"I know I can’t hold anything back. I have to just put everything on the line."
After missing qualification in 2013, Patrick Burke is back and hungry for a top spot at the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games.
The competition in the South West was stacked in 2014 with Tommy Hackenbruck back in individual competition and Chris Spealler determined to go back to the Games for what may well be his last year.
But Burke’s performance at the regional earned him a spot at the Games for the sixth time, along with Hackenbruck and Spealler.
“It’s gotten deep,” Burke of his competition. “Years before, there’ve been four or five guys to potentially take the top three spots, and then this year, I really felt like there were 10 to 15 guys who had potential to take the three spots. Just a lot of really skilled, talented, hardworking athletes out there that if you make a mistake, they can get it.”
Going into regionals, Burke knew movements requiring extreme mobility like pistols and snatches could hinder his performance. This showed with his 15th- and 20th-place finishes in the first two events.
With no room for mistakes on the following two days, he earned a third and second place in Events 4 and 5. At the end of Day 2, however, Burke fell ill from the stomach bug circulating the South West Regional that took out fellow top contenders Christian Lucero and Chris Hoppe.
“I puked all night Saturday and got really, really sick. I really didn’t know if I could compete the next day,” he recounted. “On Sunday morning, I got an IV for fluids and went and worked out. … I ended up taking seventh on (Event 6)—just enough to stay ahead. There was a guy right behind me who was only a few points out. On that final workout, I was feeling really, really bad and I still hadn’t eaten anything but I couldn’t crap out on the workout. I still had to do well.”
And he did. He finished the pull-up/overhead squat event in seventh place and finished the regional in third overall.
This will be Burke’s sixth trip to the CrossFit Games. He went from 2008 to 2012. His best finish was seventh place in 2010, the first year the Games were held at the StubHub Center (then Home Depot Center).
After missing the Games in 2013, he made changes to his training regimen, including getting a new training partner.
“Andrea Ager is my training partner. She came to our gym in December and I was able to train with her consistently since December and have a consistent setup,” Burke said. “I just had a lot more support this year, too. My brother came into the gym to help out, and that ultimately allowed me to train more. Last year, I had just lot of work going on at the gym, and growth, and it just really got hard to train.”
In addition to training and running his affiliate, MBS CrossFit, Burke is also a husband and father. He said his ability to continue competing at the Games level come, in part, from the support of his family and friends.
“You have to ask for help a lot more,” he said. “You can never be a good enough dad, gym owner or athlete. There’s always something more that you want to do and sacrifices here and there. You just have to ask for a lot of help or forgiveness sometimes.”
He added: “Sometimes it’s tough because I want to be a better leader to my gym, but at the same time, I know a lot of people will be inspired by it and get pumped up and rally around it. In the past I would just try to do everything, like there was some way to balance all of it. But I just don’t think that there is. You just can’t do it by yourself.”
Looking ahead to the Games, Burke said he always has his eye on the top prize. More importantly, however, he wants to just have fun doing the best that he can.
“A big part of it is to have fun for sure, but when you go into a competition you have to have the mindset of being in contention for first no matter how tough it is,” he said.
“My goal is to come to the Games more prepared than I’ve ever been, healthier than I’ve ever been, have the best support crew that I’ve ever had, and just have the mindset and knowledge that in the offseason I’ve trained so hard and made so many sacrifices … . I know I can’t hold anything back. I have to just put everything on the line.”