Athena Perez's "Journey to 300" Takes a Turn


Good morning and welcome to the Morning Chalk Up.

In today’s edition:

  • Athena Perez shares a core memory and discusses her approach to the Open and “the season.” (Editor’s Note: Please note the title change to the series, explained in the chapter below.)

  • As the CrossFit Games season structure has shifted, is the Open still important for athletes at the tip of the spear?

  • With a strong Open performance to kick off the season, Travis Mayer has his sights set on redemption in 2024


“I didn't agree to keep coming to this CrossFit box because I saw my future self on a leaderboard or participating in the Open. I stayed because they didn't laugh or point at me.” - Athena Perez on the beginning of her CrossFit journey during the 2017 Open


Credit: @athenamariebt / Instagram

“The Journey to 300,” Part 5: A New Beginning, Again

It was in December 2016, an experience I’ll never forget, a core memory now. 

I had been battling a relentless blizzard in my Jeep for what seemed like an eternity, my body screaming in protest. 

My nearly 500-pound frame was uncomfortably wedged into a seat far too small for my body, leaving me immobilized and in pain.

Upon reaching the hotel, my heart sank as I surveyed the daunting distance from my parking spot to the inviting warmth of the hotel lobby. The journey seemed insurmountable, and tears welled up in my eyes, a testament to my physical and emotional exhaustion.

Twenty grueling minutes later, I finally reached the sanctuary of my room, only to be confronted with an unforeseen and deeply humiliating challenge. I found myself trapped on the toilet, my body so sore and fatigued that I could not perform the most basic personal hygiene tasks. Overwhelmed and defeated, I surrendered to my circumstances and spent the night in the cold, sterile confines of the bathroom.

Fast forward to several months later, on March 24, 2017, I found myself stepping into a CrossFit Box for the first time.

Up until this point, the concept of fitness was an alien one to me. I had never engaged in any sports growing up, and even PE class in middle and high school was a chapter I had skipped.

That night, I walked into the fifth workout of the 2017 CrossFit Games Open. I sat in silence, observing the frenzy of activity around me–people were hurling barbells, cheering, and screaming in a chaotic symphony.

Amidst this whirlwind, someone sat beside me, introduced themselves, and gestured toward the spectacle on the floor. 

  • "This time next year, that's going to be you," they said. It was the most absurd thing I had ever heard.

I was hobbling around with the aid of two canes and sometimes even a walker. My goal was simple: to get rid of the canes and walk independently. 

There were no thoughts beyond that.


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💪 Saunders to Compete at CrossFit Expo Games: The AusFitness Expo announced that fan favorite, CrossFit Games veteran Kara Saunders will compete at the CrossFit-licensed Expo Games at the AusFitness Expo on April 13-14. Saunders announced earlier this year that she will lead Team Mayhem Thunder in the 2024 season.

  • Saunders will be joined on the competition floor by Harriet Roberts and Saunders’ own 2024 Mayhem Thunder teammate, Emily de Rooy. Khan Porter will be on hand as co-emcee of the event.

🎉 Crossfit’s New CMO Introduces Herself: Crossfit’s new Chief Marketing Officer, Jenna Hauca, took to her Instagram yesterday to announce that it was her official first day with the company:

  • From the post: “I’m excited to share that today is my first day as Chief Marketing Officer at CrossFit.”

  • “I’ll be joining an incredibly talented and devoted team to expand CrossFit’s global reach by supporting our 12,000 affiliate gyms in 140+ countries while generating demand for new gyms and supporting the CrossFit Games.”

  • “It’s an absolute honor to serve a brand that has been in the business of saving, improving, and transforming lives for more than 20 years and I’m eager to join in the efforts of amplifying this mission.”

🥇 Kristi Eramo O’Connell won her first women’s pro HYROX event in Houston last weekend. It’s worth noting that it was also the first pro HYROX event she’s entered.

👑 The Crown L1 for Participants: All the teen participants in The Crown, the teen CrossFit competition hosted by The Progrm in Mallorca, Spain, will receive free access to the Crossfit Level 1 certificate.

