There are more people in the city of Denver than in the entire state of Wyoming. So when you say “the fittest man in Wyoming” – it has a way of eliciting eye rolls and a general sense of “who cares?”
This weekend at the annual MBS Turkey Challenge – a field of some of Colorado’s best athletes - got put on notice. There is a neighbor to your north who is pretty fit.
Five-time consecutive Wyoming Open champ Malachi Bennett stepped on to the scenic runway outside MBS’s famous airplane hangar, and in the shadow of the majestic Rocky Mountains, took first place on event one. For the rest of the weekend, it was a standing on the leaderboard he would never relinquish, en route to a dominating wire to wire first place finish.
Bennett followed up event one, by tying his PR on the max snatch event with 275 pounds, second only to CrossFit Invictus weightlifting coach and fittest man in Colorado, Jared Enderton’s 300 pounder.
Bennett elected to complete his floater on Day 2, so he headed home after Day 1 in first place. Day 2 would be more of the same. Malachi took a second place in 15.4 – again, second to Enderton, who appeared poised to make a run for the lead following a 9th place finish on event 1. The writing was already on the wall however – Bennett had just 5 points after 3 events – Enderton had 11, eventual second-place finisher Brian Harris was at 15 points.
After a seventh place finish on the floater, Bennett had pretty much sewn up the competition – and needed to simply avoid disaster on the final event to walk home the winner. Instead of avoiding disaster, Bennett dominated the final, going unbroken on every set of thrusters and muscle-ups. Only two other athletes in the field were even close. Dark Horse Performance owner and CrossFit Barkada coach Justin Biays showed off a perfectly paced effort – starting slow and gradually moving up every round – joining Brian Harris as the only two athletes in the field to challenge Bennett.
Malachi would finish in 7:22, with Harris and Biays the only other athletes under 8:00. Save those three competitors, no other athlete in the field would finish under 9:00. The final points tally showed what was already clear before the final – Bennett’s nearest competition, CrossFit Decimate’s Brian Harris, had twice as many points (26) as the Wyoming athlete. Enderton finished in third for the second straight year.
Next up for Bennett is Wodapalooza where he stood on the podium last year as an individual. He has elected to go as a member of a team, with Turkey Challenge 4th place finisher Westy Guill.
Unlike the men's division, the women's pro had a lot of drama headed into the final event. CrossFit Sanitas athlete and last year’s second place finisher Elisa Schauer, needed a big performance in the final event if she wanted to knock off leader Marie Van Dyne of CrossFit DNR.
Schauer’s muscle-ups proved to be the difference – like Bennett on the men’s side, she took first place in the final – one of only two women to complete the workout under the time cap. Alpine CrossFit’s Megan Markee also finished under the cap. Van Dyne would end up getting time-capped on the event and finished 10th, giving Schauer a 6 point final margin on the leaderboard.
Schauer’s win completes an impressive three year run at the Turkey Challenge – finishing third in 2015, second in 2016 and first in 2017.
Rounding out the women’s leaderboard was Van Dyne, Florida resident Dani Speegle, who wowed the crowd on Saturday with a 195 snatch, and then a three-way tie for fourth with CrossFit Omnia’s Kelly Stone, Backcountry Crossfit’s Kelly Bruehl and CrossFit Barkada’s Tori Alemany – who stood on top of the podium this year at the Wyoming Open.