Post Independent Sports Editor
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Thad Eshelman couldn’t stop smiling on Saturday.
“I mean, we’re talking about competitive exercising,” the owner of Glenwood Springs CrossFit said. “It still cracks me up.”
There were plenty of smiles — and grunts, groans, and personal records — at the Glenwood Springs Community Center ice rink on Saturday. That’s where 186 competitors from around the state, along with another 400 or so trainers and spectators, converged to take part in the second Glenwood Springs CrossFit Summer Team Challenge.
In all, 44 teams of four from Denver, Grand Junction, Colorado Springs and even Telluride, came to compete in the event. It included a CrossFit-style triathlon and a pair of CrossFit weight workouts, with all of the work going toward each team’s overall score. Encouragement is also heightened, as team members push each other a little harder to reach a common goal as opposed to individual CrossFit competitions, where reassurance is focused solely on an individual.
“I think you work a lot harder with teammates,” Eshelman said. “When I have a teammate, you know that someone else is depending on you, so that motivates you that much more.”
There’s obviously plenty of energy to feed the enthusiasm for the event, which is only in its second year in Glenwood. Eshelman said when registration for the team challenge became available online in June, 40 teams had registered within 48 hours.
Other factors also played a part. The state is home to few CrossFit team challenges, one of which takes place annually in November in Broomfield. Glenwood also hosts a winter team challenge in February, but its registration is limited to 30 teams.
That event sold out its spots in less than an hour after online registration began. CrossFit gyms usually buy up the bulk of the spots and encourage members to go later on.
This usually pans out well since there’s a support group coming along for the ride.
“A lot of the individual events are all about competition, whereas this is also about cooperation,” said Andrew Brachle, a 1999 Glenwood Springs High School graduate who now owns Telluride CrossFit. “We’ve noticed in our gym that people actually perform better during moments of cooperation than as an individual, and that feeds into getting people here.”
Proximity plays a part as well. With the other large-scale CrossFit team events being in the Denver area, Glenwood is the natural spot for Western Slope outlets to come to. They bring plenty of people with them — two teams made it up from Telluride, and four teams came to Glenwood from Grand Junction, too.
It’s that encouraging, but competitive, atmosphere that makes the trip well worth it.
“The fact that it’s a team format actually got a lot of people in our gym to actually come out and try a competition,” said a smiling Cody Fleming, the owner of CrossFit Grand Junction. “We have about 30 people here. That’s really cool.”
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