April 12, 2014
If Not For 14.3: Kara Webb
By Megan Drapalski
Kara Webb's performance on 14.3 not only cost her first place overall in Australia, but potentially first place in the world. 
Kara Webb's performance on 14.3 not only cost her first place overall in Australia, but potentially first place in the world. 

"I saw the potential for (14.3) to affect my training, so I consciously had the handbrake on so I could train well," Webb said.

Photos courtesy of Jodi Duncan.

Reigning Australia Region Champion Kara Webb certainly made her mark on the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games Open.

With four first-place finishes in her region, the 12th-place finisher at the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games secured yet another appearance at the Australia Regional in May, producing some impressive performances during the online global competition.

“I really enjoyed the Open compared to previous years,” she said. “I always enjoy it as it’s the one opportunity I have to do workouts with everyone in my gym, which I normally don’t get to do, but this year was a little bit different.”

“Castro spiced it up and it felt like the first year,” she continued. “I fell in love with it all over again!”

Despite battling illness for the past four weeks, Webb finished the Open in third place in Australia, and 69th worldwide.

However, her final placing would have been a lot more impressive had it not been for Open Workout 14.3.

With a score of 149 reps (1,160th worldwide), it initially appeared the deadlift/box jump couplet in the third week of the Open exposed a serious and surprising weakness for Webb.

The performance not only cost her first place overall in her region, but also potentially first place in the world.

With 1st, 27th, 5th, 1st, and 1st, Sam Briggs finished the Open with 35 points. Minus 14.3, Webb accumulated just 16 points in the Open (6th on 14.1, 5th on 14.2, 2nd on 14.4, and 3rd on 14.5).

A score of 181 reps or more on 14.3, or 18th place or better worldwide, would have seen Webb move ahead of eventual champion Sam Briggs and finish the Open in first place overall.

But Webb isn’t worried about what could have been.

“I made a very conscious decision to play it cautious with that workout,” she said. “I saw a very real potential for injury and I have my sights set on bigger things.”

“The Open is about qualifying and moving through to the next level,” Webb added.

Rather than altering her training to cater for the Open, Webb decided to use the five weeks as preparation for the Australia Regional.

“I saw the potential for that workout to affect my training, so I consciously had the handbrake on so I could train well,” she said.

“That score doesn’t reflect poor effort, but a decision not to sacrifice form to move the weight,” Webb explained. “I owe it to the people I coach to maintain my form. It cost me a bit on the Leaderboard but it’s no big deal. I was top six in everything else.”

Webb said her decision meant she finished the 2014 Open without any injuries and feeling fresh for the remainder of the season.

“The Open isn’t the end of the road for me,” Webb said.

“Ideally, I really just wanted to finish in the top 12 in the region so I could be in the last heat to put a little bit more pressure on myself,” she said. “I’ve won the regional twice in a row now and both times I didn’t win the Open.”

Webb said the final couplet of thrusters and burpees was her favorite workout during the Open.

“I honestly found 14.5 was the easiest out of the five. I’m not even kidding,” she said.

“It could have been a false feeling because I was so excited that it was the last one so there was a lot of adrenaline,” she said, “but I love a workout that decreases in numbers because I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

In past years, Webb has stood out in any workout that erred on the heavier side; however, this year she displayed solid form in almost every facet of the Open.

“I can now move faster with the lighter weights. I’ve become a more well-rounded athlete, I think,” she said.

With the 2014 Australia Regional just one month away, Webb is feeling confident.

“I want to hold onto my title and I’ll be disappointed if I don’t,” she admitted. “It’d take something weird for me to not have my spot.”

With a strong female roster heading to the WIN Entertainment Centre, Webb is trying to avoid spending time thinking about what other athletes are doing.

“People can look good on paper but can’t back it up at regionals where there’s more in play,” she said.

“The Open is done in your own gym and it’s one workout per week, but can you back it up at regionals where it’s three workouts per day for three days?”

Coming into the Australia Regional, Webb’s programming won’t change too much. It all lies in the hands of her coach, Brian Bucholtz.

“For me, it’s about maintaining the same effort and cleaning up my lifestyle, make my sleep and nutrition a little bit better,” she said. “It’s mostly the same all year round but changes slightly depending on what I need to perform.”

In Webb’s first visit to Carson, Calif., in 2012 she placed 19th. When she returned in 2013 she finished in 12th place overall. In 2014, she’s hoping to continue her rise up the Leaderboard.

“I want to finish higher at the Games and not just have a token effort there. I want to progress each year and not just turn up,” she said.

“So long as I know I’ve done everything I can, there’s not really much else I can do.”