Linda Elstun

Just before her 50th birthday, when elite-level athlete Linda Elstun was in the best shape of her life, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Four years later and cancer-free, she broke past her own records and finished third in her age group at the 2018 Reebok CrossFit Games, as featured on ESPN.

Elstun continued to do what she loved and worked out during her treatment. She says that focusing on the next best thing and committing to come back stronger than before helped her both mentally and physically.

“Did all the things I needed to do, did chemo, had the surgery, but through it all I kept training because I felt like it kept me human. It kept me from being just a cancer patient. In the end, I think I was able to deal with the cancer because I had CrossFit. I wasn’t training like I do now, because I couldn’t because of my health, but I was still working hard at trying to stay fit.”

And stay fit she did. In 2014, before her diagnosis, Linda had qualified for the Games and finished in fourth. Soon after, for breast cancer awareness month, she had a mammogram and found the lump. While initially, Linda and her husband were crushed by the diagnosis, they knew she would come out on the other side.

Just a few years later, she had the best competition in her career, completing her nine tasks over five days with the third-best overall score. Events at CrossFit games can vary, including distance running, weightlifting exercises such as squats or deadlifts, climbing rope or even walking on your hands at 40 feet at a time. Examples of her workouts include running 300-meters, climbing an 18-foot rope, picking up a 300-pound yoke on her shoulders and carrying that 44 feet and then doing all of that four more times.

“To be doing something like that at my age is unusual to some. There’s not a lot of women my age that do what I do and most women my age think I’m nuts for doing what I do. But then I get to the CrossFit Games and there are 19 other women who are ‘nuts’ also and it becomes a great environment for competition… To finish third in the world among that group of amazing women is incredible. I’m still on cloud nine, this was the highlight of my life.”

Linda wants people to know that CrossFit is more than just competitions, and has the ability to improve wellbeing for people of all backgrounds. She says she even got her 80-year-old mom into CrossFit, and she loves it.

Sources: Fox17, Battle Creek Enquirer