Whidbey Throwdown to test minds, bodies of athletes

Chris Beaven, a 41-year-old Freeland resident, will be in his “pain cave” when he competes in the Whidbey Throwdown on Saturday at Community Park on Maxwelton Road. It’s what he considers the zone between being uncomfortable and continuing to push through daunting physical challenges.

“That’s the one thing about it, especially with CrossFit — you learn to go to a pain cave and sit there and deal with it,” said Beaven, who will compete with his wife Pattie. “I can’t breathe, but I’m still moving regardless.”

The fitness competition begins at 9:30 a.m. The event, open to individuals and teams of two from ages 14 and up, will feature a mixture of lifting, climbing and running that challenges both the lungs and muscles. Cost for registering as an individual athlete is $50, while a two-person team is $90. All proceeds from the event will be donated to the Rotary Club of Whidbey-Westside, which will then benefit South Whidbey and international projects in community development, education, sanitation, economic development, disease prevention and conflict prevention.

Alex Bonesteel, owner of Island Fitness Nutrition in Freeland, created the event after noticing a lack of workout competitions on Whidbey Island like the Mud Dash or Tough Mudder. Though the event’s activities have similarities to CrossFit in that it preaches non-stop movement, Bonesteel said he wanted to create an event that could be called his own.

“This is a completely original event, so we’re not copying anything,” Bonesteel said.

Competitors will have three hours to complete three workouts in their chosen order. Activities include carrying a 40- or 60-pound sandbag up a steep hill for 100 yards, overhead medicine ball throws and jump squats.

Winners of cash prizes will be announced at 1 p.m., followed by a finals workout consisting of the top athletes on the day as selected by Bonesteel at 1:30 p.m. The award ceremony is at 2 p.m.

Best dressed, most entertaining and “Loudest Grunter” are among some of the more lighthearted prizes. There will also be trivia activities meant to poke fun at Bonesteel, as well as chances to beat the gym owner one-on-one in physical competitions.

“As the competition organizer, you want to put yourself out there and show you know what you’re talking about and that it’s not some arbitrary person judging,” Bonesteel said.

There will be five divisions: open, scaled, teams, youth and the Loki Division.

While the other divisions are meant to be taken with moderate levels of competitiveness, the Loki Division is for those opting for a good time. There’s a catch, however.

“A lot of times in these competitions, people take it too seriously and end up making it not as fun,” Bonesteel said. “If you sign up for the Loki Division, when you’re working out you might be subject to getting shot with a super soaker.”

But don’t be fooled — it isn’t for the faint of heart. If an average joe were to reach the finals of the throwdown, it would be the equivalent of running a half marathon,  Bonesteel said. Those with strong endurance and a balanced repertoire of physical strength will thrive.

“The types of workouts are very cardio intensive, but they demand a lot of strength and a lot of power,” Bonesteel said. “That’s really the point — to hit on all the different elements between speed, power, endurance, strength and balance.”

Most if not all of the workouts originate from Bonesteel’s gym.

“I’ve definitely brought my philosophy as a gym owner to this event,” Bonesteel said. “To do well in a competition like this, it requires you to be a well-rounded athlete.”

Bonesteel said 34 people were signed up as of Thursday afternoon. He expects another 10 or 20 to sign up the day of the event.

Among the registered athletes is 36-year-old Anacortes resident Vanessa Mahan, who will compete with teammate Hannah Miller. Mahan said some of the event’s features reminded her of the obstacle courses she saw while serving as a weapons system officer in the Air Force. She’s also competed in the Festivus Games, which is essentially a CrossFit competition at a lower difficulty level. It was there that she learned an event will likely be exhausting, but that it can also be really fun.

“I think it will be a fun supportive race for all the participants,” Mahan said. “I don’t plan on taking it too seriously, but I will give it my best.”

Another competitor, Clinton resident Kali Cone, is looking forward to seeing like-minded people competing outdoors and having fun. She’ll compete with her husband, Scott. The pair typically works out five days a week, though she’s eager to see how her fitness levels will stack up with the event’s activities.

“It’s just going to be exciting to see what we do on a regular basis and how we do in this sort of setting,” Cone said.