Whitney Gelin survived what was touted as the "toughest" test she faced yet, but talked Thursday night like she was describing just an average day. Never mind that she had just the day before biked 7 ½ miles, rowed 26 miles, lifted 855 pounds and added 30 muscle-ups.
"I’m very grateful for the way I feel right now," she added.
Gelin, 33, was enjoying a rest day and opening ceremonies for the 2018 Reebok CrossFit Games at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Wisc. The Citrus High School graduate who now lives in North Carolina is at the games for the third time in four years, vying for the title of "’Fittest on Earth."
The games comprise some of the toughest combined events in any competition, ranging from cycling events, ocean swims and weightlifting to test fitness and "identify the world’s best workout warriors," according to the official website.
Gelin conquered two qualifying rounds earlier in the year to get to this stage as one of 40 women in the individual category to try and muscle to the top for the championship. A total of 533 athletes from 33 countries are competing across individual men and women, team, teenagers and masters categories.
Gelin, a lifelong athlete who played softball and lifted weights for the Hurricanes, now coaches CrossFit athletes after getting into the sport several years ago. She knows a championship won’t come easy.
"A lot of things would have to align," she said of an increasingly younger and stronger field of competitors each year. "I would love to finish in the top 20, top 15 of all the competitors here."
Games HQ director Dave Castro said Wednesday would be the toughest day in the event’s history, with athletes knowing very little details beforehand about what to expect. Gelin said competitors get some hints, but everyone is in the same boat.
"Every year, they like to challenge us in a different way," Gelin said.
Entering Saturday — the second to last day of competition — Gelin was ranked 19th in her category after six events. Her best finishes were second place in the marathon row with a time of 3:01:53, and a fifth-place tie in the CrossFit total where she did one repetition each of 855 pounds in the back squat, shoulder press and deadlift.
Gelin endured the Battleground, where she wore a roughly 12-pound vest while dragging a mannequin across the stadium, performed two rope climbs and ran an eight-obstacle course. She tied for 32nd in that event.
Up today is just as daunting of a foe in the Fibonacci, where she will have to do five, then eighth and then 13 repetitions of handstand pushups, double kettlebell deadlifts and overhead lunges. The deadlifts will include two 124-pound kettlebells and, for the lunges, two 35-pound kettlebells.
Gelin will get some fan support this weekend when her sister, Dana, arrives to watch her compete. Family members scattered across the country will be watching online or on television.
Dana Gelin said in a family of athletes, Whitney was always the best because she was a "super hard worker."
"To see it all pay off; the difference is so small, who makes it and who doesn’t," she added. "It’s awesome to see her hard work pay off."
Whitney Gelin has seen hundreds of athletes over the years with new faces each time. She said she’s lucky enough to be a part of it, and see the sport grow in popularity.
"It’s kind of a really cool thing," she continued, "to see as people grow and get stronger in the sport."
The 2018 Reebok CrossFit Games continue today and tomorrow. You can watch them live on CBS, through CBS All Access, through the CBS Sports Network, CBSSports.com or online through your internet provider if authorized.