Sons of Samson 2018

Bench. Squat. Deadlift.

Clean and Jerk. Snatch.

Some lifters love the consistency that always comes from competing in powerlifting or Olympic lifting.

You always know what you’re going to get each and every time you go out and compete. 

With strongman, "shit happens” could be the motto of the sport.

You don’t always know what’s going on for the day of the competition.

Sometimes you just got to wing it and the athletes that compete in strongman embrace that. It makes the sport different every time you go out to compete; you don’t always know what you’re going to get on game day and that’s part of the fun of the sport. 

Especially when it’s -40 degrees Celsius with the windchill and the diesel truck that’s filled up with all of the equipment that we’re supposed to compete with is frozen and won’t start and all the equipment is stuck in the back of said truck. 

Such circumstances are what led us to the Sons of Samson 2018. 

The Sons of Samson 2018 was set to be a really meaty competition. We’re talking full rack of ribs meaty. And even with the change of plans, the competition still delivered the full buffet of strongman events. 

The plan was to do 12 events in just the span of a few hours, like a mini-Fortissimus crammed into one day. 

The events had to be modified due to the "equipment malfunction” but there were still 8 events lined up for us athletes. 

Last year's 12 events were easier compared to the beastly events planned out for this year. With fewer competitors confirmed it was set to be fast and furious this year, even with four fewer events.

Sons of Samson is a charity competition held by Clydsdale Power and in concert with Lift For Kids. 

Did I also mention it was held at the centre of the mall in Brockville?

So it was important to put on an entertaining show for the kids as well as the shoppers in the mall. 

A car deadlift was originally planned to make use of one of the cars that were positioned promotionally as part of Lift For Kids, but it had to be scrapped when the deadlift apparatus was stuck on the truck. 

This is instead what we had to work with for the day:


Event 1 - Keg Press for Reps

Clean and press away 220lb. keg until keg drops below chest or one minute max. time. 

The keg we used for this competition was very challenging. It was a very tall keg and filled with lead shot and sand, so it sits very bottom heavy. 

I was going into the competition pushing the practice on keg pressing very hard to not zero this keg and was feeling pretty good about it, as I was feeling pretty good about it a month out from the competition.

The keg was harder to work with on competition day than in training because all the weight was frozen in the bottom of the keg making it harder to balance the weight than the way it had felt in training.

For me, the clean went up powerfully, maybe a little too powerfully, as the keg threw me off balance backwards and set me out of position. I almost had first rep locked out but it didn’t count as I had lost my balance some more. The second rep was good and that’s all I managed to do to kick the day off. One rep. 

Andrew Roach won the event with 8 reps, which was great. Pressing events are his wheelhouse so his performance in this event was not unexpected. 

Zach Kennedy-Brinklow got a very impressive 5 reps. He fought hard to get the keg cleaned. And I mean hard. It was an awfully long struggle because he wasn’t picking it up with the correct technique which made it all the more harder on himself but once he had it up he had no problem with the pressing of the keg. 

Our newest member of the Clydsdale Power Team Dan Bradley gave a mighty effort to the keg but it was the transition point from the lap to the rack on the chest that had him stymied. Being that this was his first competition ever, there was no shame in that however as I was struggling to get this keg through the transition a month and a half ago.


Event 2 - 300 lb. Sandbag for Max. Distance. 

I was feeling pretty good about this event going into it. Maintaining cardio while gaining weight has been one of the main focuses of this offseason and picking up a 300 lb. sandbag is no problem with competition adrenaline.


I set the pace pretty well on this one with 300 feet, but the real downside of going before other great athletes in a max. distance event is all they have to do is push themselves one step further than you to beat you.

And that’s exactly what they did. 

Zach went one step further to surpass me and then Drew followed that up to take the lead by going just beyond Zach’s distance. 

Let this be a reminder that if you’re doing a max. distance event and you’re not the last one to go, you best keep going until your legs or arms fall off. 


Event 3 - Nail Bend

6-inch nail bend with 15 second time limit

Last year I did horribly at this event, although never having done it or practised it, what more should you expect? There’s always something new to learn in strongman. Last year I used my wrist straps to grip the nail which only ended up slipping off of the ends of the nail to drive into my hand and there’s only so far your body wants you to push it when there’s a nail being pressed into your hand on your own volition.  

This year thanks to a pair of leather gloves my dad has, I was able to bend the nail much further and win the event.

So that was a pretty cool accomplishment. 



Event 4 - Anvil Deadlift

Deadlift 170 lb. deadlift by the horn with 1 hand for as many reps as you can in one minute.

After winning the nail bend I got to go last in this which was a definite advantage because Drew has been working hard on his grip strength and was going to his a big number for this event. The hard work paid off with him getting 10 reps.

