Resting at the family cabin on Sylvan Lake is a long ways removed from the gruelling five-day CrossFit Games, but it’s just what Patrick Vellner needs.
The Red Deer-born Vellner finished third in the games held in Carson, Calif. from July 19 to 24 and now he’s resting up.
Health was a large factor in his podium finish, the best for a Canadian man in the competition. With numerous events over the five days, Vellner said staying healthy was essential.
“I spoke with some people last year and a few of them joked if you were able to complete all the events, you’d finish top 10,” said Vellner. “It was that gruelling.”
The events featured running, rope climbing, squats, swimming in the ocean, handstand walks and suicide sprints among others.
Vellner eagerly heeded the advice of the athletes he trains with and those he knows who also competed. Among the keys to staying healthy were ice baths to bring his body temperature down, staying off his feet and eating.
“Trying to eat all day is one of the hardest things to do,” said Vellner. “It’s hot and you’re working pretty hard. You’re stomach is in knots and you don’t want to eat, but you have to. If you’re going to survive five days of that kind of intensity, you’re force-feeding. You eat two dinners, pack food in and go straight to sleep.”
That health advice helped the 26-year-old to a consistent finish. Of the 15 events, he finished in the top 10 in 11 of them, including third place in two events and second in one.
“I didn’t blow anybody away in any one event, but I was consistently in the top 10 over the whole weekend and that makes a big difference,” said Vellner. “I was in third place going into the last day and hung on in the last day and finished on the podium.”
Vellner’s background in lacrosse, gymnastics and rugby came into play.
“A lot of running doesn’t bother me and anything body weight, I don’t mind either,” said Vellner. “The mystery element has some fun, you had to figure it out, come up with a plan and adapt. The more adaptable you are, which I think comes from an athletic background. You’re able to think on the fly.”
It was Vellner’s first time competing at the games as an individual, but has met and faced some of the athletes at other events. However, the athletes weren’t given much information on what type of activity they would have to perform in the individual competition.
Coming into the event, Vellner thought of himself as a sleeper in the field — someone who people didn’t know a lot about but has the tools to win. Now, he is one of the top athletes in crossfit.
“It’s still not quite real to me,” said Vellner.