July 23, 2013

ATHLETICS: Oakland's MacKenzie wins Under Armour contest

By Travis Lazarczyk tlazarczyk@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

There are some simple truths in life and Holly MacKenzie has another one for you.

click image to enlarge

WORKING HARD: Holly MacKenzie, winner of the Under Armor “What’s Beautiful” contest, works out in her gym in the garage at her Oakland residence on Tuesday.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

"There's no way to make 500 pounds on your back feel light," MacKenzie said.

As a regular competitor in Strongman events, MacKenzie is used to hauling weight like an overworked Sherpa. The competitive fire in MacKenzie that compels her to deadlift kegs compels her to stay active, period, and that's how she attacked the Under Armour "What's Beautiful" contest.

MacKenzie, 29 and an Oakland native, was recently named one of four winners of Under Armour's online contest. Winners were decided by an online vote and MacKenzie earned a four-day trip to Costa Rica with the other three winners.

"I'll run into people like my parents' friends, people I know three or four people removed, and their like 'I voted for you every day.'" MacKenzie said.

Women were asked to document their daily workouts online (MacKenzie's web page can be viewed at whatsbeautiful.ua.com/profile/6123) and set a personal goal. MacKenzie's goal was to work out with 100 different people over the eight weeks of the contest. She blew that goal away.

"I worked out with all kids of different groups, different nights of the week," said MacKenzie, a University of Maine graduate who works as the engineering technician at Colby College's physical plant. "Anything from a group workout with my Strongman buddies on a Saturday in Dana's basement. It could be me and the guys lifting kegs and axles and whatever, training for another show. I did 5K runs with people, trail runs with people."

"She's a lot of fun to train with. She's great helping people out," said Dana Geneseo, one of MacKenzie's regular training partners and the organizer of many of the Strongman competitions in which she competes. "She pushes herself to the limit, and when you see that, you want to push yourself to the limit."

MacKenzie's goal for round one of "What's Beautiful" was to win her first Strongman contest. It was at the Augusta Armoury in April of last year.

"I came in second in my first show by like half a point," MacKenzie said.

She hasn't lost since. By sweeping the five events in the Maine's Strongest competition, earned the title of Maine's Strongest Woman.

"She lost to experience, not to somebody who was stronger," Geneseo said. "She showed up kind of out of nowhere and has really dominated."

MacKenzie became intrigued by strength competitions when she and her fiancee, Toby Lord, attended one to cheer on a friend.

"I thought, 'This is really cool.' I met Dana, and the rest is history," MacKenzie said.

MacKenzie's favorite events are the deadlifts. The ones that she thinks give her trouble are the sled pull events or the yolk. That's when she'll have those 500 pounds balanced on her back.

"She's very strong. She's driven and she doesn't have a weak point," Geneseo said. "Holly impresses me on a regular basis."

MacKenzie said she tries to take part in at least one event each month. Maybe it's a 5K race or maybe it's the Trek Across Maine, the annual bike ride from Bethel to Belfast which raises money for the American Lung Association.

"I love to move. I love to be active. I always handstand, all over the place. On the Trek Across Maine, at every rest stop, I would do a handstand," MacKenzie said.

The next big event for MacKenzie could be the Strongman national championships, which will be in Dallas in October.

"I've committed in my head to going. I haven't committed on paper to going yet," MacKenzie said. "Maybe I should commit right now. Then I have to, right?"

Just like that, MacKenzie's next challenge was found.

Travis Lazarczyk -- 861-9242

tlazarczyk@centralmaine.com

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