Archive for August, 2011

“For those About to Rock…”

Posted in Competition on August 30, 2011 by oldcountrystrong

This article was submitted by Old Country Athlete Destiny Itano. One world folks prounced long and slow STOOOOOOONNNEEEESSS…


My dad’s family is from Japan, and there is a little bit of tangible heritage there: a house and a graveyard that have been in the family for hundreds of years. All the Itanos are buried in that graveyard. Both of my grandparents were U.S. citizens, born here, but my grandfather went back to Japan to die in 1959 and was buried in that graveyard, so when my grandmother died, my dad and I agreed that we would take her ashes back to Japan to be buried with her husband. Okay great, but why, you are probably wondering, am I reading this story?

Well, we went back to the Old Country, folks. How’d they do things in the Old Country? Strong, of course.

This was about 15 years ago. We were staying in the little town of Soja, Japan, where our cousins live. It’s a tiny place where you can walk down the road in your pajamas to get ramen at midnight, and where kids can leave their bikes at the grocery store for days without anything happening to them. Turns out it is also home to the Power Stone competition. We found out about it because my cousin’s husband was wearing a shirt with an angry looking rock on it. “What’s that?” we asked. “Ah! That is the Soja Power Stone!” he said. “He says, ‘I am the Soja Power Stone! If you think you can lift me, go ahead and try!’” Whaaat?

It turns out this competition has been going on in this town for centuries. In the Edo period of Japan, Sumo wrestlers used to lift stones for training and competition. In this town, stone lifting became part of life: it started out, not as a competition, but as a way to set a man’s pay. The town has a shipping industry, and back in the old days, they paid the stevedores according to what they could lift. So once a year, they would have all the men come to the shipyard and they would see who could hold this heavy stone the longest. The man who held the stone for the longest count set his wage for the year, and everybody else’s wage was set below that. That’s right: the strongest man was paid the most. That’s Old Country.

Fast forward – this way of setting wages is long gone, but in Soja, Japan, the stone lifting tradition continues. Every summer, they hold the Chikaraishi festival. In the Chikaraishi, there are 23 weighted stones that can be lifted so that anyone can participate; the weight of the stones ranges from 1.8kg up to the Yokozuna stone, which is 180kg. The stones are wrapped in traditional carrying straps: the lifting of the stone ends up being something like a deadlift crossed with a farmer’s carry. In order to qualify, contestants must hold the stone a minimum of 10cm off the ground for at least 10 seconds.

According to my cousin, pretty much everybody in the town participates – and the video I found seems to bear this out. Everyone from big dudes, to ladies in work clothes, to little kids in shorts or sundresses are picking up rocks!

Kazoyushi Kouzai is the current champion, having held the Yokozuna stone for 44.92 seconds; he’s won four times, and is trying for a fifth win this year. The female champion is Akemi Mitsuhata, who is apparently unstoppable, having won eight times so far. It seems like this test of strength even draws some regional competitors: I found pictures of the Okayama University Powerlifting Team’s trip down to this “contest of strength,” and the Japanese champion bodybuilder, Toshikazu Kataoka has traveled to Soja and won three times.

The competition is hundreds of years old. I’ve known about it for 15 years or so, but it wasn’t until I came to our gym that I found folks who I knew would appreciate this story. Truly Old Country Strong…

Article by: Destiny
Posted by: Z

“Spartans! Tonight we Dine in Hell!!!”

Posted in Nutrition on August 25, 2011 by oldcountrystrong

We preach it, Eat meat and Sleep. But how does Old Country really eat? Club field medic Skylar Pond breaks it down for you, follow the link below down the Rabbit hole…

Free Radicals, Crossfit, and Supercompensation

“Two men Enter…”

Posted in Competition on August 22, 2011 by oldcountrystrong

2011 PipeHitters Classic Recap – Sudden Death

In PipeHitters’ second year it would see its second tie. The men had gone blow for blow in the final workout and made it as close as possible. But when the smoke cleared, Jordan Holland had taken the final workout and secured his standing on top of the rankings.

At last year’s Classic, Ryan Andrews and Skylar Pond battled it out under the blistering sun… and this year fate would bring the two friends head to head yet again in a tie for second.

“We don’t do ties…”

The Prowler, for those of you that don’t know, is a demonic weight sled that was loaded with six 45-pound plates for the event. The crowd was instructed to line a path. The workout was as simple as it was sadistic: Push the prowler down and back. Fastest time would win. Skylar, having won two of the day’s workouts, was given the option to go first or second.

