NorCal badass Pat Barber woke up Monday morning with stomach pains. Many athletes get some stomach jitters before a big competition, and Barber would be facing some of CrossFit’s fiercest competitors this weekend at the NorCal Regional. But these stomach pains did not go away. They got worse. Finally Barber knew he had to go to the hospital.
Barber is a NorCal local, almost literally growing up in CrossFit as he started training while in high school in Santa Cruz. His ability in CrossFit and his competitive drive earned him the nickname “Manimal” even before his 4th place finish at the second ever CrossFit Games in 2008. Barber was barely out of his teens when he stood in the dust at the Ranch in Aromas and battled Chris Spealler, Josh Everett, Ricky Frausto and a total unknown named Jason Khalipa in the epic final heat.
Barber only recently returned to Northern California from a sojourn in New Zealand. He smashed the competition in the Australian Region in 2011 and represented Down Under at the Games that year in Carson, Calif. He knew qualifying for the Games in 2012 from the ultra tough NorCal region would be a knockdown no-holds-barred fight, but the Manimal was confident. He placed 4th in the NorCal Open, ahead of beasts like Blair Morrison, Gabe Subry and Zack Height. His daily training partners were two of the best NorCal had to offer — Khalipa and Neal Maddox. The workouts at Regionals were heavy and hard, but Barber is blessed with prodigious strength — a 305-pound clean and jerk, 245-pound snatch and a 400-pound back squat at just 175 pounds heavy. Couple that strength with a 5’7” height, Barber can just flat out move weight like few other people, even in the NorCal region. This was going to be a good year.
The tests at El Camino Hospital in Los Gatos told a different story. His appendix would have to be removed. Not after Regionals, but right then, immediately. One surgery later and an appendix lighter, Barber was out of the competition. But, even for a competitor like the Manimal, there are other things in life than the CrossFit Games. Raising his son is one of those things. Barber and fiancée Taz Venter are expecting their first child in September. Running his gym, NorCal CrossFit, is another.
Barber’s surgery was laparoscopic, a minimally invasive method where small “keyhole” incisions are made and video cameras inserted into the abdomen to aid the surgeon. The recovery time with laparoscopic surgery is quicker than traditional open surgery and Barber, unsurprisingly, is already planning his post surgery training schedule — light training in two weeks and back to normal in three or so. Nothing the Manimal can’t handle, but “the timing couldn’t be worse,” he laments.
Although he is “really bummed I do not get to compete,” Barber readily admits for 2013 he is going to “train as hard as I can to bring the pain on this region.”