By Lee Howe

Divided We Fall 2015

What is DWF?

Divided We Fall is the oldest team CrossFit competition in the UK. It was established in 2010, and has always had a special atmosphere to it. It attracts many of the original CrossFit boxes as well as the newly established ones, along with top quality athletes.

CrossFit Teesside first competed in DWF in 2012, when two of our teams took part. Both teams made the first cut, but missed out on the semi-finals.

CrossFit Bath were the DWF 2012 champions, a moment our owner and coach Lee Howe recalls:

“I remember watching CF Bath win and thinking to myself that it would be a dream come true to win DWF with three of your mates competing as a team!”

Here is a WOD by WOD account of how DWF went down this year for CrossFit Teesside.

The CrossFit Teesside Team

The make-up of our team was decided by running in-house qualifiers.

Dan Watson, a CrossFit Level 1 seminar member programmed four WODs for athletes to complete, making our team the strongest possible.

For the guys, it was our Owner and Coach Lee “Howitzer” Howe, and member Anthony “Chisey” Chisman.

For the girls, it was CrossFit Telic head coach and Teesside’s part-time coach Evie “the Warthog” Hollis, along with CrossFit Telic and CrossFit DL2’s part-time coach and Teesside member Keziah “Cyborg” Wright.

Once the team was selected, it was time to go head-to-head with 59 other teams in the quest to become DWF Champions 2015…

Day 1: WOD 1

At a first glance, the first WOD seemed pretty simple; a 10 minute AMRAP of pistol squats in turn.

However every minute on the minute, a team member had to complete 30 unbroken double unders (DUs). But there was a catch – if you tripped, you had to start again.

Game plan:

We put Chisey on the DUs, with Lee, Kez and Evie on the pistols.

We decided that Kez would do 25 in the first minute, with Evie taking over until the minute was up, allowing Chisey to start his DUs.

For the next minute, Lee would do 20 with Kez sweeping up the rest until Chisey stepped in with his DUs.

By the third minute, it was Evie’s turn to do 20, with Lee finishing the rest until Chisey took over again. We would continue this trend until the 10 minutes were up.

Our plan changed in the last minute, when we decided Kez should carry on and finish it off solo. This was a great move as Kez knocked out 40+ pistols during that last minute.

Chisey’s DUs were flawlessly unbroken which meant the team had more time on the pistols.

We finished in 8th place, accumulating 337 reps in total. This was far greater than our expectations, on what we thought was a weak WOD for us.

Day 1: WOD 2A and 2B

This WOD was a 12 minute window split into two parts.

For part A, each team member had to establish a maximum weight for the Bear Complex: 1 power clean, 1 front squat, 1 push press, 1 back squat and 1 behind the neck Push Press.

For part B, they had to row as far as possible.

The rule was that the barbell could never go lighter, so the girls had to lift first.

This meant Lee and Chisey started on the rower pulling roughly 250m-300m each before swapping. They held a split of 1:30-1:35 while the girls cracked on with lifting.

Both girls matched their lifting PBs, with Kez finishing on 65kg and Evie putting up a massive 70kg – these were up there with the heaviest female weights lifted in the competition.

Then it was time for Kez and Evie to jump on the rower, generating the metres in turn while the lads started lifting.

The plan was for the lads to quickly hit their max lifts so they could get back on the rower and contribute to the distance.

Chisey went in at a comfortable 85kg followed by Lee hitting an easy 90kg.

Chisey was then going to hit 90kg so he could get back on the rower and leaving Lee to reach his max.

However he missed his first attempt behind the neck, then rushed his second, missing the push press in front.

But after a quick word of encouragement and a foot position cue from Lee, he nailed his third attempt and got straight back on the rower to help the girls.

This allowed Lee to complete his bear complex, starting with 95kg, and then hitting a PB with 100kg. He also managed to lift 105kg, only to be given a no-rep for stepping forward once finished the complex – annoying!

At this point, there was only about 90 seconds left on the clock, so as much as Lee wanted to re-attempt 105kg it was important he got on the rower to help his team, who quickly screamed at him to join them.

He finished off the row and pulled a 1:18-1:20 split for just over a minute, much to the amusement of his team and spectators.

We finished 10th for part A, lifting a total of 325kg.

We came 17th in part B accumulating a total distance of 3433m.

This put us in 6th place overall as we prepared for WOD 3…

Day 1: WOD 3

The team was very happy to be in the top 10 by this point.

