WheelWOD Games: a friendly adventure with adaptive athletes

I got to spend the last five days in Collingwood, Ontario at the WheelWOD Games. I never imagined in my life that I would leave on our nation’s birthday to go to our neighbor to the north for an adaptive athlete competition.

My first impressions of the WheelWOD games

Adaptive CrossFit athletes
All of the athletes gathered for a group photo after Day 1 of the WheelWOD Games at CrossFit Indestri in Collingwood, ON.

No Excuses CrossFit had an athlete make it through two stages of the online worldwide qualifier to reach the Games and it was a pleasure to coach her this weekend.

I thought I had seen a lot of people do amazing things when I was covering sports as a newspaper reporter for 10 years, but this weekend was on a whole different level.

The adaptive athletes at the WheelWOD Games come from so many different backgrounds.

Some people were born without limbs or with conditions that put them in a wheelchair. Others experienced rare injuries or illnesses that put them in a wheelchair or left unable to use all of their limbs.

But they all shared one thing in common — they were super friendly.  

The WheelWOD Games brought different people together

WheelWOD adaptive athletes
Day 2 of the WheelWOD Games featured a swim in the Georgian Bay.

There was such a diverse group of people, not only in their adaptations, but in their origins too. There were Americans, Canadians, and Brazilians. People from Ukraine and Sweden. I got to witness a great snapshot of the diversity of adaptive athletes worldwide.

Despite their different adaptations and native countries, the all bonded instantly.

They would share stories of what made them an adaptive athlete and they would crack jokes about each other.

The most famous person of the group was Kevin Ogar, who suffered an injury that paralyzed him from the waist down while lifting and since then has become the poster child for adaptive athletes doing CrossFit.

Memorable moments of the 2018 WheelWOD Games

Did I mention how friendly everyone was to each other? One division would do their workout and then everyone would hang around to watch and cheer them on. Between workouts they hung out together under the shade of trees or the Equip Products vendor booth.

Adaptive WheelWOD competition
Athletes listen on as the final WOD is announced on the last day of the WheelWOD Games.

You can take your pick from a laundry list of moments that stood out from the four-day competition.

Like on day one they guy with one arm doing a 300-pound clean. Or the guy that could barely lift the axl bar and a dozen people surrounding him to cheer him on. Or what about the guy with one leg doing box jumps and a guy with one arm doing rope climbs.

What’s next for CrossFit adaptive athletes?

The main person behind WheelWOD is Chris Stoutenburg, who is affectionately known as ‘Stouty.’ You could call him the Dave Castro of the WheelWOD Games, but as he put it ‘I smile a lot more than him.’

From talking to some of the people at the WheelWOD Games, the goal is to get an adaptive athlete division at the The Games. It makes sense. They’ve added a teens division and expanded the masters divisions. The next step should be an adaptive division. That way the rest of the world can see how friendly, fun, and competitive the adaptive athlete world is in the highest level of competition.


WheelWOD Games videos

WheelWOD Games Day 1 highlights

WheelWOD Games Day 2 highlights

WheelWOD Games Day 3 highlights

WheelWOD Games Day 4 highlights

WheelWOD Games WOD 3

WheelWOD Games WOD 6


The following is a daily update of how No Excuses CrossFit’s Amy Hood performed at the WheelWOD Games.

Wednesday, July 4

The women’s seated division gathered for a group photo after the final workout of the WheelWOD Games.

DAY 1 WHEEL WOD UPDATE: After a long day of travel, Amy made it to Collingwood, Ontario for the WheelWOD Games. She flew into Toronto and then drove about two hours north to Collingwood. Imagine flying into Atlanta and then taking Buford Highway all the to Suwanee. It’s a long drive on a two-lane road. But it was very scenic with the farmland and cows.

Collingwood has a population of 22,000 people, so a little bigger than the city of Suwanee. It’s known as a ski town in the winter and a beach town in the summer.

