May 15, 2016
In The Stands
By Hilary Achauer
What motivates these fans to take time off work and spend hours in the car, all in the name of competitive CrossFit? 
What motivates these fans to take time off work and spend hours in the car, all in the name of competitive CrossFit? 

When Christine Stringfield told her coworkers she was taking time off work to attend the California Regional, a few of them wished her luck.

Stringfield, who has being doing CrossFit for two years at CrossFit TurnPoint in San Diego, California, competed in the Open for the first time this year.

“I’m not competing!” she told her coworkers. She’s here because she wanted to see a CrossFit competition firsthand.

From the minute the action kicked off Friday morning, the stands at the Del Mar Fairgrounds were filled with spectators.

What motivates these fans to take time off work and spend hours in the car, all in the name of competitive CrossFit?

Although Stringfield said she can’t ever see herself competing at the regional level, she said the weekend has been a learning experience.

“It’s fun to see (the athletes’) technique, to watch them snatch, and see how they do the movements,” she said.

Stringfield said the most impressive things she’s seen are the women performing strict muscle-ups in Event 2.

“It was amazing watching the women get through almost all 10 rounds, and then some were struggling through the first round,” she said.

With Stringfield was Ryan Appleby, who also works out at CrossFit TurnPoint. Appleby, who has only been doing CrossFit for five months, came for the day to experience competitive CrossFit.

“I’m just taking it all in,” Stringfield said, “I’m really excited for the last individual events.”

As for his favorite competitors, “I really like Josh Bridges’ mustache,” he said.

Jennifer Jarukaruta has been doing CrossFit for nine months at StrengthRx CrossFit in Los Angeles, California. She said she’s here for motivation.

“It’s been really exciting to be here and I am looking forward to coming every year,” Jarukaruta said. “I want to make it to regionals as an individual, which is going to take hard work and dedication.”

Twelve-year-old Jack Bennett has been doing CrossFit for four years. This is his third time at the California Regional. He’s here to support his team, CrossFit Costa Mesa.

Bennett took time out from spectating to write his philosophy on the Reebok Be More Human wall, a place for spectators to write their “why” on a chalkboard. Prompted to write his reason for doing CrossFit, Bennett wrote, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

Bennett plans to attend the CrossFit Games this year, where he hopes to cheer on his favorite athlete, Ben Smith.

Samantha Jimison drove for 10 hours with her husband and 8-week-old daughter, Maggie, to cheer on Ashley Albano and Josh Kyser, individual competitors both from Jimison’s affiliate, CrossFit Roseville.

Jimison, who volunteered at the California Regional last year, attended all three days, Maggie strapped to her chest in a baby carrier.

She said her daughter has been doing well, even looking around and taking in the action.

“I’m excited for her to grow up in this environment and see strong women,” Jimison said.

Jimison herself aspires to compete on a team at regionals someday. But for now, she’s looking forward to watching the individual competition unfold.

“It’s a change-up,” she said of the leaderboard, “there’s no Neal Maddox, no Jon Pera, and Josh Bridges is at the top, I’m excited!”