Athlete Spotlight – Robert MacKay

CrossFit Victoria BC _ Rob going for a muscle up
Rob fighting for a muscle up

Photo by Rumon Carter

1. How did you find CrossFit?
I regularly check the blogs of two of elite ultrarunners (Jen Segger and Nicola Gildersleeve – I have raced against Jen and Nicola and suffice to say they’ve left me far behind on the trails! ) who both started Crossfit this year. They are extremely fit runners who were humbled by the Crossfit workouts. This year, I sought coaching and committed to regular cross training – Crossfit wod’s are harder than any running session I do on the trails.

2. What is your favourite CrossFit exercise or wod?
My favourite exercise so far was the tire flipping we did in the parking lot as a buy-in one day. The tires were nasty, heavy and unwieldy!  I really enjoyed moving them, though and felt strong and fast.

My favorite wod’s are those that include running or rowing intervals. I find that the aneorobic work is very intense and my adrenaline is flying by the end. I’m an adrenaline junky.

3. How long have you been CrossFitting for?
I’ve been CF’ing for about 6 weeks so far. If I had to give up running tomorrow, I’d do CF as my core training.

4. What do you do for a living?
I work at UVic as a marketer for Athletics and Recreation – that’s my job. I define myself by my running, speaking and project creation skills, though. My ideal scenario would be to race multi-day international races and do speaking presentations on goal setting, motivation and racing in general.

5. What are your hobbies?
Life is pretty compact for me right now, so I manage my time carefully. I’ve got two girls (aged 8 and 6), I’m married to my high school sweatheart, and own a house built in 1919. My day consists of work, family, training (then work on the house if there’s time) – that’s it. I love it, though and wouldn’t want it any other way!

6. What are your goals?
My Running goals: Make the 100km Canadian National Team, Finish Western States 100 miler under 24 hours, Win a mult-staged race with my running brother Donald. CrossFit Goal: One decent full cartwheel.

7. Why do you CrossFit?
I have been running for about 41/2 years and I’ve hit a mental ‘dead spot’. Physically I can run hard/fast but ultrarunning is almost all about the mental game.

One of the unexpected benefits I’ve experienced doing CF is getting back in touch with ‘mental toughness’ (i.e. hanging in and finishing when the going get’s tough). I’ve pulled toenails out during the Marathon Des Sables due to blisters, I’ve had 3 IV’s in the field from being so dehydrated at the Gobi March and so forth. We all have it in us to push ourselves farther than we think possible. CF has put me back in touch with that key component of racing succesfully and I am really thankful for it.

8. Any advice for future CrossFitter’s?
The inclusiveness and support of the CF community reminds me a lot of the ultra-running community. We all encourage each other – this is brilliant! All of us have our own reasons for coming out. Some are elites, some are not, it doesn’t matter. With the various levels of wod’s, everybody can participate. In the end you are competing against yourself and as we say in the ultra community, “It’s about finishing.

It is great to have your energy out at the gym Rob! You have come so far since May, you are building lots of strength and endurance. Keep up the great work! Rob, with his running brother Donald Peterson is running an Ultra Marathon in October to raise money and awareness for Big Brothers Big Sister’s Victoria. Check out his blog

Today’s Workout:

Buy In 3 rounds of Burgner Warmup, first round with PVC pipe, 2nd round with a barbell, 3 round add 5 – 10lbs per side.

WOD: CF Total Gone Bad

Elite: 5 Rounds

  • Shoulder Press (45/75)
  • Back Squat (95/155)
  • Deadlift (135/205)

Zone 3: 5 Rounds

  • Shoulder Press (30/55)
  • Back Squat (75/135)
  • Deadlift (115/175)

Zone 2: 5 Rounds

  • Dumbbell shoulder press (10/20)
  • Back Squat (55/95)
  • Deadlift (95/145)

Zone 1: 3 Rounds

  • Dumbbell Shoulder press (5/10)
  • Back Squat (30/45)
  • Deadlift (65/95)

* In this workout you move from each of three stations after a minute. The clock does not reset or stop between exercises. This is a three-minute round from which a one-minute break is allowed before repeating. On call of “rotate”, the athletes must move to next station immediately for best score. One point is given for each rep.

Cash Out – 800 Meter run, then a full body stretch


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