Canadian Hercules 2019
The post-competition haze leaves you feeling like you’ve come out of a drug binge worth of a night with Hunter S. Thompson.
A large bolus of caffeine doesn’t help with the brain fog much which is why I opt for cold brew these days instead of rifling energy drinks as I know that the adrenaline shot of the whistleblowing is akin to a fight for your life and plenty of a performance boost alone.
This year’s Canadian Hercules was a fight like no other as the athletes attending this competition each year are all worthy of the title of Hercules on any given day.
Seeing who is the natural strongest man in Canada is a battle for bragging rights like no other (for those who care). But perhaps as astounding as the strength displayed is the humbleness of these incredible athletes.
Being a part of this group is an undeniably great experience because of the camaraderie. Everyone is focused on their own efforts to better themselves in competition but ready to fully support the rest of the field at all times.
The Luck Factor
Luck plays a small role in the Canadian Hercules, as athletes draw numbers for the order they will go in during the competition and this year, like in year 1 when I competed, I drew “lucky” number 1.
Going first in a bunch of events that are completely new to you is a tall order. There’s no way to get any insight or strategy about how to prepare or pace yourself. Like a horse with blinders on, you’ve got to go all out for every single event. Which I intended to do anyway but do think there were some valuable insights to be gleaned from observing other athletes (hindsight for me) at this competition.
Event 1 - Farmer’s Walk
350/hand for 35’, complete two deadlift reps, turn and finish the last 35’.
350 per hand is a lot for farmers walk and I did pretty well with it. Despite several drops, I made through the first run, completed the two deadlifts, and started working my way back. I got about halfway back in the time limit but with several other competitors inching me out and three completing the course, this was a sixth place finish for me.
Event 2 - Overhead Medley
230 lb. axle press, 165 lb. circus dumbbell, 315 overhead press
I knew going into this that I’d need to finish the first two objects very fast to have any chance of placing well because there was no hope of me pressing 315 this year and so I scrapped that from my training with about a month left before the competition. This is a pervasive issue with pressing strength that I need to continue to improve upon.
I did indeed press the first two objects very fast and finished fourth as Simon and James completed the event with Mitch finishing just a bit faster than me on the first two objects.
Event 3 - Tire Flip
This tire is one of the most unique beasts I’ve ever seen. It’s 1,100 pounds through some mad scientist experiementation, augmenting this large 800-something pound tire with steel bolted to the insides making it feel far more solid and almost welded to the ground. To get this thing to move requires some funny finger work, as you’ve got to put enough pressure into the tire to lift the edges, pancaked to the ground by the extra steel weight, before you can get the tire to turn. I struggled to find the right point to get under it from and ended up doing three flips, which left me in a 4-way tie for second place in this event.
Event 4 - Carry Medley
A bread and butter event to me turned out not going my way this year as a new object stood as an obstacle in my way and in an effort to finish fast, I messed up my initial pickup of the sandbag. The Husafel shield carry is something I’ve never done and did not get a good grip on. This left me holding on for dear life to not drop the shield as it slowly shifted out of my grip. Following this up, I rushed the sandbag and ended up picking it up far too high and only got a few feet before I needed to drop it and pick it up properly to speed to the finish line. I ended up in fourth place as I was far slower than I ought to be in an event like that.
Event 5 - Power Stairs
Having gassed myself out working much harder to complete the medley, the power stairs came up far too fast for my liking but I was ready to give another new event a go.
The stairs consisted of a 440 lb., 540 lb., and 640 lb. object being lifting up two stairs each. The setup for this was very tight and looking at the replay, I tripped over the rubber mat when starting the lift with the 540 lb. stair but was still able to get a fast time on the first four stairs. I tried with everything I had to lift the 640 lb. weight onto the stair and was millimetres away from completing it for what felt like an eternity but couldn’t get it to clear the lip of the stair before I had to set it down. I tried one more time but didn’t have anything left and almost threw up from the effort but that was the end of it and got third in the event.
All wrapped up within 2 hours which is extremely demanding of a competition of this calibre but an excellent display of teamwork and coordination from all the referees and scorekeepers.
In the end, I placed fourth for a second year in a row and left knowing that there was still work to be done to reach that podium placing and an international trip to represent Canada.
Great competition and great people that I look forward to returning to see again next year. And fortunately, we all left with nothing more than some minor bumps and bruises.
This competition takes every ounce of physical and mental strength that you can muster and I did everything I possibly could to prepare this year. I think that the physical strength came slowly but surely but the mental battle this year was a little tenser as I have a newborn business that in its infancy requires as much care and nurturing as a human baby and by necessity requires an immense amount of mental energy and focus. As much as I tried to reduce this impact on my recovery, I can see its insidious tendrils in my final week of recovery as I look at the more detailed view of how my body felt in reviewing sleep, recovery, and HRV numbers.