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This past weekend I competed in the Monsters of the Mall Strongman Challenge in Salina, Kan. I left Michigan Friday afternoon with my wife Jessica and Barkley from the Motorcity Strongman Crew. We arrived in Kansas City around 6:30 p.m., met up with John Albrecht and hit the road for the remaining two and a half hour drive to Salina. We arrived in Salina just in time to get a decent night’s sleep before game time.
I tipped the scale at 220 pounds which put me well under the 231 pound weight limit for the 105K Pro Division. The 105K Pro Division was stacked with a total of 10 competitors, all capable of winning events at this contest.
After a quick rules meeting, it was time to get in a quick warm up before the Max Axle Press event. For anyone new to strongman, an axle in strongman refers to a weight loadable bar that is much thicker than a normal weight bar (making it very difficult to grip), and it usually has tires on the end of it. In this contest, the axle had to be lifted from the ground to an overhead position. I completed an easy lift with 290 pounds before the contest began and chose 300 pounds as a safe opening weight. An easy lift on the opening allowed me to go to 320 pounds on my second lift, which was also completed successfully. At this point, Dave Mihalov and I were tied at 320 pounds on our second lift. We both went to 340 pounds for our third attempt. Beau Gertz hit 330 pounds easily on his second lift and it was clear that Mihalov and I were fighting for second place in this event. I came up just short on 340 pounds and so did Mihalov, leaving us in a second-place tie, while Gertz smoked 350 pounds for the win.
The yoke carry was second and I was very excited about this event. I have been working a ton on my starts and speed with this implement. This event consisted of carrying 750 pounds on our shoulders for 50 feet as fast as possible. Everyone in the contest had a chance to win this event, and it really had the potential to mix up the field. When the whistle sounded for my turn I took off fast and finished in 8.25 seconds, over a second faster than the rest of the field for the event win, putting me in the lead. Again, for anyone new to strongman, points are awarded in each event and tallied up at the end of the contest to determine a winner. The number of points awarded is based on the number of competitors…in this case there were 10 competitors, meaning I got 10 points for first place in the yoke carry.
The third event was a farmer’s carry and power stairs medley. In this event, two tasks had to be performed. First, two 280-pound tanks had to be carried for 50 feet. Then, a 400-pound block of steel had to be lifted up three 16-inch steps. When my turn came, I did well with the farmer’s carry but I hit the implement on the steps with each lift during power stairs, which cost me some time. I ended up with a seventh place finish.
I was in the overall lead by 0.5 points going into the last event, which was the Atlas Stone load. Most people are familiar with this event, and at this contest a set of five stones had to be loaded onto a 50-inch-tall platform. The stones weighed 240, 270, 300, 330, and 360 pounds. In strongman, the overall leader goes last on the final event, so I got to see what the other times were before I went. Beau Gertz and I were the only ones remaining to lift the stones, and when he took his turn, he blazed through all five lifts in 19.7 seconds. At this point I had to beat 19.7 seconds to win the contest. The whistle blew and I quickly lifted the first two stones to the platform in one quick motion. I lifted the 300-pound stone to my lap before loading it onto the platform. Having no time to waste, I did the same with the 330-pound and 360-pound stone and finished with a time of 19.2 seconds, making me the overall winner!
As you can see, the sport of strongman isn’t just about being strong, it’s about being fast. Every second, inch and rep counts. I have been fortunate enough to have great training partners who have pushed me towards my full potential in this sport. The addition of HMB has helped me further in reaching this potential, by allowing harder training sessions with improved recovery and endurance. I’m looking forward to continued improvement in strongman with my next contest at Bangor, ME on July 31, 2009 for 105K America’s Strongest Man!