Before the final wall ball thrown by Mat Frankel of team CrossFit New England landed, they already knew – Team CFNE was the world champion. The only thing left to do now was celebrate, which started with a jubilant round of high-fives, hugs, and leaps into the stands (one of which landed me an elbow to the temple, but that's OK Sonia – I won't hold it against you). The athletes of CrossFit New England certainly know how to train and compete – they also know how to appreciate the spoils of victory. The emotional embrace of the six athletes who decimated the final workout – a cacophony of classic “girls” – was only exceeded by the sensational six meeting up with the CFNE spectator platoon who had all flown clear across the USA to cheer on their team and Masters competitors. There were hugs, tears, high fives, and all other celebratory gesturing known to man – including imbibing from the affiliate cup, and the “Mean Joe Green” T shirt move by James Hobart, handing off his competitor shirt to a kid in the stands.
Before the trip to the west coast, the folks from New England coordinated how the celebration would go down like they were planning D-day. Not because they were sure of impending victory, but because they planned to celebrate that which had already been achieved regardless of the outcome. Just about everyone heading out to Carson had signed up for SicFit's post-Games party at Exchange LA, one of the top clubs in the area. It was a great chance for everyone to mingle with the Games crowd, and the athletes from Boston to celebrate with their fellow gym members at what SicFit called “The Fittest Party on Earth.” It was a top-notch affair, complete with a red carpet, photo ops, and gift bags for VIP attendees. Mel “Ockerbeast” Ockerby, who endeared herself to the community at the Regional, said the party was “baller.” She added: “That room will never be filled with more fit, testosterone filled, horny athletes.” A good time was had by all, indeed
Immediately after the competition ended, I caught up with Ben Bergeron in the tunnel where he was rejoicing with the team – quite the proud coach. As he cracked a smile that would make Dr. Teeth jealous, I asked him what he was going to next, and within seconds, he replied, “I'm going to Vegas!” To be fair I already knew the answer to that question, as I was going along. Almost a year earlier the group of CFNE athletes who planned on attending the Games as spectators, as well as those who longed to compete, decided we should fly home to Boston via Las Vegas. What better way to celebrate a completed season of training and kicking ass, than to go to the ultimate home of nights on the town and do it one better. One huge night of living large in party capital of the world.
It's no secret that CFNE is a big family – everyplace they go, they bring everyone – this trip was no different. More than half of those who made the trip to L.A also signed on for L.V. The conquering Bostonian horde rolled into Sin City more than 20 deep, immediately heading for the pool to claim their title as, “best looking drunk people ever,” and while away the afternoon in the lap of luxury with frozen drinks in hand. The party that night had athletes dressed to impress yet again, instead of the ubiquitous spandex and compression gear we're all accustomed to. The next day brought attempted recovery and more lounging by the swank Vegas poolside, shooting machine guns at The Gun Store, and adventurous thrill rides dangling you a thousand feet above the Las Vegas strip at Stratosphere.
Those who didn't head to Vegas celebrated in their own ways. Some went home to be with with their families, like Derek Mohamed and Lisa Mikkelsen (who will both likely recover from their trip much faster than the rest of us), and some just can't get enough CrossFit – like “Karen”-extraordinaire, Mat Frankel. Mat isn't just a rock star athlete, but a top-flight coach. He's working on opening his own affiliate – tentatively named CrossFit City Line – and seeks to create yet another exceptional community in Newton, Mass. There's no rest for the weary; you can bet all who made the trip – competitors and spectators alike – are already making plans to dominate the 2012 season with an even stronger group. CFNE knows full well, victory is much sweeter when you bring your friends.