Skylar is always Game, Sky wanted to go first.

To the roar of the crowd, it was called: “3, 2, 1, GO!!!”

Skylar hurled himself into the sled with every ounce of power his frame could muster. He drove, pace by painstaking pace, against the pavement. Every time the sled would grind to a halt, Skylar would slam his body back into it like a true marauder. He would cross the line and collapse.

Ryan knew what time he had to beat. And Ryan is a power athlete. Kettlebells might not be his thing, but this former college safety can push a sled… and he drove it down and back with the crowd in his ear the whole time. Ryan took the sudden death and secured second place with Skylar taking third.

With the men’s division now decided, we could announce our women’s champion. Last year’s defending champion Jessica Suver had laid to waste the competition in the last workout. But after Michelle and Emily’s scores were tallied, would it be enough? It turns out there wouldn’t be a repeat champion in either division this year.

Jessica had taken the first workout and the finals, but after a few bad lifts in the overhead event, she would find herself in third place.

It came down to our two women who went into the finals tied in first. A single point would separate them. Michelle had racked up serious points in the 1st and 3rd leg of the finals. But the clean portion of the workout had taken its toll and would give Emily Kent the advantage in the score and the title for this year’s Classic.

With two new champions in place, the day was at it’s end. All athletes could walk tall after their efforts that day, all athletes Game. We would walk away with memories and almost $1000 raised for the Behind the Badge Foundation and Seattle Police Pipes & Drums. For those of you who missed the event in person, here is the video recap of the day:

I want to give a special thanks to my judging staff at this year’s Classic. I also want to thank Mike Ross for allowing me to hold the event at his gym, SODO Crossfit.

…And yes you helped too Ma.

Thanks to all of you for supporting PipeHitters and Old Country, see you all next year.

Posted by: Z

“You didn’t think it was Gonna be that easy, did you? You know, for a second there, Yeah, I kinda Did.”

Posted in Competition on August 21, 2011 by oldcountrystrong

2011 PipeHitters Classic Recap – The Finals

Last Saturday, 45 men and women poured their hearts out over three workouts with one goal in mind, to become the 2011 PipeHitters Classic Champion. And after a morning of all or nothing effort, the men’s and women’s field would be cut down to four of each to slug it out for the title.

Going into WOD 3, the crowd was made aware of just how close the race was to qualify for the top 4 finals positions in both divisions. The top 5 for both men and women were separated by a mere point in descending order. But there were also ties in both. With the destruction laid on the competition field in that last qualifying workout, we were left with a clear 4 men and 4 women to advance to the forth and (hopefully) final workout.

The women’s division was gonna be a true dogfight. Jaime Papineau and last year’s defending champion Jessica Suver were tied in second. And sitting 2 points ahead TIED heading into the finals were Michelle Chan having dominated the 3rd workout and Emily Kent who had been consistently at the top of the pack all day. Game.

Consistency was the name of the game for the men’s division. Jordan Holland of Xplore Crossfit was sitting in first after turning in very similar results to that of Emily Kent. Skylar Pond was holding the second place position after having won WOD 1 & 3, but becoming caught in the 275 Log Jam of workout 2. Last year’s defending Champion Ryan Andrews was holding 3rd on the shoulders of his second place finish in the max overhead workout. And first time PipeHitters competitior Blake Johnson had fought tooth and nail and found himself in the finals in the 4th place position.

Of the 8 athletes announced, 6 are members of the Old Country Iron Club with a 7th being a athlete that follows the training program. I was very proud of them all.

Now with our finalists announced, racks were moved onto the floor, bars were rolled the center of the room, and a very large tire was brought into the gym. The equipment was set out and it was time to find out how we were gonna settle this.

W0D 4 – The Finals “All or Nothing”

Athletes had their attention brought to the four squat racks that had been moved out onto the floor.

“This wouldn’t be PipeHitters without squats right?”

Each athlete was going to have 4 minutes to perform as many rounds as possible of…

4 Squats
11 Hand Release Pushups

The weight announcement sent out a groan, “Women’s weight for this workout will be 185 pounds and our men will be working with 315 pounds.”
…Shit Just Got Real
You will complete this as many times as you can in 4 minutes. The bar must be on the rack at the call of time or the reps of your current round would not count.

You will then rest 3 minutes
I directed my mega phone to the center of the room.

