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Crossfit for A Cause



Team Outnumbered: Jess Rouse, Annabelle Pamment, Therese Andersson, Lee Worth, Valentina Moresco and Susan Oakley

The team at @ The Coalface are always quick to put their hand up to support a good cause. Fun runs, sponsorships, heck, even growing a beard. But this month our journalist Jess Rouse took it to a whole new level to raise money and awareness for Wounded Heroes Australia. Jess shares her story.

I’ve been doing CrossFit since 2019, and I have done some very tough workouts since. But never have I done five tough, gruelling workouts in 24 hours.

In CrossFit lingo, we call them Hero Wods – workouts that have been created to remember a veteran who has died either in combat or since returning home.

They are a test not only your physical strength but your mental strength – the idea is that no matter how hard you think the workout is, and no matter how many times you want to give up, none of that is harder than what our defencemen and women go through.

Wounded Heroes Australia is an organisation that provides support to the wounded, but also to families who have lost a loved one or have a loved one deployed overseas. They provide hardship relief, soldier recovery centres and social engagement for veterans and their families or the families of deployed personnel.

For the third year in a row, the CrossFit community has gotten behind Wounded Heroes Australia to raise money for them with an event called ‘24 Hours of Heroes’. In teams of six at a CrossFit affiliate, members of the team complete one hero workout every hour on the hour.

CrossFit Muswellbrook was the only affiliate in regional NSW that took up the challenge along with CrossFit gyms in Sydney, the Central Coast and across the country.

I was a part of Team Outnumbered at Crossfit Muswellbrook on April 22 and 23. I had five workouts to complete.

The first was called ‘Walshy’. Sargeant Leith Walsh passed away while on Christmas break in January 2019 after suffering from PTSD, alcoholism, anxiety and depression. He started training to coach CrossFit in 08/09 and helped to get certified trainers in the RAAF before being deployed to Kandahar.

The workout started with 71, 30kg back squats and also ended with that to honour the 142 kilogram personal best back squat Walshy had; then three rounds that consisted of an 800 metre run in a weighted vest, 20 snatches and 19 kettlebell swings. Running in a weighted vest represented the burden Walshy carried, the snatch was for his love of the olympic lifting movement and 20 and 19 reps represented the year he died.

The workout had a time cap of 40 minutes and I couldn’t finish it. I finished 31 back squats into the final set of them. For me this one was a physical challenge – running in a weight vest, and weightlifting movements that are always a struggle, but I did it.

I had six hours of rest until my next workout while my teammates completed their workouts. One of the fun parts of this event was that we all had to stay at the gym, including sleeping. My teammate Annabelle and I set up our swags outside at Muswellbrook Showground where the gym is, a couple slept in their cars and two of our team slept inside on mattresses.

My next workout was called ‘Marks’. Lance Corporal Jason Marks served with the Special Operations Task Group when he was killed during deliberate operations against a Taliban Safe Haven on 27 April 2008 in Afghanistan.

The workout in his memory was shorter, but just as tough with three rounds of 21 pull-ups, 15 shoulder to overhead lifts, nine deadlifts and a 400 metre run.

Another six hours went by and my next workout was with a partner at 11pm. Annabelle and I did the workout ‘Arnold and McCrow’ to honour the two Queensland police officers who were shot dead when they went to respond to information on a missing person on a rural property outside of Brisbane at the end of last year.

We worked as a team, just like the constables did in their job, and completed the workout with only a couple of minutes remaining.

For me, midnight marked an opportunity to nap so I curled up in my swag (dreading how my body would feel when I woke up) and napped for a couple of hours.

I knew the fourth workout was going to be the toughest. 5am, after next to no sleep and three gruelling workouts already.

‘Teddy’, named after the Australian Navy’s Ordinary Seaman Edward ‘Teddy’ Sheean saw me attempt a 240-metre sprint, followed by four rounds of 12 devils press, 18 shoulder to overhead and 20 lunges with two dumbells and then skipping if you had any time left in the 19 minutes and 42-second time cap.

I started to cry with about two minutes left. I could feel the tears welling up as I struggled to lift the weights over my head, but I kept going until the end. It was a huge mental challenge to keep going.

The final workout was by the far the most fun with all six of us working together to complete it.

It was an epic 24 hours and it was all worth it to know that the almost $250,000 raised across Australia will go towards veterans and their families for the next twelve months.

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