Clarke Holland will be heading to his sixth-straight CrossFit Games later this week. (Melissa Rule/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Clarke Holland will be heading to his sixth-straight CrossFit Games later this week. (Melissa Rule/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Old man plays a young man’s CrossFit Games

S.F. resident heads to national competition for sixth-straight year

When Clarke Holland stepped into Tamalpais CrossFit seven years ago, he was seeking personal training to build strength and improve his running. Later this week, the 65-year-old San Francisco resident will compete in his 6th CrossFit Games as the oldest competitor.

A year after he started his training at the facility in San Rafael, he was encouraged to compete in the CrossFit Open, an online qualifier for the bigger event that aims to find the “fittest on earth.”

From there he became a serious competitor, placing in the top 10 of the Masters division (60-plus) four out of the five years he competed.

CrossFit is a varied, high intensity workout that incorporates a series of exercises including running, Olympic weightlifting and plyometrics. Over the last 10 years, it has gained worldwide participation. The sport claims more than 13,000 affiliated gyms globally. The top-five individual athletes and the top five teams from each of the eight regional competitions around the world make up the field of competitors at the CrossFit Games.

In his late 50s, Holland started engaging with the sport when his 40-year career as a lawyer was slowing down. He found training was something he could focus on instead of work.

“I’ve made so many friends here,” Holland said. “It’s so much fun to work out with a group of people that you know, and work with people who are going to work hard. It’s a huge improvement over working out in a gym and isolating yourself.”

Tamalpais CrossFit co-owners Michael Papes and Meshelle Mifsud say Holland is a disciplined athlete, who doesn’t get discouraged as he works out next to 20-year-olds all

“He comes in here twice a day all the time, lives the lifestyle, eats properly and is always in a positive mood and that is a gift to the gym,” said Papes.

Holland, a UC Berkeley graduate, refuses to let his age define him as an athlete, he is just happy to be competing. 

Mifsud, who often competes alongside Holland at weightlifting competitions, spoke about him expanding the age boundaries in athletics.

“I think his age and his hard work are redefining what ‘old’ is, and that old isn’t a negative, and nothing can stop him,” said Mifsud.

CrossFitCrossFit Games 2017CrossFit MastersReebok CrossFit

Just Posted

Dominion Voting Systems, a Denver-based vendor, is under contract to supply voting machines for elections in San Francisco. (Kevin N. Hume/Examiner file)
Is San Francisco’s elections director impeding voting machine progress?

Open source technology could break up existing monopoly

The 49ers take on the Packers in Week 3 of the NFL season, before heading into a tough stretch of divisional opponents. (Courtesy San Francisco 49ers)
‘Good for Ball’ or ‘Bad for Ball’ — A Niners analysis

By Mychael Urban Special to The Examiner What’s the first thing that… Continue reading

Health experts praised Salesforce for keeping its Dreamforce conference at Moscone Center outdoors and on a small scale. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Happy birthday, Marc Benioff. Your company did the right thing

Salesforce kept Dreamforce small, which made all kinds of sense

Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, pictured with Rose Pak in 2014, says the late Chinatown activist was “helping to guide the community away from the divisions, politically.”
Willie and Rose: How an alliance for the ages shaped SF

How the Mayor and Chinatown activist shaped San Francisco, then and now

The Grove in Golden Gate Park is maintained largely by those who remember San Francisco’s 20,000 AIDS victims.<ins> (Open Eye Pictures/New York Times)</ins>
Looking at COVID through the SF prism of AIDS

AIDS took 40 years to claim 700,000 lives. COVID surpassed that number in 21 months

Most Read