Memories of The CrossFit Games 2012

I returned from the CrossFit Games exhausted, jet lagged and weary, without even picking up a barbell, but it was worth it. Most of it was my fault for trying to squeeze in the CrossFit games into a weekend without disrupting much patient office time.  I will never take a red eye flight again in my lifetime. It felt like I was in purgatory, I was so tired but could not sleep. I will say if you do have to fly across America that Virgin America does everything they can to make it pleasurable, including ordering food and drink from your seat to video games from your own personal remote control in your seat to a music selection that looks like 400 song iPod. You can even text other people on the plane from the television screen. Anyway back to the Games.

Even the medical team did not know about Pendleton. This secret was withheld from most of the staff. The Marines were there to help out. So as a result I did not get to see Pendleton.  The word was that people were using their fins a lot and were kicking using their quads which came back to bite them during the bike and run. Everyone throughout the weekend kept saying, “These workouts are crazy enough but they just spent themselves on a triathlon.” It kept looming over people’s heads throughout the weekend as they kept pushing.

The first day was extremely muggy and rainy and Californians did not like the weather. The rain definitely played a factor on the Big Bob slowing down people in mud. The Big Bob or Mr. Bob or however you want to call that Egyptian pyramid building machine wreaked havoc on people in a very deceptive way. Here you can see the puddles collecting on the track.


We had a few people that needed forced fluids and a couple for IV fluids. That was the part that amazed me. Most people could get their energy level back on their own without intravenous fluid.  We would pack ice packs all around them in their axillae, trunk, and groin. As they drank water they would start to perk up and feel less nauseated. Once they were walking and peeing and felt like they had a normal temperature, some would venture into the ice baths. As seen here it was like a big recycling bin filled with water and ice.  I felt like getting some 12 ouncers and throwing them on top. Dan Tyminski is seen here enjoying his coconut water.

I do know that if you are Australian and smile, nurses will give you any amount of gauze, bandages, tape, or Neosporin ointment that you want. Fact.  We were inundated with rips on hands from pull-up and muscle up workouts. It got to the point that we would be watching the workout in the medical headquarter room and the ESPN camera would show the winners of that heat and invariably they would show their hands to the camera as if they were showing off their badges of courage. We would then get ready for them knowing they were only 100 yards away from us. Communication was excellent between the teams and judges. We had walkie talkies to link three medical teams that were stationed at the master’s events, stadium events and the track. I should also mention and thank Mr. Brian Thurmond, Navy special amphibious reconnaissance corpsman, and Dr. Michael Ray, Medical Director of the Crossfit Games, who were in charge of the Medical Team and had it running smoothly all weekend long. If a judge thought there was a medical issue they would go stand over the athlete and shoot their hand straight up in the air. The team would watch the athletes and judges although sometimes there was so much action it was tough to watch everything at once. We had breaks so we remained fresh on our watches. We did not want to have too many responders out on the tracks at once as we would get swarmed at the end of workouts with people coming into the tents for care. There was also the athlete service tent which had air-conditioning for the athletes and ample space for stretching out, relaxing and eating.

Plenty of Paleo treats and food..

Reebok was very generous to the athletes and spectators. At the end of the Games, Matt O’Toole Chief Marketing Officer for Reebok, the guy that gives Rich Froning and Annie Thorisdottir their yearly paychecks, announced that they would have an open bar for all the spectators at the end of the Games. Imagine being at Fenway for a Red Sox-Yankees playoff game and the Red Sox ownership says,” Wait don’t leave yet, we don’t want this ride to end, we’re having too much fun, have a (or many) drink(s) on us!”  Very nice touch and thank you Matt.

I will say that Reebok under the direction of Justin Bergh, General Manager of the CrossFit Games, did a stellar job at coordinating so many facets of the Games. From getting the bars cleaned to prevent blood borne diseases to setting up the equipment safely and spacing out the barbells properly, they executed everything right down to the finest details.  I remember the last women’s workout set-up and Justin Bergh himself came out and started moving the barbells to spread them out so no one was on top of each other. At one point Julie Foucher was doing box jumps and a barbell slowly came rolling over to her as her back was turned and she almost came down on the barbell. You could hear people in the crowd slowly gasp as they could imagine what was about to happen if she jumped down on the barbell from the box jump. Luckily she did not get hurt. Unfortunately we did have some injuries.

