This monday will mark the second anniversary of the death of Blake Whipple, a local soldier who was killed in Afghanistan and the third time for the memorial WOD “Whip” in his honor. For the new members who do not know about Blake he was the son of one of our members David Whipple. David is most likely unknown to many of you here because he is part of a very dedicated and some would say crazy group of individuals. The 6:00 AM crew. I would like to give you a little background on how David came to be here with us and the history of Mondays WOD known now as “Whip”
Three years ago local news broke with the story of a young soldier who had been killed in Afghanistan. To myself and most around me it was a sadly familiar story with the usual unfamiliar name. I did not know Blake. If I had walked past him a hundred times while he was here at home I would have never recalled it. Shortly after hearing the news though I learned that Blake was a very close friend of two of our members at the time, Colin and Alex Rogers. Once I learned of this I decided to show support to our friends and I went to the funeral. I had seen memorial services on TV before for soldiers but I was not prepared for the amount of people who attended. It did not take long to realize by listening to passing conversations that I was far from the only person who had never met Blake but felt drawn to the chance at showing a sense of appreciation for his sacrifice.
At the end of the funeral. Blake’s father David stood before a church packed from wall to wall with faces both familiar and foreign to him and through smiles and tears fleshed out a young man I truly wish now I had met. Any attempt to transcribe anything I remember from David’s eulogy could ever do it justice.
After the funeral Alex Rogers asked if we could do a Hero WOD for Blake and of course we agreed it would be a great idea. What we were not prepared for was what the event turned into. We found out that Blakes family wanted to be present to watch us do it. We had done dozens of Hero WODS before and although we always understood the meaning behind them there was a sobering reality that came along with the idea of the fallen’s parents watching you do it. It’s hard to shout out the normal “Wow this really f@#$ing sucks” in the middle of the workout with a bereaved family staring you down. I spoke with David about ideas for the WOD. It turned out that Blake was not as David would say “much of a workout guy.” David laughed with me recently about how Blake, who often had a cigarette in his mouth, ended up with a workout named after him. At any rate “Whip” was born.
As many rounds as possible in 21 (Blakes age) minutes of:
11 Push-ups (If there was any exercise blake would do this was it)
155 pound (Blake’s bodyweight soaking wet according to Dave) Squat clean, 5 reps
24 inch Box jumps, 10 reps
The numbers 11/5/10 represent the date he was killed.
I could not have been more amazed or proud at what developed. I had never seen that many people in the gym and it was the first time we had to rope off an area for spectators. The people during the WOD took all the normal moans and gripes and internalized them to grind out rep after rep while Blakes family stood in awe of what was unfolding in front of them. A teary eyed father came up to me and said he could not believe we had done this for his son. All of a sudden Hero WODs made sense.
After that I really did not think I would ever have contact with David again but I got a call about six months later form him saying that he wanted to train for a Tough Mudder with his other son. David became a regular. The Mudder came and went and the rest as they say is history.
Last year David did not stand there and watch. He was out in the middle of the floor working along side everyone else when we did “Whip” again. Word also got out and I believe we had a total of five or six other gyms around the country do it as well.
To me “Whip” has become something very special. Crossfit has always been huge on Hero WODs but they have mainly focused on members of the special operations community who were also Crossfitters. Don’t get me wrong. Their sacrifice should be honored and remembered. But to me “Whip” is a tribute to the rest. The regular soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines. Be it Crossfit Firebreather or exercise hating smoker, thousands have made the ultimate sacrifice. This one is for you.
So here we are. Round three. David told me this morning that his plan is to do the WOD twice on Monday. Once at the 6:00 AM with his normal crew and again in the evening to be with those who come later. We will run regular classes but if possible try to make it to the 6:00 AM or one of the evening classes because we try to make as much of and event out of this as possible. Anyone is welcome to attend too. Other affiliates are encouraged to send people over or to do the WOD in their own boxes.
Thanks for support and we hope to see you all Monday.
Blake we may not have known you. But today you are family. R.I.P Brother.