Bremerton athletes train for ESPN CrossFit Games

Marianne Haukli, owner and trainer at Rain City CrossFit, lifts the slosh pipe during a Saturday training session Jan. 7. - JJ Swanson
Marianne Haukli, owner and trainer at Rain City CrossFit, lifts the slosh pipe during a Saturday training session Jan. 7.
— image credit: JJ Swanson

Cory Goffrier swayed under the weight of a 10-foot long metal pipe filled with water as his workout buddies hooted and hollered from the sidelines. He grunted and heaved the pipe until it cleared the top of his head.

"I told them to fill that with beer, so if we drop it, it's a party," said Bill Simpson, a fellow gym member.

The "slosh pipe," created by gym owners Carol Clingan and Marianne Haukli during the Christmas holiday is one of many unusual objects athletes use to train with instead of traditional exercise equipment at Rain City CrossFit in Bremerton.

Before the pipe, it was a giant truck tire that a member found discarded at the dump for "tire flips" and jumps.

Passersby often mistake the gym for a storage space, said Haukli. The warehouse bay door is connected to four other storage bays in Navy Yard City. The floors are covered with the same mats used in horse stables.

"It's just your body and raw materials pipes, kegs, tires," Clingan said.  "You learn to control your body without a whole bunch of equipment."

Clingan, 42, is following this regime in her training to compete for the Fittest Woman on Earth competition at the ESPN CrossFit games. Joining her is the gym's youngest member, Greg Celia, 20, who is gunning for the title of Fittest Man on Earth.

"It's our youngest and oldest going for it in the same games," Haukli said.

The international competition is broadcast on ESPN, and the grand prize is $1 million. It will be the first attempt by both athletes, and they are training every day for the regional opens, first round of competition, on Feb. 22.

The CrossFit Games are comparable to the Ironman Triathlon in intensity, Haukli explained, but with a twist. CrossFit events are kept secret throughout the 3-day competition so that athletes never know what event they will face.

"You have to be ready for anything," said Celia. "It's not like you can just run a lot or lift some weights."

Previous years have included an ocean swim followed by power squats, moving 100 pound sandbags, a 15 foot rope climb with multiple ascents and Olympic clean deadlift.

At 42 years old, Clingan is at the top of the age range for female contestants which is 18 to 45. But she believes that she is in better physical shape now than she was in her 20s.

Clingan and Haukli met doing triathlons and half-marathons in Kitsap County and eastern Washington. Clingan is also a middle school teacher for the Bremerton School District.

Celia is an enlisted Navy sailor who has been CrossFit training for two years.

"I've wanted to go to the games for awhile," said Celia. "But it's hard for travel to match up the dates with a Navy schedule."

Celia said that he and his enlisted friends got into the CrossFit craze when they were looking for workouts that could push them as hard as they worked in bootcamp.

"It can get really intense," said Ivy Greene, a former enlisted sailor on the USS Abraham Lincoln and gym member. "Some Navy guys can get a little aggressive with CrossFit, so you do have to watch out for injuries."

As the two Bremerton athletes continue to train for the CrossFit games, members are pushing them to their limits. Charts on the wall mark their progress, and there is a fair amount of friendly heckling.

"This is not a place you come if you don't love it," said Paul. "But if you do, you'll find a bunch of like-minded people just as crazy as you."


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