They scaled walls and hoisted barbells, trudged through sand toting 60-pound sacks, performed pullups and climbed ropes.
The 120 women who took part in the second-annual OCSD Women’s Fitness Challenge on Saturday, April 22 left it all on the course.
Staged once again at the O.C. Sheriff’s Department’s Regional Training Academy in Tustin, the day-long event tasked competitors with completing CrossFit-inspired routines that require strength, technique and endurance.
Organized by OCSD Deputies Stacia Russell and Jennifer Cole, owner of a CrossFit gym, the fitness challenge is a fundraiser for Project 999, a nonprofit that supports families of officers killed or injured in the line of duty.
This year’s challenge raised $6,000, Cole said — $750 more than last year’s inaugural event.
“It’s bringing a lot of the community together, all different levels of athletes,” Cole said. “It’s great to see beginner athletes and then seeing those rock-star athletes as well. All of them know the money is going to a charity that we hold near and dear to our hearts.”
The event also is used as an informal recruitment tool to get women interested in careers with the OCSD, Cole said. The OCSD had information booths set up, highlighting the different departments within the agency.
Law enforcement agencies represented at the event included the OCSD and Anaheim, Santa Ana, Fullerton and Newport Beach police departments, Cole said, but the majority of the participants this year don’t work in law enforcement.
“I got up early but it’s really nice to push myself and be around all these other people doing the same thing,” said Cheryl Bender, 37, of Long Beach. Bender participated with her cousin, OCSD Deputy Olivia Coco.
“Law enforcement officers work very hard to make sure we’re safe, and we owe it to them to take care of their families if something happens to them in the line of duty,” Bender said.
Coco, who was participating for the second year in a row, said the competitive angle of the event wasn’t her main motivation for signing up again.
“It’s not about being No. 1 or finishing first,” said Coco, who patrols Mission Viejo. “I just like the cause. I like working out with everybody. I like having a good time. Everybody is really motivating one another.”
Fullerton PD cadet Alexa Elkabbara, 19, also was competing for the second time and was joined by fellow FPD cadet Kaylie Lopez, lead dispatcher Linda Carter and Cpl. Ginny Johnson.
“It’s obviously a good cause,” Elkabbara said. “I love law enforcement, so it’s the best of both worlds.”
The competition featured three segments, one requiring the athletes to perform 10 pullups, carry a weighted duffle bag through sand and stopping every few feet to perform deadlifts and lift the bag above their shoulders. The routine is repeated for 10 minutes.
Next came an obstacle course that involved rope climbing, running, scaling walls, clearing hurdles and navigating a balance beam. It ended with a 300-meter run.
Finally, competitors completed the maximum amount of repetitions of three different barbell movements over 3 minutes.
The competition was divided into four divisions: fun, geared for beginners, RX (for the most elite competitors), scaled (a modified version of the elite category) and masters, for athletes 40 and older.
“It’s awesome to come out here and see so many strong women representing law enforcement,” Carter said. “And everyone is cheering for each other. It’s such a positive experience.”
RX: 1. Annie Wypchlak, 2. Jaymie Scott, 3. Nicole Sky
Scaled: 1. Alison Jablonski, 2. Sally Brink, 3. Heather Boer
Masters: 1. Myrna Caballero, 2. Shanin Leyvas, 3. Sharon Crabill