Police and Firefighter Fitness Throwdown heats up

Police and Firefighter Fitness Throwdown heats up
Humboldt Bay firefighter Eric Gatti deadlifts over 400 pounds. The competition tests strength and stamina. Photo by Promise Yee

OCEANSIDE — A hushed stillness fell over the crowd as the second round of challenges began in this year’s U.S. Police and Firefighter Fitness Throwdown.

Hundreds of pounds were added to weightlifting bars, then competitors performed their maximum squat lifts, shoulder presses and deadlifts.

In an earlier round athletes rowed, threw wall ball shots, completed pushups and did deadlifts.

Then they repeated the circuit challenge as many times as they could within 15 minutes.

The intense competition among police, firefighters and fellow law enforcement officers took place at the Pier Amphitheater on June 25.

Participants competed in three rounds of conditioning and weightlifting challenges.

Exact physical tasks were not disclosed until minutes before each round.

Maria Solomon completes a shoulder lift. Top women lifted 250 pound squats, 70 pound shoulders and 300 pound deadlifts. Photo by Promise Yee

Maria Solomon completes a shoulder lift. Top women lifted 250 pound squats, 70 pound shoulders and 300 pound deadlifts. Photo by Promise Yee

“It’s an incredible spectator event, there’s intense effort in a short duration of time,” Dan Ellison, California Police Athletic Federation chief administrative officer, said.

The high physical and mental demands of the sport suit participants, who are self-described “Type-A personalities.”

About 80 men and women faced off on Saturday.

Two stations for men, and one for women were set up side by side. Challenges were scored on the number of pounds lifted or circuits completed.

Participants compete to achieve their personal best, and demonstrate their overall fitness to protect and serve the community.

Female competitors said they take extra pride in completing demanding endurance and strength challenges.

Brittany Simon, a customs and border protection officer, took second place in the competition last year.

“I compete to represent my agency, and as a female to show my strength,” Simon said.

All are in it to win. They also cheer on fellow participants. Fond nicknames are earned, such as “Monster” and “Beast.”

The day ended in an awards ceremony that recognized top athletes in each men’s and women’s age group and skill level.

The Fitness Throwdown is one of 41 games played across the nation during the weeklong Police and Firefighter Championships.

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