UK Tribal Clash 2017
My First Crossfit Comp…
Other than doing the workouts for the Crossfit Open at the start of 2017, I had never done a proper ‘Crossfit’ competition. When I got asked if I would like to be part of a Tribal Clash team, I was nervous – I can run ok and I can be quick, but I’m not naturally strong and, still being new to the sport, had many technical skills to master. I was afraid of letting ‘the team’ down.
However, I eventually said yes after some reassurance and I am so glad I did because it is one of the best events I have ever taken part in!
I had no idea what to expect…
All I knew was that it was on a beach, in Bantham, South Devon, there would be a ‘rig’ setup and that we were to compete in teams of 6 – 3 girls, 3 boys. In previous years there had been running, swimming, wading, lifting, rope climbing. I was relieved to hear that there was no chance of double-unders as the event is held on sand and that technical skill didn’t really come into it – you just had to get through it (somehow)!
We arrived on the Friday to cast our eyes over one of the most stunning coastlines I have seen in the uk – white sandy beaches and turquoise shores! If the event was terrible, at least the view was amazing!
After checking into our hotel we headed over to the event site to check it out. As we approached, in the fields behind the beach there were lots of food vans and stalls to buy all your gear from, and a giant yurt which acted as the main kitchen/restaurant for the event. The main arena was on the beach and already set – 16 lanes, for heats of 16 teams. Each lane had a rig, we could see various types of equipment such as tyres, logs, sand bags and atlas stone, but what we were doing for each workout didn’t become clear until the briefing that evening when they explained the workouts for the next day.
Day 1 – Let the games begin!
All teams had to be at the beach and ready for kick off at 8:30 sharp on Saturday morning. It was set to be a glorious day with the sun blazing – perfect weather, we could not have been more lucky!
There would be two workouts on the rig in the morning, then a paddle board race on the afternoon, followed by a 5K cross country run with a secrete mini event in the middle – we wouldn’t know what this was until we got there.
The first event consisted of rope swings, then a circuit of overs and unders with a 50kg slosh log – it wasn’t going to be easy, but felt confident that our team could handle the movements, we just needed to make sure our communication was on point. It was this very first event where we realised just how important clear communication with each other was going to be this weekend.
The second event was well out of my comfort zone, the strong man event. Working in pairs (girl/boy), within a time cap, we had to do up and overs on the rig, followed by 3 at atlas stone lifts to shoulder of 44kg for the girls and 66kg for the boys, then if you got past those, another set of 3 lifts with even heavier atlas stones (55kg/77kg).
The catch – if you could do the up and overs on the rig un-assisted then you only had to do one, but if you needed assistance you had to do it 3 times. This was the case for all of our team and we knew it would slow us down, not to mention tired us out for the next section of the workout.
The second half of the day was right up my street, and I felt at ease knowing that I could comfortable do the two afternoon events and even be able to pay my dues and return the advise and support my team had given me so far, but this time for my area of expertise – paddle boarding.
The paddle board race was carnage, but a lot of fun and we didn’t fall in! Our only downfall as a team was that we were too polite and not aggressive enough as a team. Rather than risk bumping and falling in we gave way to far too many teams which in turn slowed us down, however when you consider the time it might have taken to reload the board in deep water had we all have fallen in – then perhaps it may have working out the same.
Event 4, aptly named ‘The Cannibal Run’ was possibly one of the most challenging and gruelling 5K runs I have ever done, kicking off with a beach sprint your glutes were already on fire by the time you got to the dunes. Again, I was too polite and waited in line to climb the stairs when I should have just scaled the steep sand walls like the others too keep my place near(ish) the front. The course then bottle necked 2 more times – once in the dunes and once in a wooded area at the bottom of the valley. once out of the bottle neck we discovered the secrete event – a timed hill sprint up one of the steepest hills I have ever seen – we just dont get them like that around my local area! Once at the top we had a scenic run along the cliff path before being taken back down that nasty hill, and then back up again (because one hill sprint was obviously not enough) for the final sprint to the finish line.
