Redeeming a Bad Run

By Mike Warkentin

In CrossFit Games

July 15, 2009

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Jason Khalipa finished 72nd in the first workout at the CrossFit Games. Over the next seven WODs, he clawed his way back into contention and earned the respect of the CrossFit community. Mike Warkentin talks to Khalipa about his struggle back to the top.

Last year Jason Khalipa was the CrossFit Games champion.

One workout into the 2009 Games, he was in 72nd place—third to last.

At one point, he was in danger of not finishing the first WOD: a brutal 7.1 kilometer trail run up and down the viciously steep hills of Aromas, California.

“Jason was sort of stumbling, and it took me a second to realize that he was disoriented,” Tony Budding of CrossFit HQ recalled. “He basically ran right into me.... He kept going, and then I heard people yelling for a medic about maybe 20 or 30 seconds later. I turned around and there was a guy down, and I thought, ‘That can’t be Jason.’”

It was. Khalipa was collapsed on the ground just outside the Stadium.

After the Games concluded, Khalipa explained what had happened.

“There were cramps,” Khalipa said. “My calves cramped up really bad and I was dry-heaving in my mouth. It was just a bad situation all around.

When the medical team got to him, he had a decision to make.

“They were asking me, ‘What’s going on?’ I was like, ‘I think I’m going to die. I feel like my calves are really bad.’ They just asked me, ‘Hey, do you want to keep going?’ I thought about it and I was like, ‘Fuck, yeah—I’m going to keep going.”

With the pressure off and the focus on subsequent overall leaders such as Chris Spealler, J.C. Nessa, Moe Kelsey and Tommy Hackenbruck, Khalipa did what he did last year: he quietly crushed workouts and clawed his way back into contention.

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30 Comments on “Redeeming a Bad Run”

1

wrote …

Just amazing. The fittest man in the world indeed! If the distance is greater than 2 miles... get a fricken car.

2

wrote …

No question-one of the best! Can't wait to see his 2010 performance!

3

wrote …

Absolutely amazing. Thanks for doing what you do, Jason: inspire.

4

wrote …

Coming from a background as a triathlete who found crossfit a few years back... if the sh@# hit the fan (natural disaster, urban warfare, whatever) I'd want Jason Khalipa's physical capacity. Not Mark Allen, "the fittest man on earth" (Outside Magazine). Not to say that being able to move long distances quickly should not be in every CrossFiters arsenal, but Khalipa's worth cloning.

5

wrote …

Jason Khalipa is a class act and a bonafide ambassador for CrossFit.
The 2008 Games winner took his (1st event) run in stride, so to speak. Got up, dusted himself off, finished the event, then went on with 100% effort the remainder of the games. Great guy. Makes me proud to call myself a CrossFitter.

6

freddy camacho wrote …

Jason had a horrible run. When you are third to last, you don't even bother to make comparisons to the other athletes. Jason ended up finishing 5th overall. All the athletes that finished top five last year were amazing, but only Jason and Jeremy made it to the top 16. Jason's performance was inspirational. I am excited to see what he will do over the next few years.

Jason, enjoy your honeymoon. Rest, relax, and spend a total non-Crossfit trip with your beautiful bride. We in Crossfit Land look forward to you amazing all of us next year. You are legit bro.

7

wrote …

The guy is an absolute inspiration (see: animal) in every way shape and form. I'm pretty sure being #1 at 9/10 forms of fitness rounds off to overall #1.

I'm already on the Khalipa 2010 bandwagon... is there a bandwagon yet?

8

wrote …

There were many great performances at the CrossFit Games. It was an epic event. And to say that Jason stood out is pretty absurd, but it is the truth. Jason Khalipa is the only athlete to finish #1 in two events.. He also finished #2 in two events.

Most of us who saw Jason crumpled up in a ball with a leg bent behind him (like Gumby) thought he was out of the games - for sure. He looked REAL bad. He was not only cramping but appeared to be barely coherent. A sure deal breaker to finish the games.

Jason was so positive and smiling through every event after the run. His spirit was soaring and it is beyond words the show he put on for the community.

Thank you Jason!

Seriously BRO, everybody is talking about it! Your performance and attitude are beyond anything I have ever seen.

sevan

9

wrote …

I don't know what else to say. From what I've seen of the games coverage, Jason did something that was unbelievable. Wow, simply outstanding!!!

As much as I am impressed with the performance of the winner, Jason owned every event except the first. He cemented his position as one of few top crossfit fire breathers.

Jason, fix that run and no one will touch you! Best of luck in the future, hopefully our paths will cross.

10

wrote …

I've really enjoyed your interviews, you have a really great attitude. I don't know how you handled the pressure coming into the games, especially with people seemingly doubting that you should be there as number 1. The tag "fittest man in the world" would be difficult to deal with.

Great to see you handle it and I think you'll be in a much better frame of mind coming into 2010. Good luck with everything and I'm sure you've grown as a person from dealing with everything from this years games. You definitely deserve to be at the top and I'm sure you will be a long while to come. Never let the armchair critics get you down.

11

Jason - I told you this at the games and it's worth saying again, you have the heart of a champion! You are a great athlete and a great crossfitter, and the CrossFit community is lucky to have you in it. I wish you much success in the future.

12

wrote …

Very inspiring. Truly Jason has a heart of the champion.

13

wrote …

Truly inspiring performance Jason, proud to be a part of a community that has you as a Champion! Best of luck in 2010 Games

14

wrote …

Khalipa is a beast, there's just no other words. I'm in awe of his performance.

15

Katrina Burton wrote …

I have to say, I was one of those people that questioned if he could do it again. And after his run result I didn't think he could. But wow, Jason your performance at the Games was truely amazing and inspiring. You have proven to EVERYONE that you are a top athlete no matter what the workouts are! Alot of people, actually I'm convinced that no one else would have been able to do what you did and rapidly climb back to the top of the rankings.

