July 1, 2013
Orange Army to Storm Carson: CrossFit Active
By Siobhan Kent

“We’re enjoying the whole experience and feel that we’ve done all the work we can. Now it’s time to just get in there and enjoy every moment.”

If there was an award for the most vocal and entertaining support crowd at the 2013 Australia Regional, CrossFit Active would be a top contender for the crown.

With a turnout of more than 100 supporters and athletes, the chants of the Sydney affiliate — dubbed the ‘Orange Army’ — rang out loud and clear at Wollongong’s WIN Entertainment Centre.

Taking that support one step further, one of the box’s members spent the whole three days running around the stadium and revving up the crowd in a fluorescent orange onesie that didn’t leave much to the imagination.

In the end, the support seemed to have paid off, with CrossFit Active finishing second overall, and its sister box, Active Artarmon finishing in 10th.

After placing 15th at the 2011 Australia Regional, and 10th last year, CrossFit Active will now go to Carson, Calif., next month to compete in their first-ever CrossFit Games.

“We’re so excited, it’s awesome to be going. We worked really hard and it paid off,” Active team captain Luke Starr says.

The depth of the box, owned by Starr, Chad Mackay (2012 Australia Regional winner and ninth-place finisher at last year’s Games), Adam Pirri, Ben Perrin and Patrick Fitzsimons, is not to be underestimated.

During the Open, CrossFit Active won three of the five workouts to finish in first place in the Australia Region. They also qualified seven individuals for Regionals and two Masters for the Games.

Of the seven who qualified for the Australia Regional, four competed as individuals and the others (Brooke Surtees, Courtney Fitzharris and Starr) joined the Active team roster.

With the Regional competition finished, Surtees has taken a break from the team, making way for Justine Beath who had a stellar performance at Wollongong finishing in eighth overall. The team roster also includes Luke Kane, Harriet Roberts and Deian Cousins.

In preparation for the Games, Starr and fellow owner and coach Pirri are continuing to share the coaching and programming duties, challenging their crew to be even better for their first team appearance in Carson, Calif.

“On average, we’re training twice a day and five days a week. There are always met-cons and strength sessions in every day, a few of each,” Starr says.

“Making sure we’re prepared for anything is important, so we’ve incorporated some swimming, which is great for recovery, too, and some strongman-inspired ‘out of the box’ stuff. It’s working well.”

Short and fast strength-based met-cons are a focus, as is knowing each other’s strengths and weaknesses and training transitions.

CrossFit Active trains everything in pounds, using the actual weight plates that equipped the 2010 Australia Regional – which provide that extra bit of inspiration. The tight-knit group will taper closer to the Games and travel to Carson one week before the Games begin.

Nineteen-year-old pocket rocket Fitzharris will be competing in her first Games in July, but she’s been to one before as a supporter. Last year, she made the trip over to America to help coach her mum Lynne, who is going to the Games again this year in the 45-49 Masters Division.

While she will be competing in the Team division this year, Fitzharris has her eyes set on an individual berth in the near future.

“My goal is to qualify for the Games as an individual, hopefully in 2015, but this was always the goal for this year,” she says.

“I knew that, even with a strong finish in the Open, I would choose to go team because we had such a strong chance of getting there. I’ll have more confidence competing with them at the Games for the first time than I would by myself.”

The former state-level soccer player was introduced to CrossFit by her mum when a foot injury threatened to stop her career. That was four years ago, and she’s never looked back.

“I never thought I’d find a sport I liked more than soccer, but CrossFit just took over,” Fitzharris says. “And now look where I am — on a team with such great people and we’re actually going to the Games! We’ve been training everything, so we should be good with whatever they throw at us.”

In terms of the events for this year’s Games, many are making predicitons on what they think will be announced, and CrossFit Active coach Pirri has a few of his own.

“We haven’t seen any running so far this season, so I’m betting they will definitely pull some out at the Games. Bar muscle-ups would be fun to see, and I’m sure the team’s events will feature more six-people workouts, as opposed to the smaller two and four-person Regional ones,” he says.

“Who knows, there could be a swim for teams and most likely some prowler work. I’m betting on a huge amount of volume, that’s a given, but our guys are prepared for that given what we program for them each day.”

“We’re enjoying the whole experience and feel that we’ve done all the work we can. Now it’s time to just get in there and enjoy every moment.”