AUGUSTA — Apparently 110-pound barbells, a 550-pound tire and kegs full of water weren’t enough.

No, when the Downtown Throwdown strength contest was over on Saturday morning, there was still more lifting. Chris Dwelle, Andrew Beckim and another competitor hoisted Holly MacKenzie above their heads.

When they let MacKenzie down, Beckim bounced on his toes, exclaiming, “Wait, I’m next, I’m next!”

No one stepped up to lift his 6-foot-plus frame. There had been enough feats of strength for one day.

Four women and five men competed in the Downtown Throwdown, an amateur strongman competition organized by Dwelle, owner of Impact Strength & Fitness gym on Water Street, as a fundraiser for the Maine Cancer Foundation.

Although light rain and the cancellation of Augusta Fest reduced the number of participants and onlookers, Dwelle said he was happy with the way things went and hopes to put on more competitions.

Dwelle limited this one to beginners, although he loves to watch experienced lifters in North American Strongman-sanctioned competitions.

“It’s awesome to watch,” Dwelle said. “(But) the majority of people look at it and go, ‘I’ll never be able to do that.’ And this event was to show that everybody can do this. Everybody can do this, and look how much fun we had today.”

The events on Saturday were dead lift, farmer’s carry, log clean-and-press, tire flip and keg carry.

Dwelle said he was especially impressed with the performances of the four women.

The winner of the women’s division, Annie Philbrick, 31, of Sidney, started training with MacKenzie only about a month ago. When she turned 30, Philbrick committed to taking on a physical challenge each year, and she hopes to train for a North American Strongman competition next year.

“I wish more women would get out and do this,” Philbrick said. “I think a lot of women underestimate their power. They have a lot more in them than they give themselves credit for.”

Kim Martin of Augusta said she was proud that her children, 10-year-old Josh and 8-year-old Abby, saw her compete.

“It’s challenging yourself,” she said. “After every one, I thought, ‘Oh, I could have done more.’”

Downtown Throwdown was sponsored in part by the U.S. Air Force, which paid for T-shirts and contributed to the Maine Cancer Foundation.

Staff Sgt. Jason Beaucage, who works out at Dwelle’s gym, said the Air Force supports the cause and wants to recruit the sort of people who would take part in a strength contest.

“The type of person that we’re looking for for special tactics, we need strong people, we need people that are very quick, very fast — adrenaline junkies, basically,” he said.

Philbrick’s daughter, 6-year-old, Bailey, seemed intrigued by the competition. When it was over, she started flipping a tire more her size, one from an ordinary car.

“Oh, look at this, a future competitor!” Beckim said.

Susan McMillan — 621-5645
[email protected]

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