SAGUACHE — Faith O’Reilly operates the Saguache Lodge south of town today, but she has done some heavy lifting in the community over the years and recently rekindled her passion for the sport of powerlifting. O’Reilly won her division at the Rocky Mountain State Games in Colorado Springs on July 23.
“It’s nice to see how well everyone gets along at these events,” the 79-year-old O’Reilly explained.
Throughout the day, participants represented both genders and all races and ages. Between lifts, they shared tips and supported one another.
Standard powerlifting competitions rotate through three events in succession. Because it takes more than half a dozen officials and spotters to conduct the lifts at each station, they complete the Squats first, followed by the Bench Press, and ending with the Deadlift.
Competitors get three attempts at each event, starting with a weight they’re confident they can lift. If a participant fails to lift the weight three times, they are disqualified from the rest of the competition. The final score is the total weight lifted.
Weighing a little under 58 kilograms herself (roughly 128 pounds), O’Reilly started her Squats at 30kg and lifted 35 and 40 kilos on her second and third attempts. She benched 30kg, and her Deadlift hoists were 50, 52.5, and a final 60 kilos.
While attending law school at the University of Iowa, O’Reilly maintained a swimming regimen. But after she finished her studies and no longer had access to the pool, she gravitated to powerlifting during the 1980s. She competed regularly throughout the Midwest, earning the Iowa champion title a few times.
After she left Iowa, O’Reilly moved to Montana. When the gym where she trained acquired new equipment, she bought the old gear, which is now in her home gym at the Saguache Lodge.
Although O’Reilly has safety bars and techniques for working out alone, she said most lifters prefer to work with a partner.
The nearest gym is over Poncha Pass. Also, powerlifting events are scarce in Colorado. O’Reilly has her eye on an event in Fort Collins later this year, and the long drive to Utah for another competition is tempting, she said.
A former Saguache Chamber of Commerce president and current Tourism Council member, O’Reilly also runs and competes in short races for conditioning. She’s expanding operations at the lodge and shared how powerlifting helps everyday life.
“When you train,” O’Reilly explained, “everything is easier. You have more confidence in your ability to manage tasks.”
This year’s edition of the Rocky Mountain State Games included 13 separate competitions ranging from badminton, pickleball, and disc golf to swimming and Taekwondo.
Run by the Colorado Springs Sports Corporation, the Rocky Mountain State Games is designed to accommodate multiple sports and abilities through different competitions.
In addition to the Olympic-style competition for O’Reilly and others, the organization runs other events in the Pikes Peak region throughout the year, including the Labor Day Liftoff ballooning event in Colorado Springs.