Graham faces ultimate fitness test in California

Written by Mike Dodd for Midland Mirror

With every ounce of strength she could summon, Midland teacher Kelly Graham pushed her body through the ultimate test recently in California.

Competing against the world’s elite at the 2013 CrossFit Games, held in Carson, Calif., the St. Theresa’s High School staff member reached her goal, cracking the top-10 in the world rankings.

“I often pinch myself at the magnitude of it all, given how new I am to CrossFit,” said Graham, during an earlier interview with The Mirror. “I am astounded.”

CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program that combines aerobic exercise, gymnastics and weight lifting.

Earlier this year, Graham accepted the challenge to go head-to-head against the top 20 women in the 44-49-age grouping. Following three days of competition she moved up to 10th place in the world.

And already she has her sights set on 2014, when she will move up an age class.

“I turned 49 the week after the CrossFit Open ended earlier this year. So that will put me in the 50 and over category next year, which will give me a huge boost to be the youngest one in that age group,” Graham said.

Her CrossFit journey began in August of 2011, guided by simple curiosity.

“I heard about it and I knew I would really like it,” Graham said. “With a few old injuries I had, I just wasn’t sure if my body would be able to handle it.”

From Day 1, she was hooked.

“I’m used to training on my own, but there is something about the social aspect of training with others that makes it that much more enjoyable. CrossFit provides that,” Graham said.

Following her first competition in July, 2012, she was ranked 58th in the world in her age group (44-49).

“It was at that point where I said to myself that I wasn’t bad at this and I really enjoy this,” she said.

When the 2013 CrossFit Open rolled around, Graham wanted to be ranked in the top 20 in the world, but she kept the goal and ranking a complete secret.

“We are very proud of Kelly,” said supporter Alex Jeffrey, who operates Driven Athletics in Midland with his wife, Joanne.

Graham qualified to compete at the California worldwide competition after a five-week online competition, staged in Midland at Driven-Huronia CrossFit. Each week, Graham was required to complete a workout judged by a certified trainer. She would then send in her score in to be ranked. At the end of the five weeks Graham was ranked 20th in the world.

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