We rounded off the day with a team beer, some grub and our briefing on the schedule of events and workouts for day 2.
Day one complete!
Day 2 – The day of ‘Biblical Rain’
The weather could not have been more different in contrast on Day 2. It became known very quickly as the day of ‘biblical rain’. My clothes were soaked before the first event event started. The torrential rain and stormy winds showed no sign of letting up. In fact, a few teams actually didn’t bother competing and went home it was that bad.
We just had to get through 2 events today, then it was on to the semi finals and the much anticipated finals.
Event 1, The Sandstorm (with the weather to match) was possibly my worst, most dreaded event. The equipment involved a 250kg sandbag worm – if you are not sure what one of these is – look at the photo below…
In this event we had a 15min time cap in which we were expected to clean the sandbag worm to our shoulders, perform 2 squats, then pass the worm overhead before doing the same the other side. A total of 25 reps of this complex had to be completed before we could move onto the next stage, as many rope climbs as possible in the remaining time.
The sandbag was just so unbelievably heavy! If you didn’t pick it up exactly in sync with the rest of the team, the weight would cascade down into the last persons section, making it impossible to complete the clean. This workout nearly broke me, I was a few seconds away from having a full on diva moment. tears were beginning to creep into my eyes, in my head I was convinced I was letting everyone down, it was just so heavy! And to top it off every time you didn’t quite make it the gritty back would slice into your skin as it slid off your shoulder back onto the ground. I really had to work hard to pull my self together and grit through it – I just couldn’t face let the team down.
Event 2 was a little better – more running, 1k total, but with the 50kg slosh log followed by 32 burpee tyre jump throughs and as many shoulder-to-overheads as possible within the 15 mins time cap. The saving grace with this workout was that we could split the work however we wanted, playing on our strengths and weaknesses. We split the work, creating a team of 4 for the log run, leaving 2 behind to get started on the burpee jump-throughs, we would help with the remaining burpees when we got back from the run. Then split the team in 2 again for the tyre shoulder presses.
For us, this is where the event ended. We didn’t make it through to the finals, but then we knew we probably wouldn’t and that this was a ‘just for fun’ event for us!
4 sets of dry clothes changes later and my pockets feeling lighter after a shopping spree (for more dry clothes – thank god for Bear Strength clothing staying open as all the other concessions tents had been flooded out) my first Tribal Clash was over. I headed over to the food tent to grab some lunch before watching the final events – the rain had begun to calm down by now.
My round up…
This event, by far has been one of the most challenging, but fun fuelled team events I have ever taken part in. You really do have to work as a team, no matter how fit or strong you may be – communication and support is key to get through each workout (except for the 5K run). My team were great – the encouragement and support from the throughout the weekend was amazing, I hope I returned it too!
I loved that the events combined a mixture of challenges that levelled the playing field – you couldn’t just be the best at running or speed, you couldn’t just rely on being strong, your skill set had to be able to adapt beyond the box environment, you had to be an all round athlete.
It’s safe to say, this will not be my one an only Crossfit competition, I will definitely be going back to do another Tribal Clash and will be looking out for other events to try too!
Tips for those of thinking for competing in 2018
- If this is your first event – you are going to love it, its a lot of fun and embraces everything that Crossfit is about and more. Dont worry if you haven’t got the technicalities of movements down yet – this event isn’t technical, its about team work, sheer grit and determination. You got this!
- Make sure you practice working as a team before the event – we did, but probably not enough, and hadn’t realised just how much communication is key. If you don’t work as a team, you wont get anywhere!
- Bring clothing for all weathers and lots of it!
- Don’t be too polite – its a competition after all – we gave way to too many people throughout the various events when we should have been more aggressive and fought for our place.
- Relax – enjoy the event, take it all in! It’s not just about winning, its about supporting each other – the tribal spirit!