After your 3 minute rest you will have 4 Minutes to complete as many round as possible of…

6 Cleans
4 Tire Jumps

“Our women will be working with 135 pounds and our men will have their bars loaded to 185 pounds.”

A power clean to front squat was going to be allowed for this workout. Down and back up. Very simple standard on the clean. The tire jump was made even more simple by stating the athlete was stand fully on the box with their hips open before returning to the ground for the call of good rep. Complete these two movements as many times as you can in 4 minutes.

You will then rest 3 minutes

Our final 8 athletes began to show looks of worry, when would this end?
After your 3 minute rest you will complete your final 4 minutes of PipeHitters.

I brought the megaphone to my lips, “while you rest we will move the equipment to the sides and roll out our rower we have over here and supply each athlete with a plate.”

The final four minutes would be again as many rounds as you could complete of…

Rowing 250 Meters
Overhead walking Lunges the length of the gym and back.

“Ladies you will be supplied a 25 pound plate for your lunges and men you will be working with 45 pounds.”

The athletes were then made aware of the scoring of this workout. Every rep was a point. In the row every 50 meters was a point and down to one end of the gym was a point and back to the other was another. Most points at the end of the 3 workouts would dictate the winner of the finals and with how close the standing were the winner of the 2011 PipeHitters Classic

The ladies would be the first to take this beast on.

Not many words were exchanged between our finalists as the warmed up their squats. Lifting shoes were laced, belts were tightened, and chalk was applied to backs and bars. The ladies took their positions…

“3, 2, 1, GO!!!”

Right out the gate, our two ladies tied for first jacked out their squats like pistons and hit the ground. But last year’s defending champion wasn’t far behind them making it to the ground. Wild card finalist Jaime Papineau had hit a snag though. She had become buried in the hole on the bottom of her squat and had to dump the bar. She would watch a the others build a lead as she stripped and re-racked her bar.

But Jaime is a competitor, Jaime is Game. She got right back under the bar and knocked out 3 more unbroken reps.

But the pace was being set by Michelle Chan and Emily Kent. As both athletes finished out their 4 minutes almost neck to neck.


Athletes sipped water readjusted belts, dug down deep to lowered their heartrates… but the thought of the cleans to come consumed their minds.

“3, 2, 1, GO!!!”

Last year’s champion had been waiting for this workout. Jessica Suver went about destroying her cleans. Emily Kent who had just destroyed the squats in the last round found herself having to power clean the weight, then perform a front squat. But the real drama was on the other side of the tire. As determined as ever, Jaime Papineau jumped under 135 pounds… and was sent spiraling to the floor under the bar unhurt but a bit shaken. The quiet furry Michelle Chan had been keeping in all day came out as again after again she was UNABLE to clean the weight. A shocked crowd cheered her on as she again tried to rip the bar to her shoulder. The former collegiate rowing champion had spent the last year coming back from a torn achilles, and the time off from her Olympic weightlifting training was catching up with her.

Few could keep their eyes off these women laying it all on the line. But it was Jessica Suver who would truly take it to this leg of the workout.


The floor was cleared and the rowers were brought out.
Emily Kent found herself in the lead, but not by much. Michelle Chan, pride of UW crew, was already setting her rower. Jessica Suver, another colligiate rower, switched out her lifts for more athletic shoes. This was going to be for the title. 4 minutes, who wanted it the most.
“3, 2, 1, GO!!!”

You would not have known that these women had just completed 5 other workouts by the pace with which they hit their rowers. It was raw, it was gritty, all were Game. The women lept from their rowers and, step for step, challenged eachother up and down the gym on the lunges. Michelle Chan had her steel gaze etched on her face. But Jessica Suver‘s long strides were eating up the distance. Emily Kent fought to keep the pace. All four competiotors returned to the rowers and pulled faster splits than the men who were warming up would on the second leg of the row. Again the pace was just as intense on the lunges. But this time, we would find Michelle Chan and Jessica Suver back on the rowers, first pulling with everything they had as the count went out:

“3, 2, 1, TIME!!!”

Who had won? It was too close to call without an official rep count. But the announcement would come after men’s heat.

Bars were loaded to 315 pounds. The final 4 athletes paced back and forth eyeing their bars.

“3, 2, 1, GO!!!”

I always tell my athletes that, “Weight doesn’t get Lighter, YOU get Stronger.”
And every competitor on the floor showed that. Bars moved up and down, 315 pounds was not going crush their fighting spirit… but sometimes gravity has other plans. Last year’s champion Ryan Andrews blew the weight out of the water rep after rep. Jordan Holland would not be slowed either, even Blake Johnson (who was flirting near his one rep max with this weight) attacked it. But Skylar Pond would have gravity reach up and pull the bar from his back to the ground. He would recover and reload the bar, but find himself behind.

