Probably one of the most strategic races of a GRID League match is Race 7: The Ladder. Ten athletes for each team go through the Ladder lifting as much weight as possible within seven minutes. The team that lifts the most weight gets two points and the team whose women lift the most weight get one additional point.
Teams must factor the order of athletes to complete the Ladder, which bar to start lifting and how long to stay on the grid. The coach must make critical decisions on whether to allow their stronger athletes to take precious time to attempt a 525 pound deadlift or to move on to the next athlete. Every pound matters, but so does every second.
I analyzed the Kona Ladder where athletes had to deadlift a series of 16 barbells ranging from 135 to 585 pounds. Here’s what I found:
- Six male athletes lifted 4,620 total pounds. All six lifted 14 of 16 possible barbells and averaged 330 pounds/barbell. Of those, Ron Mathews, a 40+ athlete, accomplished this in 54 seconds, faster than anyone else who lifted that much weight.
- Taylor Stallings lifted 3,600 total pounds. No other female athlete lifted more than 2,700 total pounds. In addition, Stallings lifted more total weight than 12 male athletes.
- The teams that lifted the most weight averaged under 4.3 seconds per barbell lifted. The bottom three teams took 4.5 seconds per barbell lifted.
- Those same top 4 teams had men that averaged between 3.7 and 4.0 seconds per barbell lifted compared to the bottom 4 teams that averaged between 4.3 and 4.5 seconds.
- It does not make sense to skip the lighter barbells. All of the athletes flew through the 135 and 165 pound deadlifts, but several athletes skipped them to save time. One of those athletes, James Townsend, skipped the first three barbells totaling 495 pounds. He ultimately lifted 11 barbells totaling 4,125 pounds and was on the grid for 53 seconds. The time saved for those three lifts probably does not make up for the lost pounds. While it didn’t matter in the match (LA Reign beat the Phoenix Rise), an additional 495 pounds would have moved them up to 5th overall for Kona: Race 7.
- The top teams in Kona: Race 7 had stronger female athletes who spent more time on the grid than those teams that struggled. At the same time, the male athletes spent less time on the grid yet lifted more weight. Whether the speed of the men or strength of the women that drives this is not known.