For the third straight year in a row, Rich Froning is the biggest name in CrossFit. He's once again been crowned the "Fittest Man on Earth" -- the title given to the man who beats competitors at the highly-rigorous and heavily-competitive CrossFit Games (the winner also walks away with $250,000).
On Friday, the committed Christian told TheBlaze about his latest win, detailing how faith sustained him through a very tough battle (we reached him via phone while he was driving home from the annual event with his wife, Hillary).
Entering into the games, which went from July 22 through the 28, Froning had a lot to defend. As he prepared to compete against other CrossFit gurus, he noted that there was a fair bit of uncertainty. Would he be victorious for a third year in a row?
"That's the thing about CrossFit -- you never really know," he said of the types of competitors he faced.
See, every year there are new people who enter the games. And with new blood comes unforeseen and unfamiliar opponents. In this case, some of these individuals gave him a run for his money at the start of the event.
"It was a weird year. I knew it was going to be a battle," Froning admitted.
After the first event, the CrossFit champ said that he was discouraged. After all, he started out in 30th place, which "wasn't the best ego boost," he recalled. When we asked how it felt to start out so low, Froning was candid.
"It was a bunch of mixed emotions," he said, noting that part of him felt as though it wasn't a big deal, as he had faced these challenges before. "After the third event ... the hole was getting deeper and deeper -- and it was a constant physical battle."
Still, he forged on -- and inevitably won.
After going through the difficult and physically-demanding challenge, we asked what lesson he learned now that he's had a few days to reflect.
"Patience, I think," he quickly responded.
The funk he was in at the start of the games was broken when his wife delivered one, key, thought-provoking line.
"[My wife] could tell I wasn't having fun. I wasn't myself, I guess," Froning said. "We were sitting there in the athlete's area in between events and she looked at me and said, 'If you're not going to have fun, let's just go home."
That mild case of tough love helped snap Froning out of his despair. His wife's words mixed with his faith came together to sustain him. The committed Christian recounted how he did a lot of praying and reading.
At one point when he was struggling, Froning remembers telling God, "If I'm not supposed to win, I know You have a plan."
Here are some highlights from Froning's performance at the 2013 CrossFit Games:
"It is discouraging. You worked that hard for a year," he said of the prospect of losing. "At certain points it was like God was saying it's not your year. And that's where patience came in."
It paid off, too. Froning is, again, the "Fittest Man on Earth." Now that his latest competition is over, he's planning to spend time with friends and family. TheBlaze asked if he plans to return for a fourth effort to capture the "Fittest Man" title and the competitor was careful in how he responded.
"We'll see -- that's to be continued," he said.
If you don't know much about it, CrossFit is mixture of aerobic exercise, gymnastics and Olympic weightlifting that involves constantly varied, high-intensity movements that are functional for all of life. The company explains the program, which is used by many firefighters, paramedics, military and law enforcement officials, as follows:
CrossFit is the principal strength and conditioning program for many police academies and tactical operations teams, military special operations units, champion martial artists, and hundreds of other elite and professional athletes worldwide.
Our program delivers a fitness that is, by design, broad, general, and inclusive. Our specialty is not specializing. Combat, survival, many sports, and life reward this kind of fitness and, on average, punish the specialist.
You may also remember our past coverage of CrossFit. We reported about Hero WODs, the toughest of workouts in the regimen that are named after people who have died in the line of duty (more about that here).
Also, be sure to read TheBlaze's recent profile on Froning.