The Jedburgh Podcast podcast

#126: From a Coma to CrossFit Games - Masters Finalist Spencer Whiteley (CrossFit Games 2023)

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The mortar landed at his feet, shredding his leg and torso. Despite immediate medical care, he died twice on the helicopter during medical evacuation. He spent a week in a coma. He was told he would never walk again. This was 12 years ago in Basra, Iraq. In August, he competed in his second CrossFit Games finals.

Meet Spencer Whiteley, the British Army Veteran who walked into a CrossFit gym on cane over a decade ago with no plan except to find a way to walk . Spencer joined Fran Racioppi and Jessie Graff from the US Army Fitness Truck at 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games just after his competition ended to share his story of combat, loss, resilience, perseverance and grit.

Performing at our best often requires perspective and the ability to stack small wins day in and day out towards our goal. Spencer shows us how our approach to training and life is based on seizing opportunities, overcoming physical and mental limitations, and balancing our training mindset with ripping our shirt off and competing to win in some small way each day.

Learn more and read the transcript on The Jedburgh Podcast Website. Subscribe to us and follow @jedburghpodcast on all social media. Watch the full video version on YouTube.


  • 0:00 Welcome to the CrossFit Games Masters Competition
  • 3:23 Spencer dies twice in Iraq after a mortar attack
  • 7:26 Don’t waste the opportunity to live
  • 9:42 Walking into a CrossFit gym with a cane and accepting the layer principle
  • 15:38 The difference between training and competition
  • 21:28 Balancing loading vs deloading period through a season
  • 25:55 Chasing wins every day
  • 32:00 Spencer’s three daily foundations to success


  • “We came under attack and a mortar landed at my feet. Literally at my feet.” (4:45)
  • “I felt really determined to do something with my life.” (9:12)
  • “I didn’t have this plan ’I’ll try and go to the CrossFit Games.’ I didn’t even know what it was.” (9:42)
  • “It’s all a layer principle. It just happens over a long period of time of just persistence.” (12:23)
  • “If you start racing or lifting too much beyond your ability, you're on a quick ride to injury.” (19:07)
  • “Once a week, oh I’m feeling tasty on a Friday, rip your shirt off and go for it.” (20:51)
  • “You’re always chasing something.” (25:55)
  • “I believe you should never leave the gym without a win.” (26:49)
  • “The psychological aspect of it is the difference between winners and losers.” (28:07)

Spencer’s Three Daily Foundations to Success

  • Plan meals for proper fueling
  • Have a defined routine
  • Plan your day

This episode is brought to you by US Army, Wodify, Hero Coffee, GORUCK & Compass Workforce Solutions.

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