Right now they are in a heatwave and it was in the low 90s today. So it feels just like home. 🙂 It’s supposed to cool down a little bit on Friday and Saturday.

Luckily, Amy’s first WOD is at CrossFit Indestri in Collingwood and it’s air conditioned and it has showers. Sounds like a magical gym.

Amy competes at 2 pm on Thursday and in the first workout. It’s two parts — Helen, followed by a 1-rep max clean. I’ll try to get it on Facebook Live.


Thursday, July 5

DAY 2 WHEELWOD UPDATE: The WheelWOD Games kicked off today at CrossFit Indestri in Collingwood, Ontario. CrossFit Indestri is the home gym for ‘Stouty’, the guy that runs WheelWOD and is helping host the event with the UG Games.

adaptive athlete crossfit
Athletes competed on the shore of the Georgian Bay with a beautiful backdrop of the lake and ski mountains in the background.

All the athletes from every adaptive division were at CrossFit Indestri and the overall vibe is that everyone is really friendly. Amy got to meet the other ladies in her division and some athletes from other divisions.

As for the workout, it was two parts. ‘Helen on wheels’ followed by a 1-rep max clean. Amy did great in the event and had a much better time than when she tested the workout a few weeks ago. She picked up a rowing tip from another athlete in her division and that helped. The kettlebell standard was a little different than what we practiced.

“Chris’ version of everything is always harder,” Amy said. “This will be easier.”

Amy was able to knockout the kettlebell swings, which was more of a lift from her lap and press over her head. She did really well on the pull-ups and finished ‘Helen on wheels’ in 14:12. That left her 48 seconds to get a 1-rep max clean. She tried 60 pounds twice and missed. With less than 10 seconds on the clock and she needed to get a lift in or risk getting a zero for the workout, we stripped the 2.5-pound plates off the bar. She then hit a 55-pound clean right before time expired.

It was strong finish for Day 1 and helped shake the nerves out for the competition.

Day 2 of the competition moves outdoor to the shores of Georgian Bay. Amy will have a max calorie ski erg, followed by a swim and a run around 1 pm. The second workout of clean and jerk with ring pull ups will be at 6 pm.

The Facebook live didn’t go as well as planned with a bad internet connection. I’m going to try something else on Friday and hope to get a video up later in the day.

You can also checkout WheelWOD’s Facebook live. https://www.facebook.com/Wheelwod/


Friday, July 6

WheelWOD Games Adaptive athlete
No Excuses CrossFit’s Amy Hood performs a reverse sled drag during the final workout of the WheelWOD Games.

DAY 3 WHEELWOD UPDATE: The WheelWOD Games moved from the comfy confines of CrossFit Indestri to outdoors at the UG Games.

The UG Games is the largest functional fitness event in Canada and takes place on the shores of the Georgian Bay with the historic Collingwood grain elevators and the view of the ski hills as the backdrop.

Heavy rains on Thursday afternoon and evening drastically cooled off the temperatures in Collingwood from low 90s to upper 60s on Friday.

There was two workouts on Friday — a long endurance WOD and then about four hours later a short couplet.

The first workout was listed as a 10-minute max calorie row, followed by a 400-meter swim and then a 2K run. However, the run seemed a lot longer than 2K. Either way, it was basically doing a sprint triathlon.

The ski was not a problem and Amy may have had a slight advantage on some athletes that had never used a ski erg.

The swim was an out and back. It was tough swimming out against the current, but it was a much smoother swim on the way back with the current carrying her in.

“That sucked,” said Amy as she climbed out of the water onto the dock. “I swallowed so much water.”

The event director gave Amy the option to finish the run or go ahead and take the time cap on the event. That didn’t sit well with Amy.

adaptive athlete competition workout
Athletes listen to ‘Stouty’ has he briefs WOD 1 of the WheelWOD Games at CrossFit Indestri.

“I’m going to finish the workout. Why wouldn’t I?,” an exasperated Amy said. “If there was anything I was not going to do it would have been the swim.”

