April 17, 2014
Finding Their Niche
By Ivory Carr

"Your mind will give up way before your body will ..." ~Mark Curtis

Photos courtesy of Craig Brown

Three years ago, power couple Mark Curtis and Vicki Starr switched their fitness focus from triathlons to CrossFit to improve their overall health and lifestyle—and they never looked back.

Triathlons helped develop their natural talents, but CrossFit gave these training partners and CrossFit Coeur d’Alene coaches the strength to rise to the top in their respective age groups and compete in the 2014 Masters Qualifier.

Triathlon Transition

Starr, 44, was a competitive six-time Ironman competitor with a finish in the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii. The mother and longtime personal trainer found CrossFit in 2011, just when the high of her triathlon competitions began to fade.

“I wanted to push myself more,” Starr explained. “Ultimately, I want to stay fit regardless of my age, taking advantage of the outdoorsy north Idaho lifestyle and being able to live life fully and passionately.”

She finished the 2014 Open in 198th place in the Masters Women 45-49 Division, narrowly qualifying for the next phase of competition.

Curtis, 53, a 24-year Navy SEAL retired veteran and also a multiple Ironman finisher with a best time of 9:13 in Kona, is no stranger to intense workouts, high physical fitness standards and competition. Curtis showed great consistency in the Masters Men 50-54 Division, finishing in 41st place.

The duo credited triathlons for helping hone their best natural assets.

“Our strengths lie in our engines and mental endurance,” Curtis said. “Your mind will give up way before your body will. We have that ability to push our bodies for another rep when our minds caution us to stop.”

Curtis added that triathlons gave him the ability to swim, bike and run well, but left him weak in everything else.

“Transforming from triathlons to CrossFit made me realize how weak I was,” Curtis said. “I’ve made significant gains in strength and today I’m the strongest I’ve been in my life.”

Training for CrossFit Competition

For the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games season, the couple ramped up their training with age-specific programming focused on increased strength, efficient technique, improved work capacity and nutrition.

Starr said she is preparing for the Masters Qualifier by focusing on weaknesses like complex gymnastics movements, and trying not to overthink the workouts.

“For motivation, I respond best to Mark’s calm and subtle encouragement,” she said, adding that she prefers a focused and deliberate approach to competition workouts.

Curtis’ approach to the Masters Qualifier is having a plan.

“We approach competitive workouts as just another WOD, but I am a tactician and strategist so I’ve already been thinking ahead to what the workouts might be,” he said.

Freeing Up Time to Inspire Others

During triathlon season the couple recalls training up to 25 hours a week. Now, they cherish the free time CrossFit affords them.

“With CrossFit we train about six hours a week,” Starr said. “We have more energy than ever and I love having that time back to spend being active with family and friends.”

Starr coaches her daughter, 17-year-old Jayden Hall, in a CrossFit teen’s class.

“It’s cool, especially with my mom being the coach,” Hall said. “I think of them as the badass parents.”

The pair has inspired fellow CrossFit athletes, proving that age is nearly transparent in a CrossFit box.

“The younger athletes often look up to us as role models,” Curtis said, “and that is an amazing feeling.”