April 4, 2012
Eric Botsford
By Austin Einhorn

During the six months he's not jumping out of helicopters in isolated frontiers like the arctic tundra of Alaska, he is training and coaching with his wife at his box.

Eric Botsford only trains six months out of the year. He’s constantly on the go and eats what is available. And he’s in the top 20 in Northern California.

As a wild-land firefighter, Botsford is out fighting fires in some of the most desolate and remote places in America. During the six months he’s not jumping out of helicopters in isolated frontiers like the arctic tundra of Alaska, he is training and coaching with his wife at his box, Good Times CrossFit. After this year's six-month stint in CrossFit, he has earned a 16th place spot in the toughest region in the world.

Did you expect to be doing so well in the Open?

The Open is a tricky thing for me because I know what I'm capable of, and I know that NorCal is stacked more than any other region. During my offseason, all I do is compete in every CrossFit competition offered, and host a few myself.

I participate to rank myself against some of the local talent when the Open arrives. Confident that I wouldn't see any super technical movements due to the accessibility of the Open, I knew that I would do pretty well this year. What has changed in the past year is the size and talent. There are a ton of new 20-somethings killing it. The fact that I am at 16th this year is more impressive than being 16th last year.

Do you really CrossFit only six months out of the year?

That's the biggest obstacle. I play a lot of catch up. As a wild-land firefighter I'm pretty much gone six months out of the year. When I'm gone, we do way more endurance-type training, such as long trail runs. Once spring time comes, I’m back at the gym coaching and training, but then if my number gets called, I have to leave immediately and be gone until November.

Wild-land firefighters are a national resource and could be all of a sudden shipped out to Idaho or Nevada. Being on a helicopter allows us to get to some of remote and desolate fires that are totally inaccessible by car. We are able to adapt to anything, which is where my CrossFit training really helps me.

What sports did you play before CrossFit?

I played soccer up until college, and then dabbled in rugby a bit. But what I have really always done is been a competitive water skier and wakeboarder. I got to travel all over the world, including spending my winters in Australia. It was mostly water skiing until wakeboarding took off around 2000. 

What is your athletic background?

Back in college is when I first got my feet wet with Olympic lifting. But mostly, it was doing the traditional globo-gym type thing, back and [biceps], chest and [triceps]. What I really had to focus on was mobility work. With water skiing, it was a constant struggle, just continually beating the hell out of your self with such an impact heavy sport.

How do you eat?

I'm a Bud Light guy. I like to drink beer. I'm pretty real about how I live. My wife, though, is extremely paleo. I like to eat pretty clean the majority of the time, but I mean, I had pancakes for breakfast. The hardest part about being a wild-land firefighter is going back to the firehouse eating. It really messes me up. We go through a “hell week” in the beginning of every season where they just stick you out in the middle of nowhere with dehydrated meals, and just eating whatever is given to you. It's hell on your digestive system.

Would qualifying for the Games change your schedule?

Yeah, if Regionals go well, wow. That would be amazing. Just to be there with those top guys. Last year what killed me is that I was already a month-and-a-half into fire training when Regionals came along. I hadn’t touched a barbell in a month and during one of the workouts last year, the 315-pound deadlift was a real shocker.