A team from CrossFit Fort Vancouver went to Carson, Calif., in late July to compete for a world championship.
But the first day of the three-day CrossFit Games turned into a drag for the Northwest regional champions. A timed event that required athletes to pull a weighted sled from end to end of the StubHub Center soccer field put the Fort Vancouver team well behind the leaders.
"We had an uphill battle after the first day," said Adam Neiffer, CrossFit Fort Vancouver owner and member of the team.
After re-assessing their goals, the six-person team spent the next two days worming their way up the leaderboard to place fourth in the world for 2013.
Neiffer, Jessica Core of Vancouver and Nathan Loren of Washougal were the Clark County residents on the team that trains year-round at Neiffer's gym near Fort Vancouver. This team included Portland residents Jerome Perryman, Andrea Roozen and Erin Taylor.
This is the fourth consecutive year that CrossFit Fort Vancouver has competed at the world championships for CrossFit gyms. In 2010, CrossFit Fort Vancouver
won the team championship at the competition that involves individual and team events designed to test the strength, speed, stamina and emotional toughness of participants.
Loren said CrossFit Fort Vancouver gave a good effort in the sled pull. Other gyms were just better, reflecting improved competition he has seen in four trips to the CrossFit Games.
Sitting 15th after the first day was humbling, Core said. But that stokes the competitive fire, she noted.
"It was a tough one to swallow," she said. "But we didn't let it hold us back."
Loren and Core both pointed to the worm — six 75-pound log pieces connected by rope — as a surprising new challenge that helped Fort Vancouver climb the standings. The worm was used in several of the events.
CrossFit Fort Vancouver won an event that required each team to complete three rounds of 30 squat lifts holding the worm, and three rounds of 30 jumps over the worm.
"It tested teamwork, and that was what we felt our strength was," Loren said, explaining the success with events involving the worm.
By the end of the second day of competition, CrossFit Fort Vancouver was in ninth place. On the final day, the team finished third in the stadium relay and fifth in the final event -- which again involved the worm.
CrossFit Fort Vancouver's 580 points were 28 short of third place prize money. Hack's Pack UTE, from Utah, repeated as team champions, winning four of the 10 events.
"They proved themselves. They deserved to win," Neiffer said.
After a week off, most members of the team were back at the gym training. This month they will begin focusing on preparing for the 2014 season, which starts in the spring with local and regional competition.
CrossFit, Neiffer noted, is about life-enhancing fitness. Most of the people who use his gym don't compete.
But Core and Loren both said they plan to compete as long as they are able.
"I like the camaraderie," Core said. "And I love to see what I'm capable of mentally and physically."