Athletes show physicality in South Whidbey fitness competition

Wendi Hilborn and Chris Andrew carry a sandbag up a hill Community Park. The duo were among 11 teams that competed in the Whidbey Throwdown on Aug. 13.

Without a little bit of pain and some sore muscles, there is no gain.

That was the theme at the Whidbey Throwdown on Saturday at Community Park. Nearly two dozen people battled it out for the top prize of the fitness competition which began at 9:30 a.m. The event combined five workouts that tested the athletes’ strength, mobility, balance and endurance. The workouts included carrying a 60- and 40-pound sandbag up a steep hill for 100 yards, carrying a 35- and 25-pound “slam ball” for 50 meters, over-the-wall burpees and overhead medicine ball throws.

Anacortes residents Vanessa Mahan and Hannah Miller finished first overall in the teams division. Tying for second were South Whidbey resident Trevor Jones and teammate Sherry Phase, and Heather Chichura and Jamieson Whiteley. Clinton residents Scott and Kali Cone finished third.

“It was super fun; you couldn’t have asked for a better day,” Miller said. “This park is absolutely amazing. The obstacles were hard, there were nice breaks. I think because it was a little smaller this first time, it helped to run things smoother. Some of the other competitions last all day, so to be done before 1 [p.m.] is amazing.”

Temperatures were in the 70s during the competition.

Alex Bonesteel, creator of the event and owner of Island Fitness Nutrition, said it was well received by other competitors. Due to excess heat in the morning, Bonesteel decided to rearrange the event’s operations. Instead of giving athletes a workout window of three hours to complete four events, competitors took turns tackling the workout, while others rested and watched. The lull time between the team workouts provided an opportunity to strategize for Mahan and Miller, though it negatively affected them when they went first in the wall-over burpees and cowbell carry workout.


In their first attempt, Miller and Mahan split up the burpees and cowbell carries evenly. In their second try, and in similar fashion as other teams, Mahan carried the cowbell while Miller did the burpees. Their strategy worked, as they were able to complete an additional round of the workout.

“She’s the powerhouse and I’m the cardio,” Miller said. “We had a full round plus.”

Asked whether they were concerned they might fatigue themselves with their second attempt, Miller and Mahan proved their warrior-like mentalities.

“We brought enough fuel for the day and we’re smart about hydrating,” Miller said.

The duo again strategized during the hill climb. Competitors lined up with heavy sandbags at the base of the hill below the upper soccer fields. At Bonesteel’s cue, teams picked up the bags and sprinted up the hill, and were judged on how fast they reached the finish line. In the first of their two attempts, Mahan pushed Miller, who was carrying the sandbag over her shoulders, from behind to expedite their journey to the top. In their second attempt, Mahan carried the bag while holding the back of Miller’s shirt, who was sprinting up the hill.

Once again, it worked in their favor, as they improved their time by one second.

Mahan and Miller said the first event — five minutes ground-to-overhead medicine ball throws — was the toughest.

“You’re not really warmed up and that’s a hard thing to do, five minutes of ground-to-overhead,” Mahan said.

Brittany Nick, a 2004 graduate of South Whidbey High School and Bellingham resident, finished first in the individual open division. Nick, who competed in front of her two kids and dog, said she enjoyed the laid-back atmosphere of the event, as many of the competitors poked fun at one another with lighthearted jokes. Nick regularly competes in workout competitions like the Legion Games and Kill Cliff Cascade Classic and found the Whidbey Throwdown to be her favorite.

“I loved it,” Nick said. “It’s just so laid back and you’re not assigned to heats. So, just going into it with such a relaxed vibe made it amazing.”

Though she was the lone individual competitor, Nick held her own. She was among the top finishers in the ground-to-overhead medicine ball throws.

Mahan and Miller echoed Nick’s sentiments about the vibe of the event.

“It was just fun with everybody having good humor while they’re still doing it,” Mahan said. “It’s cool to try harder and beat your own time, and then beat everybody else.”

Bonesteel said he plans to continue the event next year, though with a slight change.

“Next year, I think we’re going to plan on doing a total obstacle course,” Bonesteel said. “We’re going to try and make the event a little bigger now that we got a feel for it.”

The event was sponsored by Island Fitness and Nutrition, Whidbey Telecom, TMI Land Surveying, China City, South Island CrossFit, Edward Jones- Financial Advisor: Melissa Cates and Performance Physical Therapy.