Hero WOD Sunday – PC Andrew Harper

Hero workouts are something special in the Crossfit community. They are traditionally created as a way remembering and honouring men & women who have have died in the line of duty; whether that be armed forces or civil first responders such as Police & Firefighters. Fitness communities also create memorial workouts or WODs to honour any tragic and untimely loss of life. Whilst often a Hero WOD can be an athlete’s “favourite workout” it can be bitter-sweet to remember why the workout exists in the first place.

On August 15th 2019, PC Andrew Harper of Thames Valley Police was tragically killed in the line-of-duty. At the age of 28 he had only married four weeks previously and his killing sent shockwaves across the nation. Crowdfunding has already raised over £250,000 for the family of PC Harper and in their own act of tribute, the UK fitness community created the Hero WOD “Harper” in his honour.

Gyms and Crossfit boxes across the country have been undertaking this workout as a way to honour PC Harper. On Sunday September 1st both members & non-members of The Athlete Centre Didcot came together to do just that. Whilst the work as prescribed (Rx) included rope climbs and an optional weighted vest, there were multiple variations on offer to ensure all could participate, pay their respects and get a good workout in the process. Over thirty people came together at the gym to do the workout together.

Unfortunately I couldn’t attend the mass event in the morning, but given the poignancy of the workout, I headed in to do the workout & pay my respects in the afternoon. I’m never normally one to “catch-up” on a work out, especially a solo WOD with large sets of burpees. This supports the fact this wasn’t just any Hero WOD Sunday. I think perhaps because I’m not too dissimilar in age to PC Harper, also recently got married, and live not far from where the tragic killing happened, it was physically and emotionally closer-to-home. Whilst there’s risk in all aspects of life, I don’t personally put my life on the line for the safety of others everyday and it’s a chance to reflect not just on those lost but also the many around us that don a uniform for the wellbeing of us all.

I modified the workout; not using a weighted vest and being unfamiliar with the rope, I took the opportunity to practice with pull-to-stand rope climbs. Big sets of burpees are always daunting, so I broke them up into manageable sets from the start; moving from one mat to another to help motivate me further. 

A tragic event that has seen the creation of a workout that I have no doubt will be done for years to come.

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