We had to complete four beefed-up benchmark girls in a relay event with a 20 minute time-cap. Diane, Karen, Fran and Grace

We decided that with Chisey’s efficient handstand push-ups (HSPUs), he would take on “Diane”. He would complete 21-15-9 reps of: deadlifts @ 70kg/100kg and deficit HSPUs @ 2 inches.

Due to the mental as well as physical demand of doing 150 wall balls for “Karen” we thought Kez the Cyborg would tackle it with ease. And if that wasn’t enough, she would have to do five down-ups every time she broke the wall balls.

Howitzer’s strong chest to bar (C2B) pull-ups meant he had the privilege of hitting his favourite “Fran”, which was 21-15-9 reps of: Thrusters @ 30kg/42.5kg and C2B pull ups.

And we knew that with Evie the Warthog’s strength, short levers and efficiency, she would smash 30 clean and jerks @50kg/70kg for “Grace”.

Game plan:

Our strategy was for Chisey to get sub six minutes, Kez to finish Karen before 12 minutes, Lee to be done with Fran by 15 minutes leaving Evie time to finish Grace before the 20 minute cap.

We can’t remember if we hit these times exactly but we were one of only five teams to make the cap.

We finished the WOD relay in 19:23 putting us in 5th place overall.

Chisey hit a stumbling block on the HSPUs but managed to maintain his focus to finish under six minutes.

Kez lived up to her Cyborg name completing her wall balls in sets of 60-90-110-130-150.

Howitzer knocked out an unbroken Fran before Evie made short work of her clean n jerks and destroyed a heavy Grace.

Team Teesside were now sat in 5th overall.  And after a big feed and a beer at the hotel, we were more than ready to tackle day two of DWF 2015.

Day 2: WOD 4

This WOD was a repeat from DWF 2011, one Howitzer remembered well from when he competed for CrossFit Leeds in the competition.

The workout was a chipper for time: Watt Bike cycle 1km, 100 hand-release press ups, 1km Watt Bike, 100 dumbell squat clean thrusters @ 15kg/20kg, 1km Watt Bike, 100 burpee over box jumps @ 20 inches, 1km Watt Bike, 100 wall balls @ 6kg/9kg.

The rule was that each team member had to complete one of the Watt Bike intervals while the movements could be shared.

Game plan:

We decided that the girls would do the second and third intervals leaving the guys to start and finish. Chisey used his Watt Bike coaching knowledge to give the team a slight lead on the press ups. Howitzer knocked out a quick set of 20 press ups before the team used quick sets of 10 between them to get Cyborg away on the second Watt Bike interval.

Once Kez was finished, they made their way to the most challenging part, the squat clean thrusters. Evie knocked out a big set of 12 to get them going and then the team hit sets of 5-10 with rapid transitions between them. Once Kez’s legs had recovered from the bike, she chipped in with a few sets to get Evie away on the third bike interval.

Evie wasn’t on the bike for long before the team were into the burpee over box jumps – a turning point in the WOD. They chose to do the burpee box jumps in sets of two, which enabled a gap between them and the rest of the competitors. The lads were literally clearing the box completey, which was making them move extremely fast and it wasn’t long before Howitzer was away with the final bike interval.

We wanted to use the girls as much as possible for the wall balls due to their shorter range of movement to a 9 inch target. In true Cyborg fashion, Kez stepped up and knocked out a quick set of 40, followed by Evie hitting a set of 30. Chisey then did 20 reps and Kez finished off the 100 with another 10. The team finished the chipper in 19:11 and were 5th in the workout. This was their second top 5 finish. The team now sitting comfortably in 4th overall.

Day 2: WOD 5 (semi-final)

Only the top 20 teams earned the right to compete in WOD 5 – the semi-final.

In order to make the final, we needed to stay in the top 5 so a good performance was essential.

The WOD was to a 15 minute AMRAP of: 3 snatches of your choice @ 50kg/70kg, 10 T2B, 4x 10m shuttles.

The team had to execute the WOD in a relay style and had to stick to the same order throughout. Upon hearing the WOD their only concern was whether or not Kez’s recent back injury could withstand the heavy snatches, but this concern would soon be forgotten.

Game plan:

Our relay running order was was Howitzer, Evie, Chisey then Cyborg.

The plan was to touch and go on the snatches, unbroken T2B and sprint the shuttles. As soon as one round each was completed it became apparent Kez’s back was as strong as ever and the team would take some catching in the heat.

