Susan Wallis is 61 years old and competing at the Reebok CrossFit Games for the second year in a row in the 60+ age division. Susan was our Fashlete of the Month in April of 2012 at which point she had 6 Ironman World Championships under her belt and her sights set on the 2013 CrossFit Games. She continues to train and compete in both Triathlon and CrossFit... she's crushing both and so much more.
If you haven't seen any of the Masters compete, it is hard to describe the incredible level of athleticism of this particular group. That's why I asked Susan's daughter Chrissy to guest blog for us. She's at the Games watching her mom compete this week and gives a truly vivid and heartfelt account of what it's like to watch this unbelievable group of athletes take the big stage.
My Mom is a CrossFit Masters Competitor
by: Chrissy Wallis Henry
If you grew up playing sports, you've probably experienced the overly excited parent: Cheering just a little too loud, celebrating just a little too hard, maybe even taking a "bad" call personally... I may not have kids yet, but all of a sudden, I can see exactly why they were so excited and worked up. Watching a family member- in my case, Mom, brings out some pretty intense emotions- good, excited, scared, relieved, and even loud! I even had another son apologize in advance for how loud he was going to be when his mom came out, to which I thankfully chuckled back, "Whew, because I was worried I'd yell you out of your seat". Side note, I'm pretty sure neither parent even heard us over the cheers from the other son, daughters, husbands, wives, etc!!
This is the second masters competition I've been lucky enough to attend, and this one is just as exciting as the first. The men and women here all look at LEAST 10 years younger than their age group on their shirt says, and the events year to year grow more and more challenging.
The 50-59 age brackets had their go at muscle ups in the open and handstand walk, today!!! Mom & I had a brief sigh of relief that she's just out of that bracket, so she's safe. For now- no doubt next year's 60+ age group will involve a skill most 20 year olds haven't learned!!
One of the things that stands out the most is how friendly all the competitors are with each other. I feel this is the same for other age groups before and after the gun shot, but in the masters events, (well, the women at least), you'll see polite "excuse me", butt slaps, and even quick words of help, "run in lane 1, its shorter!".
There aren't a lot of other opportunities for the masters age groups to compete head to head with men/women of their same experience, and I imagine it's what a lot of these competitors look forward to all year.
The masters competition is a whole different group of athletes. They are established professions, parents, grandparents, spouses, significant others, and a lot of the upper age groups are retired. Most don't have some luxuries that other athletes may have- such as the ability for two training sessions a day, sponsorships, or even a work schedule that perfectly fits around a strict training schedule. (Obviously the same is true for a lot of open competitors, but this is just a generalization from a lot of conversations I had today). And then, as much as they, (my mom), will hate to admit, their bodies heal just a little slower than they did say 20-30 years ago. All of this makes the level of competition exemplified by the masters so exciting and inspiring.
I know my mom, somehow fits Games Training alongside her "retired life" of tutoring, running a local triathlon club, serving as a mentor for a group of 100+ volunteer lifeguards, competing with those lifeguards, family matters, Ironman training, housework, yard work, and I think, sleeping. I'm not even sure I could get all that done in a month, much less week by week!
The masters have all earned every bit of the cheers, recognition, gear, and AC'd tent with private bathrooms that they receive for the CrossFit Games- and I'm excited to be able to watch the woman who taught me the importance of athletics PR her deadlift, grind through a miserable sled pull, lunge for almost 2 straight minutes, and run & climb with the fittest in the world!!