FORESTVILLE — I ring the doorbell at exactly 11 a.m.
No answer. I wait.
Then I wander down the steep, horseshoe-shaped driveway and notice an outbuilding I didn’t see on the drive up. I hear symphonic music coming from the two open doors. Approaching the larger of the open doors, I find Joe Stumpf, 60, hanging partially upside down from nylon straps affixed to the wall.
Stumpf raises his head, his face beet red, and smiles. “Ah, I forgot you were coming,” he says as the piece on the stereo finishes and there is great applause. He clicks the sound off with a remote control.
It’s almost like it was choreographed, which wouldn’t be out of the norm for Stumpf, a man who has seemingly left nothing to chance in his latest athletic pursuit.
Stumpf, who completed the civilian version of Navy SEAL Hell Week at 54 and has attempted to scale Mount Everest, is one of 20 men who qualified for the Masters 60+ category in the 2017 CrossFit Games in August. And make no mistake, Stumpf is training to win.
“I’m going to win, I’m there to win,” he said at the sweaty conclusion of a two-hour workout. “I feel more confident every day that I can do it. I want to crush their asses. I’m excited.”
He’s leaving nothing to chance in his quest.
A successful business coach with an emphasis on real estate, he put his business on something like autopilot for a year so he could focus almost entirely on training.
He moved from San Diego to a home on 3 acres in Forestville that he dubbed “Compassion Ranch” where he built a custom training gym, replete with a CrossFit-specific gymnastics apparatus, free weights and sauna. He also built a 575-square-foot yurt, which he described as a “great place to stretch.”
“I came here just for this reason, to isolate myself,” he said.
He brings in experienced workout partners and has hired David Cowan, founder of CrossFit Sebastopol, to guide his training. They work together five days a week, sometimes twice a day. They follow a workout prescription created by a man who has trained at least two recent world champs. A chiropractor visits at least twice a week. He even trains with a monk.
Stumpf follows a strict paleo diet — meat, vegetables, fruit and some nuts. No sugar, few carbohydrates.
“If you eat a lot of ice cream, it takes you three days to recover,” he said. “I’ve had some cheat days. I mean cheat: Popcorn at the theater.”
Thirty-two years sober, he doesn’t drink. He focuses on his sleep. He stretches for hours.
“He’s on point in that sense,” Cowan said. “He is a professional athlete. That is the mindset.”
A CrossFit devotee for nearly eight years, Stumpf missed the cut for the international games by one place in 2011, when he was 54. Now 60, Stumpf should be one of the youngest competitors in his age bracket — a huge advantage, and he knows it. If his effort fails this time, he’s not coming back.
“I’m going to do my very best,” he said. “But I’m one and done.”
Which begs the question: Why?
Why the “regular” life seemingly on hold, why the total dedication, why the near-monastic lifestyle devoted to winning? And why is Stumpf so focused on the physical? First the Navy SEAL Hell Week, then Everest, now this.