WOD Data: CrossFit Open 15.5

After five ‘suspenseful’ Thursday announcements, and five times laid out on the mat, we’ve got the 5th breakdown for the stats crowd.

I’ve got plans for at least one more post about the Open, so please, post any requests for analyses here in the comments or in this reddit thread.

Participation and Scaling

In the end, 55% of the 262,037 athletes who registered posted a score all 5 weeks, and 25% completed all 5 WODs at Rx.  Congrats if you’re in either of those groups. 15.3 (muscle ups) definitely took the crown for most scaled, while the 20 or 30 lb discount was not enough to convince many to do scaled for the finale.


Observant regular readers might notice that this chart shows more attrition than the plots I made in previous weeks. It turns out that’s because I scraped the leaderboard on Monday night for 15.1 and 15.2 and later in the week for 3 through 5.  Since coaches have until Wednesday to validate scores, I had undercounted the participation in weeks 1 and 2.  The complete downloadable data is now updated for each wod on my site. 

15.5 Rx

27-21-15-9 reps for time of:
Row (calories)
Thrusters (95/65)

Only the second “for time” Open workout ever after last year’s 14.5 and once again we get a beauty of a distribution. We can see a lot of men who were motivated to get sub-10 minute times and big notches for the women at sub-15 and sub-16.


Can we quantify how much people want a “sub-something” time?  There’s no explanation for spikes in the distribution in this WOD around switching movements or equipment since everyone finished after the same 72nd thruster.  And yet, we see that Rx athletes were 18% more likely to finish in the last 10 seconds of a minute than the first 10 seconds.  Finishing at something:30 is the most common, and men and women are doing just about the same thing on this front.


The median man finished about 80 seconds ahead of the median woman and that gap was actually pretty constant all the way to the top of the leaderboard with Fraser and Paquette finishing 67 seconds faster than Colleen Fotsch.


15.5 Scaled

27-21-15-9 reps for time of:
Row (calories)
Thrusters (65/45)

The scaled WOD this week was only different by weight, so the patterns in outcomes look super similar.

crossfit_15.5sc_hist_gender crossfit_15.5sc_percentile_gender


Ah, to be 25 again.

Height & Weight

I heard opposite predictions on height for 15.3 since the lanky folks get those mile-long pulls on the rower, but have to push most of the way to the ceiling on the thrusters.  How did it play out?  I’m going to say the tall women benefitted slightly more than the men.  You can see in the last plot that no matter how tall a guy was, there was a sweet spot on weight, where as almost all of the women over 5’9″ were well above the median.

crossfit_15.5_height crossfit_15.5_weight crossfit_15.5_height_weight

I’m planning to do at least one more post about the Open with regional, gym, and multi-year analyses.  In the mean time, this has been a blast.  Post analysis requests here in the comments or on Reddit, or download the data and do your own exploring.

– Sam Swift.  I’m a data-scientist at Betterment, and 3 years into CrossFit, now at CrossFit Prospect Heights (previously CrossFit Carrboro).  I’ve got more posts in the works, follow me @swiftsam. All 2012-2015 data available for download here. Scraping and visualization code available here on github.

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  • Dutch Orange

    Three Requests (i.e. things I’m curious about):
    1. Which WOD had the highest correlation to the overall end results?
    2. If people that did not complete all 5 Open WODs were erased from the scores (i.e. they did 151 and 15.1 but skipped one of the subsequent WODs), Which athletes would have made it to Regionals and who would have fallen out?
    3. A single move/modal WOD like 15.1a , during week 1 seems to strongly favor people that excel at C + J in the overall score. 25% to 30% of participants do not complete the Open. It looked like 5 pounds could drop you 1000s of spots in week pounds but 5 fewer OHS or HSPUs was a matter of 100s of spots. With fewer participants in the later weeks there are fewer spots to drop once your weak point comes up. Is there evidence to support this assumption?

    • http://swift.pw Sam Swift

      awesome questions. I like the theme of … which performances crowned the victors. I’ll see what I can find

  • deadlift77

    Here’s a question and I’m not really sure how to phrase it. Did you find there was a bigger margin in placing for the workouts involving the heavier lifts and non skilled movements, than the ones with the skilled movements (muscle ups and HSPUs), even with possible closer scores? My thought is since more people scaled the two skilled movements there was less people to separate each other in the standings. Example: Let’s say I lifted 175 in 15.1a and you lifted 185 and lets say there were 1000 people participating. Well we were only 10lbs apart but since there were 1000 people in the pool let’s say you finished 500th and I finished 750th. Fast forward to 15.3 and the amount of participants dropped from 1000 to 650. Let’s say I scored 350 reps and you scored 150. I think 200 rep difference is a larger margin of victory than 10lbs from 15.a but since there are 350 less participants I place 200 and you place 400. Therefore I only gained back 200/250 places back from my 15.1a deficit to you. Do the numbers show anything like this? Does this make sense? It’s early and my brain is still waking up.

    Thanks for crunching all the numbers. It’s very interesting to see where one falls on the charts.

    • http://swift.pw Sam Swift

      Great observation. I think you’re exactly right that using the sum of ranks across weeks while the number of participants drops makes the early weeks much more influential in the overall standings. The ranking system was originally what got me looking into all of this, but I haven’t actually done much with that question yet. I hope to get back to it. Thanks for commenting