2010 CrossFit Games Finals

No Country For Old Men

Musings from a Master who didn't make it.

Hari Singh competed at the Northeast Regional Masters division in an attempt to qualify for the 2010 CrossFit Games at the Home Depot Center in Los Angeles. Here are his thoughts from the process.

Every fall, newly arrived freshmen at the top universities of the world come to a sobering realization, they are no longer special. Being valedictorian of their high school class means nothing anymore. Everyone was valedictorian. The same phenomenon occurs within the training programs for elite military units.  

Many new arrivals never adjust to the increased altitude. Some find their way; others do not. Some are inspired to work harder than ever before. And of course some really are special - even at that level.

For the most part, the stratification of the elite is finished by the time they reach their mid-to-late twenties. Competition continues, but it is more subtle. Rarely do those who have made it through the early hurdles ever again have to prove themselves from scratch.  

To get into graduate school, you need to demonstrate academic competence. But twenty years later, if you want to run for public office, nobody will know or care about your undergraduate grades. All that will matter is that you graduated. None of us know what Law School Admissions Test percentile the future president fell into. The notion of being evaluated and ranked based on a test of any type is pretty much a distant memory by the time we reach midlife. It certainly was for me. But then I decided to enter the CrossFit Masters competition.

Until last month, I was pretty much the best middle-aged CrossFitter I knew. As an owner of CrossFit NYC, I see a fair number of athletes. Plenty are better than me, but they’re all younger. When the Masters competition was announced, I was pretty sure I would do well. I had the requisite twenty rounds of “Cindy” needed to convince myself that I was a contender. Sure, I had my weaknesses (double-unders, for one!)  But hell, none of those things could really matter that much, if I was competing only against people my own age. Wrong!

CrossFit slapped me with something I had completely forgotten about. It ranked me, ruthlessly, precisely, and with zero sympathy. The test was fair and professionally administered. It told me the truth, and unlike my college grades or test scores, the results are available for the world to see.  I finished 84th.

So now I need to decide. Do I really want to put up with this crap? I’m fifty two years old. I’ve graduated from top schools. I serve on corporate boards. I’ve made it as a CEO. There is no reason for me to put myself in a place where I can finish last. But this is exactly what I am going to do. I haven’t seen this sort of clarity or honesty in ages. Maybe I’ve never seen it. Academic admissions have a large political component. So does climbing the corporate ladder. But in CrossFit, nothing matters at game time but the results. There is only one way I’m moving on in this sport.   

I’ll be back next year.

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15 comments on this entry

1. Mary wrote...

I loved this article. Especially the line, "It ranked me, ruthlessly, precisely, and with zero sympathy." That line scared me and inspired me all at the same time. I can't wait to throw my hat in the ring next year and embrace turning fifty.

2. Gina Dickman wrote...

Hari, You exemplify "Bad-Ass". You are the spirit of competition at it's most basic, honest level. Congratulations.

3. steve fluet wrote...

I agree 100%. I competed in the Northeast Regional masters games as well. It was very fair - a true test and one that has me more motivated then ever for next year. I finished 38th and that was an eye opener for me as well. Thanks Hari for sharing your story

4. Allison Belger wrote...

Thanks for a great article. You are clearly very humble and grounded, and I enjoyed reading your honest perspective about topics I've thought about many times myself. Good luck to you in your pursuit of the Games 2011!

5. nadia Shatila wrote...

hari-

we met back in 2007 in portland for our level 1. you impressed me then and you continue to impress me now. i enjoyed your article and I love your attitude.

hope to see you again someday!

best,
nadia

6. Derek Mohamed wrote...

Great article. Awesome attitude and perspective.

Best of Luck, Hari!

7. K Malz wrote...

Keep persevering Hari!

8. Cavanaugh Christopher wrote...

Sir
I salute you. IT was a wake up call for me. The 3 wods were perfect no complaints here. I gave it a run in the dirty south and can honestly say it was a high I had never experienced before. The training has already been ratcheted up for next year on my end. I will return as well sir. Train hard, eat right and go like hell.
16th place

9. Jon M wrote...

Hari-

Great piece. You my boy blue!

10. Gary Olson wrote...

I competed at the North Central Masters event this year and loved it. I am training for next summer and I know I will need to be twice as good just to compete for the top 15. You can do it, keep training.

11. Scott Lewis wrote...

Awesome work Hari. It was fun watching you compete.

Best of luck in LA.

12. Christin wrote...

Inspirational piece. I hope to meet you some day, Hari!

13. Steve Lampl wrote...

Hari,

Your message is right on-point and very inspirational! I have been CrossFitting about a year and a half and have never been more competitive (even with myself) in my life. I am working to train for next year's Masters when I will be sixty. And I love your final line - - "There is only on way I am moving on in this sport." I believe and embrace that concept every day. Thank you! Hope to meet you in 2011!

14. john wopat wrote...

I had the good fortune to share breakfast with Hari on Saturday morning of the competition where we discussed this very topic. One of the unexpected treats of XFit is the chance to meet such interesting, thoughtful people as Hari. Strong bodies, strong minds. But, excuse me, I've got to get back to working on those dammed double unders! Good luck to all the masters in LA!

15. Leslie wrote...

You rock Hari. Congrats on this great article!!!

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