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Through intense summer heat, service members and civilians go head-to-head in annual 'throw down'

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Hampton Roads throw down
Posted at 8:04 PM, Aug 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-15 21:29:28-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- It was a competition that tested the strength and endurance of those who participated, but those competing were a mix of military service members and civilians.

They gathered at the Virginia Beach Sports Complex on a very hot Sunday to compete.

"Our purpose of this event is to bridge the local military and civilian community,” Erica Venezuela, public relations specialist with the United Services Organization, said.

It was all part of the annual Hampton Roads Throw Down, and it is hosted by the USO with sponsors consisting of local businesses.

"We're such a military populated area. The civilians are likely veterans or they know someone in the military, maybe a family member or a friend,” Venezuela said. “And it's important because our military does so much for our country, our community."

One of the participants was United States Coast Guard rescue swimmer Jeff Underhill.

“Mixing in the civilian aspect today with the military was pretty exciting,” Underhill said,

This is his second time competing. He warmed up just before his group was called in to compete.

“I think I can do well in the rower,” Underhill said. “It helps being big and tall, pushing that sled. We push sleds at my job."

At the same time Annette Trayer, a civilian, was also warming up.

"I train for this stuff every day,” Trayer said. “I'm honestly walking into this and hoping for the best."

She said she competed because she has family and friends serving in the military. Her supervisor at work, she explained, is a veteran.

"She's a former marine and she did this last time to volunteer,” Trayer said. “She’s like, ‘Why don't you give it a try, it'll be fun,’ and I've been competing for a long time."

The competitors were divided into different groups. They had to run to the opposite side of the sports complex’s field and back. They then had to do exercises like pull-ups and lift weights.

Even before they competed, they were already sweating because of the intense heat. Regardless, the competitors were unbothered by the heat as they gave it their all.

"I'll definitely do it next year,” Trayer said. “Like I said, it's just a great time and just to be here to support the USO and just be part of a great event that's promoting such wonderful health and fitness and America."