Wanda Brenton doing a stepping challenge at the 2014 Latin America Regional in Santiago, Chile. ‚ÄĒ Submitted photos
Wanda Brenton has spent her life committed to being a model of fitness, but she wanted to test herself against the best in the world.
She found what she was looking for when she discovered CrossFit.
The Corner Brook native, a former member of the Cayman Islands national women‚Äôs doubles beach volleyball team, is the fittest female in the Caribbean after she won the women‚Äôs individual title at the Latin American Regional for the 2014 CrossFit Games July 25-30 in Carson, Calif.
It marks the first time Brenton, formerly Wanda Griffin of Curling, participated in CrossFit as an individual. She has participated in what is considered the premier test to the find the fittest on Earth as a member of Cayman Islands teams on three occasions since discovering her new passion in 2009.
‚ÄúI started CrossFit to be a better volleyball player and then I liked CrossFit so much I stopped playing volleyball,‚ÄĚ Brenton said with a hearty chuckle earlier this week.
She got into the CrossFit craze in 2009 while she was still playing beach volleyball, but then her focus shifted to training to be among the fittest women on the planet. She competed in her first team event in 2010, took a year off in 2011 when she and husband Carl Brenton welcomed daughter Logan into the world, and then helped CrossFit 7 Mile ‚ÄĒ the Cayman Islands representative ‚ÄĒ win top spot at the next two Latin American Regionals.
Brenton had informed her teammates at the end of last year‚Äôs run that it would be her last kick at the team event. She was ready to take another life journey.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs always something that I always thought about doing. I done the team ... just a different sort of goal and to see how far I could take it,‚ÄĚ she said of her decision to vie for the women‚Äôs individual crown.
Daughter of Corner Brook‚Äôs Danny and Annie Griffin and now a CrossFit coach herself, the former St. Francis Xavier University varsity volleyball star won three of the seven events and finished second in two more. She beat out 29 other competitors and beat her nearest rival by a mere two points.
It was a close battle for the right to advance, but Brenton made it clear from the start she was going into the event to win it all.
‚ÄúSo, it‚Äôs just nice to see that the hard work paid off and that was my goal this year was to win,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúMy goal was to make it to the Games and then from there anything is just going to be icing on the cake.
‚ÄúIt feels good for sure. I worked really hard at it,‚ÄĚ she added, noting her lifestyle was hectic with two-hour daily training sessions being fitted in with her work and parental duties.
A key element to a fair test of fitness is the unknown and unknowable. Athletes cannot train for what they do not know. At each CrossFit Games, the athletes engage in a series of challenges unknown to them until right before the competition and there‚Äôs always a surprise or two thrown at those 100 men and women who outlasted thousands to get to the final leg of the journey.
The test of one‚Äôs fitness level could be anything from tackling a gymnastics or aerobic workout to running a triathlon or sandbag carries.
‚ÄúYou never really know what‚Äôs going to be thrown at you for one,‚ÄĚ she said of her interest in a world-renowned event pegged as a gruelling test for the world‚Äôs toughest athletes and a thrilling experience for spectators.
Going to California this summer to compete against who she calls ‚Äúthe elite of the elite,‚ÄĚ Brenton is just happy to be among such a group and only wants to embrace something she feels may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a woman who will turn 40 this year.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm not going (there)‚Äąto win. I‚Äôm definitely going to go for the experience and just try to soak it all in because I‚Äądon‚Äôt know if I‚Äôm ever going to get back there,‚ÄĚ she said.
She‚Äôs not feeling any pressure so she expects to have fun seeing how she stacks up.
‚ÄúThere‚Äôs most likely going to be things I‚Äôm not great at and there‚Äôs going to be some things I will be OK at, so the things I‚Äôm OK at I‚Äôm really going to try my best and just go for it,‚ÄĚ she said.
She‚Äôs been asked many times why she would put herself through such a demanding event. She usually has a smile and a light chuckle to go with any of her responses.
‚ÄúThe whole drive and the whole pushing yourself to the limit ... it‚Äôs the only way to really to describe it,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúThere‚Äôs always something new and challenging. You‚Äôre never really great at anything in CrossFit. Some people are, yes, but there‚Äôs always that strive to be a little bit better, or be a little bit faster or lift a little bit heavier and that feeds you.‚ÄĚ
She‚Äôs going to be working hard over the next few months to ensure she‚Äôs in great physical and mental condition to give it her best shot.
‚ÄúYou try to do as much of anything that‚Äôs crazy as possible, so that if it‚Äôs thrown at you you‚Äôre just like ‚ÄėOK‚Äô,‚ÄĚ she said.