The mark to beat was set and it was very high.

I started off at a great pace trying to reach those 10 reps. As my grip started to give way around 7 reps and I was slowing down, I switched hands and was very pleased to see 3 reps go up with the left hand that is still coming back from injury last year. I didn’t I would be able to do any reps yet with the left hand's grip strength deficit.

With being half a second away from getting the “elev-“ call for the 11th rep when the anvil slipped from my grip.

I still had some time left too. 

I tried again with the right hand, which was cooked.

I tried again with the left hand. No luck.

I was very happy with the tie for 10 reps but also couldn’t help but be disappointed with how close I came to number eleven.


Event 5 - Circus Dumbbell

140 lb. clean and press each rep. 

The circus dumbbell we were competing with was a Mike Bartos' Big Top Circus Dumbbell. It harkens back to the old-timey strongman days with the rounded bells for ends rather than the typical cylindrical loadable dumbbell. In many ways, it makes this circus dumbbell more challenging as it sits with less surface area across your back to drive through on the push press or jerk. 

Dan did a great job of getting it cleaned but had never used this dumbbell before so wasn’t familiar with how to set it and the balance to get it pressed and locked out. 


Zach got 7 reps with a switch of hands halfway through which was really great to see from him having not practised it since last summer.

Drew got 10 reps all with one arm as another powerful display of his pressing strength.   

I got 5 reps with the right arm but then lost the rhythm I was in. I tried to switch to the left side which only cost me more time since my left isn’t up to par with the right still after the hand injury held me back last year. 


Event 6 - Phonebook Tear

This was going to come down to whoever had the best luck, technique, and strength all coming together for a clean tear. 

Dan got his phonebook torn in half in the 20-something second range, which was very great for having only tried it in training a few times before. 

I was up next and I never know how a phonebook tear is going to go in competition and you’ve only got a split second to get it right.  The initial tear seemed to be pretty fast but there were a few loose pages that didn’t go clean through on my tear so it didn’t count right off the mark and I had to continue ripping it until it was considered good enough. My time ended with 7 seconds. 

Zach had a clean tear through in the 5-second range after me.

Drew up last has been working hard on phonebook tears after not being able to do it last year and he tore through his phonebook in 2 seconds flat to win. 


Event 7 - Carry Medley

Circus dumbbell/anvil/keg - 50 feet each

With our limited supply of equipment, this was an improvised sort of event. 

These medleys are the kind events that I do well in and knowing that I had lost some points in key events already, I knew I had to pour it on and set a fast pace for the mark to beat.

I did give it my all. A little too much. 

Accelerating into and past the finish line, when I hit the brakes I kept going as my feet slipped on the polished floors in the mall. I slipped down onto my left knee with the keg still in hand, which then proceeded to hit the ground and take a nice chunk out of the floor. 

But the keg wasn’t done yet. It then travelled another 6 feet, with me in tow, to end up in the wall.

Fortunately, I wasn’t too badly injured other than a bit of soreness from the impact and skidding across the floor.


The keg was fine, the wall not so much. 


Guess we won’t be invited back. 

The others were both within about a second behind me, so it really did come down to the wire. 


Event 8 - Car Push

The organizers wanted us to use the cars that were in the mall for promotional purposes, so we set up to push this crossover vehicle. 

I was feeling really good about this event going into it but ended up slipping on the polished floors.

I had wiped the floors down so that they would be free from any water from boots trekking through the mall. 

 I thought that the sort of gummy-soled training shoes I had on would be good for the event.

Two falls in the last two events were not the way I envisioned a competition where my primary goal was to not get hurt. 

The car still had good momentum after I fell on the floor because it was a light vehicle, but since we only had to travel about 30 feet with it, the slip cost me enough time that it ended me in last on the event.

Being half a point behind Zach going into the final event meant it came down to the final event and with me slipping up I ended up in third, Zach in second, and Drew in first for the day. 


Our new teammate Dan did a great job with his first competition ever being so much above and beyond where any of the rest of us started out. It takes a lot of courage to get started in strongman when the events you face might result in you being unable to perform some of the lifts.  

Dan showed a lot of heart in competing and certainly gained a lot of experience with such a heavy and intense competition for a beginner to take part in. 

It serves as a good reminder to not always do the competitions that you think you are going to sweep the floor with. 

Zeroes in events always hurt the ego a little bit, but that’s where the real growth happens. So instead of being afraid to face those situations, we should embrace them more often. As long as you're still staying as safe as possible, push yourself to do more competitions where there’s a good chance you’ll get some zeroes as you’re going to learn from those athletes that are better than you and it will push you to progress further than you ever thought possible.