I remember the first time a Hero WOD actually meant something to me. Ryan1. It was a gritty five rounds of 7 muscle ups and 21 burpees, each round finishing up with a straight body jump one foot above max standing reach. It was named for Ryan Hummert2, a firefighter in Maplewood, Missouri. On July 21, 2008, Hummert was responding to a routine vehicle fire when a sniper opened fire on first responders. Hummert was killed, and two others were wounded. The gunman then set his home on fire, killing himself in the process.
My husband and I moved to Maplewood not long after Hummert’s death and bought a house blocks away from that tragic shooting. I never got the privilege of meeting Ryan, but his presence was felt everywhere in the small community – from the beautiful park named for him (with a hillside view of the St. Louis Arch), the 5K that brought out first responders running in full gear, and the scholarship fund. And then, of course, there’s his WOD, which lit up my triceps and delts, and made me remember the sacrifice Hummert made for the sake of his community and made me feel his loss more acutely.
That’s what CrossFit Hero WODs are supposed to do. They’re grueling by nature, usually longer or more difficult than the standard CrossFit workout (and that’s saying something). They aren’t necessarily about meeting standards of fitness, like a benchmark workout (though I would argue, some of them achieve both – looking straight at you, Murph3). They aren’t necessarily about mastering a new skill, like a GHD sit up, handstand push ups or squat snatches. And it’s definitely not about the glory of the CrossFIt athletes going through them.
Each Hero WOD comes with a story, a tragedy, a person – a CrossFit service member who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms, or an exemplary member of the CrossFit community who have since passed. The pain of the workouts is the point. They’re SUPPOSED to be uncomfortable. Our pain is temporary, fleeting, you do the workout and then you get to go home, take a shower and put your feet up. The sacrifice these fallen soldiers have made is forever.
In doing research for this article, I was frankly shocked at how many CrossFit Hero WODs were dedicated to women. Typically when I think of WODs for women, I think about the CrossFit benchmark workouts, “The Girls”4 as Greg Glassman dubbed them. I think about the thrusters of Fran WOD5, the mindless repetition of pull ups, push ups and squats of Cindy WOD6 and the ridiculously high number of wall balls of Karen WOD7 (my least favorite of the CrossFit girl WODs…and one that I have to do Wednesday. Thanks, Coach!). I don’t think about the women heroes, these fallen soldiers, who have CrossFit workouts dedicated to them. I should.
Here is a complete listing of CrossFit workouts bearing the name of a woman hero. I encourage you to take a look, read their stories and work some of these into your CorssFit workouts. These women have the right for their names and legacies to be held up, and for us to stress, work and sweat in their honor.
“Emily” CrossFit Hero WOD
Ten rounds for time of:
30 double unders
15 pull ups
Rest 2 minutes
In memory of Second Lt. Emily Jazmin Tatum Perez8. Perez was the first African American officer in US military history to die in combat. She died while serving in Iraq on September 12, 2006.
“Hildy” CrossFit Hero WOD
100 calorie row
75 thrusters, 45 lb. barbell
50 pull ups
75 wall ball shots, 20 lb. wall ball
100 calorie row
Wear a twenty pound vest or body armor if available.
In memory of Army Spc. Hilda Clayton9. Clayton was a U.S. Army combat photographer who died of injuries sustained in a live-fire training exercise in Afghanistan on July 2, 2013.
“Jennifer” CrossFit Hero WOD
Complete as many rounds as possible in 26 minutes of:
10 pull ups
15 kettlebell swings
20 box jumps
In memory of Canadian 1st Class Constable Jennifer Kovach10. Kovach died March 14, 2013, when her squad car was involved in a motor vehicle accident while responding to a call for service.
“Jenny” CrossFit Hero WOD
Complete as many rounds as possible in 20 minutes of:
20 45-lb. overhead squats
20 45-lb. back squats
In memory of U.S. Army Capt. Jennifer M. Moreno11. Moreno, an Army nurse, died October 6 in Afghanistan of injuries when her unit was attached with an improvised explosive device.
“Kerrie” CrossFit Hero WOD
Wearing a weight vest, ten rounds for time of:
20 sit ups
15 push ups
Rest 2 minutes
In memory of Kerrie Orozco12 of the Omaha Police Department. A member of the city’s gang unit, Orozco was killed during a felony arrest warrant, when gunfire erupted on May 20m 2015. She was set to start her maternity leave just hours later for her daughter, Olivia Rose, who had been born prematurely.
“Lumberjack 20” CrossFit Hero WOD
20 deadlifts (275lbs)
20 kettlebell swings
20 overhead squats (115 lbs)
20 bar pull ups (Chest to Bar)
20 box jumps (24″)
20 dumbell squat cleans (45lbs each)
On Nov. 5, 2009, Major Nidal Hasan attacked fellow soldiers and civilians at Ford Hood, Texas. He killed 12 soldiers and wounded 43. The Lumberjack 20 is in memory of all victims. Among them was Sgt. Amy Krueger13, Private Francheska Velez14 (who was pregnant at the time) and Lt. Col. Juanita Warman15.
“The Seven” CrossFit Hero WOD
Seven rounds for time of:
7 handstand push ups
7 thrusters (135 lbs)
7 knees to elbows
7 deadlifts (245 lbs)
7 kettlebell swings
7 pull ups
“White” CrossFit Hero WOD
Five rounds for time of:
15′ rope climb, 3 ascents
10 toes to bar
21 walking lunge steps on alternating legs with 45lb plate held overhead
In memory of US Army 1st Lt. Ashley White17. White was killed during combat operations in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan on October 22, 2001 when the assault force she was supporting triggered an improvised explosive device.
Kendra Whittle is a writer, novice CrossFitter, marathon runner and triathlete. She lives in St. Louis with her husband, three kids and two dogs.