I don’t want to tell any information about the people that were hurt with all the HIPPA regulations and all. Let’s just say there was a biceps tear at the elbow when the athlete admitted that he tried to curl the wide bar because he could not get his hands around it normally.  A master had a triceps tear off his elbow extending his arm and then was able to finish his workout amazingly which I think involved a rope climb. We had an unfortunate incident during the team workout where an athlete fell off the GHD landing on her back and was sent to the hospital with severe muscle spasms and to get X-rays. Another elite athlete with a history of SVT or supra ventricular tachycardia went into that rhythm during a workout, finished her workout and then with a variety of maneuvers such as Valsalva and carotid massage was able to return to normal sinus rhythm. She was great because she was in this rhythm and wanted to sit right up and cheer on the rest of her friends yet to finish. The announcers were screaming it all weekend; you don’t see any other competition of athletic prowess where your competition sits and waits and screams at you, encouraging you to finish. It is a pretty special site to witness on any given WOD but also when the Fittest of CrossFitters do the same.

Has CrossFit arrived and become mainstream? Yes and I have proof.

The Blimp circling overhead. But also the swarm of crowds around these athletes asking for pictures and autographs alarmed me that this is becoming a pretty popular thing. People walking by looking at the individual athletes like rock stars and you hear, “oh that is such and such and he works out at CF..”

People have asked me what is the best memory of the weekend? Was it gawking incredulously at Rich Froning’s and Annie Thorisdottir’s dominance, seeing the Final Team WOD, taking care of the athletes, hanging out with Daigle talking in metaphors?


The one that got me the most but not a lot of people will see on ESPN was the Wounded Warrior WOD where a group of Wounded Warriors did Fran and then Hope for time. It was over in the parking lot of the Masters area and it started off with about 20-30 people watching them casually stretch out; then their announcer got up and started yelling into the mike at people to get up and start cheering for these gentleman who sacrificed so much for us.  There were athletes with leg prosthetics, braces, wheelchairs, and mental scars that no one could see who started giving it their all once again.  I left with goosebumps and some tears marvelling at what these guys have gone through in the past and what they just went through and then tried patching up their hands after they tore it up for us once again. I leave you with these pictures.


  1. Thanks for having me on, for everyone out there, we just did a podcast on shoulder injuries. I will put it in as the next entry to 321gomd

  2. Great recap Dr. Rockett! Thanks for being on the podcast tonight, great insight.

  3. Sean,

    I can see you very clearly through the accounts told here. I appreciate your style. I am a new devoted follower.

  4. No idea about the wounded warrior competition. They should mainstream this in the ‘big tent’ next year.

  5. Thanks Sean! And thank you for mentioning and highlighting the wounded warrior athletes. Nice to see their participation was supported and appreciated!!

  6. Great pics – thanks for sharing! I am interested in learning more about the medical team…missed the chance to talk to you while in Carson (stuck in the paleo truck line while you and Rasheed were at the table!)…is there a source for info about qualifications, etc? Thanks!

    • I would be happy to talk to you about it, Sean

      • Thanks! Will you be at the 31heroes this Saturday? If so, I’ll try to catch you then.

  7. Very cool perspective. Thanks!

  8. Thanks for giving us a recap of your CF Games experience – sounds like an amazing time. someday………….

About Me

D Sean Rockett, M.D., is an orthopedic surgeon and senior partner of Orthopedics New England with offices in Natick, Newton and Hopkinton, MA. Dr. Rockett is a CrossFit Level 2 Trainer and co-owner of CrossFit Launchpad. He also enjoys being the head orthopedic surgeon of the CrossFit Games Medical team.

About 321GOMD Blog

This blog pro­vides gen­eral infor­ma­tion and dis­cus­sion about med­i­cine, health and related sub­jects. The words and other con­tent pro­vided in this blog, and in any linked mate­ri­als, are not intended and should not be con­strued as med­ical advice. If the reader or any other per­son has a med­ical con­cern, he or she should con­sult with an appropriately-licensed physi­cian or other health care worker.

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