Grokfeast on the Shenandoah River

On September 8th I asked my readers to host picnics and to send me the results. The following is one of 27 amazing submissions, the best of which will win an entire cow, courtesy of US Wellness. Vote for your favorite on October 8.

On September 24th 12 Crossfit Balance members ventured to the country near Shenandoah National Park for the Inaugural Caveman Olympiad and Feast. After a delicious meal of slow-roasted pork butt and butternut squash soup Friday night, the athletes retired to their cabins to rest for the next day’s events. Saturday morning, fueled by several pounds of bacon, scrambled eggs, and fresh fruit, all 12 contestants donned their Paleolithic costumes and readied the field of battle. The 8 men and 4 women broke down into 4 teams of 3, and after the Caveman Torch Lighting and Opening Stampede the games began!

The CMOC (Caveman Olympic Committee) chose 6 events to test the speed, strength, power, agility, endurance, and intelligence of the competitors. Points were based on standings in each event, while bonus points were also awarded for competing barefoot and stealing other teams’ clubs. The opening event was a relay, where each team member had to sprint, drag a small log, and backpedal before passing the baton to the next teammate. Event 2 was a rock toss- each team had to throw 3 rocks of varying sizes as far as possible, and the longest total distance won. Some cavepeople chose to launch the rocks shot putt or discus style, but most athletes opted for the over the head Highlander games technique (?).  Event 3 proved to be the most difficult; in this brutal workout each male had 90 seconds to pick up and carry a cavegirl along a short course, then do as many cavegirl squats as possible in the remaining time. The cavegirls themselves had to carry a small log, then perform as many overhead squats as they could in the remaining time.

After a quick break to rest, rehydrate, and grab some more bacon, the contenders girded their loins for the last few events. Event 4 was “Bringing Home the Bacon,” where each team of 3 had to move 5 sandbags, ranging in weight from 25 to 100 pounds, from one high porch to the other as quickly as possible. Next up was “Catch-a-Mate,” where each team chased down, subdued (with a club strike to the rear), and carried back as many other cavepeople as possible in 3 minutes.  This was another tough event, as there were some hefty cavemen present.  The final event, the “Caveman Medley,” was another relay, where each team member began with walking lunges, sprinted to a pile of firewood, moved it up a hill while bear crawling, then sprinted back to the finish with the firewood. When the dust settled, team Got Meat? barely edged out team Bone Unit for 1st place, with teams Cave Sketch and Bone Clubs n Harmony bringing up the rear.

The exhausted cavepeople took a refreshing dip in the nearby Shenandoah River, then began preparations for The Feast. 3 t-bones, 2 enormous ribeyes, and 2 whole chickens (nearly 15 pounds of meat in all!) had been marinating for 24 hours in the cabin. As some of the cavemen readied 3 grills and an open fire (fueled all weekend by hand-split wood), others began prepping the vegetables. Once the fires were hot enough the food was thrown on the grills, and soon the scent of roasting meat and veggies filled the air. Before long everything was cooked, and The Feast was impressive indeed. Most impressively, everything got devoured! A few people even had room for a dessert of grilled peaches. Bellies full of meat and vegetables, 12 tired, sunburned cavepeople with very sore feet gathered around the roaring bonfire and told stories far into the night.

The Feast & Recipes

We decided to keep it simple and caveman-ish for The Feast, and just cook lots of meat and vegetables over an open fire. The meal was also a group effort, put together on the fly without too many spices, cutting boards, knives, bowls, etc, so there was a lot of improvisation. That being said, this is what we ended up eating:

The main course was a variety of meat (T-bones, ribeyes, and whole chickens), marinated overnight in a homemade blend of olive oil, apple cider vinegar, fresh-cut garlic and leeks, and a variety of spices. We cut up the chicken into more manageable parts, then grilled it and the enormous ribeyes (about 2” thick, 2 pounds each) on a charcoal grill. The T-bones went on a grate directly over the wood-burning fire pit.

For the sides, we cooked 6 red peppers, 4 onions, a dozen or so small potatoes (not technically Paleo, but freshly delivered from a local farm), and a pound of mushrooms. The peppers, mushrooms, and outer 2 layers of onions were marinated in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, oregano, and salt and pepper, then put on bamboo skewers and grilled over charcoal. We got a bit more creative (or primitive) for the remaining vegetables. For the onions, we cut a small cross into the top, wrapped them in tinfoil, and put in some olive oil, butter, and salt before sealing them up in the foil. We individually wrapped the potatoes in tinfoil with no additional ingredients. All of these veggies started off on the grate above the fire, but when we realized how hot the fire was we nestled them into some coals to the side, and cooked them until they were all tender. Finally, for dessert we grilled 3 peaches, halved, pitted, and drizzled with honey and nutmeg. Delicious!

