31 Minutes for 31 Heroes
CrossFit athletes come together for a workout to remember
By Noel MarcantelPosted Aug 8, 2012
August 6, 2011 is a date that will never be forgotten in the American Special Operations community. It is the day when the U.S. military suffered its most devastating loss of human life (since Operation Enduring Freedom began in Afghanistan in late 2001) when a CH-47D Chinook helicopter, call sign Extortion 17, was shot down by enemy forces near Wardak, Afghanistan.
Thirty-eight people and one military dog were killed in that attack, eight of them Afghan military personnel. Of the 30 Americans aboard Extortion 17, Lt. Cmdr. (SEAL) Jonas B. Kelsall, 32, of Shreveport, La., and Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Robert J. Reeves, 32, of Shreveport, La., were among those lost.
This past Saturday, Aug. 4, CrossFit, Inc. athletes from all over South Louisiana joined in a worldwide fundraising and memorial initiative called the 31 Heroes WOD (Workout of the Day), which was held at CrossFit BR on Industriplex Blvd. Crossfit BR, Red Stick Crossfit, Geaux Crossfit, Crossfit Denham Springs, Crossfit Hammond, and Ole Glory Crossfit (Broussard, La.) were all represented at the 31 Heroes WOD. CrossFit, Inc. is a fitness company founded by Greg Glassman in 2000. Crossfit’s exercise program is practiced by members of affiliated gyms, or “boxes” as they are called, and by individuals who complete daily workouts posted on the company’s website. This special WOD was developed to honor the 31 American lives lost.
Crossfit BR owner Dwayne Dimm explained in more detail:
“We work out for 31 minutes – one minute for each man who gave his life for our country and our freedom. The rep scheme is 8-6-11 for the date [the crash] happened. We’ve got eight thrusters, six rope climbs, and eleven box jumps. While one partner does that, the other partner runs 400 meters with a 45-pound sandbag.”
The athletes repeated this process for as many repetitions as possible (AMRAP) over the course of the 31-minute WOD. In keeping with the theme, each athlete donated $31 to be split among the affiliated charities, which includes the 31 Heroes Project. The WOD held in Baton Rouge has raised over $1,300 so far. There are approximately 500 CrossFit affiliates worldwide hosting the WODs this month, which includes more than 7,000 athletes. The official list of participants and monetary figures will be in at the end of the month, as the affiliated gyms, or “boxes,” have until September to host their 31 Heroes WODs. “The [CrossFit] gyms are called ‘boxes,’ so it’s a bit of a slang term,” said Dimm. “We’re not typical gyms so we try to get away from that genre.”
Andrew Chicoine, owner of Red Stick CrossFit, was proud to bring his box members in for the special WOD.
“One of the best parts of CrossFit is that we all come in and hurt for a cause,” Chicoine said. “The Hero WODs are pretty much designed to inflict pain for long periods of time just because we’re doing it in honor of a fallen serviceman or group of servicemen. The least we can do is make some money for a good cause and then come in and beat ourselves up a bit. Thirty-one minutes of pain is nothing compared to their sacrifice.”
CrossFit embraces and encourages the community aspect of fitness along with rigid structure, which is why many members of the different boxes were excited to sweat it out with other members for the first time.
“Lately, over the past two years, the CrossFit community in Baton Rouge hasn’t been so strong,” said Chicoine. “Certain people are worried about other people acting as competition instead of ‘we’re in this together, not against each other.’ This is building bridges instead of keeping us separate, which is good.”
Based on competition, community, and commemoration, CrossFit is indeed far from typical. Many men and women have taken up CrossFit and seen both tangible and intangible improvements that are addictive.
“I tore the ligaments in both my ankles in the Marines,” said Nathan Drumm, who has been doing CrossFit for seven months. “The stabilization, just from the Olympic-style lifting, has built up all the stabilizer muscles in my legs. Now my ankles don’t give me any problems anymore.”
Athletes like Daniel Robbins stayed focused on the real meaning of the special WOD: “We get to enjoy freedom every day because of the sacrifices they make, and to be able to commemorate them through a workout is a great idea, I think.”
The Americans lost a year ago in that distant land will never be forgotten. Special Operators are a rare breed. They pledge their lives to making a difference in the world. Thanks to the dedicated members of CrossFit, Inc. and the 31 Heroes Project, those 31 heroes can continue to make a difference even in death.
For more information about 31 Heroes and CrossFit: