April 15, 2013
Four of the Twenty Six
By Mary Brown

Of the 26 men who got a third go at chest-to-bar Fran, four were from the North Central Region.

Above photo by: Amy Lynch

Top photo by: Tony Frescas

Only 0.04 percent of the CrossFit Games Open competitors got a third go at chest-to-bar Fran. That amounted to 26 men and five women worldwide.

Remarkably, four of the 26 men — Bryce Teager (221 reps), Charlie Donohue (220 reps), Ian Barnhouse (210 reps) and Kyle Kasperbauer (210 reps) — came from North Central.

Three of the four are firefighters, and the other is none other than third-place finisher at the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games, Kasperbauer.

“One thing I can say is, as a firefighter, you have to be calm under pressure. You have to keep a relaxed mind when you’re going into a stressful situation,” Teager says. “I knew it was going to be a really tough workout, but I knew I had to stay relaxed to get a good score.”

Although he’s used to keeping his cool, he almost lost it during the seemingly never-ending, high-pressure workout.

“I was almost upset I made it (to 180), but I was pretty happy that I got past the mark. It was a little bit of happy and a little bit of wanting to curl up in a ball and stop for a while,” Teager says.

Donohue, a career firefighter and owner of CrossFit Kilo, pulled from his two life commitments when he took on 13.5.

“Both (CrossFit and firefighting) require you to go balls-to-the-walls for a decent amount of time, and to recover quickly,” he says. “The environment and conditions are different, but what you’re doing is very much the same.”

Aiming for 150 to 180, Donohue was surprised when he made it into the second time bonus.

“On Friday morning, before doing the (workout), I glanced at the Leaderboard and saw that 140 or 150 was a decent score, so I was aiming for somewhere between 150 and 180,” Donohue says. “I got done with the 15th pull-up with only a few seconds left before the eight-minute cutoff. I came off the bar and pulled my knee sleeves down. I didn’t realize I had another four minutes until I looked around and everyone was screaming at me to keep going. I pulled my knee sleeves back up quick and went back to work.”

Barnhouse explains that firefighters are trained to get the work done, no matter what.

“As a firefighter, you can't just stop until the task is finished. You are the first ones there and nobody is going to do it for you,” Barnhouse says. “That's one of the reasons CrossFit in general — not just 13.5 — makes for such a good training program. It shows you your limits and also gives you daily opportunities to prove to yourself that most of them are mental.”

To get through the work, he focused on rounds rather than minutes.

“My strategy was to focus on doing six rounds under eight minutes,” he says. “After reaching the initial mental goal of 180 reps, it was drive more than anything that got me through the last four minutes.”

But just because he got the work done doesn’t mean he liked it.

“(13.5) is in my top five all-time least favorite workouts,” he says. “You almost got physically punished for success. Here is your reward, another four minutes.”

With a fourth place overall finish, Barnhouse is headed to the 2013 North Central Regional. Due to illness, injury and other misfortunes, he has not made it to the second stage of the CrossFit Games season since 2009. This year, he’s optimistic about his chances of finishing on the podium at the Regional.

“I felt like I could always do this well. It was just being able to stay healthy every week,” he says. “In 2012, I got injured the second week of the Open. The year before that, I had the flu. Every year, something happened. Right now, I’m really happy with where I’m at.”

Although Kasperbauer has no firefighting experience, he certainly performed when the fire was under his ass.

After four weeks of Holmberg-like performances on the Open workouts (aka just good enough to qualify for Regionals), the third-place finisher from the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games finally put in a top score on an Open workout. In the first four workouts of the Open, Kasperbauer didn’t rank higher than 35th in the region causing many to wonder whether he would qualify.

“I just knew I needed to do well on this one, which meant get past eight minutes,” Kasperbauer says. “It felt like voluntary torture to be honest. I am glad the Open is over.”

With 210 reps, Kasperbauer took third in North Central on the final Open workout. He will advance to the 2013 North Central Regional as the 15th ranked athlete.