Ryan Andrews was running away with it. He was a clear round ahead of the next closest challenger Jordan Holland when he decided to back off the gas and try and save some in the tank. Jordan Holland would seize the lull in the action to crank out 4 squats then hit the deck at a furious pace to complete another round. Ryan registered this in enough time to get 4 more squats, but not enough to make it back to the ground. The lead was slight but it belong to the defending Champ.


Unlike the composed women, the men sprawled all over the floor and tried to get their bearings. This thing hadn’t even started yet.

“3, 2, 1, GO!!!”

If Ryan Andrews had made 315 look effortless in the first leg of the workout, then Jordan Holland was about to do the same with 185. Jordan went unbroken through his first 6 cleans and never slowed down. Ryan and Skylar both would drop between reps and try to get back on the bar to catch the leader of this leg of the workout. With tired legs, Blake Johnson was the picture of no-quit and continued to fight even when hopes started to seem slim, Game.


Again the PipeHitters machine kicked into action and the room was cleared. After dominant performances in the first 2 legs of the final workout, this workout was coming down to Andrews and Holland. But Skylar Pond wasn’t going out with out a fight, Game. Rowers were secured to feet.

“3, 2, 1, GO”

Unlike the ladies, the men’s rows were long powerful strokes. If I hadn’t been walking the line calling out where they were in their distances, it might have looked slow. But it wasn’t. The sprint would come as soon as the competitors touched the plates. The race on the lunges was intense. It was so close when the rowers kicked alive in the second round. Andrews and Holland paced right off of eachother. It had become a chess match as they went back and forth. Apparently Skylar doesn’t play chess. He would jump from his rower and lunge his ceremonial Jhorts down the floor. The final heat was everything you could ask for in 4 athletes going toe to toe for the win.

“3, 2, 1, TIME!!!”

The final call of the 2011 PipeHitters Classic was announced. Who had taken it for the women? Who had won in the men’s?!

Score cards were taken into the back room as athletes congratulated eachother. It was an awesome event, but it wasn’t over. Ten minutes after the conclusion of the fourth workout, the grind of steel against concrete was heard. A prowler was pushed into views.

“We have our Champions, it was close, single points separating first and second place,” I announced.

“But we don’t have any points separating second place. We have a tie in the men’s division and we don’t do ties.”

You’ve already waited this long, the surprise sudden death tie breaker at this year’s 2011 PipeHitters Classic will be recapped tomorrow along with the announcements of the Champions!

To be Continued: Sudden Death

Posted by: Z

“Lo there…”

Posted in Competition on August 18, 2011 by oldcountrystrong

2011 PipeHitters Classic Recap –  WOD 3

Few could hide it on their faces when they were called in after the overhead competition. All were wondering…

“What is the third workout?”

Earlier in the week, athletes were made aware of the two movements they would see in the 3rd WOD, but none knew what format would be. The internet became a playground full of rumors. Long Cycle? Seventy pound kettlebells? One Hundred burpees?

More and more competitors tried to trip me up with questions attempting to gain an advantage, but no one was certain. All that was known was there would be Kettlebell Jerks and Burpees. Weight, reps, rounds… all were unreleased until they gathered in that room.

Workout one was simple and barbaric, challenging an athlete’s physical pain threshold. Just keep moving, just keep picking it up.

Workout two saw them driving themselves against and under bars to stand with the most weight possible. A challenge of strength that dates back to ancient Greece and stone lifting.

Workout three, which we so delicately nicknamed the “Soul Breaker,” would challenge them in a different way, we like to call it mental terrorism in our gym.

Old Country is all about tradition. Traditions of different sports and cultures. In Japan, new sumo wrestlers are hazed by being forced to stand holding heavy objects for extended periods of time. I planned to challenge our athletes in a similar way using techniques of old Russian sport.

WOD 3 “The Soul Breaker”

Kettlebell Jerks (pushpresses also accepted) 53/35

The crowd seemed to take a bit of ease. That wasn’t the horror some were expecting. Standards seemed simple as well, handles had to touch and elbows must be angled downward on kettlebell jerks. Your chest had to touch the floor on the burpees and you had to jump on a plate and show your hips were open. Pretty simple. Easy rep scheme, standards that were hard to screw up, one last event to go big to make the top 4 and qualify for the finals.

