News: IJC teams take top spots at Embassy CrossFit competition
Story by Staff Sgt. Brandon Pomrenke
KABUL, Afghanistan - Two ISAF Joint Command soldiers took home first place at the Mission Afghanistan Games held Oct. 21 at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.
Sgt. 1st Class Ricky Irvin and Sgt. Lia Wright, with their partners chosen that morning, were crowned champions in the men’s RX division and the women’s division, respectively. Both were part of a six-person IJC contingent based at Kabul, Afghanistan International Airport, which competed against service members and civilians throughout the coalition community in the international CrossFit competition.
Regardless of nationality, affiliation or skill level, each competitor had their own reasons for putting themselves to the test.
Irvin, a Del City, Okla., native, felt that the event was a great way for soldiers to compete and meet other like-minded individuals. As the participants arrived, the judges randomly assigned each competitor with a partner. This “blind draw” ensured that no entrant would know who their assigned partner would be.
“Soldiers are competitive by nature to begin with,” said Irvin, a senior non-commissioned officer with Joint Base Lewis-McChord-based I Corps.
“This is a great way to not only challenge the individual soldier, but to inspire others to do better,” continued Irvin. “Additionally, this competition is done with the beginner in mind, in movements and weight used. The team aspect, especially being a blind draw, ensure that the way you work together is just as important as any other variable in the day.”
While the tough competition was a driving force for some, for others it was more about morale and a good day out. One of the women’s division champions, Wright, an non-commissioned officer deployed from the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps in Innsworth, U.K., feels that CrossFit is a unique type of workout that does not just offer fitness, but fun.
“CrossFit is totally different [than normal workouts routines],” said Wright. “It brings a group of people together and you tend to show what you’ve got and learn from others. At the end of the day you form a team, you laugh, joke and most important, you boost each other’s fitness and morale up to the next level. You have soldiers of different ranks out there, everything put aside you just have fun! It’s great to see a fellow soldier cheering on someone else on the team. It’s not about competing - just simple socializing in a CrossFit way.”
While there was a social aspect to both the sport and the event, the desire to win was evident throughout the competition. Participants worked through their repetitions with grunts, pants and even a few screams to push the weights.
As the day wore on, the competitors moved a little more slowly between events. With the exercises ranging from rowing and running to lifting and jumping, spectators could see the beads of sweat evolving into what looked more like streams and rivers of sweat drenching the participants. The strained faces and grunts of each person reached even the furthest of spectators as the competitors gasped for breath or rubbed straining muscles to
finish each event. In fact, every participant completed every event.
Sgt. 1st Class Adam Bezanson, the facilities manager for IJC and senior non-commissioned officer from I Corps, believes that competition itself is a great motivator.
“All competitions are good for soldiers’ morale,” explained Bezanson, whose wife, Staff Sgt. Jessica Bezanson, competed in the women’s division and finished second. “If a soldier competes and wins, their hard work has paid off. If a soldier competes and doesn’t do well, they may be disappointed, but they will work even harder. I think all soldiers want to win and they will work as hard as they can to do so.”
For those that wanted to put their strength to the ultimate test, they had the main event as the final obstacle to finishing the day. This WOD, or workout of the day, involved 38 repetitions of seven different exercises and a 38 meter lunge while bracing a full sandbag behind the head (the women’s division used a 10lb weight)
As the teams pushed through the final WOD, the weariness continued to grow and weigh them down. The laughs and smiles that opened the competition now transformed into looks of concentration, reddened faces and open mouths struggling for more oxygen as they finally reached the final event. With teammates side-by-side, yelling encouragement until they reached the finish line and collapsed from absolute exhaustion, the day was finally at an end.