March 11, 2014
My First Open: 14.2
By Hilary Achauer

"We'll see what the next challenge is, and go from there," Demko said.

Photos courtesy of Alicia Anthony

What is it like to experience the CrossFit Games Open for the first time, after less than a year of doing CrossFit? This ongoing series will follow 45-year-old Brenton Demko of San Diego, Calif.—who was inactive for almost four years before starting CrossFit this summer—as he completes each workout of the 2014 Open.

Read the first installment here.


When Brenton Demko heard what 14.2 two was—a mix of overhead squats and chest-to-bar pull-ups—he laughed.

Last week, Brenton was confronted with double-unders. This week, it was chest-to-bar pull-ups.

“One more thing I have never done and cannot do,” Brenton said.

Brenton started CrossFit because his son, Thatcher, needed a training program before he headed off to Boston College to play hockey. Thatcher is an exceptional hockey player. He’s likely to be a No. 1 draft pick for the NHL, and he’s the youngest player in NCAA hockey.

“With me being in college, I don't get to see (my dad) every day so when he comes to visit, the changes he's made physically are obvious and I'm very proud,” Thatcher said.

Thatcher said he wasn’t surprised when his dad started doing CrossFit with him.

“He's a very competitive guy,” Thatcher said, “and he's been motivated to get back in shape for a while.”

Brenton had more on his mind than the Open this week. This week was his one-year post-operative appointment following reconstructive knee surgery.

“It went extraordinarily well,” Brenton said. “I got a clean bill of health and got the OK to stop wearing my knee brace.”

He was thrilled to be rid of the heavy, hinged brace.

As he did for 14.1, Brenton showed up to CrossFit 858 in San Diego on Saturday morning to do the workout. Owner and coach Mark Lin was there to give Brenton some tips.

“During my rehab (from knee surgery), I spent the majority of my time rowing as my warm-up,” Brenton said.

Lin told Brenton to think about the last eight to 10 inches of the pull with the rower, how he naturally pulls a little harder at the end. Lin told Brenton to pull harder at the end of his pull-up, using that extra bit of energy to get his chest to the bar.

Brenton tried it out and got his first-ever chest-to-bar pull-up when warming up for 14.2.

“Based on the warm-up, I got more confident,” Brenton said.

Then it was time to go, and Brenton completed his first 10 overhead squats and moved on the to the pull-ups. The man who had never before touched his chest to the bar worked his way through all 10. Then it was back to the overhead squats.

“I blasted through those,” Brenton said.

When he went back to the bar, the effort from his first-ever chest-to-bar pull-ups took their toll.

“I hit the wall with the chest-to-bar,” he said. “The first one I missed by 1 inch. Then by 2 inches. Then by 4 inches. I decided to call it a day.”

With a score of 30, Brenton got 10 more chest-to-bar pull-ups than he thought was possible before he entered the gym that morning.

“I’m just very proud,” Thatcher said of his dad’s renewed interest in working out and training.

The feeling is mutual.

“He’s truly my hero,” Brenton said of his son. “I’m very fortunate to be his dad.”

As for next week, Brenton said his gut feeling is 14.3 will include muscle-ups, another movement he hasn’t yet mastered.

“We’ll see what the next challenge is, and go from there,” he said.