"I was so surprised when I saw the Leaderboard. Some of the athletes I idolized were behind me. The fact that I managed to edge out podium finishers is a huge achievement for me."
The final event at the 2013 Asia Regional saw a tight race between Nicole Tainatongo and Candice Ford (formerly Howe).
Although Ford went on to win the event, it was another athlete who clinched the hearts of both spectators and fellow athletes: Katherine Althoff.
Having only been introduced to CrossFit four months prior to the 2013 Open, as a newbie, Althoff had to lift her one-rep-max clean of 135 lb. four times—in just one round during that final event. Needless to say, she did not finish, but gave it her all, much to the crowd’s delight.
“The heavy cleans in the last event killed me,” Althoff said in a Skype interview. “I resolved to come back stronger, and I think now I am more equipped to take on heavier weights.”
On her way back to U.S. Army Garrison, Yongsan, the Knowledge Operations Manager decided to change her training methodology and get a new coach.
“I used to train at Fight Tonight CrossFit like a regular, once-a-day athlete, but I wanted to take regionals more seriously in 2014,” she said. “So I reached out to Taylor Rank.”
Rank, two-time regional athlete and weightlifting specialist, saw a spark in Althoff, and it was one he wanted to nurture and grow in the coming year.
So started the Rank/Althoff partnership.
However, they were faced with a rather insurmountable challenge. Althoff was based in South Korea and Rank in Hong Kong, China.
Technology came to the rescue, and both Rank and Althoff started having regular online coaching sessions.
“Technology these days has made it easier to communicate,” Rank said. “Sending and receiving information makes is quite easy: Facetime, Skype, Google—all make things run smoothly.”
Althoff has fully committed to training hard and left no stone unturned to qualify for the 2014 Asia Regional. That meant waking up at 4:30 a.m. to make the 5-a.m. training session, working for a full day, and going to the box later in the evening, along with part-time schoolwork and a full-time girlfriend.
“In the morning, I lift heavy weights and follow it up with (metabolic conditioning) in the evening, and that is the easy stuff,” she said. “Being able to juggle work, school and CrossFit is the tough part.”
Rank’s programming and Althoff’s hard work paid off with increased lifting capacity. She now boasts a 160-lb. clean at a body weight of 130 lb.
Rank attributes Althoff’s gains to her dedication and hard work.
“Kat has made some serious improvements in all aspects of her game,” he said. “I feel it has worked simply because Kat has put in the effort on a consistent basis—something most average athletes would find hard to maintain. She works with intensity and through that she gets results.”
Althoff’s competitive spirit shone when the Open workouts were announced. This time around, the heaviness of weights did not pose a problem. She scored 143 reps in 14.3, lifting 205 lb. for 13 reps with ease.
The other unintended consequence of training long distance, and by herself was an increment in mental toughness and her ability to push through pain.
“When you work out by yourself, you realize that you are the only one cheering yourself,” she admitted. “I personally love it when a crowd gets behind you, but sometimes you have to dig deep and go on alone.”
Her confidence grew as the Open progressed. She secured fifth place in Asia on 14.4 and sixth on 14.5, ending the Open in seventh place in the region.
“I was so surprised when I saw the Leaderboard,” she said. “Some of the athletes I idolized were behind me. The fact that I managed to edge out podium finishers is a huge achievement for me.”
Having qualified for this year’s Asia Regional, Althoff said she looks forward to competing for a podium spot with Asia’s best, and yet again looks to Rank for advice and support during the three-day competition.
“I think it will be amazing to have Taylor in the same stadium as me, but I know that he is competing, too,” she said. “Either way, I will look for all the advice he has to share when we are in Seoul.”
Setting her eyes on the prize, Althoff looks forward to the regional with great anticipation and excitement.
“I think I am ready to face anything in the regional, though I would love to see some body-weight movements like chest-to-bar pull-ups or even rope climbs,” she said. “I won’t even mind some handstand walks. That will be challenging for all those gunning for the top spot.”