April 2, 2012
The Open Experience at CrossFit Hampton Roads
By Travis Maples

For five weeks, athletes have logged on to the CrossFit Games site to see what the world’s top athletes have done in the 2012 CrossFit Games Open. However, more than 69,000 people registered for the Open this year. That means the bulk of the Open is composed of the everyday athlete, tackling these workouts to prove something to themselves, not the world. 

For CrossFit Hampton Roads, the Open competitors ranged from brand new CrossFitters to seasoned veterans like Nicole and Jeremy Gordon, the gym’s owners and former CrossFit Games athletes.  However, the skill level was often irrelevant throughout Open.  And for these five weeks, everyone was fighting the same battles.

One of those everyday CrossFitters was Bill Harkness, who took on the Open for the first time in the Masters division. While many athletes go in with dreams of competing at Regionals or the Games, Harkness had his own set of goals. “I was just hoping to be standing after these things,” Harkness says.

The workouts may have been punishing, but they brought out a sense of competition, as well as camaraderie that was tangible to all of CrossFit Hampton Roads athletes. “It was just a super atmosphere,” Harkness says. “You’d come in here on a Saturday morning and the place was just packed with people yelling and screaming, encouraging each other not to quit.”

Harkness refers to one of the most unique dynamics of competition in the CrossFit world, the will to push others to succeed.  “It was really uplifting, hearing everyone cheering for you, it was just awesome,” Adam Torres says. Torres is a new CrossFitter at CrossFit Hampton Roads.

To add to an already stellar atmosphere, CrossFit Hampton Roads was host to a hotly contested battle to see who would represent them in 2012 Regional team competition. “This year is the most competitive we’ve had,” Jeremy Gordon says. “We've been competitive at the Games and Regionals level for the past four years”

Their team earned a trip to the Games in 2010 and finished 6th at the 2011 Mid Atlantic Regional. “The thing that impresses me most about this year, however, is that while we have top level performers, the average performance across the spectrum of our athletes is much higher than it has ever been – more RX'd performances, more performances in the top tiers of the region.” 

CrossFit Hampton Roads had five male athletes place in the top 210 spots in the Mid Atlantic Region, as well as three females that placed in the top 115. 

“I came in looking to be crowned the Fittest on Earth, until that little thing called reality set in,” member Mike Gilmore jokes. 

While the humbling moments were never absent throughout the 2012 CrossFit Open, its ability to bring gyms and athletes together to strive for a common goal spoke volumes. “What I love most about CrossFit is the continual opportunity for improvement, and with the atmosphere created here by the Open, it’s helped me achieve new personal bests,” Jamie Rempel, one of CrossFit Hampton Roads’ Regional team members, says.

With the Open in the books, eyes have turned to Regionals. And while we may not necessarily miss the workouts, the atmosphere and the excitement created by the worldwide competition will certainly continue to pulsate through gyms for a long time to come.