Hosting Competitions Without the Havoc

Holiday Havoc

The Holiday Havoc is an annual two-day competition. However, it’s the “havoc” that sets NEPA CrossFit’s two-day competition apart from the rest.

Saturday is an individual competition. Sunday is a team competition. If athletes want, however, they can create a Havoc team which competes both days of the event. Individuals take their scores from the first day, add those to the points of their two-person team’s score the second day, and the Havoc winner will then be decided based on total points earned.

“We were trying to recreate Regionals, but on a micro scale,” said Brennan Morton, the owner of NEPA CrossFit in Pains, Pennsylvania. “It’s no longer a high intensity thing. It’s more like who can last three days and not die, who can still maintain over the third day or the last day.”

NEPA holds nine full-scale events annually. Morton said he and his Coaches have a large calendar on the wall to make sure movements and types of competitions – from couple to individuals to four-person team events – aren’t done twice in a row. The WODs are tested at least twice, once by staff and another time by Morton’s unsuspecting members. “Without telling anybody, we program all of the events into our Box programming, and then we watch,” he said.

Two months prior to the competition, Morton releases the workouts. He explained this is so “everyone’s on the same page come game day,” and allows them to ask questions about movement standards beforehand.

In terms of judges for the event, Morton said they are highly rewarded. When vendors and sponsors for a competition give swag and gift certificates, half of the prizes go to the judges. Because without judges, said Morton, a competition doesn’t happen. “I think people sometimes undervalue really good judges because in the end, all logistics, all planning, all the best events, can be ruined by one judge who may be not the best person to be out there,” he said.

Morton said per event, he logs 40 to 60 hours of work outside of his normal coaching responsibilities. However, he said the time spent honing the WODs and drawing up scoring sheets is worth the overtime. NEPA’s 2015 Holiday Havoc received only one complaint about a judge’s call, said Morton. That, plus the fact several semi trucks were accidentally parked in, were the only hitches in the competition.

To Morton, hosting competitions is a second profession for him and his Coaches. In fact, he has begun renting out his Box as a venue for other competitions, like a USA Powerlifting competition to be held in February. It means the gym’s space will be used when it would have been empty, and Morton makes revenue he wouldn’t have received otherwise.

“That’s how we bridge the gap of owning such a large Box that was set up like an arena. That’s what our goal was, to bring the best competition to our area,” said Morton. “That’s how we view our Box: more of a stepping stone to bigger events and putting on these massive competitions.”

Heather is the editor for Box Pro Magazine. Contact her at

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