The intention of the Masters Fitness Collective (MFC) during its inaugural year in 2020 was to provide the competitive Masters community with a proper end to their season, since the COVID-19 pandemic prevented CrossFit from doing so themselves.
The event organizers weren’t sure if it would last more than one year — but thankfully, the idea caught on.
The third iteration of the MFC took place in Fort Wayne, Indiana, from October 20-22, 2022. This year, more than 500 athletes in 37 different divisions were put through three days of competition. And while there are countless incredible stories to tell, here are a few that stood out to us.
Editor’s Note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein 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.
The MFC added a 30-34-year-old division in 2021, which is something that does not exist in the CrossFit Games season. That’s likely because about a quarter of the men’s and women’s fields in the Elite divisions at the Games are athletes 30-34 years old on average, meaning it’s not an age group that struggles to qualify.
However, adding this division to the MFC is nothing but a positive. The men’s division this year was particularly electric, as former Games athlete Elijah Muhammad battled against — and ultimately got the win over — Gary Jones and Cam Ryan throughout the weekend.
On the other side of the spectrum is the 65-plus division. And while everyone in that division is phenomenal, there are a few athletes well over 65 who threw down in impressive ways.
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Holding the mantle for the oldest competitor was 83-year-old Jacinto Bonilla from CrossFit South Brooklyn. And while there weren’t any women in their 80s, 74-year-old Lana Marcine took the overall win in the women’s 65-plus division; 72-year-old Pat Rhodes took second.
For the first time, MFC introduced six masters team divisions: 30-39 men and women, 40-49 men and women, and 50-59 men and women.
It doesn’t really matter how “good” you are as a CrossFitter — for a lot of people, it’s just a lot less intimidating and physically demanding to compete as part of a team than on your own. Hopefully, this is something we will see more of in the future so CrossFitters of all ages can have more avenues to challenge themselves through live competitions.
Here are a few notable standouts who participated in the team division:
- Ron Ortiz: 2016 CrossFit Games champion men’s 50-54.
- Mike Sabato: Two-time Wodapalooza Strong champion (2019 and 2020).
- Cathy Teel: She’s involved in the CrossFit Masters community and tour manager of the Garage Games Masters Tour, which put on 25 events across the U.S. in 2022.
In terms of competition itself, the battle in the women’s 40-44 Elite division between Anna Tobias, Jenn Ryan, and Sarah Blunck was one of the best shows this weekend. Tobias eventually took the win, but these three women combined took 22 out of 27 possible first-, second-, or third-place finishes and were regularly battling against each other.
Tobias was a five-time individual CrossFit Games qualifier and had a career-best finish of 9th in 2013. She’s also a former Olympic gold medalist (Laser Radial sailing in 2008) and has more recently (2018 and 2019) claimed two first-place medals at the CrossFit Games in the 35-39-year-old Masters division.
Ramirez has one of the more impressive resumes of any CrossFit athlete in history. He was a four-time consecutive champion in the 40-44 men’s division from 2014-2017. In 2018, he finished second to Neal Maddox but unfortunately failed a drug test in December of that year.
The 2022 MFC was Ramirez’s return to live CrossFit competition after serving his four-year ban. He took third in the competition and was a visible presence cheering on fellow competitors and enjoying the overall ambiance.
The number of times people on the grounds there talked about how uplifting the Masters community is cannot be overstated. The support in the warm-up areas, in the corrals, from the perimeter of the competition floor, and in the stands was positive across the board and added to a truly unique atmosphere.
[Related: Tia-Clair Toomey Confirms She Will Attempt to Win Her Seventh Consecutive CrossFit Games in 2023]
Don’t be mistaken, they are all competitive, but to have conversations with athletes who were experiencing this for the first time, or the first time in a long time, stole the show over the course of the weekend.
Featured Image: @fitjacinto on Instagram