Photo Credit: Athlete’s Eye Photography
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CrossFit CEO Eric Roza fired Dave Castro on January 4, ending his 15-year tenure as Director of the CrossFit Games. Castro’s time as the face of the Games was memorable for a wide variety of reasons. He introduced some new movements, tested the athletes in ways that they would never have imagined, and he remained unapologetic throughout the years.
Castro also provided a considerable amount of entertainment with humorous moments. He debuted new hairstyles, created a signature style of delivery for workout announcements, and seemingly took pleasure in tormenting the athletes to find the Fittest on Earth. Here are some of our favorite moments.
1. Castro brings out the cornrows. While the workouts traditionally create the most conversations during the CrossFit Games, there were two days during the 2016 season in which Castro’s hair became the focal point. He walked onto the competition floor in Carson and revealed his cornrow hairstyle.
To make the afternoon even more entertaining, Castro officiated a wedding. He wore a white CrossFit t-shirt, Gatorz sunglasses, and Reebok shoes as part of his many costume changes. He kept the cornrows while delivering the wedding message for Oliver Drewes and Christina Moore.
Castro didn’t keep the hairstyle throughout the competition. He started with long, flowing hair during the trip to The Ranch and for much of the weekend. However, none of those hairstyles were remotely as memorable or entertaining as the cornrows that he rocked during the middle of the summer.
2. The clock will not save you. Castro and five former CrossFit Games champions headed to the Kezar Pavilion in San Francisco, CA, to cap off the 2014 CrossFit Open. Rich Froning, Graham Holmberg, Jason Khalipa, Annie Thorisdottir, and Sam Briggs took part in one of the Open’s most brutal workouts in front of a packed arena, but Castro stole the show with one simple gesture.
The camera panned to show Castro standing alone in the center of the workout area. He did not say good evening or welcome the viewers in any way. He wasted no time before revealing that 14.5 consisted of thrusters (95 pounds for men and 65 for women) and bar-facing burpees, counting down from 21 to three in three-rep increments.
“The clock? Save you it will not,” Castro said as he held his watch in his hand. “You will do 168 reps, or you will quit in the process of trying. 14.5 is for time.” Castro then turned and threw his watch into the crowd as the cheers grew louder.
This simple, yet brutal workout was a fitting way to cap off the 2014 Open. However, the movements became less of a story after Castro proved once again why he is the ultimate showman with his simple watch toss.
3. Mind games shake up the trail run. In 2016, the CrossFit Games celebrated a decade of fitness with a special trip to its origin point. The athletes headed to the airport at 3:30 a.m. and traveled to Castro’s ranch as part of an unexpected twist. They competed in multiple events, starting with the 7k trail run.
Castro set the stage for this special trip by putting some fear into the athletes. He first started at the pre-Games dinner by telling the athletes that they would be tested mentally and that they should just go home if they aren’t prepared to crush the competition. He then abruptly left and stunned several of the competitors.
Once the athletes arrived at The Ranch, Castro took the mind games to the next level. He gave a long powerpoint presentation detailing all of the dangers that awaited the athletes during the 7k trail run.
“There’s poison oak right next to the trail. Everywhere,” Castro said during his presentation. He also said that there were several snakes and that mountain lions had recently killed three of his dogs, leaving blood streaks on the ground. “f—. That’s the only thing going through my mind right now,” Sara Sigmundsdottir said after hearing Castro’s message.
There were certainly several legitimate concerns about wildlife and other safety hazards, but Castro’s presentation truly messed with some of the athletes. Mat Fraser and Josh Bridges just went out in shorts and shoes, but others did the full run with pants, scarves, and other clothes to help keep these dangers at bay.
4. Turn around and do it again. While some of our favorite moments took place during the 2016 season, one occurred during the COVID-altered 2020 season at The Ranch. Castro used the trail run to test the athletes once again, and he received a middle finger in response.
The fourth moment featured an interaction between Castro and Fraser. The champ finished what he believed to be the entire trail run with a sprint across the finish line. However, Castro told him to turn around and do the entire thing again.
“Turn around, come this way, and run it in reverse,” Castro said as Fraser smiled and flipped him off, prompting laughter from Heber Cannon and some others in attendance. “I’m serious. I’m not joking. You’re going to start losing. Run the whole course in reverse.”
The twist that shook up the trail run wasn’t funny in the traditional sense, but it showcased why we appreciated Castro’s time as Director of the Games. He constantly shook up the formula in order to test all of the athletes, and he embraced their “feedback.”
Castro actually dedicated a YouTube video to a similar moment one year later during the Granite Games in Minneapolis, MN. He took part in the special HWPO workout that Fraser put on and used a brief rest period to call out the five-time champ. “Where are you, Mat?” Castro asked while watching some burpee box jumps. Fraser paused mid-burpee to flip off Castro and then continued with the workout.
5. Castro’s marketing acumen. An underrated moment that flew under the radar featured an interaction between Castro and Rich Froning Jr. at the 2021 CrossFit Games in Madison, WI. The former director decorated Froning’s swim cap with a Sharpie in order to help him with “marketing.”
Christine Bald provided a description of the moment and what was said while spending Games week running Castro’s Instagram account. According to the post, Castro said, “I wrote FF! I’m trying to help the brand.” He then said that he wants 2% of all sales after helping out the champ.
Froning and Castro have always had an interesting relationship. There have been serious moments bordering on tense, such as their conversation after Froning walked during the Triple 3 in 2014. They also have showcased their respect for each other over the years. The moment featuring the swim cap decoration simply made people smile.
6. Sneaky like a ninja… or a SEAL. Castro’s final season as director brought back the Open announcements, his unique presentation style, and the head-to-head battles. The most fitting example is the two-part 21.3 announcement featuring all three Panchik brothers.
Castro wrote the workout on the chalkboard and revealed that 21.3 would consist of front squats and thrusters with some various gymnastic movements in between. The camera went back to Rory Mckernan, but Castro was not yet done. He sneaked up behind Mckernan and interrupted his segment by grabbing his shoulders.
“Rory, I’m not finished,” Castro said with an evil smile on his face. “I still have to introduce 21.4.” He released Mckernan from his grasp and did a signature walk-and-talk to introduce the barbell complex.
Considering that 21.3 and 21.4 were the last Open announcements from Castro before his surprising firing, they were a fitting way to cap off his tenure. He delivered the announcements as only he can, and he took advantage of the opportunity to show off his stealth abilities.
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