News: Afghanistan-deployed Marines qualify for CrossFit regionals
Story by Cpl. Kenneth Jasik
CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan – Six Marines qualified for the Asia regional finals of the CrossFit World Open after completing the trials between missions, throughout the course of five weeks, from Feb. 22 to March 21.
The six athletes were chosen out of more than 40,000 athletes registered for the open.
“I didn’t originally plan on doing the open because I wasn’t going to be back in California,” said Cpl. Aaron T. Gardner, an ordnance technician with Marine Air Logistics Squadron 16, 3rd Marine Air Wing (Forward). “After the first week, I saw where we would be in the standings. I figured we were really good and it was time to turn it up and go after it.”
The Marines who qualified schedule their workouts together almost every day, only missing training when they are on a mission.
“I think it’s a pretty big privilege for us to be able to do it,” said Cpl. Tom DeBaker, a team leader with 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division (Forward). We got lucky with the time between missions that we had. We’ve been able to get into the competition without running into any deadlines.”
When they are on Camp Leatherneck, the regional qualifiers train with each other so they can push each other to the next level.
“It’s an individual effort in itself,” said Cpl. Adam T. Denton, an assistant radio tech operator with 1st Recon bn. “But, pushing through it is definitely a team effort. You get to a point where you are so past your comfort level that you need support to push to the next limit.”
The Marines work out regularly for their jobs, because they want to be in peak physical condition during their deployment.
“We’re not doing this for titles or accolades,” said Denton, 25, from Seal Beach, Calif. “We’re doing this for our jobs. When worst comes to worst and you need to move your buddy or you need to get out of danger.”
Besides being better prepared for combat, the extra physical training helps build a bond between the Marines as they push each other to be stronger.
“I like the camaraderie of it,” said Cpl. Greg A. Harris, an assistant team leader with 1st Recon Bn. “You get to that point you need to push through, and people cheering you on really help you out.”
The Marines come from different corners of the Marine Corps, but they have built a strong bond after performing well with each other in the CrossFit World Open.
“Our jobs are so different but this stuff brings us all pretty close”, said Gardner, 24, from San Diego. “I’ve only known these guys for a few weeks, but we are all in it together. Hopefully we’ll be able to make it to South Korea, and the world better watch out.”