But then the kicker: the kettlebell jerks were being held to an UNBROKEN standard, Game…

This meant your 9 reps must be done unbroken, your 15 reps must be done unbroken, and your 21 reps must be done unbroken.

Your attempt at the reps was not terminated until the kettlebells came out of the rack position. But the judging staff was watching. If bells were rested on top of the shoulders, your set was terminated. If your bells came down to your sides, in-between your legs, or anywhere else besides resting on your arms in the rack, your set would be terminated. If you tossed your bells down in an unsafe manner, you would be disqualified from the the event. There was a 12 minute time cap placed on the workout; your highest completed number of reps would be your score if you did not make the cutoff. The mood changed, more than a few groans were let out. And then a silent chatter started in the crowd among athletes…“Have you ever done something like this with kettlebells?”

The women were the first to take the stage for this workout and it only took one heat to see what was in store for everyone.

Six women stared at 6 sets of kettlebells, “3, 2, 1, GO.”

Bells went up, a quick 9 reps for most competitors. Burpees, back on the bells, those leading the heat began to show fatigue in this set but finished. Burpees, back on the bells, then it happened. The looks on athletes faces turned to wretched grimaces. Sweat dripped and eyebrows furrowed. Boom, Boom, Boom.

Bells dropped and hearts sank. This was a different workout than expected. Breath, back on the bells to try again. Rep, rep, rep, Boom, Boom, Boom.

No one was finishing their sets, and two beaten black bells stared back at them from the ground. Competitors simply stood. Shoulders ached, hearts pounded, what were they supposed to do? The crowd didn’t know what to make of it. I raised the megaphone and called it out. “If you’ve never seen this before, get ready for the SPRINT.”

The athletes didn’t have any more strength to sit under the weight of the bells and they were left with only one option? Sprint. Wait for the last minute and pound out as many reps as they could without so much stopping to breathe. These women were warriors, they were Game. They waited. I gave a second count down in the workout “3, 2, 1, SPRINT!!!”

And they did, for everything they had, they did. It was something to watch and set the tone for the rest of the heats.

All would battle with the bells. Carrie Winecoff was leading her heat and looking to finish early. 3 reps into her set of 21 she dropped. Carrie and I have a special coach-athlete relationship, and I walked to her and gave her the advice she needed to hear.

“You suck at the rack.”

She looked back, not expecting those words from me.

“Your only shot is if you pick those bells up and sprint your ass off.”

She nodded.

Carrie cleaned her bells and would sprint as hard as her small frame would allow. Her battle cries were drowned out by the crowd cheering 21 reps. Carrie dropped her bells and hit an insane pace on her burpees en route to being the first women to finish the workout. She was lucky, others were still struggling to finish. Lisa Del Rosario was leaned back, eyes toward the ceiling, tears forming in her eyes. She was on rep 21. Her forearms shook as she white knuckled the bells. The crowd screamed at her to hang on it. She jumped, the bells went up and came right back down. She barely saved the bells. She looked to the crowd who yelled to her, “Don’t quit!!!”

Lisa would throw the bells into the air one more time, but missed her rep. She ended with 20 reps but with her fighting spirit intact, Game.

Rachel Siemens, who had just jerked 205 pounds in the pervious workout, had entered PipeHitters as one of the most powerful athletes. But Rachel had never worked double bells. Her pace through her rounds of 9 and 15 were unmatched during the day, but the round of 21 would be a nightmare that would last 8 minutes. Game would best describe the tenacity Rachel showed. Rachel wouldn’t reach 21 reps. But she spent most of those 8 minutes with kettlebells in her hands. Attempt after attempt. Sprint after sprint, the visiting Canadian would push, tears streamming from her eyes, refusing to quit. It was gritty to watch, it was all heart.

The final women’s heat would prove to be the most competitive of the day. Michelle Chan would put on a true display of raw power. Emily Kent was close on her heels, but Michelle wouldn’t settle for anything but jacking out all her reps as unbroken push presses en route to her win in the heat and in the workout for the women.

Thirty five pound bells were moved and fifty three pounders were brought out. The men had one thing in mind: get the jerks done as fast as possible to avoid being stuck under the weight. The same scene seen with the women unfolded: devastation, chalk, sweat, and curse words were everywhere. And then the unexpected happened: Big Matty Brenton, who isn’t known as a cardio machine, was the first of the men in his heat to finish his jerks. Heavily muscled athletes looked up from the bells to watch Matty slam his barrel chest against the ground time and time again to be the first of the men to finish the workout. Directly across from Matty, another thick shouldered burly athlete, Jay Dobberstein dropped his bells, all 21 reps complete. He would finish his heat, chalking that one up to the big boys.

