AUGUSTA — The hardest part, Gina LoMonaco says, is the wait.

“I am chomping at the bit,” she said. “Ready to go. Usually a couple of days, week before the event you de-load. You just do some stretching, some resting and fueling. You can’t lift or do heavy lifting. I know I am ready to go. I can’t wait.”

The ninth annual Central Maine Strongman is Saturday at the Augusta Armory.

The event, the biggest of its kind in Maine, starts at 8 a.m.

Organizer Dana Geneseo, of Augusta, says about 49 competitors — including 28 women, the most in the event’s history — are expected to test their physical and mental mettle Saturday. Proceeds for the event, which Geneseo says could reach as much as $3,000, will go to the Kennebec Cannons, a youth lacrosse program in Augusta.

“We have a lot of people competing this year, which is great,” Geneseo said. “The women alone will make up a big part of the field. We usually have 10 or 12 women from central Maine competing but this year we’ll have as many as 16.”

LoMonaco, 38, of Augusta, comes to the Armory owning the title of strongest woman in Maine, something she earned at a strongman competition last September.

LoMonaco, who nearly made the USA Olympic track and field team after she finished fifth in the discus at the 2003 nationals, said she became hooked on strongman events after her first one in February 2015.

“The thought of pushing my body to the limits, to move these perceived intimidating objects around, I just love it,” she said. “I fancy it. It’s very obscure and requires such a combination of mindset and belief in your body, as well as physical skill. I love it. After my first one, I was hooked.”

LoMonaco, a former NCAA All-American and three-time Big East champ in the hammer throw, added that strongman competitions are attracting an increased number of women for a variety of reasons.

“We are pulverizing the idea that women are not meant to be physically strong,” she said. “There is an incredible revolution going on and it’s getting stronger. We’re no longer worried about being perceived as not feminine because we aspire to be physically strong. It’s a global wave, a national wave.”

Central Maine Strongman will again feature five events — a yoke walk, overhead log press, dead-lift medley, fingal’s fingers and the fan-favorite Atlas stones.

Mike Pinkham, 27, of Augusta, will compete in the novice division Saturday. Geneseo said he is one of the favorites to win it.

“I have been doing strongman competitions for about two years,” he said. “I’ve been power lifting for about five. I want to win it.”

Like LoMonaco, Pinkham added he’s had to resist the temptation to lift this week.

“I don’t work out the week before,” he said, “but I want to. I just keep telling myself that if I do I will hurt myself in the long run. But I am hungry to lift.”

Bill Stewart — 621-5618

[email protected]

Twitter: @bstewartMTM

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