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Cancer and Crossfit - Episode 3

Krystal: Welcome back, everyone. This is episode three of our podcast, Cancer and CrossFit. We continue on with my adventures to the CrossFit Games 2023 to Madison, Wisconsin. We’ll also touch on and continue with the theme of what happened once things really kicked off, some events that took place of a personal nature, deeply inspired and started by the community, and then we’ll answer some listener questions.


Rich: I’ve asked you this outside the podcast. So what was your favorite event to judge, or group of events to judge?

Krystal: I would say, look, I am always absolutely inspired by adaptive athletes. They are absolutely phenomenal. There’s an absolute huge range of different adaptations. There are some people who have prosthetic legs or arms, there’s a stature, there’s a neuro division as well, people in wheelchairs, it’s just, wow.

So good. So, I Really loved judging and watching those athletes, absolutely kicking butt and thinking. God, you deserve to be here. You work just as hard as everyone else and you have to, , adapt because of, whatever’s going on with you and. You’re here just representing your country and doing them so proud.

It was really, really cool. I think probably my favorite event to judge was actually outside on North Park. It was with the Bob and Jerry cans or sandbags. And there were logs that they needed to go over because there were. A certain amount of areas that I judged in, and then I’d have someone up the other end who would, once the athletes got to them, to sit on this new piece of equipment that Rogue had built.

There was another judge there, so I could hand them off, walk back to my start line, and wait for them to come back to me to start judging them for another round. So I think that was really, really cool, very good to watch , and amazing teamwork. I will admit team competitions events are quite hard to do, especially when it’s fast movements, with the worm and stuff like that.

It’s very hard to watch more than one athlete and get it. So I take my hat off to anyone who absolutely excels at it. It’s still a learning process for me and happy to learn and keep learning, but we’ll admit that it’s actually quite difficult.

Rich: Hmm. Yeah. Make sure everyone hits depth at once.

Krystal: Yeah.

Rich: Especially with the worm, right? So that worm gets everybody.

Krystal: Yeah, right. You’ve got tall athletes. And you’ve got shorter athletes in between and, you know, just makes for an interesting competition.

Rich: They love that worm.

Krystal: Oh yeah.

Rich: It just kills everybody.

Krystal: And they have the new the other version of the worm there this year as well with the rope bits in between.

So. That was quite interesting.

Rich: So good.

We’ve got some questions from people, but we’ll save those to the end. You know, we’ve got to hook our listeners a little bit longer yet, but I have a question for you. So what are some memorable experiences you had? Something that stands out to you from the day you left Melbourne to the day you got home?

Krystal: I think taking a picture in front of departures at Melbourne airport and posting that on Instagram to acknowledge and show my gratitude, very much so of all the people that helped me get to the games, there was getting to the games, there was at the games and then after the games. I feel like it was three different, huge kind of things in my life.

So I think a memorable moment was definitely that: standing in front of departures going, I’m about to get on a plane and it’s because of all these people back home at my box. That have got me there, and family and friends, obviously outside of CrossFit. Another memorable experience would definitely be meeting Arielle Loewen and Tommy Marquez.

That was just…, how does that even happen? these are big, big names in the CrossFit world and to meet them was just so cool. A few more memorable moments were very personal, and definitely to do with the community. I had a wonderful family of Oz and Canadian judges that I stayed with who very much looked after me.

We had an absolute blast we all get along so well, and there’s a lot of banter and things. So that’ll definitely be memory. But I was standing in lane seven for a team’s event final. And there’s these two cameras standing in front of me. And I’m like, Oh, maybe I’ve got like someone big, like I didn’t know the teams very well apart from our Australian team and some New Zealand ones, but I didn’t know very much about any of the other teams that were coming into the CrossFit games.

So I thought, Oh, maybe whoever’s in my lane, they’re pretty big, they need filming and. But I wasn’t really sure what was going on. And so I was just standing there, continuing to have the professional look of waiting for the event to start. You always hear the commentators announce, obviously, when the athletes are coming out.

