The CrossFit Games Podium with 12 Labours CrossFit Team Athlete Christen Wagner

Blonyx athlete Christen Wagner headed to the CrossFit Games for the 5th time this year, hoping to improve upon her team's—12 Labours CrossFit—6th place finish from 2015.
When Sunday rolled around, she and her teammates—4 of whom were also part of the team last year—found themselves on the podium, behind just one team in the world—CrossFit Mayhem.
US Marine Christen was an individual games competitor in 2012 and is also a national qualifier in USA powerlifting and Olympic Weightlifting. She talked to us about the experience, and about what it was like to finally taste the Games podium.
Wagner's 12 Labours team is powered by Blonyx and Doughnuts. 

What were the feelings running through your body on that podium?

Wagner: Being on the podium was indescribable.  We joked around to our two rookies, Josh (Arcona) and Madi (Mansberger), that they were able to experience the podium on their first trip to the CrossFit Games. I can tell you for myself, after five years of being at the Games, it was completely overwhelming to finally stand on the podium.  You dream about it for so many years, experience the grind day in and day out, and finally everything pays off in the end.  It was surreal – still is. 

What was your team's goal coming in? Did you expect to podium?

Wagner: Our team goal was to leave it all out on the floor, regardless of the outcome.  I think we knew we had the potential to podium, but we also knew the competition is fiercer every year and nothing can be taken for granted.  Ultimately, we wanted to have no regrets,  and we accomplished that. 

What were the biggest keys to your team's success this year? 

WagnerI believe one of the biggest keys to our success has been working on our weaknesses and learning to work together as a team.  A team is only as strong as their weakest link, and in CrossFit, that link often changes depending on the workout.  It’s so important to know each other as a team so you can put together the best possible strategy for any given workout.  
Tennis Stadium Joy!

How often does the team train together during the year?

Wagner: For the most part, we aren’t able to train with each other until the weekend since everyone has such conflicting schedules. We get together on Friday night, and Saturday and Sunday mornings for team-oriented training days. It's so important to have that time together for camaraderie and learning each other as athletes.

What does a normal week look like for you?

A normal week for me is kind of mind-numbing. I wake up around 6 am for class or 4am for clinicals, study every second I have until I get home, go to the gym and train with whatever energy I can muster, and then go back home, eat and study until I fall asleep [We forgot to mention: Christen is also studying nursing full time at George Washington University]. The weekends are a treat for me since I am able to train with friends, foster a competitive environment, and have more time to enjoy the process. 

Team competition is so different from individual competition. What is the most important thing about a team competition specifically?

Wagner: Communication by far is the most important aspect of being on a team.  Workouts have never once gone as planned in any team workout I have ever done at the CrossFit Games. The difference between this hurting the team or helping the team is communication. A million things can happen to derail the perfect plan, and when you're working as an individual the answer is simplified: You do whatever you need to do to overcome the obstacle. But as a team, you have six different people that could be thinking six different things. It’s important to get on the same page prior to competition and ensure you have good communication during completion competition to make the inevitable game-time calls. 

The swim may have been a challenge, but the 12 Labours Team was 3rd and 5th on the two worm events

What was the most challenging thing for you team this year at the Games?

Wagner: The swim was a difficult event for the team as a whole.  We knew we would take a hit on the event, but it was a hard blow to leaderboard so early in the weekend.  We have some strong swimmers on the team, but unfortunately we weren’t able to capitalize on that with the format this year (they were 29th). In the end, I wouldn’t have it any other way. This is the CrossFit Games, we don’t want to win it because we didn’t get tested on something we are weak at; we want to win it because we are they fittest at everything that is thrown at us. 

Where do you go from here in the sport now?

Wagner: Now we train for next year. We have slowly climbed places during our past three appearances at the Games, and the way I see it, there’s only one more spot left for us to conquer.  We all know what it feels like to podium now and I think it’s just made us hungrier for more. 
Congratulations 12 Labours CrossFit!


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