Game. No one quit. Visiting athletes that found themselves in the same boat as Rachel refused to quit. Forearms and shoulders swelled with blood, heat after heat. Adrian Strain who had  decided to celebrate his birthday with a beating went for the technical approach. Adrain, along with Paul Mendenhall, went the traditional route: sitting out the misery in the rack. Not because they were forced to, but because they planned to grind each rep. Both athletes would finish all 21 reps in this traditional manner with stone faces.

The paces varied every round until the final men’s heat. Then it became slow and steady. All six athletes controlled through their rounds of 9 and 15. And then they simply stopped. Ryan Andrews grabbed water, Jordan Holland sat on a box, Skylar Pond chalked his arms. They all paced like dogs in a ring waiting for the other to make the move. Once the bells were picked up, every athlete in this heat knew it would be a straight sprint through the 21 reps to make the burpees first. The three eyed each other. But it was Tim “BeastMode” Preston on the other side of the workout to bring the fight to them. Tim cleaned the bells and started pounding away. Blood in the water, all athletes jumped to their bells. Jordan Holland took a wide stance and heaved the bells. Skylar Pond continued with a traditional forward knee bend drive to complete his reps. And BeastMode simply tossed that shit in the air. It would work for Tim who finished the jerks first and hit the deck follwed by Skylar Pond then Jordan Holland. If there was ever a way to finish a workout, a burpee race had to be the worst way to do it. BeastMode’s larger framer began to slow. But Skylar Pond’s didn’t. “19, 20, 21, TIME!!!”

A sonic roar as loud as any I’d ever heard escaped the bearded lips of Dr. Pond, he had outright won his second workout of the day. He’d be followed by Jordan Holland and then Tim Preston. All athletes collapsed. The final qualifying workout had come to a end.

What lay next for all the four top athletes, who they were, and who would claim the title of 2011 PipeHitter Classic Champion will be written in our final chapter Monday.

Next: The Finals, all or Nothing

Posted by: Z

“Get your Cameras Ready…”

Posted in Competition on August 17, 2011 by oldcountrystrong

2011 PipeHitters Classic Recap – WOD 2

“Get your Cameras ready!!!”
This is what Apollo called out to the crowd as he spun his fist in the air in the middle of the ring in Rocky 2. What happened next?
Apollo dropped Rock like a bad habit, but he got right back up.

This parallels the athletes’ feelings going into WOD 2 at last Saturday’s PipeHitters Classic. Favorites had fallen in the ranking after the gut check of WOD 1 and some new faces pulled out in front. But just like Rocky, these athletes were all Game. And they were gonna bounce back up.

But Just like Apollo, there were some specialists waiting in the weeds and foaming at the mouth for WOD 2. They were calling out for the crowd to “Get Your Cameras Ready!!!”

7 Minutes Max Weight Shoulder to Overhead

Athletes were called inside the walls of SODO Crossfit for the standard announcements of the second workout. A huge catch of bumper plates and metal filled the center of the rubber covered floor. Five racks were set in an “L” shape around the perimeter of the room.

The workout was described in painfully simple terms: You would be assigned a judge and a platform. You would be given 7 minutes to load weight from the catch in the middle of the floor onto the bar and attempt to lock out the heaviest shoulder to overhead lift you could support.

You could have as many attempts as you like, and all variety of movements were put into place. Push press, Power Jerk, Split Jerk, Rack Jerk, Split Rack… and I’m pretty sure I saw a rack press in there as well.

With some top competitors needing big lifts to get back in it, you could see it in their faces. Game.

The women started out the event and it never slowed down. Two letters spelled out everone’s goal:


Ten, twenty, thirty pounds… these women were not going to be stopped. Gravity?
“Fuck Gravity”
as a friend of mine always says. If gravity grabbed the bar, the girls would slam it back to the deck in response and let out a siren like scream.

The siren screams weren’t only in defiance but in pure excitement. Those leading into the event jumped under attempt after attempt to avoid the standings “Log Jam” that was occuring at 135 pounds. Last year’s runner up, Carrie Winecoff, placed the bar on her back and jumped 165#’s up so high there was no need to rebend, it was straight pressout. Game.

