The winners of the bench press competition. Winner of the men’s full bodyweight division, Jurey Fortaliza, top row, second from right. Winner of the men’s half-weight division, Chris Caguing bottom row, second from right. Pam Foreman/KMXT
On Saturday, KMXT and the Kodiak Athletic Club held its eighth annual Ron Sears Memorial Bench Press Competition, where participants challenged themselves and each other to bench press half or all of their body weight. The competition was a fundraiser for KMXT.
At the event, Jenny Pedersen bench presses 65 pounds. Her spotter stands above her, ready to swoop in to grab the bar when it becomes too heavy. Pedersen manages 45 reps before spotter and Kodiak Athletic Club Owner, Lindsay Knight, lifts the bar away.
Pedersen came with her small daughter and says this is her third year participating. I caught up with her just as the competition began.
“It’s very powerful to be strong, and I have two young children and I think them to see their mom be strong is really good. I grew up fishing, set-netting here on the island, so I always was strong in the summertime from working out. Fishing is a work out.”
Pedersen won the women’s half-body weight division, with the support of all those around her. It’s a vocal crowd. Bystanders, many still sweating from their own performances, shout words of encouragement to every participant.
That includes the winner of the men’s full bodyweight division, Jurey Fortaliza, who broke the record with 41 reps of 160 pounds. Fortaliza came with his nephew, Chris Caguing, who won the men’s half-weight division. Fortaliza says he and his nephew train together.
“It’s always nice to have someone kinda push you a little bit more. So, that’s what we’ve been doing for the past few years in the gym, is pushing each other all the time. We just help each other out whether it’s nutritional or a workout program, and the fact that we’re family helps that bond together even better.”
Fortaliza says this is his fourth time participating.
“The first year I injured myself and tore my pec muscle. I didn’t warm up and on the eighth rep, I popped my pec muscle, and that took me out for a few years. And then in 2012, I came back at half bodyweight, and in 2013, did full bodyweight, got the record and then I just broke my old record today – 29 at full body weight, and today I did 41 at full body weight.”
He says he hopes to help others overcome injuries they’ve suffered and encourages everyone to stretch and warm up properly before working out.