It was May 31st 2008 that I attended my first CrossFit Level 1 Coaches course in Golden Colorado.

Level 1 courses in Vancouver were few and far between in those days.  I had completed fundamentals at CrossFit Vancouver but other than that my only experience was WODing in my garage at home.  I really didn’t understand the group class concept thinking myself more of a lone wolf than a team player.

There were 50 attendees most from the U.S.A. but several others from Canada.  Experience levels varied widely.  We were coached by CrossFit legends like Chris Spealer, Todd Widman, Nicole Carroll, Tony Budding, Dutch Lowie.  The original seminar team.

On Saturday at the end of the first day we faced Fran.  For many of us it was our first RX’d Fran.

As I struggled to finish I noticed a cheering section comprised of the fittest guys gathering around me.  Having finished their WOD they came together to support me.  As I completed and collapsed gasping on the floor they gave me fist bumps and high fives like I was a conquering hero and then I was alone.

When I got my wits about me and struggled to my feet I looked around for my cheering section and saw that they had moved on to encourage the next person.  There was no one else waiting around to congratulate me for surviving my ordeal so I wandered over to add my cheers to the group and we celebrated as the next athlete finished, and then the next.

When it came to the last athlete the 10-person cheering crew that had seen me across the finish was now 49-people strong.  49 people cheering for her!  It was like she was the champion of the world.  Swept up in the excitement of her struggle I realized that while we were all celebrating this one lone athlete, none of us even knew who had finished first.  That guy had finished alone and unheralded, anonymous in our group and unrecognized.

The last athlete finished to high fives and hugs and there were tears in my eyes.  There are now too as I type this.  What an amazing thing this CrossFit, a community wherein the last place finisher gets the biggest cheers and the most recognition and the first place finisher is barely noticed.  And so it should be.  Having been that last finisher on many occasions, I know – we all know – that that is the person working the hardest.  Their unwillingness to quit, their commitment to struggling through the hardship to reach the finish line is the embodiment of the CrossFit spirit.

I have had the honour of being that last placed finisher.  If you haven’t, you will one day.  I thank you everyone who stuck around to cheer me on.  And to that last placed finisher on any given WOD I thank you for the inspiration you give us all!

CrossFit Empower on Dunbar Street.

Finish last.  Finish slow.  Never quit!