Owners of Maori CrossFit decided they wanted to strengthen the CrossFit community in Ecuador with some of the classic benchmark CrossFit workouts.
On a hot Sunday morning in August, 88 athletes are driving to Maori CrossFit in Guayaquil, Ecuador to perform Grace in front of a large crowd. Fast forward four weeks and the same scenario repeats — only this time there are 120 athletes gearing up for Diane. Over the next eight weeks, the following grows and athletes take on Elizabeth and Fran.
Federico Quiroz and Nelson Barriga, owners of Maori CrossFit, decided they wanted to strengthen the CrossFit community and the relations between the seven boxes of Guayaquil, and the three in neighboring Samborondon, with some of the classic benchmark CrossFit workouts.
“There have never been less than 88 participants in the first four benchmarks, and the only time we saw a small decline in female participation was during Elizabeth,” Quiroz says. “We are proud of our multi-week event because it has never ran longer than two-and-a-half hours. We have organized heats of 10 and have been lucky to have flawless organization and a great 20 or so volunteers from across three or four affiliates.”
Maori CrossFit has grown steadily and is now able to train up to 400 athletes per month across its 13-hour days. However, the event was open to everyone, including those who train at other affiliates or elsewhere. They plan to end the first multi-week event in early 2013 with Jackie, and are expecting the greatest number of participants and spectators.
“What has been overwhelming, is the fact that we had from a 45-year-old to 15- and 16-year-old boys and girls participate,” Barriga says.
Alexandra “Tana” Portalanza, 45, participated in the multi-week event. “To do Diane at the Maori Benchmark Challenge at 45 years old was an exciting and unforgettable experience. My adrenaline levels hit a max. I gave it all to set a new PR, to beat a few younger girls and to climb the ranks.”
Quiroz says he thinks this challenge has united the Latin America CrossFit community. “I guess the motivation for people to come and participate is the fact that they are able to prove to their peers, and to themselves, what they have been training hard for and have accomplished,” Quiroz says. “And the interesting thing is that they usually PR during the Sunday events at Maori. The participants leave every Sunday even more motivated and, thus, train harder for the next benchmark, for their own personal accomplishments and, of course, to prepare for the 2013 Open.”
David Guerrero, 21, says the benchmarks are good preparation for the upcoming Games season.
“For me, it’s not about beating the others, it is about beating myself,” he says.
Community support is illustrated in the volunteers who emerge, freeing up box owners and coaches who are usually too busy organizing things to throw down with their athletes. The past four events have been an Ecuadorian congregation of many aspects and values the CrossFit community encompasses.
“For us, the best experience is to see every athlete´s fan base scream at them from the bleachers to encourage them to beat their own PRs,” Quiroz says. “The energy that has shaken our box these past four events has been amazing and overwhelming, the community can be felt and at the end, they all walk away to go have lunch together in large groups.”