2023 TYR Wodapalooza Individual Event Preview: “Start Fast & Finish Strong”

Take a look at one of the hardest upcoming Individual events at the 2023 WZA.

The 2023 Wodapalooza (WZA) competition will be flush with unique and diverse challenges for all of the top-tier athletes in attendance when it kicks off on Jan. 12 in Miami’s Bayfront Park. The “Start Fast & Finish Strong” Individual event is a two-part challenge and will test each competitor on their coordination, conditioning, and willpower. 

When the athletes take the floor for this workout, there will be 200 points up for grabs. Although it’s announced as one workout, there are two distinct parts to it: 

Part A

With a four-minute time cap, complete 11-22-11 reps of:

  • Toes-to-Bar
  • Hurdle Jumps (24/18 inches)
  • 44-yard Shuttle Run in an 11-22-11 yard shuttle style

Part B

At the five-minute mark, complete for time with a 10-minute time cap:

  • 1,000-meter Row
  • 20 D-Ball Cleans (150/100 pounds)
  • 300-foot D-Ball Bear Hug Carry

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Editor’s Note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein and in the video are the author’s and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.

Part A — “Start Fast”

The first portion of this event will reward the athlete who is snappy on the toes-to-bar, who can rebound the hurdle jumps, and who can get out of the gates quickly on the turns during the shuttle runs. There’s nowhere to stop and breathe here in what will likely be an extremely tight race, with dozens of scores coming in quick succession.

Below are the likely leaders in “Start Fast,” as well as some possible dark horse standouts and two athletes who may have to look elsewhere to make up ground after this one. 

Picks to Win: Emily Rolfe and Ricky Garard

Emily Rolfe might seem like a surprise pick here, but she was 10th on the 500-meter run at the Games in 2021 (and is a good runner in general). She also won the toes-to-bar running workout that year. It may not have been a critical factor from a time domain perspective, but Rolfe was good enough to hold off against some of the best in the world in that movement, such as Kristi O’Connell, Haley Adams, and Sam Briggs.

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On the other hand, Ricky Garard isn’t an athlete you should pigeonhole into only being good at a specific event: Garard had 10 individual top-10 finishes at the 2022 Games, and he thrives in situations that demand tremendous general athleticism. He led the pack after the toes-to-bar portion of “Bike to Work” in 2022, took second place in the running portion of “Shuttle to Overhead,” and took third in “Up and Over.” If he keeps that up in Miami, “Start Fast” should be a home run for him. 

Dark Horses: Henrik Haapalainen and Sydney Wells

General athleticism will decide Part A, and it is a strength for both Henrik Haapalainen and Sydney Wells. If you want to win an event like this, you need chops on both the shuttle run and legless rope climb. Haapalainen won that event at the 2022 Strength In Depth Semifinals in London, finishing in the top 10 in the world at the time. 

On the other hand, Wells has a track background. She couldn’t ask for a better cut of meat to sink her teeth into than a triplet of running, jumping, and simple gymnastics. If there was any workout these two athletes were to stand out in, it’s this one. 

Damage Control: Sara Sigmundsdóttir and Brent Fikowski

This event will likely answer many lingering questions about Sara Sigmundsdóttir‘s current capabilities as she makes her return to elite competition in Miami. Shuttle runs involve agile cutting, and hurdle jumps — especially if they contain lateral movement — put plenty of stress on the knees as well. Even if she doesn’t perform particularly well, she will have a chance to steal plenty of points from her fellow contenders, but only time will tell.

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At the 2016 CrossFit Games, Brent Fikowski won a short time-domain event involving high-speed box jumps. It also contained D-Ball cleans, which he excelled at. Part A doesn’t have anything he can’t handle, but it’s hard to say how he’ll fare against the rest of the field. There are plenty of athletes who can perform well at this event — and Fikowski may be caught in the crossfire. 

Part B — “Finish Strong”

The second half of the event will reward sheer power. Composure on the row, discipline on the sandbag cleans, and a strong back and grip will separate the leaders from the rest of the pack. Here are some of the favorites to win, a few athletes who may surprise, and those who may need to take Part B on the chin and keep chugging along. 

Picks to Win: Roman Khrennikov and Dani Speegle

If you look at the row paired with an odd-object or strongman-inspired challenge, you can probably just call this one for Roman Khrennikov. He may not cement his lead on the row portion, but he is right at home in Part B and will likely bag a win here. 

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Similarly, powerhouse competitor Dani Speegle should manage just fine on the row portion. As fans have seen throughout this past season, Speegle can move a sandbag or D-Ball like no other. Speegle won a similar event at last year’s WZA, where she was tasked with carrying a tremendous sandbag as well. 

Dark Horses: Luke Parker and Sydney Wells

Sydney Wells has struggled in the past with certain skill work and heavy lifting, particularly when competing against the top women in North America. That said, her work capacity has never been in doubt. Wells finished in 6th place during “Regional Finale ’17” at the West Coast Classic in 2021, which featured sandbag cleans as the capstone challenge. 

On the other hand, Luke Parker is built for Part B — he’s large, strong, and has long arms, all of which are qualities that lend their services well to this event. Parker also has something to prove at WZA this year, as he’ll be throwing down with elite individual athletes instead of competing as part of a team. He’ll need to build confidence on the floor; powering through this event will be critical if he wants to set the tone. 

Damage Control: Jonne Koski and Emma Cary

Part B will test every athlete’s horsepower and ability to grind through grunt work. Jonne Koski and Emma Cary certainly possess these qualities, but relative to their respective fields, they have an inherent size disadvantage here. 

Both are sure to turn in respectable performances, but if you’re Koski and you’re working against heavier, taller men like Khrennikov, Vellner, and Fikowski, Part B becomes more about damage control than establishing a lead. Cary is likely to face a similar challenge if she wants to remain in the conversation for the overall podium. 

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Featured Image: @dellespeegle on Instagram