His best jerk is 225lbs. Brandon hitting 205lb Pw/jerk+Split Jerk. Brandon's best jerk is 225lb. 5 weeks to GO!!!

Bridgetown CrossFit posted an article
Bridgetown CrossFit shared a link on Facebook

Week 3 Thursday - We'll post an image of the workout card so you can share it, save it, pin it or just come do it!!!

Bridgetown CrossFit posted an article
adrummonds published the post ABS Banana Chocolate Chip Protein Pancakes! on
Ingredients: 1 Scoop ABS Chocolate Chip Pancakes 1/3 C Egg Whites 1/3 C Unsweetened...
adrummonds published the post ABS Pumpkin Chocolate Protein Cookies! on
Ingredients and Directions: 1 Scoop ABS Vanilla Cake Batter Pancakes 1 Scoop Vanilla...
Vanessa LaFaso Stolarski published the post How to Break Up with Your Box on
So your back squat hasn’t PR’d squat in six months. The box owner is bedroom WOD’ing with his...
McMinnville CrossFit IMUA posted on Facebook

Not sure who put the big trash can outside last night, but please don't do that again. If you must, bring it back in before you leave. It was full of rain water this morning and extremely hard to get the bag out. Also, there are several cats around that can get into it if it's left outside. Do don't mess with it especially if it's raining, or if you do, make sure it's back inside before you leave.

CrossFit Grants Pass posted an article
CrossFit Grants Pass posted an article
Tracktown CrossFit shared a link on Facebook

CrossFit Train shared a link on Facebook

Beaverton CrossFit posted an article
Beaverton CrossFit posted an article
Anonymous posted an article
CrossFit Excellence shared a link on Facebook

CrossFit Pearl District posted an article
CrossFit West Santa Cruz shared a link on Facebook

Don’t Try At Home

CrossFit West Santa Cruz posted an article
Telegraph CrossFit shared a link on Facebook

Thursday 10/23/2014 WOD

Telegraph CrossFit posted an article
CrossFit Oakland shared a link on Facebook

CrossFit All Terrain posted an article
CrossFit Oakland posted on Facebook

Thursday is a Recovery Day.

CrossFit A.P.E. shared an image on Facebook

How did you do with you max weight back squat lift today? Were you a little scared? Did you ease off and when doing the final 20 you realized you could've went more? It happens. Just make sure you keep good form. Heels down and core engaged to drive up. The thing is when you do a good squat where your butt goes past parallel, the big boys now have to engage (glutes, hamstrings) to get that weight up! Quads are always working nonetheless but if you are doing a squat above the knee then you will not be engaging much or at all the posterior chain glutes and hamstrings. Posterior chain muscles are so important that make you more powerful and improve your posture (and that means those spinal erector muscles). If you did go pretty hard CONGRATULATIONS!!! You should roll those babies out, get adjusted or have a massage because you deserve it!

CrossFit Ashland posted an article
Tracktown CrossFit shared an image on Facebook

Some BIG time Pr's in Advance weightlifting class tonight. Outstanding job tonight!

Newberg CrossFit Rebuilt shared an image on Facebook

Patricia. Two years of working her butt off. Eating clean. And 55 lbs later her confidence beams out of her. She's strong and beautiful. Inside and out. This fitness stuff is a journey. S process. And this is how you do it!!!

CrossFit the Den posted on Facebook

Press 5-3-2-2-1-1-1-1 Then “Annie” 50-40-30-20-10 Double Unders Situps Then 5-5-5-5-5 Weighted Strict Pullups OR Work on your Muscle Ups

Eugene CrossFit posted an article
CrossFit Revival shared an image on Facebook

Anonymous shared an image on Facebook
saulj posted on Facebook

World Series Game 2 Giants vs. KC Royals is on at 5:07. Work out and cheer 'em on! Go Giants!

San Carlos CrossFit shared an image on Facebook

Kids Fitness is a program designed specifically to meet the special neurological, cognitive and motor needs of children. One of the most important aspects of our Kids Fitness classes is that they are FUN! Kids will look forward to coming to class, and will learn that “exercise” is interesting, fun, and worth doing. Our classes are designed to get kids moving properly and under control. They will enhance their coordination and agility, increase flexibility, build strength, power and confidence. All movements are age appropriate and the 45min workouts have been designed specifically by our trainers for children. Age ranges are from 8 -13 year olds. This program is offered on a monthly basis.

Morgan Hill CrossFit shared a link on Facebook

Week21 day3

Morgan Hill CrossFit shared a link on Facebook

Week21 day3

@TabataTimes on Twitter

Watch the latest episode of GPTV