Steven Martini’s Endeavor Challenge
Written by Invictus Member Steven Martini with Coach Nuno Costa

Coach’s Note from Coach Nuno: Steven Martini freaking rocked his challenge! He fully committed himself to training for this event and did everything that I put in front of him. He was the model client – he showed up to all his sessions and he listened to all the advice I gave him in regards to getting himself physically and mentally prepared for his event.  He changed the way he was eating, he lost weight, he gained a new perspective for training and overall came alive! It was a great experience to help Steven get ready for this event and I look forward to continuing to help him on his road of being a healthy and fit individual 🙂

The Goal: The Endeavor Team Challenge!
In April 2012, my friend and owner of South Baltimore CrossFit, Sean McCullagh, invited me to participate in the first ever Endeavor Team Challenge in Bear Valley, CA. At the time, I was unaware of the event and its level of difficulty. However, as part of the agreement I made with Sean, it was my responsibility to find a coach/gym that could train me over the remaining four months and commit to it 100%, so that we could compete and finish the event.

Preparing for my Goal….
I immediately began researching local gyms and interviewing coaches. My athletic background is lacrosse and swimming; however, I had taken a long break since college (I’m currently 34 years old). I wanted a facility that could build a training regimen to help me get stronger and build my endurance level. I knew that by being in shape I would have the confidence to start the 30 hour/45 mile foot race.

I was referred to CrossFit Invictus in Downtown San Diego and was quickly impressed with Jen Martin, who coordinates the memberships. I felt comfortable with her knowledge and recommendations. She gave me an overview of the gym, the different coaches, and their availability and made a suggestion.

The following morning I met with Nuno Costa, who I did not know at the time is a World Class CrossFit Competitor, as well as one of the many great coaches that CrossFit Invictus has on their team. Our first meeting was casual; we discussed my goals as well as the event details. It was important to Coach Nuno to know what I wanted to get out of the experience, so he could build a program that would help me reach my goal. That is exactly what happened; after every training session, I received a progress report showing me where I was, what I had done and how close I was to my finish line. Additionally, Coach Nuno and Coach Michele programmed and helped me with my diet.

The following months, I worked out with Coach Nuno three times per week and mixed in some additional cardio activities outside of the gym. Each day and week I felt better, gained confidence and got stronger. The final week before the event I doubled up classes, was 100% paleo and never felt better.
Crossing the finish line – epic!
On September 7, 2013, Sean and I stood at the competitor briefing at 5:00am with 49 other teams, all of which were in excellent shape and ready to compete. It was pitch dark, cold and I had a 40lb backpack strapped on. I knew right then that all of the hard work and morning workouts I had spent at Invictus were going to pay off. The gun went off and the 20 mile uphill “Crucible March” commenced. Some people were fast, some slower – we were right in the middle, but that was just the beginning….

Generally speaking, The Endeavor Team Challenge was the most difficult event I have ever competed in. It was extremely demanding, both mentally and physically. Out of the 50 teams that registered, most of the athletes were either CrossFit competitors or military personnel. The event started with an approximate 20 mile hike through the mountains at an elevation of 8,000 (+/-) with three intense climbs. Our packs contained all of our gear for the weekend (including all of our food for two days) and weighed approximately 30 – 40 lbs. each. After the first “Crucible March” there was another 5 mile hike/orienteering event (for time), two swims, an obstacle course, rock climb, rappel, 5 hour night orienteering mission, and two major CrossFit type events. After an hour of sleep early Sunday morning, we completed the burpee broad jumps and telephone pole carry in the freezing cold dark wet grass, and the final event started. Just a quick 10 mile run up the mountain, 2 mile kayak and 60 foot vertical rappel off an insane cliff.

From start to finish the schedule was 100% unknown and the level of difficulty increased with every event. Food and sleep were rationed and maintaining our energy level was a crucial component to finishing the event. Endeavor kept pushing us beyond what we expected time after time. There was always one more push beyond what we thought was our breaking point. Sunday afternoon, only 26 teams crossed the lake to the finish line (one more than they expected) and I am happy to report that Sean and I were in that category. A lot of people were sick, cold and exhausted; everyone lost toenails and most could not walk without limping to get their finishers “coin” — but it was epic!

Life Changing….
My initial expectation of a CrossFit gym was way off. At Invictus, there is no intimidation, no yelling and no nonsense. The entire group (coaches, owner, and competitors) are very professional and cater to the needs of their clients and team competitors, most of which are young professionals with packed schedules. CrossFit changed my life and has brought back my competitive nature, as well as my desire to get and remain fit in the mind and body. I plan to continue on my journey at Invictus, enter more competitions including next year’s Endeavor Team Challenge or maybe the CrossFit Open. It’s addicting stuff.