The Tribe

Sarah Burch, Jed Clift, Ash Cope, Cristyn Cram, Rod Crider, Quint Fischer, Michael Hall, Joe Heaton, Graham King, Jenny Krystopowicz, Lauren Twohig, Justin Zubricki

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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76 thoughts on “Grokfeast on the Shenandoah River”

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      1. Southern, Madison area. I know there are quite a few of us in the area. I need a workout buddy. Keep me motivated. I would love to get together a Midwest Paleo Olympics! ala the Warrior Dash or Tough Mudder.

        1. I’ll be halfway between Madison and Milwaukee (Watertown? Oconomowoc?)Sign me up for the Midwest Paleo Olympics! :^)

  1. um….this is pretty kick-a$$! Is this Balance Gym in DC? Way to represent the 202 guys!

  2. I can’t view the video because it contains material from sony music Entertainment and they have blocked it in my country!! Not fair!!

  3. This is by far my favorite grokfeast! The games and the outfits were very fun and primal at the same time. The food looked delicious and everyone looked awesome. Enjoy your cow, fellas. Looks like it was a blast!!!!!!!

  4. I laughed out loud when they started running with the torch and the dogs brought up the rear. Definitely added that extra wild touch.

  5. Yes – this is Balance Gym/CrossFit Balance. CrossFit Balance is at our new location on 14th Street, NW DC. If any readers want to stop by for a workout, just email or call me.

    And, yes, this was an awesome weekend!

    -Graham
    202-549-3867
    [email protected]

  6. This one is awesome and inspiring! I wish I had enough friends around interested in the primal lifestyle to get something like this together 🙂 cheers to you guys!

  7. I didn’t know that caveman olympics existed. I must compete next time, heh.

  8. I like how this pack of Groks was accompanied by their “wolves”! Three cheers for symbiosis!

  9. Grok party Crossfit style – nice! Maybe I can get Crossfit Prescott (AZ) to do this some day. Y’all put a lot of work into this, and it looks like it was a ton of fun. Good job!

  10. Love the outfits and the fun awesome workouts. Way to get into the spirit guys!

  11. Wow, That’s freakin awesome!! I’m so jealous, that looks like you guys had a blast! Good choice with ‘Cochise’ as well, Chris Cornell rocks!

  12. Love the outfits.
    I cannot BELIEVE how much meat you ate – that’s amazing!

  13. I don’t even know how to describe how awesome this looks… words fail me. I will point out that Team “Bone Clubs n Harmony” is just one small element that makes this entry amazing. I vote Shenandoah!

  14. This looks so fun! I wish I could be there, and I wish my friends would let me carry them like that(some objection about being a human barbell).

  15. Not sure you can call the girls heavy things but the lifting looks fun.

  16. Loved looking at your weekend…looks like you had a blast. I vote for you to win the cow!

  17. Great job guys! Those cavewoman squats look fun… hopefully I can convince some of my friends to do them with me!

  18. This is one strong, hilarious, hungry tribe.

    Hey, did I see a loaf of bread at the feast?

    Good luck, me thinks you are a strong contender.

  19. Wow. Too much fun. Very creative. Way to go guys! DC area represent!

  20. Talk about diving in 100%, with the costumes, food, events and everything else. This looks like great fun. Extra props to the girl with the giant bone in her hair. Classic!

  21. To Graham – I didn’t think insanity ran in our family since I’ve looked back several generations, but I think it may have been started with you! I am thinking maybe the baby (you) was switched at the hospital!!
    Love, your worried Mom.

  22. OK — if these guys don’t win the cow, then there’s something wrong with the universe. Those costumes are hilarious!

  23. All I have to say is “Win!” That was hilarious, and very creative.

  24. why haul a sandbag when you can haul a woman? The group picture has to be my favorite part of this, major thumbs up!

  25. Ha! I love the “Catch-a-Mate” event! This video is hilarious!

    Please let them win the Bessie!

  26. This group reminds me a lot of the “write the caption” photo… 😛 …still… looks like a blast!

  27. After hearing about the Cave Man Olympic from the rummors coming out of siting in the Shenandoahou valley, I decide to investigate the source – CrossFit Balance on 14th Street, NW DC. I can understand how these cave people to include my daughter Lauren were able compete in this demanding two day Cave Man event. They allowed me to join in a cross fit training session as they prepare for their next challenge – I believe the Ice Age Olympics. I am proud to say my daughter was not changed at birth and that she definitly is her daddies girl. Way to go of the CrossFit Balance of DC you are the best.

    Bodach – Father to Cave Woman Lauren

    1. I love you daddy, a girl could not ask for a better father.

      PS Way to kick butt at the workout!

  28. LOL! Finaally a group of folks that could care less about calories!! WAY TO GO! Definately the best submission!

  29. Jen when you told me you were going away for the weekend with your gym friends.I had no idea what craziness you were up to. This video was hillarious and well planned out. Congratulations to you and your teamates for a job well done! Love mom