A cross-section of CrossFit journeys
by Randy Pascal
Much like the athletes who put themselves to the test in the event itself, the Battle Beyond the Barbell is showing no signs of slowing down. The
fifth annual multi-fitness competition, now in support of the Janis Foligno Foundation, maxed out at 96 athletes in less than an hour, a new
watershed mark for the annual tradition.
Each participant would make their way to the track at Laurentian University, a by-product of their own unique story. Each could recall, with ease,
their own personal journey that would bring them to put themselves on the line far more than they likely ever envisioned.
At age 38, Brad Ferguson can look back comfortably on his times spent as a competitive cross country runner, both at Lasalle Secondary and
then with the Cambrian Golden Shield. That was until life kind of got in the way.
“Once I got married and had kids, I got about ten years out of shape,” he explained. “Last summer, after a vacation to Whistler, I was 226. That was an
all new high for me, or low, depending on how you look at it. I needed to get into something.”
“I started with just biking to work, and seeing how that went,” Ferguson continued. “But I had a colleague that did CrossFit, and that was
intriguing me, so I decided to come out.” A quick glance around the track shows no absence of folks who clearly have garnered a comfort level with the
lifting of weights.
Their appearance, however, belies the notion that these specimens haven’t always looked this way. Their journeys, much like Brad’s, had a starting
point. “It’s hard on the ego at first,” he said. “You just have to submit and know that you’re not going to be good at very many things – but you notice
improvements pretty quickly.”
Far more cardio than muscle, Ferguson mirrors a number of the athletes that have assembled in Sudbury, competing while gathering monies for a worthy
cause. “The weightlifting, I’m not all that into, but I know that I have to build strength,” he said. “But every workout is scalable.”
“No matter how out of shape you are, there’s some sort of adaptation for you, so that you still get a workout, the same as the most fit person that is
here.” Twenty year-old College Notre-Dame graduate Sarah Tessier recalled her athletic participation in high school, one that was largely
focused on volleyball and basketball at the time.
In university, her attention would turn to running, tackling some marathon training. Moving to Ottawa to work on her Masters, Tessier and her boyfriend
would find their way to yet another form of training.
“There’s a lot of CrossFit lingo, there’s a lot of different lifts, lots of different names,” said Tessier. “There’s a big CrossFit community you would
think would be intimidating, but once you start a class, you see that everyone has already been there, they have all had their journey, and they’re ready
to welcome you in.” With a year to eighteen months of commitment under her belt, Tessier was prepared to recently throw herself into a more competitive
pathway, tackling the CrossFit regional testing that will ultimately crown North American champions.
“It’s an open event, it’s one workout per week, so you have time to warm-up, to get ready for it, maybe try it once to get ready for it and then try it
again,” she said. “For this, you kind of have to go out there and trust your instincts, go out and do the best that you can.”
The reality is that it’s unlikely that any athlete will excel at every single component of the competition, some of which changes on an annual basis.
“We like to try and throw in a little something different every year,” noted CrossFit Sudbury co-owner and coach Kristin Green. “This year, we have
a trail run, and we’re going to utilize the track at Laurentian as well, so we’re going to have some sprints.”
Understandably, that news was met with mixed emotions, depending upon the physical make-up of each competitor. “The first event today was a trail run,
so I kicked butt on the run,” said Ferguson. “The biggest “wow” moment for me was maybe three to four months into my training, when I decided to go for a
run again. I hadn’t run in numerous years.”
“That first run back, I didn’t feel like I was five years out of shape. I felt pretty good. I wasn’t running like high school days, but I felt pretty
good.” Tessier, part of the second place Paleo 2.0 team that also included Jeanelle Crowley, Beau Frescura and Brad Hogue, had a different
story to tell.
“The heavy lifting is what I like,” she said. “The running event, that was earlier, I was glad to get that over with so I could come and lift some
weights.” Regardless of the personal fit, the results were impressive.
“It’s gotten so much bigger in the past few years, and it’s nice to see these people, not only from Sudbury, but from all over Northern Ontario, coming
down to participate in this – it’s such a great cause,” stated Natascia (Marcantognini) Foligno, wife of Buffalo Sabres’ forward Marcus
Foligno, on hand to represent the Foundation.
“I definitely commend them for the activities that they do,” Foligno continued. “The time and preparation that they put into this is something they
should all be very proud of. We would love to try and get the whole family into our own little CrossFit Games. It’s something I would like to try, but I
would have to ease my way into this and start off slowly, for sure.”
Just like Ferguson and Tessier and everyone who came before them did, at some point in time.
First Place Team – Indestri: Britney Holmberg, Steph McKean, Neal Ross, Ben Taylor
Third Place Team – CrossFit 705: Jessie Lehoux, Kali Shom, Patrick Pellerin, Tyler Link