Athlete Profile: James Vreeland

For our first installment of Athlete Profile we will be talking with James Vreeland. James takes two things seriously; his fitness and his beard.

WWJD, what would James do...wear a cropped shirt, crush your murph time. I think so.

What brought you to crossfit?
4 years ago I was a doughy desk jockey, so I started riding bikes to cut some weight. Given my nature, I took this to the illogical extreme and ended up getting into ultra endurance mountain bike races (100miles+). Over the next couple years I worked my way some of the toughest ones and started looking for other challenges. I was lean and grizzled, but functionally useless. I could grind a bike over a mountain at 3 miles of altitude, but I got smoked helping friends move apartments.

I have a friend out in Chicago who joined a box and in 6 months looked like he signed up for Fight Club. I was sold, visited a few boxes and really dug the coaches at New Species. It helped that Josh almost killed me during my onboarding.

You mentioned that part of what you like about crossfit is the mental side, what do you mean by that?
Outside of “F*** Burpees”, I feel the sentiment that best describes our sport is “It doesn’t have to be fun, to be fun”. The physical aspect of what we do is hard, that’s a given, but there is also a pretty serious mental battle that goes along with the work. It is hard to mentally gauge how rough a given workout will be, and often even trickier to make your brain really push your body the whole time. I think there are few greater pleasures than to know you have truly given something your all, and end up crumpled, but smiling.

Aside from crossfit, what else are you doing right now?
I’m terrible about scheduling rest days, so outside of a bit of running, crossfit is my main exercise. To put all of the hard work from the box to use, I still race mountain bikes and have taken up obstacle races/mud running (Tough Mudder/Spartan/GoRuck/etc)

You recently qualified for the Toughest Mudder, what is that and how did you go about getting the invite?
There is a series of obstacle course runs (~12 miles of mud and obstacles like 8′ walls and monkey bars) called Tough Mudder. The top 5% of finishers at each event get invited to the “World’s Toughest Mudder”, where thankfully they take out most of the longer running, knocking the course down to around 8 miles. Unfortunately they then make you do as many laps as possible in 24 hours, in New Jersey, right when winter kicks in to gear. If you don’t quit (which pretty much every does), your “prize” is a kettlebell that you can now lug back home.

Any future plans for the death race?
Sadly, yes. If I survive World’s Toughest, I’m headed out to Vermont to suffer through the Death Race ( next year. I fully expect to end up crying in the woods, not remembering a bit of it, and loving every moment.

So when you’re not crossfitting or inflicting pain on yourself in other various ways, what can you be found doing?
I’m a big old nerd, so when I’m not doing something active, I really enjoy playing board & card games. And beer. And good whiskey.

It doesn't have to be fun, to be fun.

Okay, a little word association…just let me know the first thing that comes to mind…


Vital Stats

Height – 6′
Weight – 162ish
5k time – 19:40
Fran – 8:14, cyclists need to work on their shoulders. I’m no exception.
Favorite Lift – Turkish Get Up. Close second is Overhead Squat, I’m a sucker for movements that use a boatload of muscle groups.
Least Favorite Lift – Shoulder press. They involve shoulders
Favorite WOD – Murph / Any big chipper
Least Favorite WOD – Arnie – 84 2pood, one-armed movements? Until I grow up, and get big strong shoulders like Prater, I’d rather eat sand for time.
Accomplishments (list any races or events you have completed) – A dozen or so 100 mile+ MTB races, including the Leadville 100. Tough Mudder, GoRuck, Spartan Race and a fist full of charity runs with silly amounts of weight.


A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects. ~ Robert Heinlein
If you can find me another sport where:
– athletes are encouraged to eat copious amounts of grilled meats
– tequila is part of a balanced training regime
– complete strangers become close friends and sources of support/inspiration in the time it takes to warm up
I’ll give that a shot, until then I’m honored to call this place home. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to grow more power beard and get back on the damn bar.