Michelle Beckman nearly escaped a bad dump from a rack jerk and opted to go back out front for a split jerk at 155# and rocked out a PR. She wasn’t alone out front as Emily Kent worked up to a solid 160# Power Jerk.

But this was just the beginning.

Contender Rachel Siemens, who had just been a member of the third placing affliate team at the Crossfit Games, was looking to get back in with a submitted opening weight of 185. But she wouldn’t get the chance to be the first to that weight.

Martha WoodRuff of Crossfit BC had entered the competiton with an established 200 pound jerk. And when her bar was loaded to 205#, everyone got their cameras ready, Game.
Martha walked out 205 pounds, bounced her hands out and jerked that bar with some serious stank, PR.
Banshee scream of joy, fist pump, then the call… “Load 215,” Game.

Every competitor stopped, every judge looked over and the crowd got quiet. There was one expolsive jump and the sound of feet stomping. Martha had caught 215 pounds, she was still holding. The crowd exploded as she stood and recieved the call of “Good Lift!”

Rachel would take the platform after her and throw up some big weight that would land her with a 15 pound PR and 205 on the board… but it wouldn’t be enought to catch Martha who would take the top spot in workout 2 for the women.

Time for the Men.

Upon the announcement of the “any way, any how,” the men had been chomping at the bit for their 7 minutes. Top contenders needed to rally back, but a few hidden levithans were chalking up for this event as well.

If you were to catch anything from the girls, the drive to move big weight would definitly be it. And after the boys had seen the girls lay out, they attacked each lift, Game. Jay Dobberstien went the route few travel and tossed out a 255 push press in his first competition. Sean Wells still hadn’t found his shirt in WOD 2 and was off to a strong start with a simple and efficient power jerk. As I made my rounds of the platforms, I turned to Sean and commented on something I had just noticed.
Suicide grip huh?”
Sean smiled right back, “Yup, keeping it gangster.”
That comment among some other words I’ll leave out we’re a small highlight of my day. He’d get to 265 going old school (and isn’t PipeHitters all about Old School) but it wouldn’t be enough to clear the standings “Log Jam” for the men. If you wanted to clear it, you’d have to put up more than 275… and athletes were laying out for it. Five athletes would reach the Log Jam, including current leader Skylar Pond with a 20 pound PR on the lockout.

It didn’t stop there. Blake Johnson would get the call at 285, and Wes Seeman would stand with 295. Tim Preston would get his lift with mere seconds left securing a 300# rack jerk.

It would turn out 300 was the gate way to the top 3 lifts in the event. Jordan Holland chalked up a 315 rack split, but he wasnt the only 3 wheel lifter. Not only did Wes Seeman hit 295, but he also caught and and held 315. And unlike all our other 300+ lifters in the event, Was the only athlete jerking from the front. This is pretty sick considering Wes is one of my athletes and I remember when we celebarted his first 315 SQUAT, Game.

Above three wheels was top 3. Aaron Engstrom of Rainer Crossfit would take third with his 325 rack split, along with defending champion Ryan Andrews getting 335 in similar fashion. But that wasn’t the “Get your cameras ready,” lift of the mens division.

The silent levithan of WOD 1 was ready to sell out on this WOD. Big Johnny Winters who’s submitted totals going into this competition were a 335 Split Jerk, 525 Deadlift, and a 545 Squat was ready to bang.

John’s effortless 315 and 345 already had first place locked down. But the big man was there to PR. And to do that, he needed 375 pounds. Damned if he didn’t jump and dance with the devil twice almost securing it on his second attempt, but not that day. Next time, but still good enough for a clear victory in workout 2 for the men.

As the adrenline died down, all athletes eagerly awaited what WOD 3 would be…
Next time: WOD 3 – The Soul Breaker

Posted by: Z

“It’s not the Size of the Dog in the Fight…”

Posted in Competition on August 16, 2011 by oldcountrystrong

2011 PipeHitters Classic Recap – WOD 1

In the old days, fight dogs were weighed on their Gameness. Gameness being their quality of pedigree and aggression. So if a dog was Game, its mood for fighting was peak. Some people think only certain dogs have Game. Some people think they can judge by a look which dog has a Game. Being the owner of a loving pitbull, I can tell you that’s wrong.

I’m sure it’d be those same people that would have misjudged the soft spoken men and moms that lined up against top tier athletes this weekend at the Second Annual PipeHitters Classic. From the first click of the stop watch, their inner beasts were released. These men and women were as furious as any feral animal. They were Game.

