Dallas’ Pugh Traveled To Dubai For CrossFit Competition
A workout in the streets of Italy recently helped put a local resident on a plane to Dubai.
As strange as it may sound, that was the case for Samantha Pugh, who is among thousands of athletes with dreams of qualifying for the CrossFit Games. The annual Games aim to find the “Fittest on Earth” through a series of physical challenges, but those who hope to make it that far first have to outperform others in qualifying stages.
Athletes can advance to this year’s Games with first-place finishes in a number of sanctioned events around the world, including the Dubai CrossFit Championship. And to qualify for those sanctioned events, athletes have to separate themselves from the rest in prescribed workouts videotaped for an initial online competition.
That’s a lot of steps and a deep commitment. It’s also what drives Pugh, a Dallas resident who’s trying to get as far as she can in the competitive world of CrossFit.
So, while on her honeymoon in Italy, Pugh had to meet her submission deadline for Dubai’s online competition. The only gym she could find was a cramped spot with the equipment she needed split between two floors; she improvised.
Pugh wound up becoming one of 35 Dubai qualifiers partly through squatting in the street as her husband, Alan, filmed her.
“Obviously, the end-goal is to make the Games,” Pugh explained her dedication. “As long as I’m healthy and capable of doing this, I’m going to try.”
A Holy Redeemer graduated, Pugh competed on the gymnastics team at Southern Connecticut from 2012-15 and became a two-time USA Gymnastics national qualifier. She said she found CrossFit as a competitive outlet around the time her Owls career was wrapping up, and she’s poured most of her time into that in the years since.
If she’s not at the gym, Pugh said, she’s home cooking and making sure her meals are ready for the next day between workouts. She’ll be up at 6 a.m. to train some more.
All her work paid off when she qualified for Dubai’s competition held Dec. 12-15, 2018, the first sanctioned event for 2019’s Games. But she couldn’t be prepared for everything thrown at her in the 10-event competition.
Though Pugh admitted she’s not much of a swimmer, a 350-meter swim in the Persian Gulf capped two separate workouts. She got taken underwater a few times and later heard the event’s announcer joked she must be uncomfortable since she tried blocking her nose as she approached waves.
Another event sent competitors on an eight-kilometer run through the desert — with weighted vests for the first half. Pugh tried to prepare with mock runs in a vest, but the desert dunes present a tough challenge to replicate.
Pugh still persisted and even had a brief lead in her swimming heat.
“That was probably one of the hardest competitions I’ve ever done,” Pugh said. “It was pretty nerve racking going into it.”
She finished the four-day Dubai championships in 18th place among 32 total finishers from across the globe. Only five women were better than her in Event 7, a timed workout that leaned into her gymnastics background with sets of nine, six and three rope climbs split up by 40-meter handstand walks.
“I was pretty happy. I knew that field was really stacked,” Pugh said. “I was happy with my finish. I would’ve loved top 10, but there were a lot of great girls there.”
Dubai was only the start for Pugh’s shot at the 2019 CrossFit Games. She’s also entered in the next sanctioned event, the Wodapalooza CrossFit Festival held today through Sunday in Miami.
More trips to compete and sight-see could follow for the Pughs, who said they might try to travel to Iceland for another sanctioned qualifier later this year.
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