Critical Bench: Tell us about yourself.

Doug “Smash” Yurovich: I am a retired Marine Colonel, 55 years young. I’ve flown F4 Phantoms and F/A-18 Hornets most of my career and I’m a graduate of The Ohio State University.

I was a test pilot, and on 1 October, 1992, I ejected from an F/A-18 Hornet that was experiencing hardware and software difficulties. I left the airplane, inverted at 380 feet above the ground, obtained about 80% of my parachute. The ride was swift, the stop hitting the ground a little more sudden and violent. I incurred a broken leg, six cracked discs, displaced my left rib cage, with shoulder and hip impact injuries.

The doctors felt my upper body strength kept me from sustaining more injuries. After October 1992, I flew combat operations over Bosnia in 1994, 1995, and 1996 and over Iraq in 1995, 1999, 2000 and 2005. I retired from the Corps in 2006. I now train and compete in the Arnold Pump and Run, as a way to “stay in the game.”

CB: What a story and what a strong person you are. I’m glad to have you with us today. Doug, you compete in the 5K Pump and Run. Tell us what exactly that is? How does it work and what are the rules?

DSY: The Pump and Run according to Arnold, “Is a true test of one’s fitness as it combines both strength and endurance.” Before the runners start their run they spend the morning weighing in and bench pressing to reduce their running times. The weigh in starts at 0700, and the benching lasts from 0700 to 0930 or so. The 5K started at 1030 AM.

The lifting rules are: Men 39 and under bench press 100% of their body weight, (you have to be 18 to enter), men 40 – 49 bench 90% of their weight, men 50 and over bench 80% of their weight, men 60-69 do 70% and men 70 and over lift 60%. Women 39 and under bench press 70% of their weight, women 40 – 49 bench 60% of their weight, women 50-59 bench 50% of their weight and women 60 and over lift 40%. For each lift a runner’s time is reduced by 30 seconds up to a maximum of 30 reps.

CB: What are the average winning scores in the different age groups/genders?

Here are the stats from the Arnold Pump and Run 2013. These event finishes are taken from an email sent by Matt McGowan from ten.eenull@oihonur, Co-Race Director.

Fifteen of the top sixteen men benched the maximum 30 reps. Waverly’s Zach Holbert (26) lifted his body weight 30 times and ran the fastest time (16:15) of the day to defend his title and win men’s gold with 1:15. New Jersey’s Joseph Norton (28) lifted his weight 30 times and ran 16:18 to move up a spot from 2012 to capture the men’s silver in 1:18. Wisconsin’s Vaughan O’Brien (37) lifted his weight 30 times and ran 16:46 to move up a spot from last year and take home the men’s bronze in 1:46. Westerville’s Nathan Aichele (31) lifted his weight 30 times and ran 17:16 to move up three spots from last year to place fourth in 2:16. Chesapeake’s Eddie Neal (29) lifted his weight 30 times and ran 17:36 to place fifth in 2:36.

Donna & Ed Corney

Cincinnati’s Robert Messmer (37) lifted his weight 29 times and ran 17:15 to move down one spot from 2012 as he placed sixth in 2:35. Galloway’s Joey Enright (31) lifted his weight 30 times and ran 18:25 to place seventh in 3:25. Columbus’ Blaize O’Brien (42) lifted ninety percent of his weight thirty times and ran 18:30 to repeat as the eighth place finisher. Lyndhurst’s Sean Joseph (28) lifted his weight 30 times and ran 18:32 to finish ninth. Michigan’s Tony Ketchmark (50) lifted 80 percent of this weight 30 times and ran 18:40 to place tenth in 3:32.

