CrossFit Master Athletes Share Views on 2020 Season

Master athletes all qualify to the CrossFit Games at the same time. Unlike elite individual and team athletes, whose journey to the Games could involve multiple pathways, missing out on the Age Group Online Qualifier (AGOQ) means no Games invite for Master athletes.

CrossFit announced they have extended the video review process of the AGOQ workouts to the 29th April from the original deadline of 13th April.

Right now, however, there is the big cloud of the COVID-19 hanging over everyone’s head. The virus has evolved to become a worldwide pandemic and almost every country is in lockdown, with gyms closing, travel restricted and social distancing in place.

With the progression of the virus unknown with regard to timeframes when things might return to normal, CrossFit has hinted that there may be a need to look at alternatives to the Games in Madison.

For athletes who have recently earnt their spots to the Games, or who are likely to have qualified through the AGOQ, training hard for something that might actually never happen is unprecedented and hard. To add to this, most athletes around the world are currently having to train from home, with whatever equipment they might have available to them.

These are the thoughts of a couple of Masters athletes regarding their current training situation and the COVID-19 and the prospect of the CrossFit Games being cancelled, postponed or changed.


Ron Ortiz

3rd place 50-55 age group – 9th Games invite

Ron just (unofficially) qualified his 9th CrossFit Games, this time in the 50-55 age group. He has stood on top of the podium twice and once in third place over these multiple visits to the Games. After having last year off competition, he has returned this year and, despite being one of the older athletes in his age group, he still dominated the AGOQ.

COVID-19 has brought some interesting challenges for Ron, especially with him not having a home gym set up.

“At this point in the year, I feel I am living each day in the dark,” he said when asked how he was feeling right now. “The gym I work out at has been closed until further notice and with my recent move, I no longer have a personal home gym.

“I have a gym at my fire station but being a fire fighter during the COVID-19 outbreak has been challenging, to say the least.

“We had a scare at my department with a colleague who tested positive forcing me to quarantine and monitor my health more closely. I’ve taken the time to realize that there is something bigger than what chaos has been created by COVID-19.

“I’m doing my best to workout with what I have. I’ve been incorporating more aerobic capacity workouts and targeting nutrition and mobility more closely. This is not done alone, but alongside of my amazing coaches who have helped me adapt to these global changes quickly and effectively,” Ron said.

“I’m thankful for the knowledge of Jason Layden, Chris Hinshaw, and Duke Van Vleet to keep me focused on the 2020 Games because at this point it has not been cancelled, so we aren’t cancelling our efforts,” he added.

Last year, instead of competing, Ron joined the incredible volunteer medical team at The CrossFit Games. “Even though I did not compete last year at the 2019 Games, I was fortunate enough to be a part of the amazing medic team that I honestly feel don’t get enough credit for who they are and what they do.

“I was standing amongst orthopaedic surgeons, internal medicine doctors, and ER doctors who were there volunteering their time for the athletes just out of the goodness of their hearts. It was really eye opening to me and gave me a sense of pride.

“But that was my motivation to come back this year. I never wanted to be on that side of the Games again. I missed the competition and the athlete comradery aspects of the Games.”

Jenn Ryan

1st place 40-44 age group – 4th invite to the Games

Jenn has competed at the CrossFit Games three times, twice in a team for Invictus, and last year in the 35-39 age group. She “aged up” this year into the 40-44 age group. When asked how her training had been this season she reported:

“On Sept 17, I had an emergency appendectomy for an acute appendicitis, so about 3 weeks before the Open.  I knew I would be able to compete but wasn’t sure where my fitness was at that point, since I had taken time to travel and reset after the Games, and then for the first two weeks post-op I was drastically modifying workouts.”

With this in mind, it was an incredible effort for Jenn to place 3rd after the Open.

Other than that Jenn said her season has been similar to previous years training at Invictus with her crew.

The first week of March she competed on a team at the Brazil CrossFit Championships with Invictus. “That was a blast – I truly LOVE competing on a team,” she said. “It’s definitely pretty awesome getting to be out on that floor with people almost half my age! You can really forget about being 40 when adrenaline is pumping!” she added.

“Unfortunately I got very sick and had jet lag as soon as I returned to San Diego that Monday, so leading into the Qualifiers I was like, welp, here we go… this was also during the time when things surrounding COVID-19 were ramping up.

“Invictus was still open so we didn’t have any issues with being able to perform the workouts, thankfully. I had Briana Gaipa (35-39 year old and seventh place finisher) and Kelsey Schulte (16-17 year old and 14th place) down because my coach Tino Marini is also their coach.”

When asked about her thoughts on the current situation and the possibility of the Games being postponed, she replied: “It’s a little interesting right now moving forward because we don’t know if there will be a CrossFit Games or not come August.

“I’m not really concerning myself with the future, just doing my usual right now. There’s not really much I can do to control the decision CrossFit HQ makes, but I can control my outlook and my effort, and that never changes.

“I enjoy what I do, and the change-up in training at home and outside has been a welcomed turn of events for me.  I will say I was looking forward to meeting the ladies in the new age group I moved into this year and seeing everyone from last year at the Games. I think that’s the really cool thing about competitions is getting to connect with the other women. But I think we still build a bond no matter what.”

Janet Black

Drew 3rd at the AGOQ 45-49 age group – 8th Games invite

Janet has just (unofficially) qualified for her eighth CrossFit Games. Last year was her first year in the 45-49 age group, where she claimed the top spot on the podium.

That was the second time she stood on top of the podium, as she also placed first in 2015 in the 40-44 age group.

When Janet was asked about her thoughts regarding the likelihood of the Games going ahead, she replied: “Really not sure but kind of feel 50/50 about it. Making an 8th trip would be cool but it’s also an 8th trip.”

She acknowledged it is going to be a hard decision whether the Games go ahead or are cancelled, with everything so unknown right now. She also acknowledged the decision“needs to be made in a timely fashion.”

When asked how she keeps making the CrossFit Games every year she very humbly replied: “I’m just playing along and somehow it works!”

Gregg Geerdes

1st place 50-54 age group – 4th Games invite

This will be Greggs fourth invite to The CrossFit Games.

He previously competed in 2015, 2016 and 2019, where he placed second in this age category.

When asked how things were with his training, he claimed not a whole lot has changed for him with the current COVID-19 situation.

He mostly trained out of his garage and, other than no longer dropping into friends’ boxes to train, or having friends drop into his garage, it’s simply business as usual.

Lynn Knapman

3rd place 60+ age group – 11th Games invite

Lynn is in third place finisher of the AGOQ, making this the 11th year she will qualify for the CrossFit Games.

It is her first year in the 60+ age group and, whilst she has never won the Games before, she has stood on the podium twice and placed fourth for the last three years in the 55-59 age group.

Lynn normally trains at CrossFit Active under the guidance of Chad Mackay. When asked her thoughts on this season and how things are going with the COVID-19 situation she replied:

“I’m pleased I have qualified for the Games. That’s my goal each year.

“I’m training in my Garage with a few minor adjustments. My box, CrossFit Active, has put on virtual classes and I’m doing those as part of my training and loving them. I usually train by myself so being part of the class is the silver lining.

“I’ve had some virtual coaching from Chad Mackay who also is a genius at programming.”

How’s your training going where you are? Let us know in the comments section below.

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