Are You Strong Enough? By Eric Talmant for CriticalBench.com
The 2nd Annual Central Florida Strongman Championship took place on Kentucky Avenue in Lakeland, Florida, on June 6th, 2009. Sponsored by the Chop Shop, spectators from all walks of life gathered on both sides of the avenue to watch a unique test of strength; and to partake in what the locals had to offer in terms of food and beverages.
For me, this event was especially interesting because the promoter was none other than my friend Scott Weech, Jr. Many of you will know Scott as the 2009 heavyweight full power winner at the Raw Unity Powerlifting Championships. Scott also holds his Pro Card in Strongman. In addition, my friend Brian Strickland was competing in the men's lightweight open division. Brian and I have been competing for years in powerlifting; most notably in the old WPO professional powerlifting organization, whose finals were held every year in Columbus, Ohio, at the Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic.
What was unique about this particular contest was that the men's open lightweight division allowed competitors under 200 pounds to compete in strongman. Normally, the two divisions in strongman are 105 Kilos (231 pounds) and under, and an open class which is anything above 231 pounds. Allowing the lightweight division to be up to 200 pounds gave some of the lighter guys a chance to do their thing in a sport that certainly favors the bigger athletes.
The first event was the press medley. For the lightweight open division, this involved three implements: a 240 pound axel, a 200 pound 9 foot log, and a 225 pound 12 foot log. Each competitor had his choice as to which implement he wanted to try first, and points were awarded for the amount of implements completed. My friend Brian was the only lightweight to complete all 3 implements in a time of 48.88 seconds. Here is Brian doing the press medley:
After the press medley was the Yoke Walk. Since there were several divisions (Novice, Teen, Masters, Open Women, Open Lightweight, Open Middleweight, and Open Heavyweight) it worked out that each competitor got to rest about 45 minutes between events. Nevertheless, it was still an all-day ball buster. So, onto the Yoke Walk where the lightweight men had to "walk" with the 600 pound (no-that is not a typo) implement for 60 feet with unlimited "drops". All of the men's lightweight open competitors were able to carry the yoke the complete distance, but once again Brian Strickland went the fastest in a time of 11.94 seconds. To give you any idea of how dominant this run was for Brian, the second place finisher completed the walk in 15.65 seconds. Here is Brian's first place Yoke Walk in the lightweight open division:
The third event was a bit more familiar to most, and it is known as the Farmer's Walk. The lightweight open men were required to carry 270 pounds in each hand while trying to complete the 80 foot course (no turns) in as fast a time as possible while only allowed one drop and no straps. Obviously the day's events began to take their toll here, with none of the four lightweight open men being able to complete the full 80 foot course. Brian had to settle for his first 2nd place finish of the day, going 51'9"; falling short of Jason Holloman's 60'1" performance. Here is Brian's Farmer's Walk:
The fatigue was really starting to show by the time the competitors had reached the fourth event-the Tire Flip and Sled Drag Medley. For the lightweight open men, this meant that they had to flip a 550 pound tire for the length of the course and then turn around and drag a 325 pound sled backwards in less than 75 seconds. Once again, Brian reigned supreme with an excellent time of 62.49 seconds.
Well, last but certainly not least is the ever-popular Stone Load. For the lightweight men, this would involve four stones of 222, 242, 270, and 325 pounds. Many of the competitors choose to use tacky or Jack Tack (see my article about the Highland Games for more on Jack Tack) in order to be able to grip the stones easier.
It is perfectly legal and nearly impossible to get off once it is on. Like the 3 other lightweight competitors, Brian loaded the first three stones and was unable to load the big 325 pounder. However, being new to Strongman Brian did not realize that the clock for points started not with the first stone, but after the second stone was loaded. Since Brian had 3 first place and 1 second place finish, and since he was the last lightweight to go in the stone load, he figured that he would coast to the overall win. Unfortunately, his not knowing the rules for this event cost him the overall win; and he had to settle for second place. Here is Brian's stone load:
All was not lost, however. The top 2 in each division automatically qualify for the national competition later this year in Louisiana. This is what Brian was really after, and I am sure that he will never make the same mistake of relaxing again on any individual event-no matter how far ahead he may be in the overall standings.
I know that I can speak for all of us that were watching in Lakeland when I say that it was a blast to watch these guys do their thing all afternoon. It is truly hard to comprehend some of the weights that the competitors are asked to manipulate in the sport of Strongman. As is the case with most things, brute strength will only take you so far. It is at that point that superior technique makes all the difference between winning and losing. Furthermore, keep in mind that these competitors were outside in the elements all afternoon.
To compete in such an event takes guts, determination, strength, and a lot of will power. I would like to especially thank promoter Scott Weech, Jr. for giving me unlimited access to the event. I would also like to thank Brian Strickland for allowing me to intimately follow him throughout the competition. I was really impressed, brother! You rocked the house; or in this case, you rocked Kentucky Avenue! Now I know why Elliott Hulse loves this stuff!!!
If you are interested in learning more about Strongman or about a competition near you, then please visit http://www.nastrongmaninc.com/index.asp.
More Event Pictures
A competitor warming up for the Press Medley
Brian Strickland preparing to go in the Press Medley
Brian Strickland warming up for the Press Medley
Meet director Scott Weech, Jr. (far right) with a competitor and the event's announcer
A heavyweight competitor about to start the Press Medley. His coach (pointing at the implement) holds his Pro Card in Strongman
Heavyweights warming up for the Press Medley
A few of the competitors taking a break from the action to watch their fellow competitors
The overall winner in the lightweight division working the Press Medley
One more of the lightweight winner about to press the 240 pound axel
A heavyweight competitor completing the 300 pound axel
A competitor sizing up the Yoke Walk
The crowd on one side of Kentucky Avenue
The heavyweight winner starting the Yoke Walk
A teen competitor having just finished the Farmer's Walk
Another teen competitor sizing up the tire for the tire flip
A heavyweight competitor flipping the 750 pound tire
The same heavyweight competitor still flipping the 750 pound tire
A heavyweight competitor with the 415 pound sled
The heavyweight winner about to start flipping the 750 pound tire
The heavyweight winner flipping the 750 pound tire
The spotters getting ready for the stone load
Meet director Scott Weech, Jr. (far left) about to begin the stone load
The lightweight winner busting his ass during the stone load