  • From the post: “It is our responsibility to educate future generations and ensure that the sport continues to have a lasting health for many more reigns. The throne is waiting, stay tuned 👑”

🙌 🙌 Victory Grips x Teen CrossFit Games: In a press release yesterday, the team at the Pit Teen Throwdown, host of the 2024 Teenage CrossFit Games, announced that Victory Grips would be the Official Grips Sponsor of the Teenage CrossFit Games.

  • Reminder, the teen divisions have been separated out into their own season-ending championship. For the 2024 season, the Teenage CrossFit Games will be hosted by the Pit Teen Throwdown on August 29-September 1 in Southwest Michigan.

ICYMI: What is the secret to CrossFit Nashville’s longevity?


Credit: @fikowski / Instagram

Does the Open “Still Matter”: Comparing Open Performances Between the Regionals and Semifinals Eras

The 2024 CrossFit Open is finished, and while the season is complete for most of us, 25% of athletes are eligible to move on to Quarterfinals. 

  • With such a significant portion of athletes advancing to the next stage of competition, the murmurs of “The Open doesn’t matter” are growing, at least in terms of crowning the Fittest on Earth. 

Looking at the unofficial leaderboards, however, this argument doesn’t exactly bear out. 


Credit: @thetravismayer / Instagram

Never Back Down: Travis Mayer Sets His Sights on the 2024 CrossFit Season

Eight-time CrossFit Games veteran Travis Mayer has been competing in the sport for well over a decade. His name has become synonymous with hard work, balance, and tenacity. 

A Training Think Tank competitor, Victory Grips sponsored athlete, coach, gym owner, husband, and father of four, Mayer wears many hats, but he does so with poise and grit. 

Remind me: After suffering an injury to his hand at Wodapalooza in 2023, he was left with no choice but to sit out of the 2023 CrossFit Games. He spoke with the Morning Chalk Up about this period, and that it was challenging for him, in that fitness is at the core of his life. 

  • “My life has revolved around the gym for the past 12 years and since I own a gym, I was always around other people working out. The Open was especially difficult because everyone was so excited to partake, and I wanted nothing to do with it. I was angry, mad, and upset,” Mayer tells Morning Chalk Up.

  • “Once the Open came to an end I was able to start understanding I needed to shift my focus into some other areas; the gym, family, and trying to enjoy a true off-season. It ended up being about 5 full months before I could bear weight on my hand,” Mayer says.

A turning point: Once his recovery began to accelerate, and Mayer could see light at the end of the tunnel, his desire to compete re-ignited. He looked to the 2023 Rogue Invitational as his “mini-Games,” and he wanted to return to the Madrid Championship, as he enjoyed his time there the previous year. 

  • “The focus was on not backing down from the challenge of an injury and coming back stronger and fitter than I was before. I was focused going into those competitions but honestly didn’t know how I would do when I got there,” Mayer says. 

At Madrid, Mayer took home an impressive second-place finish overall. The Rogue Invitational, held the following month, hosted the top 20 men and women in the world and Mayer finished in 6th. Mayer shares that he was happy with his performance, as the top five men who beat him were the same top five men from that year’s CrossFit Games. 

“It was a good confidence boost going into the season this year that there is still some speed and strength left in this body!” Mayer says.


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Celebrating a PR, hosting a fundraiser, this, that, or otherwise? Send us a tip.

  • ⭐️Congratulations to Ysa from CrossFit Unbounded in Brazil on getting her first bar muscle-up.

  • Congratulations to Andrea Nisler and her family on the birth of their baby.

  • Great work to all the kids at Core City CrossFit in Detroit, MI, who completed 24.3 together.

  • Congratulations to Rachel from CrossFit Reign in Metairie, NC, on getting her first bar muscle-up.

  • 💪Nice job to everyone from Sawed Off CrossFit Kids in College Station, TX, who completed Open workout 24.3.