SEOUL, South Korea - A strong start and a steady finish proved Marshalltown native Michael Mogard the fittest man in Asia.
The 2002 Marshalltown High School graduate emerged from his second Asia Regional competition with a decisive margin atop the rest of the field, earning the only qualifying spot from the May 31-June 2 regional for the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games.
The Games will be held July 23-28 in Carson, Calif., and the Brunei resident will be there representing Asia as one of 48 men's individual qualifiers.
Marshalltown native Mike Mogard, center, stands atop the podium at the 2013 Asia Regional event June 2 in Seoul, South Korea. Mogard won the regional to earn advancement to the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games from July 23-28 in Carson, Calif.
In an article recently published on the CrossFit website, Mogard, 29, told writer Dexter Keasberry he's been pushing even harder in training for The Games since winning his regional.
"I have been training my body hard, but training the mental game is a priority for me right now," Mogard said. "The Games can throw anything at you. Locking into that place of peace, the place where there is no fear, that's my game plan."
Mogard and his wife Emily own and operate CrossFit 673 in Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital city of Brunei. They have three children - two girls and a boy - and another due in September, but nothing has slowed Mogard's preparation for the upcoming Games. The former two-time all-state Bobcat baseball player and University of Iowa outfielder scored four top-four finishes over the first two days of the Asia Regional and remained consistent with his performances on the third and final day.
Mogard finished with 36 points, well out of range of the runner-up's total of 51.
"The 2012 Asia Regional was my first CrossFit competition," Mogard said. "I had a lot of fun ending fourth in 2012, and I found that I definitely had a natural ability for the sport.
"This last year, my priorities were with my growing family and trying to get the box (CrossFit 673) off the ground. I have worked hard enough to make some good gains and feel good about the progress I've made in the last year."
CrossFit recently announced that it has upped its payouts for the 2013 Games. Individuals can win from $1,000-3,000 for a top-three finish in an event, and the top 10 in the final overall standings will earn at least $4,000. The individual champion will take home $275,000.
One of the catches is that none of the events are announced prior to the competition. Last year there were 15 scored events over a span of five days, including a surprise ocean swim, bike and mountain run at U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.
It would seem, however, than nothing can surprise Mogard at this point. The former three-sport standout at MHS sustained multiple knee and shoulder injuries at the end of his collegiate baseball career at Iowa, but worked his way back into shape while serving as a personal trainer.
That was when he found CrossFit, and started training his clients with the program's guidelines.
"It just made sense, it was good science," he said. "White training people at a health club, and like many others I have experienced, I caught some flack for not buying into the typical personal training system. I just really believed CrossFit was best for my clients and didn't want to train them any other way."
CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program designed to help people gain a broad and general fitness, concentrating on varied functional movements performed at high intensity to achieve overall physical fitness. It uses a mix of aerobic exercise, body weight exercise, gymnastics and Olympic weightlifting.
Workouts are typically short and intense, demanding all-out physical exertion.
Mogard channels his faith to fight through the pain.
"God is my sustainer. When I am locked in to His truth and connected to His spirit, there is no anxiety, no pressure and no fear," he said. "Any athlete will tell you CrossFit hurts - it hurts a lot. And those same athletes will also tell you that the fear of that intense pain can keep them from those last reps or that consistent pace, greatly limiting their potential.
"My goal is to live above that fear - God has conquered fear, and He has enabled me to do the same."