The PipeHitters judge crew was up early setting up caution tape and rolling out bars for the 5 minute blitzkrieg that would be the first workout. As lanes were finishing being fitted with cones, athletes began to roll up to SODO Crossfit for check in. There was a light friendly tension in the air. Some former competitors from last year sat with head phones in ears and hoods up. Some competitors new to the event asked the question, “So is this like crossfit strongman highland games or something?”

I’d call that a fair guess. As the standards were announced for WOD 1, most people got the point that PipeHitters was a event unto itself.

7 Deadlifts 225/185
140 foot Zercher Walk 185/115
A 5 burpee penalty was in effect every time the bar touched the ground outside of the start zone.

The standards were straight forward: a Deadlift looked like a Deadlift and a Zercher walk was simple… Take the bar on the ground in front of you get it in the crook of your arms however you can and move… FAST.
As Fast as you could because the crushing weight not only constricted lungs but also tore and bruised arms.

The women were up first and from beginning to end did not disappoint. Bobbie Stanage is a marathon runner whose tall frame might tell you she wasn’t Game, but you’d be wrong. Bobbie stepped up to 185 (which is her PR Deadlift) and attacked it. She pulled that weight rep after rep as the crowd roared!

With Bobbie setting the pace, all the women after followed suit. No quit round after round after round. Jess Ferrel misjudged a return and found herself doing burpees just a few inches away from the return platform on her Zercher walk. Unfazed, she blazed out her burpees before yanking the bar from the ground to return it to the platform. Game.

The intensity in the face of Michelle Chan in that first workout could only be beat by the sheer determination that defending champion Jessica Suver showed in the final heat for the women. Suver’s Deadlifts were as effortless as they were reckless. Few could match her stride for stride down the lane. It was a clinic put on by the 2010 champion that would leave her in first place when the smoke cleared and time was called.

The PipeHitters machine fired alive, bars were stripped, rolled and reloaded and the men were told to prepare themselves. The women had set the bar high and now it was their turn, and they did not disappoint.

Reckless violence would best describe the manner of Zercher pickups from all the men. We saw everything from Johnny Winters‘ clean-to-Zercher-catch to Teague Lindmans high knee to curl (nicknamed the barbarian curl). But there was one common thread: these boys were going for it. Game. Deadlifts pounded the pavement under horse stall mats. The crowd grew louder and the heats got faster and faster. Beau Maples came out guns blazing and set the bar so high it seemed it couldn’t be matched with 6+ rounds in his heat.

It seemed that would be the number of the day until the finals men’s heat. This crew of surly individuals held last year’s returning champion, last year’s runner up, and a late entry with two Crossfit Games appereances under his belt. Right out of the gate, the pace was set and almost all athletes reached their Zercher bar at the same time. Then the fireworks started, off to the races… bars were tossed like rag dolls in the air, caught and then athletes took off sprinting.

No one athlete seemed to have a clear lead over the other until last year’s runner up Skylar Pond kicked it into overdrive and took a lead that would see him catch even Maples’ score. Game. Bars crashed to the ground at the call of time and athletes were sprawled across the lanes, trying to figure out what exactly had just taken place, it was best summed up as an “Awful” experience.

Competitors gathered themselves while scores were tallied and all waited to hear the final standings and the announcement of the heats for WOD 2: Max Weight Shoulder to OverHead.

Posted By: Z

“But that is a Story for Another Time…”

Posted in Competition on August 14, 2011 by oldcountrystrong

The 2011 PipeHitters Classic went down this weekend. Weight was carried, thrown over head and held in the rack. Tears were shed, very little blood was spilled, and two NEW Champions were crowned. But with all the running around today returning equipment and what not I was left with little time to do it justice in a writeup.

The full writeups coming but until then post your favorite moments from the weekend…

Posted by: Z

“You find out Life’s this Game of Inches…”

Posted in Competition on August 11, 2011 by oldcountrystrong

This clip is a Old Country pre competition tradition. This Saturday SODO Crossfit will be the venue for the 2011 PipeHitters Classic. If this speech doesn’t make you want to unleash unspeakable acts of Hooliganism this weekend then you might be in the wrong competition…

First Heat kicks off at 9:30, are you ready?

Posted by: Z

“The Iron Never Lies…”

Posted in Competition on August 9, 2011 by oldcountrystrong

Three more day until the 2011 PipeHitters Classic. And now it’s time for a taste of the third workout…

Not much longer now.

Posted by: Z