By Spenser Mes
Every Sunday in August, a small but mighty team from CrossFit Virtuosity competed against seven local CrossFit gyms in the Subway Series, an annual competition that crowns the “fittest box” in New York City. Hoping to earn Virtuosity its sixth Series title, our athletes took on four weeks of tough workouts in the Rx and Scaled Divisions. It all started on our home turf in week one.
During the last heat of the last event, a ring of athletes formed around Stephen Moss, the only Virtuosity man brave enough to do “Karen” in the Rx Division. He’d just finished his 125th wall ball shot and was trying to catch his breath. He had 25 more to do in less than a minute. “Alright, pick up the ball,” Justin Fansler yelled. Stephen did, and as he finished five more unbroken, the crowd clapped.
“Come on. You aren’t gonna get timed out,” Josh Polycarpe said while Stephen sunk into a squat, both hands on the ground. “Now pick up the ball. Three, two…” By the time Josh hit one, Stephen was back on his feet. After three more, he collapsed again. “You’ve got fifteen seconds left,” Leland Rechis shouted. “Just go for fifteen seconds.” Stephen cranked out three more reps just under the 10 minute time cap. By the time the ball landed, he was on the floor, the full Virtuosity squad above him, giving high fives.
Though Stephen didn’t finish “Karen,” he wasn’t alone. Half the men were timed out, and for “Diane,” the success rate was even lower. Virtuosity’s Rodrigo Chaves was the only one to finish under the five minute time cap, thanks partly to his opening unbroken round of 21 handstand push-ups. The women were equally strong, with Moran Dankner taking second in “Elizabeth,” Sam Orme coming in third for “Isabel,” and Maibritt Jensen taking fourth in “Fran.”
Off the field, Virtuosity also shone. Josh acted as the competition’s hypeman and MC, and his increasingly hoarse voice could be heard calling athletes, readying judges, and imploring the crowd to “give it up for the laaaaadies.” In between workouts, Sam ran the event with her usual meticulousness: after each of the 36 heats, a bar graph of the standings was updated in real time. Credit also goes to the team of judges because, as Leland pointed out, “the only thing worse than doing Karen is judging Karen.”
Unfortunately, at the end of the day, Virtuosity’s power and grit couldn’t compensate for our lack of depth. We took second to CrossFit Gantry, which outnumbered Virtuosity by a margin of two to one in nearly every event.
Gantry hosted the Series for week two, and conditions were tough. Not only was it sweltering on the floor, but Rx competitors also had to rope climb 15 feet up to the gym ceiling, where it was easily 10 degrees hotter. The heat and the heavy wall ball (30 lbs for men, 20 lbs for women) made finishing difficult, but three of our athletes (Sam, Josh, and Rodrigo) finished under the 14 minute time cap. Josh barely missed third place, Daniel Leslie took second in the “floater” workout (a sprint of 21 medicine ball GHD sit-ups, 15 DB snatches, and 9 burpee-over-boxes), and thanks to knock-out performances by Stephen Moss and Spenser Mestel, Virtuosity won the Scaled Division. However, with homecourt advantage and twice as many athletes, Gantry’s Rx team again overtook Virtuosity’s.
For week three at CrossFit South Brooklyn, competitors needed both strength and stamina. In the first event, a one rep max overhead squat, Virtuosity finished in the middle of the pack. The winners’ numbers were astounding: 330 lbs for the men and 195 lbs for the women. We picked it up in the next workout, where Sam took first in the dog sled pushes, and Virtuosity rallied around its athletes for the final, gruelling event — a mile run, 100 double unders, and a 1000m row. “I remember hearing everyone’s voice, which kept me pushing through the pain,” Josh recalls. “That row was a dark hole.” Rodrigo and Josh took second and third, respectively, and Maibritt Jensen and Anne Ryan finished in the top ten.
At the final competition, hosted by CrossFit Queens, it was all about power. One workout was a series of handstand push-ups at progressively greater deficits, and the other was an ascending five round ladder of deadlifts, hang power cleans, and push jerks. Daniel Leslie was third in the former and second in the latter, and Moran Dankner took third in both.
Despite consistent top three finishes week after week, Virtuosity fell slightly short of the winning spot, taking home second place for the series. CrossFit Gantry was the overall 2016 Subway Series Champion for the Rx Division; CrossFit Prospect Heights took home the top spot in the Scaled Division.
Think this competition thing sounds interesting (or maybe intimidating but still intriguing)? We’re hosting The Virtuosity Games: a FREE in-house competition on Sunday October 16th. Get yourself signed up on the Level 2 whiteboard today!