Everything went to plan and the strength and ability of the girls proved to be the difference. They finished with a total of 19 rounds + 5 reps earning them a 2nd place finish overall in the WOD, moving them up to 2nd place overall, putting us in the final.

Day 2: WOD 6 (Final)

CrossFit Teesside had made the final alongside four other teams, CrossFit Faction, Dragon CrossFit, CrossFit Tyneside and CrossFit SAONE.

All the teams contained top quality athletes, some of whom had competed at European Regionals on many occassions.

This however didn’t faze the team and a sense of belonging was shared between them.

Once the final WOD was released, teams had 10 minutes to prepare and then it would be 3-2-1…GO!!! The slate was wiped clean and it was winner takes all. 

The final WOD was a relay event of 10 ring muscle ups, 20 shoulder to overhead @ 60kg/80kg, 30 bar facing burpees, 100 DUs.

Each team member had to work their way through the chipper but they couldn’t start until the person before them had finished.

We decided on starting with Howitzer, then Chisey, followed by Evie, leaving the Cyborg on the last leg. Howitzer made short work of the first leg, hitting his muscle ups unbroken, then the shoulder to overhead in 11-16-20, after a quick set of burpees and an unbroken set of DUs he handed over to Chisey.

At this point, the team were joint second, but there was only 3-5 reps between first and fifth.

Chisey followed suit and jumped up on the rings, knocking his muscle ups unbroken. His first set of push jerks was five, however he made the mistake of dropping the barbell from overhead – a rule all weekend was if you dropped the bar you would have to start again.

Chisey was now re-set to zero, this played with his head and for a split second self-doubt set in.

As the guys around him moved onto their burpees and DUs, Chisey struggled in sets of twos and threes on his jerks. At this point, he really needed to focus on the job in hand and ignore what was happening around him.

He dug deep, got through his chipper and epitomised CrossFit Teesside’s motto of “Defy Your Limitations”.

By the time Evie was released the team were sat in 5th place and roughly 25 reps off the lead.

This was a turning point, Evie dispatched her muscle ups in a 7 and a 3, the set of 7 being a PB.

In a matter of seconds she’d reduced the defecit to 15 reps and was quickly making progress on her 60kg push jerks. After a set of five, she finished them in quick sets of two before making her way to the burpees, then the DUs before handing over to the Cyborg.

As Kez jumped up to the rings, the other girls were battling with their muscle ups, the furthest away being on rep five. Kez’s first set was three before she reduced the deficit to two.

After a quick chalk up she jumped back on the rings for a further set of three, putting CrossFit Teesside in the lead by one rep.

Kez quickly followed up with a double and two singles before becoming the first of the final girls to get on the barbell.

She started to work her way through the shoulder to overhead in singles, not wanting to risk dropping the bar.

The clock was on 29 minutes when the team was told that there was actually a 30 minute timecap on the WOD – something they weren’t aware of.

It was at that point that all four realied that if they could keep the lead for a further 60 seconds, they would be crowned DWF Champions.

And that’s exactly what Cyborg did. She made it up to 12 push jerks and with 10 seconds left there was no way she was getting caught.

Once time was called she made her way to the rest of the team for a celebratory group hug! CrossFit Teesside had done it – they were DWF Champions 2015!!

Going from 5th to 1st epitomised another CrossFit Teesside motto: “YOU ARE NEVER OUT OF THE FIGHT!”


Firstly, CrossFit Teesside would like to thank the organisers of DWF – Ed Whieldon and Rob Lawson.

The event was a class act and certainly took CrossFit back to its roots.

The programming was traditional and extremely challenging, and the team of judges and volunteers did an excellent job, so from everyone at Teesside, thank you.

We would also like to say congratulations to the other teams who podiumed, Dragon CrossFit who came 2nd and CrossFit Tyneside who came 3rd.

And a big thanks to every other team involved for being first class competitors and all round awesome people.

The team would like to thank every single person/member who supported us over the weekend on social media and through text messages. It means an awful lot to know the box is behind us.

A special thanks to those who travelled to Manchester to spectate and support, we appreciate you taking time out of your weekend to be there for us.

The team hope that the achievement has inspired everyone to reach their goals, no matter what they may be. The team are and will always remain humble in victory, yet they are thrilled to have won!

And on that note… We did it! CrossFit Teesside are Divided We Fall Champions 2015!!!



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