To me your performance was one of the most inspiring of the '09 Games. Never let up, never stop, never quit. CONGRATS!!

16

wrote …

Awesome, Khalipa! I was cheering for you this year, and you didn't disappoint. In fact, following the official Twitter feed, I thought you had won (the last two entries were something like, "Khalipa heads for the finish" and "It's all over, folks!") Hope you're in it next year. You'll be a favourite. Also hope there will be some footage of you in "every Second Counts II".

17

Jason Khalipa wrote …

Thank you very much everyone for all of the positive feedback!! It means much more to me than many of you probably know. I am trully inspired to come back hard next year.

The Crossfit community is awesome!

Thank you again,

Jason Khalipa

18

wrote …

What I believe is so inspiring is the fact that Jason, you will be pulling the other athletes up with you as they chase you. They will work harder, be more focused, and determined. That just makes us all better. I love this community, it is something unique and truly special. I can see some of the smaller guys getting stronger over the next year. I can see the bigger guys, like myself, get leaner, and become faster runners, better met-con'ers. Thank you JK, you are integral in making this 'CrossFit Community' something absolutely phenomenal!

Chef Michael

19

wrote …

Khalipa is a solid dude. In my eyes, he elevated crossfit to a higher standard. There's days when you're good, there's days when you have fun. Never quit.

20

wrote …

Im 16 and found CrossFit about 8 months ago, thanks to Adam Neiffer, affiliate and owner of CrossFit Fort Vancouver WA. who sent His old high school math teacher an e-mail about CrossFit. He showed it to us. at first i was'nt very exited about it because i never saw bench press in the WODs so i only did a few WODs here and there, and only did the heavy ones like a "globo gym" meat head. i was'nt much for CrossFit untill I did my first WOD, "Fran". She absolutly kicked my a** and i could barly move the next day then i realized what i was missing! I just recently got more involved in th CrossFit Community and you are one of my CrossFit and life idols that i root for in the Games, and follow ur site here and there. Good luck in the 2010 games ill be there hopefully I get to meet you. You are truly ispiring and a great role model, Thank You.

P.S- A DOUBLE Fran WTF man Barber is right that is the dumbest thing ive ever heard lol.

21

wrote …

I saw Jason go down as he passed the building. I turned to my wife and said 'that's last year's champ on the ground, he's done already.'
Apologies to you Jason, I won't make that mistake again.

22

wrote …

We thought for sure that when Jason hit the deck that he was done. I thought even if he does finish the run, he is going to have to deadlift in less than an hour and there is no way he pulls anything close to what he will need to stay in the competition. Obviously we were wrong. What an animal.

On a completely separate note does anyone know why Bionic wasn't in the games this year? I know he qualified. It couldn't be injury related because I saw him at the games doing the "Torque" pushups on pins and he did like 50 of them in 90 sec. For anyone that gave those a shot there is no way any part of you can be injured and you still be able to control that motion.

On another side note and this is directed at Sevan. A awesome video that I would love to see if you can pull it together. Is getting Speal, Barber, Dutch and a few of the other All Stars who didn't make it to Sundays workout, go after the chipper wod at the range. That was my one big regret of the weekend is I would have loved to have seen some of those boyz do that final workout.

The Pie
CrossFit Lions

23

wrote …

Jason, I was rooting for Mikko, but I followed your comeback - it was the stuff of legend. Don't underestimate the inspiration us mere mortals take from seeing someone at your level suffer and then gut it out with such fierce determination. That was a hugely powerful display of tenacity. Hope to see you in 2010 - enjoy the honeymoon!

24

wrote …

This is my first comment ever and I want to use it to echo what everyone else said! You tha man!!

25

wrote …

Jason your performance spoke so much louder than any words that I could ever conjure up. But if I took a shot at it, I would say that it screamed of determination, perseverance, inspiration, and serious pain tolerance. I had goose bumps watching your final lunges towards the finish-line. You are a true crossfit inspiration and you taught me that I am capable of so much more.
You set the bar high my friend, keep bringin' the pain!
Ryan Hewitt DC

26

wrote …

Amazing. Look forward to seeing you next year, Jason.

27

wrote …

Jason, I didn’t realize there was an article about your performance until Austin pointed it out. After reading it, I was literally in tears! I believe things always happen for a reason. What happened to you in Aromas brought back to the whole crossfit community much more then you think. I agree with the person above, you elevated crossfit to a higher standard. If I don’t speak for anyone else, I am speaking for myself. Your positive attitude to keep going regardless of what place you were in, your perseverance and determination to gut it out to the BEST of what you were capable of after that incident, just displays everything that a true champ defines. You have inspired me in so many ways that I don’t have the words to explain. Yea so we all know you’re physically a beast but you brought much more then that to the games. Your positive mental attitude and heart truly adds to your athleticism. You’re an epitome of a true athlete. Your mental attitude is what I truly inspire to achieve as a crossfitter (and yes I’m working on it!). You truly deserve the spirit of the games award! And....Congrats!! Hope your all recovered and have fun on your honeymoon!

28

wrote …

Jason, I saw you dead on the road in front of the games site, stumbling, locking up and choking up water! It was a tragic moment.

Then, 45 mins later you're deadlifting 505! Wait, are you kdding me?

You are simply in a league of your own. I am blown away. I'm also impressed by your humility. Good man.

Cheers.

29

Oyden J Ortega C wrote …

Simply a solid performance by Jason. Congrats and keep it up.
Greetings from CrossFit Briga (Panama City, Panama)
Oyden

30

wrote …

Great work Jason. You are an inspiration. Unbelivable performance! That ice bath looks painful.

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