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Vancouver Island man among ‘fittest on Earth’ after podium finish at CrossFit Games

Nanaimo’s Patrick Vellner places second of 38 competitors in international fitness sport competition
Nanaimo’s Patrick Vellner competes at the CrossFit Games in Madison, Wis., over the August long weekend. (Photo courtesy CrossFit LLC/Duke Loren)

One of the fittest men in the world lives and trains in Nanaimo.

Patrick Vellner of CrossFit Nanaimo finished second this month at the CrossFit Games, a fitness sport competition that comes with the title “fittest on Earth.”

Vellner completed 15 events over four days in Madison, Wis., earning 1,152 points, runner-up to American Justin Medeiros, who won with 1,234 points.

“It’s not the most successful it could possibly be, but it’s still a very, very big accomplishment and it’s a huge success, that’s for sure,” said Vellner.

Most of the 15 events consisted of a series of exercises; for example, the first event was a 1.6-kilometre swim followed by a 4.8km paddle, and the final event was a 600-metre row, 90 pull-ups and then 33 metres of lunges with a 185-pound barbell.

As if the workouts aren’t challenging enough, athletes receive only limited information beforehand. They show up ready to compete, then they’re told the particulars and they get some time to warm up accordingly.

Vellner said some events played to his strengths; some, not as much.

“I under-performed in a couple, for sure, and I think I over-performed in a few, as well. That’s sort of how these competitions go. I’m a pretty well-rounded athlete, I think,” he said.

Vellner went into the final day of the CrossFit Games mathematically in contention for first, but he knew that not only would he have to do well, but the leader would have to falter.

“I was close, but I made a few mistakes earlier on in the weekend and I wasn’t close enough,” Vellner said.

It was his fourth time reaching the podium at the CrossFit Games, and his second-place finish earned him a US$120,000 prize. The 31-year-old chiropractor said he’ll take some time to rest and regroup and enjoy the rest of the summer, but he wants that top spot and is already eyeing next year’s competition.

Vellner said CrossFit Nanaimo is “super supportive and helpful” and ensures he gets time and space for his workouts, often between classes at the gym.

Only those who take crossfit “to the extreme” will make it to the CrossFit Games, said Vellner, but he said it’s a great way for people to keep moving or to renew an interest in exercising.

“The whole concept is that everything is really scalable. You can adjust and adapt everything to anybody’s skill level,” he said. “Whether it’s super entry-level sport or whether it’s a former athlete who’s looking for a challenge, it’s fun because there’s so many different movements and skills to learn and master and develop.”

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