Words by Jack Calvert
Feature photo by Dave Shenton
The wounded hands of CrossFit 57 North’s Team Thorium competitors are beginning to heal, but the motivation and pride they have delivered to our Inverness box has far from dwindled.
Three pairs of 57N athletes – Andy Begg and Kris Hamilton, Lesley Forrester and Agata Kowalak, and Chris Buchanan and Alan “Paddy” Esler – took on the challenge in Seaham at the start of the month following success in the qualifiers
None of our teams reached podium heights, but they did continue to build on the box’s solid competitive reputation and learned valuable lessons to share with their CrossFit compadres back home.
Andy and Kris came 14th out of 22 in the men’s section, Lesley and Agata finished 18th from 20 women’s teams, and Chris and Paddy placed fourth from five men’s masters teams; a huge achievement when considering the hundreds who took part in the qualifiers the length and breadth of Britain.
As well as competing, Andy kept a keen coaching eye on his team-mates, and wasn’t disappointed with what he saw.
He said: “Everyone got a lot from the event and it was a good stiff competition as the teams were only a few points away from each other.
“Kris and I were quite happy with 14th as we were 17th during the qualifiers. Agata and Lesley did extremely well as always.
“Paddy and Chris had their first taste of a real CrossFit competition and I don’t think their nerves got to them at all. They kept cool heads and worked hard.
“Chris continued to work hard and he almost got a bar muscle-up several times. If only if he kept himself up on the bar and shifted his elbow one at a time – he was so close! I was pleased with his performance.”
Paddy and Chris’s efforts on the muscle-up event are widely regarded as some of the most inspiring moments of the weekend.
Chris has mixed feelings about it, but has been spurred on nonetheless.
He said: “I feel we performed better than expected, but not as well as we would have liked. The competition highlighted my weaknesses that just needed more time to eliminate.
“Paddy is a great team-mate and is at the higher level already. He was carrying a wrist injury but you wouldn’t have known it to watch him.
“The wrist injury made his bar muscle-ups all the more difficult but he still got the work done.
“I think that’s why he was the centre of the most inspiring moment of the competition. The crowd didn’t realise his struggle with the muscle-ups was due to an injury.
“I am even more fired up to eliminate the obvious weaknesses and I am looking forward to entering more competitions, but I might wait until I have addressed some things.”
He added: “It was great watching the men’s and women’s teams compete. I really felt part of a team.
“Our friends that came with us from the box seem to be fired up to get involved in competitions as well.
“One of the great things about 57 North is working out with everybody. From beginners to competitive athletes like the men’s and women’s team all doing the same workout – everything is scaled to the individual.
“We are lucky to have great programming at 57 North. It has structure and progression. It is due to this I have got to a level where I feel I can get involved in competitions.”
Agata also arrived back in the Highlands touting the benefits of competition.
She said: “We did really well, much better that we hadexpected. In a such a competitive atmosphere we completely forgot about our strategy and just did our best.
“We both surprised ourselves and proved our abilities are much higher than expectations.
“The main lesson I learned is never forgetting about keeping good form while performing to avoid injuries, and good nutrition is a key to the success.
“Personally I have learnt about a significant power of communication and discovered my strengths and weaknesses. I already know this is going to play a key role in my future team performance.
“I would recommend everyone getting involved in events like that as a spectator as well as competitor. Not only for the personal development as an athlete, but also as a part of an amazing community.”
There are plenty of opportunities coming up for those looking to reap the benefits of CrossFit competition. The 2015 CrossFit Open starts on February 26 and coach Iain Donaldson is organising an in-house league in tandem with the event.
There is a sign-up sheet for this in the box. Speak to Iain or message the 57 North Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Crossfit57north for more information.