And then this announcement comes on and says something about, let’s draw our attention to lane seven. And when I heard my name, I was like, Oh my goodness. and I couldn’t fully understand the gentleman at the time and the crowd, I think we’re clapping and then one of the other commentators was like, you bloody legend.

And I looked up at the screen in the stadium. This was in the Coliseum and just smiled. I didn’t know what to do. I’m not an athlete, so I’m not going to wave my hands in the air and, turn around and look at all the crowd. I was like, I’m a judge. I’ve got to stay serious.

I’ve got to stay professional. Just smile. And it felt like a really long time that the cameras were on me. And I was like, how long is this going for? You know, I’m not a person who loves attention. It was beautiful and just amazing. And I’m so appreciative, but it was incredible. and to be later told by people, there wasn’t a dry eye in the Coliseum and everyone was just clapping and so inspired and in awe .

I have so many people to thank for getting me there and while I was there, but the community just, so amazing. So that was really cool. And then I think after that or around that time, I can’t remember the chain of events completely, but I was told. Krystal and you other Aussie judges, I need you outside in North Park to do a quick job.

We go out there, the scoring team are like, Hey, can you help us? We just need to give some of our guys a break. Can you help us collect scorecards? I didn’t think much else of it and then I’m like, hang on, six people to collect 20 score cards from an indie event. This is a bit weird, but hey, I’m just doing what I’m told.

That’s fine. All good. We’ll get to see the end of an indie event because we didn’t get a chance to watch any others. So we’re collecting these cards, then we’re going to tour around up into where the scoring people stand. Outside for North Park and then there was nearly an opportunity to see the Indy event for women.

But then all of a sudden it was like, Oh, hey Todd needs us back in the classroom. I was like, okay. So we all walk back to the classroom. We’re walking in the door and people start clapping. And I was like, this is strange. what have we walked into? I start clapping as well. Little did I know that everyone was clapping for me.

So there on the table is this huge white banner with my name on it, like the same as you see the athletes get and all of the judges have signed it or written beautiful messages and I was absolutely in awe like they’d organized this. I don’t know the timeline of who first started organizing or how or when, but I do believe it was a little.

Like last minute slash fast tracked because those people in signage, just they did some amazing stuff. So that was so, so cool. And I got to bring that home. And then so memorable, so many memorable moments. But the other one was when Boz came into our briefing room in the Coliseum, we had a little room to hang out in while events were on and he came in and gave me a leaders singlet and shorts that, you know, people who win their event and then they’re the leader for the day. They get to wear the white shirt and the red pants or shorts the next day. They’d made a setup for me. So when he presented that to me and gave me a hug, I was like, Oh wow, this is so cool. And I don’t know how to react to these things.

Like I’m not, Oh, you know, look at me kind of thing. I’m just like, Oh my goodness, this is amazing. And you know, I just think they’re all royalty, and it’s so cool.

Rich: A lot of that, you could argue, especially the moment you described where you were in lane 7 and you had cameras on you, that was broadcast live on ESPN.

It wasn’t just, hey, everybody in the stadium, check this out. This, went live to the world. And if you haven’t seen it, I think we’ll, maybe we’ll put it on our website. I don’t know. But , it’s actually a really cool video because it only goes for about a minute. And it’s just an excellent example of how the community just gets around people and supports them.

Done in a minute. Very beautifully edited. They did a great job. I thought it was really awesome. And like you say, everyone who saw it and communicated back to me about it, at least, in our gym, was like, Wow, that was amazing. That’s such a, such an emotional experience for them to watch that.

Obviously, we are well vested in your story. We’ve known you , for a year now and we… We all love and support you and just to see that them honor you like that was really, really amazing and really touching and I’m glad it was able to happen. Such a cool thing.

