OG CrossFitter Chriss Smith Takes on the ‘World’s Toughest Row’ Across the Atlantic

September 6, 2021 by
Photo Credit: Team Shut Up and Row (
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Chriss Smith, the co-owner of Trident Athletics in Virginia, is on a new mission. The OG CrossFitter is partnering with three other military veterans to complete the World’s Toughest Row — 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean — hoping to set a word record along the way. 

The details: The four-man team — made up of three former Navy SEALs and one Marine — will compete against 18 others in a race that starts in the Canary Islands. They will travel more than 3,000 miles, starting in December 2022, before arriving in the West Indies. 

  • The race will feature teams of one, two, three, and five competitors. All of the entrants will strive to raise money for various charities. According to the competition website, Team Shut Up and Row will support 5Gyres, a nonprofit dedicated to fighting plastic pollution. 
  • Smith is one part of the veteran rowing team. He joins Brian Chontosh, the Executive director of the Big Fish Foundation, who is also married to Nicole Carroll, CrossFit’s Director of Training, and James Hein, and Brian Nicholson.

Endurance athlete Katie Spotz completed a similar feat, rowing solo across the Atlantic Ocean at the age of 22 in 2010. She departed from Dakar, Senegal, in January and landed in Guyana, South America, in March.

Extensive Preparation: The four-man team has spent time working in the water with Jonathan Burns, a former collegiate rower and member of Team USA. They also tested themselves with a very different style of physical labor. 

  • Team Shut Up and Row headed to the mountains in February 2021. They spent 24 hours cutting down a massive Douglas Fir and six pine trees. The group then limbed and rounded the trees with hand tools while building chemistry. 

Bottom line: CrossFit is supposed to make people better prepared for all aspects of life that will test them physically and mentally. Smith and his teammates will put this theory to the test in December 2022 while racing several other teams across the Atlantic Ocean. 

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