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American Grit-like

Helping remove obstacles for wounded servicemembers through an obstacle course

American Grit Obstacles await participants at the Operation Tall Timber Benefit Obstacle Course in Eatonville. Courtesy photo

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This won't be your typical mud and adventure race; there will be military-style obstacles, and if the Northwest weather proves unseasonably rainy, there might even be mud. But the Operation Tall Timber Benefit Obstacle course that South Sound CrossFit is putting together is more about raising funds for Operation Ward 57, supporting injured soldiers and providing family fun in a unique setting than simply grit and testosterone facing off in a dirty battle to the end than anything else.

There is testosterone in the back story of the obstacle course that will be the setting for the event: the obstacles in the course came from the set of the TV show American Grit, featuring John Cena and filmed on location in Pack Forest, near Eatonville. Kristi Brown said she and her husband Frank own the property that the CrossFit gym (box) sits on and that provides the setting for the obstacles.  The event features two loops of the 14 obstacle, 1.1-mile course (totaling 28 obstacles, a little over 2.2 miles). Participants will take off in waves leaving in 30-minute intervals.

This will be the first day the course is open to the public, and Brown is emphatic about the family-friendly nature of the event. "There is no minimum age requirement.  And it's not going to be timed unless people want to time themselves. It will be challenging but doable," she said. One unique aspect of the course is individuals of all ability levels are welcome - "(participants) can be assisted or do modifications."

It's a philosophy that meshes with the mission of Operation Ward 57, which seeks to support wounded servicemembers and their loved ones.  The organization began 10 years ago at Walter Reed Medical Center's Ward 57, or "the amputee ward," and sought then as it does now to support wounded warriors in ways that go beyond medical care.  

Operation Ward 57 Executive Director Brittney Hamilton explains the connection between CrossFit boxes like the Brown's as a natural one; "a lot of them (wounded servicemembers) have taken to sports as part of their rehabilitation."  She says she was "honored" when Brown and her husband (himself former military) offered up the obstacle course opening as a fundraiser after initially connecting when they offered up their box during a 22 WOD fundraiser.  

For those unfamiliar with the CrossFit vernacular, a box is a CrossFit-specific gym; WOD means Workout of the Day. Most WODs are repetitions of specific, specific exercises done in a circuit; WOD22 aims to end veteran suicide through bringing attention to the issue with 22 exercises, each one being 22 reps, with a moment of silence in the 22nd minute to honor those who have died in the battle.

But Operation Tall Timber will bring an outdoorsy, family fun spin to fundraising for the organization.  Uncle Sam's BBQ will be there with food, MT Head Brewery will be there with beer, and while it's unlikely John Cena will show for the event, equipment he's touched will be set up for the masses to play on.  Registration is open now at, with $45 tickets including food, drinks, a shirt and swag bag. (Sign up quickly, though - prices go up to $57 a ticket on July 30).

Operation Tall Timber - Benefit Obstacle Course, Aug. 13, 8 a.m.-4 p.m., South Sound CrossFit, 7315 385th St. E., Eatonville

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