Krystal: Yeah. And I think, obviously the CrossFit games are all about the athletes and there is plenty of acknowledgement of volunteers and everyone who helps out is well acknowledged, which is amazing.

But, we all know that the games are about the athletes. So for that to happen to me or for me just goes to show, their investment isn’t just in the athletes. Like it really is in, it’s a team effort. And to be able to bring my story to the attention of others in the stadium and around the world.

Now, now that’s gone viral…

Rich: You’re a big deal now.

Krystal: Yeah, it absolutely ticks my boxes because obviously I want to educate others on positivity and chasing dreams and it doesn’t matter what situation you’re in, whether you have a terminal illness or injuries or anything, it’s the same reason I got into CrossFit.

It’s so good for you, the environment, the exercise, the community, and it just goes to show exactly how amazing the community are. And for me to be. In the spotlight for that minute was just phenomenal, definitely not something I asked for or would have encouraged. I didn’t actually even know it was happening.

So that was a real surprise, but I’m really glad if it’s inspired someone else to start CrossFit or just, go a little bit harder and hit send.

Rich: You usually don’t make a big deal about your story or your cancer: beyond just telling people about it when it’s necessary.

I think it’s important though, that people recognize that there’s a Krystal with a story, but there’s hundreds of other people out there with a similar story, overcoming adversity and, and following their dreams and having the power of a really supportive community around them, whether that be CrossFit or another type of community they find, I think , it’s a good reminder.

Often of, you know, some of the things we take for granted in life. So, it’s a very human story and I’m glad, not that you were the spotlight, that’s the wrong way to say it, but I’m glad you were able to remind people of that. And that’s one of the reasons I really like doing this podcast, is because… it gives people just a reminder.

There’s a lot more going on when you meet someone on the street perhaps than you’re aware of and , just be nice to people, be kind.

Krystal: Absolutely.

Rich: Everyone’s fighting a battle.

I’m going to go through rapid fire questions.

Things that you did not expect to see or experience. What did you think of Starbucks coffee as a Melburnian?

Krystal: It was fine. Too big, way too big. Even the smallest one was like, not the size I’d get back home, but that’s okay. Coffee is life.

Rich: Melbournians are coffee snobs, and I would argue, if you know what to order, you can get a good cup of coffee at Starbucks.

We love to hate on Starbucks as Melbournians, but they do great coffee.

Krystal: Yeah.

Rich: Alrighty things that surprised you. Let’s dovetail into the last question. what surprised you about the whole experience?

Krystal: Definitely the pounds thing, the weights in pounds. And, ooh, that’s a tough one. I don’t think I got surprised by too many things.

Well, obviously good surprises that the community is so amazing and all the judges, and team leads and head judges were just absolutely phenomenally nice. They really make a big deal of people.

Rich: Hmm.

Krystal: Yeah.

Rich: Yeah, they were. that’s a surprise. It’s a pleasant surprise. Right? I suspect you went there not expecting people to make as big a fuss of you as they did.

So now that you’re back and you’re famous and your instagram count is doubling by the day, and you’ve got all these really cool connections, what’s next? What are you doing? What’s coming up for you?

Krystal: Without sounding like a loser, I’ve been approached by a few people.

Might need a PR manager. Anyone out there? Actually, my beautiful friend, Patrice she helped me out with , an acknowledgement post while I was away with the limited access we had to my phone and internet and all that kind of stuff. Anyone wants to be my PR manager? No, just kidding. So since I’ve got back, I’ve been approached by…

A few people. most of you would have seen or maybe seen this week. I was very, very lucky to be approached by the Morning Chalk Up. A beautiful lady called Tegan wrote up an article on me, which was really fantastic. And I think, it was an opportunity to give many more thanks and, or continual thanks to my box and My crew and my community back home here in Australia on just how amazing they’ve been and the CrossFit community in general.

