Fitness competition brings hundreds to Pelham

Published 1:02 pm Monday, August 8, 2016

A competitor lifts weights as a judge stands in observation. (Reporter photo/Keith McCoy)

A competitor lifts weights as a judge stands in observation. (Reporter photo/Keith McCoy)

By Briana Harris / Staff Writer

PELHAM – The second annual Mayhem on the Mountain fitness competition brought 350 competitors from all over the southeast to Oak Mountain State Park Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 6-7, for the two-day event.

Event founder Rich Peninno, owner of Pelham-based Forge Fitness Powered by Crossfit Shades, said participants journeyed from places such as Arkansas, Tennessee, Georgia, Mississippi and Louisiana to showcase their skills.

Spectators sat in folding chairs underneath tents while enjoying the competition. About 10 vendors were present offering everything from shaved ice and pizza to protein shakes and workout gear.

Peninno said social media played a major role in spreading the word about the event. He said he also contacted gyms throughout the southeast to let them know about the competition.

“There’s a lot of camaraderie within the CrossFit community and I just think it’s a great way to bring people together and promote healthy living,” Peninno said.

CrossFit is a workout regimen made up of functional movements that are constantly varied at high intensity levels.

Peninno said he created the competition because he wanted to host an event that takes place outside of the gym. The competition included elements not commonly found in gyms, such as gymnastics and swimming. More than 60 volunteers helped carry out the event.

Braving blazing summertime temperatures is also challenging for most competitors, Pennino said. Saturday’s temperature peaked at 95 degrees and temperatures Sunday reached 92 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

“Being in the heat with the sun bearing down on you, it makes you think about if you’re really in as good of shape as you think you are,” said competitor Ashton McLeod, 25, of Tuscaloosa.

McLeod, a trainer at CrossFit Tuscaloosa, said he trained two people in preparation for the event in addition to preparing himself.

“Last year I stumbled upon this event and I just wanted to see how it was so I convinced my sister to try it with me,” he said. “We enjoyed it and decided to come back for a second year.”

His sister is 30-year-old competitor Anna Arsenault, also of Tuscaloosa. The siblings competed individually Saturday and then in teams on Sunday.

With his family in tow, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Jason Brandt, 47, traveled from Jonesboro, Arkansas to participate. However, the family isn’t a stranger to the area because they have a son who is a sophomore at Samford University in Birmingham.

“I was looking for something to challenge myself,” Brandt said.

Brandt, who doesn’t practice CrossFit but follows a similar workout regimen, said the event inspired him to train harder in the weeks prior. He said dealing with the heat was challenging for him because he doesn’t normally train outside.

Mayhem on the Mountain marked Brandt’s first fitness competition.

“It’s friendly competition,” said Brandt, who played football for the Arkansas Razorbacks. “It’s more about just getting to the end rather than being the first to finish.”

His wife, Jana Brandt, said fitness training and competing is a good outlet for her husband.

“He has a high pressure job and he needs the fun spirit of competition to balance the pressures of work and life,” she said.

Peninno said winners received over $3,800 in cash prizes. Participants were also given gift bags. Brookwood Baptist Health was the primary sponsor of the event.