The Regionals in Europe. And World Peace?

James Toland traveled the world to cover the Regionals. Here are his final thoughts.
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As I sit in an airport in Copenhagen, Denmark, I find it a little overwhelming to focus on all the sites and sounds of the past month. When I took this job with CrossFit Games Media at the beginning of 2015, I was originally assigned to the Atlantic Regional (Atlanta) for week one and the East Regional (Hartford, Connecticut) for week two.

Jamie Toland

For me, week three was originally “TBA” and could have been one of four possible assignments: 1. Tacoma, Washington, to the West; 2. Minnesota, to the Central (my home region and the one I had attended or worked the past four years); 3. Denmark, to the Meridian (formerly Europe and Africa, this option seemed entirely unlikely); and 4. I’d go nowhere and just stay home.

Where I live now, and especially considering where I grew up, the likelihood of a person like me traveling to Europe … ever and traveling to Europe while having my expenses covered and being paid to do it is not something most people I know would even dream was possible.

But that is exactly what I did this past week. And it was an amazing Regional experience in the process.

Long story short, in terms of the event: The Icelandic women are incredibly good at competitive fitness. Four out of five women’s Games qualifiers in the Meridian went to names ending with “dottir” (Icelandic translation for “daughter of”). The men’s side was a little more uncertain. Twenty-year-old Jonne Koski, understudy of the “Legend” Mikko Salo, from Finland, took the lead on day one and walked away with the top spot in Europe for the second year in a row. Two young Icelandic men took familiar spots back on the podium again this year, but the most compelling story was Englishman Steven Fawcett from Wigan. No British male had ever gone as an individual Games qualifier until Fawcett notched his spot this past weekend. This guy is not only a great athlete but also a true competitor and gentleman.

Being in Europe, and especially Denmark, was an incredible experience. There was such an amazing union of cultures and languages every time I went into the venue. Being an American and living in such a monolinguistic society such as ours, walking around while wading through this blending of cultures was intellectually stimulating.

This led me to ponder the question: Could CrossFit help promote world peace? I mean, who can really tell.

From what I have witnessed the past month of travel, what CrossFit — through the Games and Regionals — does is develop a common human bond and experience that pushes beyond nationalities and races. Despite all its critics, there is no denying that aspect of CrossFit. People from all countries and cultures are united by the common experience from participating in CrossFit, whether it’s training every morning at your own affiliate or whether it’s in Europe at the CrossFit Games Meridian Regional.

A thousand thank you’s to all my bosses (Andy, Kutcher, Stef, Ed, Corby et al.) and co-workers in every department of CrossFit and CrossFit Games Media for this opportunity. It’s been said and posted countless times, but until you witness one of these events in person, you’ll never understand that the army of volunteers is truly what makes this massive operation work. From the judges to the media runners who bring us updated standings and start times for the heats, to the people who make sure we have lunch, and to the ones who have to load and unload heavy weights and barbells all day long, I would like to personally offer my thanks, as well.

I’d suggest strongly that you make an effort to see one of these Regionals or make it a point to attend the Games if you get the chance. You don’t have to go to Copenhagen, but if you love CrossFit and follow the athletes at all, then make the effort. You won’t be disappointed, and maybe we’ll all be one step closer to world peace.

Did you make a Regional this year? What are your thoughts?

Stay on the Grind.