Alessandra Pichelli has probably spent more time on a rower than any other CrossFit Games athlete. Pichelli is a former division 1 rower who rowed four years on a full-ride scholarship at St. Mary’s College.

Rowing through pain and enduring long slogs on the erg is something she’s prepared for. In 2013, she placed 3rd in the 200M row sprint and 12th in the half marathon.

At that point, I knew it was only about finishing the row in any matter even if it was just rowing with my arms.

Sitting comfortably in 12th midway through the race and sixth place on the leaderboard after three events, Pichelli’s legs started cramping. The pain, increasing, continued up to her stomach and through much of her midline. 

Her pace crept slower and slower as she tried to mitigate the pain. At 2:27:25, she finally stopped for a break. 

“At that point, I knew it was only about finishing the row in any matter even if it was just rowing with my arms,” Pichelli said. “It was mentally difficult to maintain composure because not only was it painful physically, but I also realized that I was losing my good overall position in the competition.”

Pichelli endured more than an hour and 20,000 meters of searing pain. Clutching her side with one hand and one arm on the rower, she crawled forward refusing to give up.

“I am a warrior not because I win, but because I fight,” Pichelli reminded herself. 

Hovering for much of the race just outside the top 10, Pichelli came off the rower dead last in 3:34:22, surrounded by a host of Games’ athletes who came over to support her. 

Her 39th place finish dropped her from 6th to 18th overall. Thursday is a rest day for individual athletes who return to competition Friday morning. 

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