So had that happen, I’ve got a phone call with another fitness company this afternoon regarding a charity event in Queensland at LSKD, and that’s a charity event for cancer council. So raising money and awareness for cancer council. Yeah. I didn’t get to do my little thing with buttery bros. A little bit sad about that, but they were in high demand.

So, you know, that’s ok.

Rich: They know now next time they’ll be, they’ll be making a beeline for you. Get her a onesie.

Krystal: If no athletes turn up, you know.

Rich: Well, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were back at Torian next year. They seem to have a pretty good time up there.

Krystal: Yeah, those guys are great. They’re so funny and yeah, everyone loves them.

Rich: Yeah, they’re very, very hardworking, very clever guys. Love their work.

Okay. Next question. Here’s a good one. What did this teach you about yourself?

Krystal: I think it taught me that, and I already knew this, I guess, but it’s nice to have things in life that are reiterated. And I think it taught me that I will not let cancer define me.

I will not let it stop me from doing things. You know the old saying, if there’s a will, there’s a way. So, I think it taught me that. If you have dreams, you can achieve them. If you’ve got a bucket list, get those things ticked off. It’s amazing what the people around you, your people will do to help you achieve things.

So believe in yourself, believe in your dreams, whether sick or healthy. Yeah. Go get them.

Rich: Love that. All right. So we’ve got some other questions that you posted and I posted on Instagram. If anyone had any questions for this podcast. So. We have a number that we’d like to answer without giving away who asked.

And if you know the question, maybe you do know who asked. All right. Question one is did you feel nervous judging or were you in the zone when you hit the floor?

Krystal: Absolutely in the zone. I know down under last year, I was so nervous, like it was really, really, really bad. I was worried I was going to step up or ruin some athlete’s dream if I missed counting or miss, meeting the standard, et cetera, but at the, at Torian and then at the games just fully focused, I think you just need to believe in yourself and your ability.

If you just aren’t sure and you’re very much on the fence, call it out. It’s it’s easier to have a rep re given to you than it is to take one away.

Rich: Again, I guess like in the small area of having in the judging, you have a group of people to support you. It’s not just you on your own, right?

So you’ve always got people to rely on.

Krystal: Yeah, absolutely. And just on a tangent a little bit, I had a gentleman in an event and he argued with me about the double under count and was like. You’re 10 under or something. And luckily for me, I had a bunch of head judges on the sideline.

I was on the outer lane, I think, or one of the outer lanes. And I had a bunch of head judges on the sideline and they heard it, they heard the complaint and then the person needed to do another lot another section of dubs and they counted my count and they were absolutely spot on. And they backed me.

And that’s the good thing: another community thing and a judging thing is that you will be backed, if you make a mistake, it happens. I get it. You don’t obviously want to, but if it happens, you’ll get backed . And there’s always a review on screen that can be looked at to fix any kind of errors that may have happened or didn’t happen.

Rich: That’s great. Love it. All right there’s another question very similar. How daunting is it? And you just kind of answered that. if you walk into the Coliseum, as you did for just before that thing was recorded, right? So the Coliseum’s full, people clapping and cheering. Like, do you have a… Oh shit moment.

Or are you just like, no, I’m here to do my thing. Like how does that feel?

Krystal: I think I’ve very much put the blinkers on, so I don’t actually look around and I dunno if this is something athletes do as well, or other judges, but I just don’t really look around. I have a quick glance, I guess, but not really focused too much on who’s in there and just make sure I’m focused on what lane I’m going to who’s in front of me or behind me in the line before we run out and what the workout is so that I’m not gonna make a mistake.

So, All focus.

Rich: And as your confidence has grown now, I guess you just, this is just another day, right? I’m , just this time I happen to be in the Coliseum in Madison, but two weeks from now, I’m going to be back in my box in Chirnside doing video reviews for one of our athletes qualifying for Down Under.

Krystal: Not at all. Absolutely not. Every.

Rich: All the same.

