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2014 CrossFit Games Open is the biggest of all-time, but growth slows

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In a world where fitness trends come and go by the year, after years of explosive growth, the 2014 CrossFit Games Open are officially the biggest of all-time. Today, the CrossFit Games site reported over 200,000 athletes registered for this year's Open.

The "Open" has continued to increase its registrations each year since it began in 2011, increasing eight-fold over a three year span. Here's how the Open has grown each year.

  • 2011: 26,000
  • 2012: 55,000 (111% increase)
  • 2013: 138,000 (151% increase)
  • 2014: 204,000 (48% increase)

Interestingly, over 100,000 athletes this year are first-time participants.

However, 2014 is the first year that registrations for the Open haven't doubled. Roughly 66,000 more athletes registered in 2014 compared to 2013, but the overall gain is less than the 83,000 increase between 2012-2013.

As CrossFit grows, its audience matures as well. After a year of participating in the CrossFit Games Open, most athletes recognize they will never be competitive for a spot at Regionals, let alone the CrossFit Games. Chances are most athletes won't even contribute to their affiliate's overall team score.

Few athletes are upset about this reality, but it likely gives athletes less motivation to register. A $20 registration fee to show veteran athletes that they're ranked 20,000-something in the world likely doesn't provide a huge reward to officially participate, especially if they're not part of their affiliate's team hopefuls.

While overall growth has slowed, the numbers are still bigger than ever. Slowing growth doesn't mean that the Open is any less fun for athletes who want to compete with friends in their gym or around the world.

The Open pushes athletes to work harder, lift heavier, and compete with a level of intensity that can bring invaluable experience to its participants, even if they finish in 200,000th place. That part never changes.

Though the Open will have a difficult time doubling registrations as it has in years past, it will continue to bring athletes closer together and challenge their capacity beyond where they once thought capable.

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