July 15, 2009
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.