Krystal: No. At all.

Rich: Someone who I think you probably know is asking how awesome were your Australian and Canadian travel companions.

Krystal: Oh, I love those guys. I really miss them actually. There were two from Queensland, two from New South Wales. four Aussie judges. And then the two Canadians, I really miss them.

They’re fantastic people and it really makes a difference if you get along with people or not, because if you’re stuck with them for that long, you want to have a blast and not hate it.

Rich: Right. Absolutely. So when will you see them again, do you think?

Krystal: So I’m going up to Brisbane the third week of September to judge at the Oceana throw down.

So I’ll see, I think three or four of them there, obviously not the Canadians, but yeah, I’ll say the Aussie guys, which is really good.

Rich: Awesome. Next question. Says I missed episode one, but did you like it? And was it expensive? I’m assuming they’re talking about, did you like going and aside from the the contribution that you were given to get there. Was it expensive? So is it expensive to, to judge at the CrossFit games? Would you say?

Krystal: I would say it was because I was afforded the flights from my home box, I was really lucky and. Everything else was quite affordable meals were provided for us each of the days that we judge.

So apart from if we wanted anything extra from the shops or restaurants or what have you. So I didn’t really need to buy a lot of stuff while I was there, but, but yeah, episode one, if you missed it, you can go back to our Instagram or anywhere on Spotify or Apple or anything like that.

Rich: Or our website.

Krystal: Yeah, our website. And you’ll be able to see everyone there.

Rich: So once you fly there, I guess what you’re saying is it’s actually fairly affordable. I know athletes often struggle with the travel portion as well because CrossFit is something you kind of do for love, I guess, more than money. I mean, the first few people do get paid, but there’s a lot of time and expense goes into training and just getting there is a really hard thing to do.

Might not be as difficult next year. We’ll see where it goes.

Krystal: So if you were going over and you didn’t have any help or no one kind of rallied behind you, as I was very fortunate to have flights for about 4, 000 return, that’s just normal economy. So if you want better seats, obviously a lot more up to, I think like 10, 000 each way in business class accommodation would probably for the.

10 days, I would say probably a couple of thousand and then meals and things. So look, honestly, yeah, it’s an expensive trip to go on, get saving.

Rich: You only live once.

Krystal: Put some pennies away. Yep. You only live once. So do yourself a favor and tick some boxes.

Rich: I will often say to people: you will forget how much it costs, but you always remember the memories that you make and those are priceless.

So if it’s something you want to do, definitely do it. I would say.

Krystal: Yeah. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Rich: Someone who also, I can tell by the name next to it also was with you at the time and said, I just checked and said, why is the podcast got a rating of explicit? It’s because we’re potty mouths, right?

We’re actually pretty restrained in, in our use of language here, trying to be professional and shit.

Krystal: Yeah.

So apologies if you can skip past it if you like.

Rich: Yeah. And one of these days I’ll go back and edit them and put bleeps over it for sensitive people. But you know, if you’re in a CrossFit box, you already need to harden up a bit is what I would say.

Only words, only words.

Okay. Someone else who you’ve already mentioned their name, but I’m not going to mention their name, but was part of your judging team said, in all seriousness, how has the experience changed you, your journey and your outlook?

Krystal: Ah, once in a lifetime opportunity. I hope that it can be.

More than once, there’s a few things I’m planning over the next 12 months and one being going to the CrossFit Games next year in some capacity, but yeah, you’ve got to do these things like if you have the opportunity and the means to do them, you’ve got to absolutely jump on board because no one’s going to make memories for you.

No one else is going to experience things for you. Just get there and do it yourself. If you can. I understand. Obviously, not everyone is as lucky, but yeah.

Rich: I often say to people as well, if you follow your dreams, you’ll be surprised at what, what opens up for you. You know, you may not be able to afford it, but if you are genuine in following what makes you happy and what makes you passionate, you, you will often be really surprised at the opportunities that present themselves, the people you meet, for example and that’s kind of prescient for you because you met.

