It wasn’t hard to get hooked on Strongman Training at Global Strongman Gym and when Hans Pirman told me there was a competition a few months out and that he thought I might do well if I trained for it, I knew I needed to try it. I spent the next 8 weeks focusing on getting ready for the competition. For the first time ever, my training was for a purpose, not just random things that struck my fancy. I doggedly followed the training program Hans prescribed to get me ready – and it was FUN. Last weekend, the Gotham Strongest Man and Woman Viking Battle finally happened. I’ve never done a competition and really didn’t know what to expect, but figured a special outfit was in order to make myself feel really ready to be a badass. Seriously, the proper attire does wonders for feeling ready to face anything. There were 40 competitors and when I got to the gym, I was stunned by how many people were there – it was packed. I signed in, took a deep breath and tried not to overthink what was to come. I looked at the awesome trophies lined up on a table and secretly REALLY wanted one. I knew that it was really doubtful that I’d get to take one home in my first competition, so I just pushed it of my mind and tried to focus on Hans explaining the rules of the day’s events.
The Yoke was next – a big thing that looks like a football goal post that you pick up and support on your back and “run” 50ft with. For my novice group, the weight was 300 lbs – I’d tried the weight before and knew that it was doable. As I hoisted it up and started to go, I heard cheers of “That’s right! FAST FEET!! Get it!” and in 10.5 seconds, I was done. A solidly speedy run with a big damn thing on my back. It wiped me out so I sat and cheered loudly for all those after me… and watched with awe the people who managed to carry even more. I watched it happen, but I’m still having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that people I’ve trained with were carrying 600+ pounds!
The sandbag carry was easily my best performance. I went 500ft in front of the throng of people, back and forth like a pacing queen refusing to put it down. I just pictured it like an angry, fat toddler, the 100 lbs I was trying not to drop. Visualizing is helpful. Even though I was surrounded by people, they were a blur. Hans walked behind me encouraging and egging me on – when I finally made it to the line at the 500ft and dropped it, I heard him say “INCREDIBLE!” and was so proud. I did momentarily think I might pass out though and the girl next to me said “That was insane, now get your arms above your head and breathe.” I nodded and lifted my arms gratefully. After a few minutes, I went back to cheering the rest of the competitors on.
The one event I’d been dreading was the Trap Deadlift – at 300 lbs it was far outside of my comfort zone. I just wasn’t sure I’d be able to move it at all. As in each round, I was the second to go and I had a brief moment of really believing it wasn’t going to go anywhere… and then it did. I pulled it up with a yell every single time for 7 reps. Not the best, not pretty but off the ground and completely stood up reps. I was fried though and the Atlas Stones, the final event for the comp, suffered because of it. It was the one event I thought would be the easiest for me. I train with one that is heavier and had overlooked just how drained I’d be by that point. My form went out the window. I did respectably, but was sloppy and had a couple of misses because of it. I tried to shake it off but I’m still a little annoyed I couldn’t keep it together to finish strong! Next time. The women’s event was for reps over the 44″ bar, the men’s was for max weight. Watching the men go after it was inspiring and the crowd was rooting every single competitor on. They crushed it as a whole but when someone finally got the 400lbs stone off the ground the crowd went absolutely crazy.
When the results were all tallied, it turned out that I came in 3rd in my division. I got to take one of those trophies home! I was giddy- I’ve never gotten a trophy for anything in my whole life!! It’s now proudly on a ledge in my apartment and one of the first things I see when I walk in the door. I might be just a little
proud of it…
As the day went on, the crowd continued to support and cheer each other on in what was one of the most awesome displays of community I’ve ever seen. We were individuals competing but we were a team in spirit. We cheered loudly for people pushing past their comfort zones, for PRs and for failed attempts because they were all done with so much heart. I fell in love with the Strongman community that afternoon. There is definitely another competition in my future… I have a score to settle with those damn stones.
Video and Photos by Eric Stafford