"I just kept going and told myself, 'It’s going to be over soon. It’s only 10 minutes. Just embrace the pain.'" ~Event 1 first-place finisher Nicole Tainatongo
Last year, athletes and spectators alike embraced the scorching heat in the outskirts of bustling Seoul. This year, they are testing their fitness in the KBS 88 Gymnasium, former training ground to the 1988 Summer Olympics.
A more central location has meant bigger crowds of the athletes’ fans.
“We have sold 1,500 tickets this year, making this the largest Asia Regional ever,” Regional Director Don King said.
A mix of nerves and excitement filled the corridors, with slightly jet-lagged competitors arriving from as far as Kuwait, India and Afghanistan.
Husband and wife duo, Brent and Tara McCall of Reebok CrossFit Asia, came out on top to become the only team to finish Event 1 within the 15-minute time cap.
Pacing herself on the row, Tara was the second athlete to step off the rower and commence ‘The Mccall Show.' She finished her thrusters and pull-ups without the need for a break. She then passed the baton to Brent, who kept the momentum going.
“I kept maintaining my pace through the row, and I knew I could get through the thrusters and pull-ups unbroken, ” says Mccall who qualified for Regionals after finishing the Open in 38th place.
Represented by three-time Asia Regional competitor Sarabeth Hershey and Tye Anderson, CrossFit Misawa finished almost a minute-and-half behind the event winners and missed the 15-minute time cap by 10 seconds.
“Our strategy was to go as fast as you can on the row and just finish the event — neither pull-ups nor thrusters are my strong suit,” Hershey says.
Third-place finisher, Reebok CrossFit Sentinel Downtown came from behind, edging out RCF Sentinel Avengers by 11 seconds.
1. Reebok CrossFit Asia (13:26)
2. CrossFit Misawa (15:10)
3. Reebok CrossFit Sentinel Downtown (15:17)
Consistency won it for Nicole Tainatongo, the hot favorite for this weekend. Starting off with a relaxed row, she followed up with a determined and unbroken round of thrusters. She then quickly jumped onto the bar, still keeping the pace and proceeded to knock out quick butterfly pull-ups, releasing her grip just twice.
“I just kept going and told myself, ‘It’s going to be over soon. It’s only 10 minutes. Just embrace the pain,’” Tainatongo said.
Embracing the pain paid off as it resulted in her fastest Jackie ever.
Not far behind and seemingly employing the same technique of holding a steady tempo was Rhett Chase, who trains solo and took part in the Open in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, someone who wasn’t a big fan of Jackie came in third. Candice Howe finished a little under a minute after Chase, but was clearly satisfied with her performance.
“I suck at rowing and thrusters — this was the event I was dreading the most. Still quite pleased, I PR’d by a minute,” Howe said.
1. Nicole Tainatongo (07:01)
2. Rhett Chase (07:19)
3. Candice Howe (08:12)
The first event for the men featured several changes in the lead before Michael Mogard ran away with Jackie. Joseph ‘T-Rank’ Rank, crowd favorite and runner-up from last year, sprinted off the rower first followed by Marcus Smith From CrossFit DXB. The rest of the event was another story. Mogard who boasts a 2:22 Fran, completed his thrusters and pull-ups unbroken and finished the event with a time of 5:26, which is right up there with the likes of Mikko Salo and Chad Mackay.
“My strategy was to relax during the row, but not to let go of the bar,” Mogard said.
Butterflying his way through behind Mogard was Cameron Currie, a new face in Asia, but a seasoned athlete nonetheless.
“I shortened my PR by about a minute. My goal was to be strong and keep increasing my speed,” says Currie who is representing Vulture CrossFit in Afghanistan.
With the Open’s top spot holder, Yousef Albaqsami having struggled during Jackie, who knows what the rest of Day One will bring.
1. Michael Mogard (05:26)
2. Cameron Currie (05:34)
3. Justin Ahrens (05:38)