Fairly interesting people, we’ll say, at the airport. I’m sure there are people who think that wasn’t an accident. I don’t know. I think it’s a coincidence, a happy coincidence, serendipity. But I think in my, my life, it’s definitely been true that when you follow, you know, your passion and your purpose, things just happen.

So do it, get out there. There was, there was a song at the end of the final episode of House MD. Basically it says, enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think. You know, time’s short, you may as well be happy, do what you love.

Krystal: And and not to be a downer, because of my prognosis, but you just don’t know when your time’s up, so.

Get out there and start living in and stop sitting and procrastinating or thinking, Oh, do something tomorrow or whatever. there’s a beautiful person in our gym who said to me, every, every workout I do now or event, something that really counts and needs to count, whether it be a qualifier or, or at a competition, I’m going to do it and do it for you because if nothing else is going to inspire me, it’s definitely .

You and I was like, so humbled because I don’t want to be the reason to make anyone push themselves hard or anything, but you just can’t. Put things off till tomorrow, like we just don’t know, no one knows how long we’ve got left. No, no doctor, no scientists. Do everything you can in your power to pursue happiness and get things done that you’ve always wanted to do.

And if you need help doing it, just ask. There’s so many people around you who can help you out and be that support and community.

Rich: Like you say, it’s when people are fulfilling and living their purpose, they, they give other people permission to do the same. So people pushing themselves harder. They’re like, you know what, I’m inspired by this person.

It makes me want to be a better person and just see what I’m capable of. And I think that’s That’s the great thing about CrossFit on a small level, but just being authentic and following your dreams, on a larger scale. I think that’s very cool and a good thing for people to remember. So, you know, yay us and yay you, especially because you definitely inspire a lot of people, myself included.

Okay, now we’ve got some interesting questions from the same person, which I kind of want to know the answer to, because there’s obviously some in jokes here. John Farnham’s best song.

Krystal: Patrice, I have to name you. That’s all on you. We were being the old people one night, we didn’t want to go to the pub.

There was one opportunity to go to a pub at Well and Truly after all the judging we’d done that day. And her and I were like, no, we’re just tired. We just need some peace and quiet. We put on some John Farnham and it was just lovely. Don’t judge me. Don’t anyone judge me. It’s fine.

Rich: Nothing wrong with Johnny Farnham.

All right. Similar question from the same person. So, Patrice wants to know about spreadsheet etiquette.

Krystal: Oh, she’s the queen of spreadsheets. So not that this has anything to do with CrossFit either or the games or cancer, but she was definitely the solid block for all of us that went over because she produced this.

Amazing spreadsheet that kept us all in line. We all knew which flights we’re on and when we’re landing, departing, where we’re staying. Because a few people went over early and traveled around America a little bit first. But it also had contact details and all that kind of jazz. So she very much kept us in line and that spreadsheet saved a lot of us.

When you’ve got so many people to organize, she’s the spreadsheet queen.

Rich: I my sister, if she listens to this, my sister who lives in the U. S. We have a running joke about her use of spreadsheets and I can, I can vouch for their value. I did a small, not as elaborate as that, but when we were up in Torian, just to keep track of when all our athletes were competing and what lanes they were on, you know, it’s useful.

It’s good to have. And if you’re good at spreadsheets yay, you. A good spreadsheet is worth its weight in gold. I agree.

Krystal: Thanks so much everyone for tuning in for our coverage of me going to the CrossFit Games. Our next episode we’ll be covering off on our journeys, our cancer diagnosis, my prognosis, how we found out we both had cancer and the steps that followed on from that. So maybe a little darker on the side of podcasts, but we feel it’s important to give some background into how we became Cancer and CrossFit , and the journeys that we’ve been on so far and what’s ahead of us.

So, tune in for the next one and we welcome any feedback.

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