That left Amy with about 24 minutes to complete the run, which was a scenic view along the lake’s coast, through some nature trails and around a park.

With the time cap looming and the finish line a few hundred meters away, Amy sprinted the last 200 meters to finish the workout under the time cap in 59:18.

After about a four break, the day ended with a 15-12-9 couplet of clean and jerk and ring pull ups. The clean and jerk was not a problem as Amy cycled the 45-pound barbell pretty quickly. However, the ring pull ups were an issue on the round of 12. Amy struggled to get positioning and had a few failed reps. Once she re-positioned she was able to knock out the rest of the reps. Amy headed to the round of nine ring pull ups with one minute remaining before the time cap and with one second to spare finished the workout in 7:59.

Saturday will be a big day with three workouts, beginning at 9 am.


Saturday, July 7

wheelwod games adaptive athlete crossfit
Athletes in the seated division catch some shade before the final workout of the WheelWOD Games.

DAY 4 WHEELWOD UPDATE: The WheelWOD Games got off to an early start on Saturday for Day 4 of the event. The athletes competed in three workout and Amy saved her best performance for the final workout of the day.

The day begin with a 9-minute AMRAP of 15 push ups, 10 dumbbell snatches, and 5 sit to box. Amy battled toe-to-toe with one of the top athletes in the competition and had her best finish of all the workouts up to that point.

After about a two-hour break, the athletes competed in their seventh workout of the competition. This workout was 20-15-10-5 of dumbbell deadlifts and dumbbells swings. This was a workout that was announced Friday night, so Amy and the other athletes were unable to practice prior to the competition.

Amy cruised through the 20-pound dumbbell deadlifts and was on track to finish the workout in the 10-minute time cap. However, the 20-pound dumbbell swings began to take a toll on her shoulder and she was unable to finish the final five reps before the time cap.

The day ended with Amy’s best performance of the WheelWOD Games. The eighth workout was a 30-foot wheelie and three chest-to-rings. The wheelie involved moving on your wheelchair’s back two wheels while the front two wheels were off the ground.

Amy breezed through the wheelies and remained calm and confident with the chest-to-rings to come away with a runner-up finish in the workout.

Sunday is the final day of the WheelWOD Games with two workouts scheduled.


Sunday, July 8

Day 5 WHEELWOD GAMES UPDATE: After five days of nine grueling workouts, the WheelWOD Games came to an end on Sunday.

Workout number eight was 100 Russian twists followed by 21-15-9 of wall balls and ball over shoulder, and then 50 ring dips.

wheelwod games crossfit athlete
With just 10 months of CrossFit experience, Amy Hood qualified for the WheelWOD Games in Collingwood, ON.

Amy cruised through the Russian twists, but the wall balls posed a problem. She was no-repped nearly 20 times on the round of 21. She was able to make her way back to the round of 15 wall balls, but the time cap expired at 11 minutes.

The ninth and final workout of the competition was announced about 30 minutes before it was time to workout. The final WOD was a 15-minute AMRAP of five lap-to-shoulder with a 40-pound D-ball, followed by a 50-meter reverse sled drag, two rope climbs to 10-feet, 50-meter reverse sled drag and then five burpees.

Amy had no problem with the lap-to-shoulder and sled drag, but the rope climb posed a challenge. Amy could consistently make it to about 8-feet on the rope, but was never able to reach 10-feet. A frustrated and determined Amy spent about 10 minutes trying to get a rope climb.

“I tried,” an emotional Amy said after the workout.

The final two workouts of the competition didn’t go as well as Amy had hoped, but it was still a strong performance by the WheelWOD Games rookie.

Less than a year ago when Amy Hood started at No Excuses CrossFit, she never imagined she would be competing in the world championship nearly 10 months later.

The WheelWOD Games gave her the opportunity to compete face-to-face with the top seated adaptive athletes in the world and she gave it her all in every workout.