This past weekend I had the privilege of judging a Crossfit® competition. If you have never seen a Crossfit® competition, they are demonstrations of ones physical prowess. People push themselves to their limits, running, jumping, lifting weights or their own body weight in timed heats. They are grueling events with the participants cheered on by the crowd. What made this particular event exceptional was the participants themselves. The working wounded. These men and women are severely wounded veterans, amputees and adaptive athletes. These athletes do not allow their physical limitations to hold them back, in fact they have the ability to push harder than a lot of able-bodied athletes I have seen.
The human spirit is amazing and was shining strong at Crossfit Rubicon in Vienna Virginia on a beautiful fall morning. The second annual Working Wounded Games, nearly doubling in size from the first year gave the opportunity to these warriors to show their stuff. The workouts were scalable to the athletes abilities but don't let the idea of scaling fool you. Athletes without their legs were scaling 6 foot walls and making it look easy.
Steph Hammerman, an adaptive athlete with cerebral palsy, drug a weighted sled behind her, each step a struggle, but pushed on with the crowd screaming encouragement as she crossed the finish line.
I stood amongst a sea of rowing machines as the warriors pulled out the last workout, 8 minutes to burn as many calories on the rower as possible without the use of their legs. The seats were made immobile and the athletes saddled up. 3..2..1..GO! The hum of the rowers was drowned out by the roar of the crowd as the athletes were cheered on to pull as hard and as fast as they could. My athlete, Izzy, had her service dog with her and the dog laid on my foot as I encouraged her master. The excitement in the room was palatable yet the dog remained calm while keeping an eye on her owner through the entire 8 minute workout.
Pull, pull, PULL! 8 minutes was up, athletes were exhausted yet smiling. They had done it. They finished what they had started that day and we were all a little better for it.
You never know how strong you really are until you are tested. Those tests, no matter how challenging are beautiful. Not beautiful in the sense we know as in a flower but in the sense of spirit and of perseverance, of over coming that challenge before you and being stronger for it.