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Steve Serrano, Owner of CrossFit Marina, sends this excellent writeup on the planning and amazing competition in Southern California on April 18 and 19. He writes...

You have five months to plan a gathering for about 600 of your close friends.

Easy, right?

How about finding a facility with parking for about 350 cars? It also has to have space for a running event of about 800 meters. The venue needs to have the capacity to sling up a few gymnastic rings, and it would be nice to have a pull-up bar large enough for maybe 15 to 20 athletes at a time. Then you'll probably need a bunch of rowing machines, over 3,000 pounds of weight and about 15 Olympic bars....

Fortunately for everyone involved in the Southern California Regional Qualifier, experienced affiliate owners Jeff and Mikki Martin and Ahmik and Krista Jones took care of the details.

The venue hunt went on for about two months, with the goal of finding a location that would fulfill Coach Glassman's request for a central site to accommodate the 70 or so SoCal affiliates.

Choosing the workouts was a process that went back and forth between the three affiliates hosting the event. Until we had the venue dialed in, the pull-up bar built and an idea of just what other equipment we would have access to, we were on the "have a back-up plan" plan. We eventually decided on the Orange County Sheriff's Regional Training Facility, and the Martins were outstanding in generating a set of movement demonstration videos within the last three weeks or so after we started solidifying our events.

Jeff, in his capacity as one of only a few CrossFit Coaches, was pressed into leading the judging. He and Mikki gladly accepted the responsibility. Working with our list of about 38 volunteer judges from throughout the Southern California region, they supported an e-mail recruiting process that requested the judges to first review the written rules and video examples, then come to a meeting on the Friday evening preceding the event. We had an excellent turnout (even though there was no beer), and the volunteer judges really seemed to grasp what Jeff wanted them to accomplish.

In the background were other incredible volunteers including an additional 35 non-judges. They were led by Brent Oakeson, Gabe and Alissa Baltodano, Jeb Smith, and Denise and Mariah Serrano, who directed everything from the timing crew to vendors and sponsors to video and still photography, fencing, banners, food and medical support, and beyond. Several afternoons were spent timing and rehearsing the registration process just to nail it down.

Ensuring all the requested equipment showed up was a significant concern. Of course, Doc Jones wasn't worried. He knew his people would come through, and they did, delivering several thousand pounds of weights, a couple of dozen bars and several other items to the venue the week before the event. As usual, Concept2 came through in a huge way. Even with their great support, we didn't know how our last event might need to be staged given the rainy weather we had up until the week prior to the qualifier.

The event had an attendee cap that we had agreed upon with our hosts. We sold out in the week preceding the event and were stuck in the funky position of having to shut down registration, which we had already extended twice. This was our first shot at this venue, which had everything from ample parking and athletic training areas to large restroom and shower facilities for the athletes, so we were anxious to be invited back.

April 18 came and we hoped we were ready. The initial waves of athletes started arriving, and it was like our family was showing up. The community is so unlike any other that we knew the athletes would adapt and we'd take care of things no matter what obstacles arose. In that spirit, the heats kicked off.

We had nine heats for each workout, the first three composed of women, the last six of men. The heat orders were repeated in the afternoon and also for Sunday's single workout. While we didn't have the resources, judges or equipment to allow scaling and a larger number of competitors, we wanted all who came to be able to get in all three WODs.

What began to emerge was a fascinating picture of our Southern California CrossFit community. While each county's affiliates had an idea of who's who in their respective ponds, the opportunity to watch athletes from other counties was completely cool.

We had the chance to see some wildly gifted female athletes really go after these events, and the men didn't half-step on any performances, either. These athletes all displayed one dominating characteristic: the desire to display their best possible form and comply with the movement requirements. The integrity of those putting out such effort was moving. They aggressively attacked the challenge, and nobody wanted the easy way out.

The first day featured two WODs. The first was six rounds of 30 squats, 10 chest-to-bar pull-ups and five power cleans to overhead (any way) of 155 pounds for men and 105 for women. The second comprised three rounds of a 425-meter run (approximately) and 30 overhead squats at 95 pounds for men and 65 for women.

The day got hot and hotter, and if you had a cool a.m. workout you got a high hot one in the afternoon.

Sunday's last heats had everyone watching the heavies as they ground through a two-kilometer row followed by six rounds of 20 box jumps and 10 wall-ball shots. The day was a dusty ass-kicker that topped out around 95 F, but the heat didn't slow the great athletes or their cheering sections. When the competition was over, six outstanding male athletes and six awesome female competitors were chosen to make the trip to Aromas in July.

In final order, the female qualifiers were Kristan (The Machine) Clever, Valerie Mackenzie (who had rescheduled her wedding to be with us), Becca Voigt, Kim Ball, Michele Vieux and Katie Hogan.

The Corps represented well on the mens' side, with Brian Chontosh (second) and Craig McCarroll (sixth) qualifying with strong performances. J.C. Nessa and Jeremy Kinnick finished fourth and fifth, respectively, showing tremendous strength and endurance even in the dust and heat. Andy Petranek was third, and David Millar finished first overall.

7 comments on this entry.

May 14, 2009 12:10 AM

The event was so well organized, run, and executed.All the competitors were fierce, the judging was impeccable, and the entire event ran like clockwork; so utterly impressive. Thank you to all who had a hand in the amzing planning!
I, for one, am so glad I rescheduled my wedding. It all worked out so well, since I qualified, and the very next weekend married the man of my dreams and my best friend, Steve. It was an eventful and very successful April. Thanks to everyone for their support and love.

2. cleverhandz wrote...

May 14, 2009 12:34 AM

sincerest thanks to the folks behind the SoCal qualifiers.
in every aspect the event wuz an example of organization, virtuosity, and positivity. thank you! it will be an honor to represent our region in July @ Aromas!

May 14, 2009 7:21 AM

Great write up Steve! Quality event sir. The seamless flow of the event seemed to allow all the athletes to focus on competing and nothing else. Very reminiscent of Aromas last year. Thanks for your hard work and dedication to Crossfit and all its athletes.

May 14, 2009 7:57 AM

Steve and everyone else behind the So Cal Qualifiers thank you for your hard work, the event flowed extremely well. Can't wait to see you at Aromas.

5. Steve S. wrote...

May 14, 2009 10:36 AM

Couldn't have accomplished any of it without the wife and daughters. Thanks ladies.

6. Jeb - Crossfit Marina wrote...

May 14, 2009 10:46 AM

Well written Steve.......I can honestly say that this event couldn't have ran any more smoothly. I wouldn't have expected anything less. Great Job Again to all who had a part of the organization.

May 14, 2009 10:12 PM

Just wanted to say it was an honor to be able to volunteer my time to help out with the SoCal qualifiers. Steve great write up brother. Was spot on in every way. The CrossFit community is unlike any other community of athletes. Everything was planned down to a t. Your oversight of the event and the level of quality the event held was amazing. You have my compliments. I can't wait till next year as I plan to once again join the CrossFit community for a gathering of the best, but as an athlete instead. Keep up the great work. - Matthew