Ten of the top fifteen women bench their required weight 30 times this year. Columbus’ Tina Husted (40) benched 60 percent of her weight 30 times and ran the fastest women’s time (18:30) to win the women’s gold with 3:30 and placed eighth overall. Six time winner Lisa Veneziano (48) formerly from Dublin, now living in Michigan, ran the second fastest women’s time of the day (19:05) and lifted 60 percent of her weight 30 times to take home the women’s silver with 4:05. Cincinnati’s Meghan Ward (30) lifted 70 percent of her weight 29 times and ran 19:55 to take home the women’s bronze with 5:25. Columbus’ Cookie O’Neal (60) lifted 40 percent of her weight 30 times and ran 21:00 to move up three spots from last year to place fourth with 6:00. Athens’ Janalee Stock (58) lifted 50 percent of her weight 30 times and ran 21:16 to place fifth with 6:16. Hillsboro’s Tara Beery (40) lifted 60 percent of the her weight 30 times and ran 22:06 to move up two spots from last year to finish sixth with 7:06. Columbus’ Kathryn Kelley (44) lifted 60 percent of her weight 30 times and ran 22:16 to place seventh with 7:16. New York’s Rachel Gregg (32) lifted 70 percent of her weight 26 times and ran 20:35 to place eight with 7:35. Worthington’s Mary McHugh (52) lifted 50 percent of her weight 28 times and ran 22:20 to finish ninth with 8:20. Columbus’ Molly Disabato (48) lifted 60 percent of her weight 30 times and ran 23:31 to round out the top ten with 8:31.

CB: Let’s consider two athletes; let’s say the first guy can easily bench press his body weight for 30 reps. He then runs a 35 minute 5k. The second guy benches his body weight 3 times and runs a 20 minute 5K. Who wins? What is the difference in their score? Maybe create some examples of your own.

DSY: Guy 1’s score is 20:00 minutes, since you subtract 15 minutes (30 reps) from his time of 35:00. Guy 2’s score is 18:30 since he gets a 90 second reduction of his run time for the three reps. In this case Guy 2 beats Guy 1, but as you can see from the 2013 results, a competitor must do well in both events to be in the top 50, top 10, or even win the event.

CB: How do you sign up for the 5k Pump and Run ? Is there drug testing and how does that work? Does it cost money to enter?

DSY: With 850 athletes registered for the Arnold 5K Pump and Run from thirty-two States, Washington D.C. and Canada, this event is the largest of its kind in the world. Register on-line starting the first of November. You have to get in early since there is a limit of 850 athletes. Last time that limit was reached in just under twenty hours. I registered at 4 AM on the first of November. There is no drug testing, and the registration costs $60.

CB: What do participants get for competing?

DSY: Upon registration, you get an Arnold Pump and Run t-shirt, size selectable and your number. You get this package when you check in for the event.
Upon completion of the event, you get a medal handed to you right after crossing the finish line, and the opportunity to buy a photo package from the photographer at the event.

CB: What is the 5k part of the Pump and Run like?

DSY: The run is outside in downtown Columbus, Ohio. Last time, it started on High Street at the north end of the Greater Columbus Convention Center, ran towards downtown, by the Nationwide Arena, around Goodale Park, through the Short North, North Market area, and the Arena District, and finished behind the Convention Center.

CB: What are the rules for the bench pressing? Does it matter if one benches with their elbows out or in to decrease the stroke? is an arch back acceptable if the butt remains on the bench?

DSY: Arnold 5K Pump and Run Bench Press Rules

  • No Bench Press Warm-up will be provided.
  • Lift starts with the bar in the extended position.
  • Bar must touch the chest and be fully extended on each press or the rep will not count.
  • Stopping during a press terminates the lift (You may stop in the lock-out position).
  • No bouncing bar off the chest.
  • Shoulders and rear must stay in contact with the bench during the lift.
  • Feet must remain in contact with the floor during the lift (no hooking bench support with feet/legs).
  • If necessary plates may be placed under lifters feet.
  • No belts, wraps, gloves or lifting suits.
  • Judging by U.S. Marines is final, no exceptions.


Bodyweight will be rounded to the nearest five pound increment. Example: 181-182 round down to 180, 183-184 round up to 185. Weigh-in with running shoes on, shorts on and shirt on.

CB: Do you usually use a wide grip or close grip?

DSY: Over the years, I have brought my grip in from a wide grip, to approximately a shoulder width grip. I use the same grip I train with. I also bring my own chalk to the event.

CB: Do you have a workout routine that has helped you or others prepare for this event?

DSY: Yes, I do. While I workout all year, this year was a bit difficult. I had PRP (platelet rich plasma) injections in my left shoulder for some degeneration and arthritis, and also a L5 disc issue that kept me from some aspects of my training. I train for bench strength until 1 November, then I start working on the rep aspect of the bench press until the competition. This has served me well for the last two Arnold’s. My personal best bench is 365 (a few years ago), but as age has set in, and despite lots of shoulder rehab, the ejection injuries do cause problems, I am happy, though, to be able to complete.

