The first powerlifting competition of the year is getting ready to lift off at Squamish Barbell.
Squamish Barbell has hosted five such meets, and their athletes also travel to compete. While they've held meets with up to 60 competitors, there will be 32 athletes on Saturday, Feb. 1.
Powerlifters often only compete in a maximum of three events a year, Squamish Barbell co-owner Jesse Bifano said.
"Although you're only doing three lifts and you only have three attempts at those lifts, over the course of those bunch of hours, the physical and mental toll it takes is pretty high," he said. "It's fatiguing. You end up deeply tired."
It can take weeks to achieve maximum recovery, so to reach peak performance, competing for more than a few times a year affects training.
The number one goal of the competition, Bifano said, is introducing people to the sport of powerlifting, and changing the impression people may have of the sport.
"It's just about coming in and having a goal in mind and testing against that goal. The thing I always hope people get is the experience and opportunity to learn," he said.
Some may be surprised by the age range of the competitors, which in Squamish can be from 12 years old to mid-60s. Locals competing in February include Cliff Miller and a local 65-year-old woman. For the youngsters, Bifano aims to create a positive competition experience, acknowledging that it can be scary for some to perform.
At the Knuckle Duster on Feb. 1, competitors can challenge world, national and provincial records. Although Bifano's not sure if any athletes have plans to challenge world records, there will be judges qualified to assess world records at the meet.
Spectators are welcome to drop by, watch and meet local athletes. The event will also be live-streamed on Facebook.
As athletes put the limits of their strength to the test — and on stage — Bifano said, "You see the entire experience from those athletes and get to watch the mental fortitude or anguish that goes along with that. Success and failures."
Knuckle Duster will be the smallest of the three competitions hosted in Squamish this year. In March, a Crossfit event will draw almost 100 athletes from Calgary, Victoria and Seattle. Bifano said the details of the competition are yet to be announced. In May, Squamish Barbell is hosting what may be the last Strongman event in Squamish after a nine-year run as the gym looks to diversify its event roster.