March 13, 2013
The Masters of CrossFit Vero Beach
By Billy Goodson

Elite Masters competitors run deep at CrossFit Vero Beach. 

Where Ponce De Leon failed in his pursuit to find the fountain of youth, is it possible a trio of men in Vero Beach, Fla., have succeeded? 

One look at the worldwide Leaderboard in the Masters Men’s 55-59 Division after Open Workout 13.1, and you will find Charlie Clendening in sixth place, Greg Budde in seventh place and Chuck Sullivan in 23rd place.

All three of these men train at CrossFit Vero Beach.

“We have been looking forward to this year, along with our coaches, knowing we would be joining Chuck and would all be in the same Masters Division for the 2013 CrossFit Games Open,” Clendening says.

Two of the three have made it to the CrossFit Games before. Clendening, 55, competed in 2011 finishing in 10th place, and 2012 finishing in 14th place in the 50-54 Division. Now, in his new age group, he looks to have the Games in his sights once again. He put up an impressive 192 reps on Open Workout 13.1.

Sullivan, 58, is also vying for his third trip to the CrossFit Games having finished in ninth place in 2011 and fifth place in 2012. His background in running and triathlons has provided a solid base for his success. He logged 188 reps on Workout 13.1.

Budde, the youngster of the group, turns 55 in May and is hoping to make his first trip to the Games this summer. With 192 reps on 13.1, his chances look good.

“Working out with Chuck, and against him, changed my way of training,” Budde says. “I always counted on my strength to carry me through the WODs, but Chuck would consistently smoke me when a run and/or bodyweight movements came up. So I decided I needed to get quicker, and the best way to do that would be to lose some weight. At the time of last year's Open, I weighed around 220 pounds and felt that I couldn't move quickly enough. I took my weight down to 190 this year, and although my strength has suffered, my endurance has gotten much better.”

Sullivan says he enjoys the in-house competition with his fellow Masters.

“We are all friends and have known each other for years,” he says. “We sometimes joke that we have to remember that you might be only the third best 50-year-old in the gym, but could still make it to the Games.”

“The three of us are usually comparing and talking about the WODs, and generally the outcome is close — one day Greg will be first, then Chuck, then me,” Clendening says. “It just depends on the WOD. We all have our weaknesses and strengths.”

Whatever the outcome, these men are proving age is just a number. With only the top-20 Masters worldwide in each age division continuing on to the Games, the competition will be fierce as these three men, friends and competitors give it all they have in the Open.