CB: How long have you been doing this event? Is it different every year?

DSY: I have competed in the last two Pump and Runs. This last was the 25th Anniversary and it was special to be there. I now live in Fairfax Station, Virginia; so my wife Donna and I drove back for the weekend and the Expo. The last two have been very similar.

CB: What usually happens before the event starts and what happens after the event finishes?

DSY: The weigh in and the gathering of the athletes is kind of a non-event. You weigh in, get your number and a sheet that tells the judges and spotters what weight they should load for you. You warm up on your own, although no bench pressing, remember.

Then you go to a bench, there were twelve benches I think, and you perform your benching. They tally your score, then you wait for 10:30 and the run.

Post run, you get your medal and take some pictures, then it is over. For those individuals that won, there might be an awards presentation. I have not done that well. Donna and I went to the Columbus Bluejackets hockey game that afternoon.

CB: What are your top 5 pointers for a bigger bench press as far as repping your weight goes?

DSY: A lifter might be strong, but you have to train for reps to get the 30. Last year I got 30, this year, I slid back on the bench and hit the support twice on the 28th rep, and could not recover enough to get that 28th rep, so I got 27. You must train for reps to get to that 30 mark, since it is bench press conditioning.

CB: What are your 5 pointers for a faster 5K time?

DSY: Run, run, run. There are a lot of 5K running plans out there, pick one and stick to it. Also, staying healthy helps.

CB: What is your favorite part about the 5K Pump and Run? Are there any parts that you dislike?

DSY: I enjoy the whole event. I have discussions with a couple marathon runners, who have limited benching abilities, and I kid them that they should just run the 5K and not worry about the bench press. It is an Arnold event after all, there is going to be strength involved.

CB: If you could describe the 5k Pump and Run in one word what word would you pick?

DSY: Challenging.

CB: So far in your 5k Pump and Run experience, list for us:

A) your favorite moment:

DSY: Getting 30 reps last year, 2012, and finishing the run after not being able to run for 6 years or so, then getting a picture with my wife, she was there to support me.

B) a crazy moment:

DSY: Not really any, unless you count the number of times on the run you have to dodge the vomit left on the road ahead of you. I guess you don’t have that problem if you are out front.

C) a funny moment:

DSY: In 2012 at the start, Arnold almost got run over by a camera truck, I think. This year, they made sure he was out of the road at the start.

D) a moment that changed you:

DSY: I think just getting back to a physical level where I could compete and complete was a changing moment.

CB: Doug, thanks for taking the time to share useful information about the Pump and Run event during Arnold weekend. What an intense story your life has been. You’re a true warrior and we wish you the best with everything ahead.

More About Douglas:

Colonel Douglas Paul Yurovich USMC entered the Marine Corps through the Platoon Leaders Class program in December 1975. Graduating from The Ohio State University in June 1979, he received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mathematics and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education, with a Secondary Education Teaching Certificate. Commissioned in June 1979, he completed The Basic School in December 1979.

2ndLt Yurovich was assigned to TACP training at Little Creek, Virginia and was ordered to the 1stBn 8th Marine Regiment as a Forward Air Controller. In July 1980, he reported to NAS Pensacola for flight training, and received his wings at NAS Beeville, Texas in September 1981. 1stLt Yurovich reported to VMFAT 101 at MCAS Yuma, Arizona for F-4 Phantom conversion training. In March 1983, 1stLt Yurovich reported to MAG 31 and was assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 312. He was promoted to Captain on 1 December 1983. During his three plus years with the “CHECKERBOARDS” he completed two western pacific tours and was a forward air controller for the 3dBn 4th Marine Regiment. Also during this tour, he was designated an Air Combat Tactics Instructor, a Weapons and Tactics Instructor and graduated from the United States Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN).

Colonel to Command a Navy Carrier Air Wing. Colonel Yurovich served as the Deputy Commander, Carrier Air Wing 9 from August 2004 to January 2006. During this tour, Carrier Air Wing 9 deployed to support Operation Iraqi Freedom with the USS Carl Vinson Strike Group. Colonel Yurovich served as the Commander, Carrier Air Wing 9 from January 2006 until June 2006. He retired from active duty on 31 August 2006.

His personal decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, two Legions of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with five strike flight awards; four Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, one with combat V, and two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals. He has logged over 4100 hours in 40 different types of aircraft.


As told to by Ben Tatar