This past weekend marked the 2016 Kingston’s Strongest Man and Strongest Woman competition. It was a scorcher of a day without a cloud in the sky, but silly things like the weather conditions never stop strongmen from doing even sillier things like deadlifting cars. Due to unfortunate and unforeseen circumstances, there were only three men competing this year. While I like to hang out with and go up against more competitors, I had trained specifically for this competition, so what it really came down to was trying to improve on my own performances in training leading up to the competition. I was confident that I would perform well regardless of who showed up at the competition.
We drew cards to see the order for the first event and I was lucky enough to draw the last place card and got to see the other competitors go first in the event.
Event 1 - 260 lb. Atlas Stone to shoulder for reps
In training I had done 5 reps in 60 seconds without tacky, so my goal was to get at least 6 in competition in the 60 seconds we had. After watching the other competitors go and getting tackied-up, the number to beat was 4 reps. The stone felt really good and I hit 5 reps with about 20 seconds to go. I was good for another 2 reps for sure within the time frame, but I saved my energy. Every event in the competition was very hip and lower-body demanding, so preserving as much energy as possible and not burning out early was extremely important.
I switched to using olympic lifting shoes for the first time on atlas stones in the training leading up to this competition. It worked very well for me, as the shoes help me to get a much more solid foot position at the bottom of the lift.
Event 2 - Conan’s wheel 600 lb. for distance in 60 seconds.
Conan’s wheel is a new event for me this year and this was the second competition in which I saw it and had trained for. It’s an extremely demanding event both in terms of strength and endurance. Most athletes are more than capable of picking up and handling extremely heavy weights on the Conan’s wheel, but how far they will get depends more on endurance, proper pacing, and how well they can handle the pressure on their diaphragm. It was extremely hot out by the time we started this event and that didn’t make things any easier. After placing first in the atlas stone, I got to once again pace myself based on how the other competitors performed. The distance I had to beat was 1.75 revolutions and I was prepared to go at least 3 revolutions based on training. I stopped it at 2 revolutions for another first place finish going into event 3.
Event 3 - Man v. Man Harness Pull
This is a really cool event that spectators love to watch. It’s definitely one that’s for the crowd. I was really looking forward to this event when I first heard about it. My opinion quickly changed after practicing it in training. I went up against a number of teammates in training and after being off to a good start, things seemed to go downhill. I tried to focus my strategy around getting my hips as low as possible, which is hard going against athletes with shorter legs. I felt that the key would be getting my hips lower, because when I started higher and had the rope attaching the two harnesses together slope up towards my end, I would quickly get thrown across the line by the other athlete. Getting my hips lower seemed to help this somewhat. What I ended up sacrificing was a good foot position and a weaker stance by splaying my legs out wider in a sort of frog stance. I had to be up on my toes to get into this position, which reduced the amount of traction I got from the cleats I was wearing and was also a less powerful position. I likely would have been better with a narrower stance, more of my foot in contact with the ground and a slightly higher starting position with the hips. I ended up getting last place in this event, but was still in the lead by one point.
Event 4 - 700 lb. Yoke Walk for 100 feet.
Having given up pointson the last event put the pressure on me for the yoke, because I had to go first and didn’t have the advantage of knowing what time the other competitors would get. This was the most pivotal moment in the competition, because if I missed out on first in the yoke, I would also be trying to guess the number to beat on the car deadlift which was next and my two fellow competitors were both excellent at the yoke and at the car deadlift. This was also the point in the competition where I had more experience with the events, so I was just as determined to perform better than I had in training or in past competitions.
I was up first and gave it everything I had. We were running the yoke on grass, so I had scouted out the course first and there was a big divot about halfway down that had to be avoided. I got off to a good start and then noticed the divot was coming up and had to change my direction to avoid it and then redirect myself to straighten towards to finish line. The redirection was quite minor and maybe only affected my pace by about 0.5 to 1 second at most. The last 15 feet of the course was very soft and I started to feel myself losing the yoke forward. This slowed my pace near the finish line quite a bit, as my steps had to be much more deliberate, but I still managed to get across in 23 seconds. I think the most I’ve done a 700 lb. yoke for before was 50 feet in competition, so I was pretty happy with this time.
I had to nervously watch the other two competitors go after me, but I think I finished about 10 seconds faster than second place, so I had another first place finish and could go into the car deadlift knowing what number to beat.
Event 5 - Car Deadlift for reps in 60 seconds.
Watching the other two athletes go first was critical on this event, because I had some good days and bad days on the car deadlift in the training before the competition and knew that big numbers were going to be put up by them. I thought I could get 10 reps and my goal was 12 reps, but after seeing the number to beat was 15 reps, I had to do whatever I could to hit more reps. The competition adrenaline was enough that I could keep the tension and do touch and go reps instead of dropping the weight to a dead stop on every rep. I quickly got through 10 reps to get to second place and rested for probably 10 seconds. I then hit three more and quickly rested again and was told I had something like 20 seconds left. I was able to grind through another two before stopping with maybe 5 seconds left, which was enough to tie for first.
This really drained almost everything I had left and the temperature outside was killing me going in to the final event.
Event 6 - Keg Over Bar Medley
If there was any event that I was confident I would do really well with regardless of who showed up at the competition, it was the keg medley. The keg medley was 35 feet to the bar with 200 lb., 240 lb., and 260 lb. kegs. The first few times through training the third keg was super awkward and a killer to lift and carry the 35 feet. My starting time in training was around 50 seconds, but by the last practice I had got it done in 32 seconds. I was still dizzy and felt sick from the blazing heat by the time I was up, but it was the last event of the day and I was the last who had to get it done. I took a few calming breaths and reminded myself that I only had about 30 seconds of effort left to do. I completed it in 27 seconds.
Going in to the final event I had secured the competition win already, but it was nice to beat my training time by 5 seconds in the last event. Despite the heat it was a really fun day competing and cheering on the ladies in their Kingston's Strongest Woman competition.
I will try to get a video up from the competition as soon as I get the footage on my computer.