March 15, 2013
Getting a Number: Mark Dankow
By Cindy Young

“I wrote out a plan when we first opened CrossFit Future on how to get to the Games. And I am trying my best to reach that goal.”

Mark Dankow doesn’t waste time.

His strategy on Open Workouts is to get in and get it done immediately after the workout is announced. That way, if he sucks, he still has time to try again.

“I love getting a number out there first thing without knowing what everyone else is going to bring to the game. To just go out and give it my all,” the 40-year-old says while still breathing heavily from 13.2.

He completed 286 reps.

Dankow started pressing, deadlifting and box jumping shortly after the live Open Announcement stopped streaming to the CrossFit Games site. He heard the workout directly from the Director of the Games Dave Castro, and watched Lindsey Valenzuela and Annie Thorisdottir push through more than 11 rounds.

While his workout wasn’t as dramatic, he knew every rep would affect his chances of making it to the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games Masters Competition. On the first workout, he finished in eighth place in the 40-44 Division. He’s willing to redo the workouts if it will keep him in the top 20.

“You train all year and you have five days to work at it, why not go at it again and see if you can improve your first number?” he says.

The new, youngest Masters category has satisfied the calls of many competitive CrossFitters in their early 40s, like Dankow.

“To be realistic, I wasn’t going to get anywhere being 40 years old and competing against the younger guys,” he says. “Don’t get me wrong, I still like knowing that I can keep up with the younger crowd. But it was something that I think needed to happen.”

The former collegiate wrestler from the University of Michigan trains with a Masters-aged group within the box. Each day at 4 a.m., you can find him and several others preparing for the CrossFit Games Masters competition, including 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games competitor, Ron Thomas (45-49).

For the last few months, he has focused on building strength. He has mixed in Shawn Stauffer’s strength-biased CrossFit programming with the conjugate method.

To build tolerance for high-rep workouts at moderate weight, he’ll take on nasty, long workouts like 100 snatches at 135 lb. He applies the 100s rule to many lifting movements, and beats his body into the ground.

Shortly before the Open, he transitioned away from the strength emphasis. For the last few weeks, he has been working on his wind with max-rep on the minute burpees, air squats, push-ups and box jumps.

“Wrestling taught me that a lot can happen in six minutes, so I try to just put my head down and keep working," he says.

Throughout the Open, the CrossFit Games site is always open on his computer. He’s addicted to Leaderboarding, as he careful monitors how close he’s coming to achieving his goal.

“I wrote out a plan when we first opened CrossFit Future on how to get to the Games,” he says. “And I am trying my best to reach that goal.”