This weekend, the turf on Infinity Park’s rugby pitch will welcome instruments of either destruction or instruction: barbells, dumbbells, atlas stones, pull-up rigs, plyometric boxes, and long, weighted sandbags called “worms.” More than 100 athletes from Colorado and across the U.S. will arrive to Glendale to compete in the first-ever Arcanum Mile High Games, a three-day fitness competition modeled after CrossFit’s former Regionals competitions.
The brainchild of three current and former owners of Denver-area CrossFit gyms, the event has been in the works since about this time last year, when Ryan Woods and Rj Smith IV started talking about the idea at CrossFit Cherry Creek’s annual Triple Threat competition.
Smith, then-owner of CrossFit Omnia in Athmar Park, had just seen his gym’s team qualify for the CrossFit Games for the third year in a row. He’d been wanting to see a local competition of higher caliber for years. “There’s just nothing in this region, and we have such amazing talent to showcase,” Smith says. Woods, co-owner of CrossFit Cherry Creek, had the same thought, so the two decided to make it happen, bringing Woods’ colleague Don Lowe on board and contacting potential sponsors and other local gym owners to get the Mile High Games off the ground.
CrossFit competition is nothing new to the Centennial State. Not only is Colorado home to nearly 200 CrossFit affiliate gyms (more than 100 of which are in the Denver metro area), but last year, 21 Colorado athletes competed at the CrossFit Games, an international competition that claims to crown the “fittest on earth.” Locally, gyms host a variety of one- to three-day competitions, but they’re not always consistent in terms of location or workout programming—and they tend to be hyper-local. If athletes come to Colorado competitions from out of state, they usually come from just over the border in Wyoming.
The Mile High Games aims to be bigger than that. Competitors will do a total of eight workouts over the course of the weekend, and thanks to its title sponsor, The Arcanum Edge, a CBD company that focuses on athletic performance and recovery, at least two CrossFit Games athletes from Washington and Indiana are slated to compete. Other athletes from Texas, California, New York, Florida, and Louisiana have confirmed registration for a roster of about 150 athletes total. Along with the Elite and Open divisions for both individuals and four-person teams, there are also masters (age 35+) and teenager (age 14–19) divisions, so athleticism of all forms will be on display. (An adaptive division was cancelled due to a lack of athletes.)
If you like working out but aren’t crazy about watching other people do it, don’t write off the Mile High Games just yet. The event won’t just be 150 sweaty athletes throwing down heavy weights. “To CrossFitters, CrossFit’s the biggest thing in the world,” Woods says. “To other people, it’s not.”
To make the event more welcoming to non-CrossFitters (and more interesting to non-competitors), Woods and company have invited a variety of fitness-oriented nonprofits to set up booths and share about their work on a Sunday afternoon panel, Corepower Yoga is leading sessions on Saturday and Sunday, and spectators will have the chance to test their own fitness in a Friday evening liftoff and community workouts on both Saturday and Sunday. Food and drink vendors will be set up all weekend, as well as fitness brands with merchandise for purchase.
Dave Lipson—a member of CrossFit HQ’s staff and husband to Camille Leblanc-Bazinet, a seven-time Games competitor based in Boulder—is emceeing the competitors’ lifting contest on Friday night and leading two seminars over the weekend for attendees. And on Saturday, Steve’s Club, an organization that provides CrossFit training and mentorship to at-risk kids, is leading a kids workout, and an afternoon panel will showcase transformation stories of Denver-area CrossFitters.
“CrossFit competition is the backbone of [the event],” Smith says, “with more of a fitness festival feel.”
The goal for this year is to have a smooth, successful event, so that next year, they can double the number of competitors and go bigger all-around. If Instagram is to be trusted, it’s on-track to do just that: The six-month-old Mile High Games account (@arcanummilehighgames) now has more than 1,300 followers. If just half of them registered to compete in 2020, the event would more than quadruple its number of competitors.
If you go: Gates open at 7:45 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 7 a.m. on Sunday, with the first events kicking off near the top of the hour. Purchase a one-day ticket for $10 or go the full weekend for $20. Mile High Club tickets, which come with special perks like drink tickets, an event shirt, a tented viewing area, and access to a VIP bar, are $150. Find more info and purchase tickets online.