Ali Wilson competing at Northamptonshire’s Strongest Man U90kg 25th Oct 2015 Write Up
By Ali Wilson
Well first I just want to say that I’m really fucking buzzing! I’m typing this the night of the competition, so the good vibes are still very much running through my body, the fire in my blood is high!
Before you get too excited, I didn’t win or even place or anything like that, but I had a really good fun day, hanging around a bunch of cool people doing slightly crazy cool things, not just to see if you can, but because you CAN try to see if you can. So many people get caught up in whether they are good enough or strong enough or fit enough to try something, well when do you find out? I fucking love the buzz of being challenged and seeing what I’m capable of, and if someone is better than me at something, that just makes them more capable, it doesn’t make me less capable. A very important distinction!
I only entered the competition about 10 days before it was on, but I’d thought about entering it for a few weeks. There was a U90kg weight class, so close to my normal weight class of U80kg, but the weights were pretty heavy! The events listed on the poster were 90kg log for reps (my current one rep best, which I had done once, in a competition at the end of August!), a 300kg yoke carry for 25 metres (that’s fucking heavy for U90kg!), 100kg each hand farmers walk for maximum distance (that is a truly horrible event!), a car deadlift to max in last man standing format (wasn’t sure what they meant, there was a weight listed of 140kg as starting, I assumed they were adding 140kg to the car, as 140kg as a start weight as it stands is way too low, especially with the other events!), 50kg dumbbell for reps overhead (again, difficult!) and then a carry medley over 25 metres of…. 30kg objects (eh? Not sure what to make of that, again the rest of the competition was heavy and difficult, maybe they were figuring people would so fucked after everything that this was just a nice sprint finisher? Don’t know!)
But as it’s a strongman competition that is about 20 minutes from me at a gym on the other side of Northamptonshire called Alpha Training Gym, I figured it was silly not to compete. So I started training for it a little bit about 3 weeks prior to the competition, did a couple of yoke runs, a couple of 30kg keg sprints, and trained dumbbell lifting a couple of times a week. I train log lifting all the time anyway because it’s my worst thing (except squatting!) so that was already in there. The dumbbell training was very interesting! I think I failed 40kg the first time for multiple attempts, then in 2 weeks I had managed to get the 50kg dumbbell up with both arms on first attempts, but as I’m not a strong presser it was all about balance and getting the clean exactly right! Which I loved!
On the day of the competition I got there early as Faye had to open the PTS gym as normal, so I was on my own for the day! The entire competition was outside in the car park, so I made sure I had on many, many layers! Long socks, tight leggings, shorts, thick tracksuit trousers, vest, base layer, t-shirt, zipped jumper, thick hoodie, two pairs of gloves and a beanie hat! Yes I’m a pussy when it comes to being cold! I was wearing all of this and still had all my stuff in my pockets when I weighed in, 89.8kg, and that was after two big breakfasts! Haha, but it meant I didn’t need to shed a single layer to make weight! Good times!
The first event was the Log Lift. 90kg for reps in 75 seconds. I am shit at log! 90kg is my best lift, so I knew going in this would most likely be a case of 0 or 1 rep. Well, I did manage to get one rep! It was funny, I was one of the last guys to go up for this, and a lot of the guys made the log look like it was made of polystyrene, just blasting out reps, which kind of makes you think ‘maybe it won’t be that bad…’ Until I picked it up for the first rep and I thought ‘Fuck! It really is 90kg!’ Haha! A couple of guys got 0 reps, so I wasn’t last in my worst event! 9th place in this, but still happy I got a rep!
The second event was the 300kg yoke carry over 25 metres… Uphill! 300kg is a fucking heavy yoke! The guys that went before me talked about how slidy the bar felt on the back, and yep, they were right! Every time I got some stride I felt it going off my back. You can see me change my grip to a squat grip half way through, this enabled me to go a bit faster. Despite the drops, was very happy with the speed I managed to get once moving. Nobody in my class managed to complete this run without a drop, even so I think the fastest time was 16 seconds! I got 50 seconds, which was good for 5th place. As horrible as the yoke is generally, I loved this!
The third event ended up being a 15 inch 220kg deadlift for reps in 60 seconds, instead of the car deadlift. The openweights still got to lift the car, and they switched to reps because they were pushed for time. The bar knurling was absolutely vicious! I actually opted to use straps to protect my hands more than anything! Was a bit nervous about this, I’m not a strong lad and wasn’t sure if this would be good for me. Well, it turned out being a cardio bunny did me a favour here! While I didn’t blast the reps out like some, I managed to keep an even pace to a nice feeling 17 reps for 6th place. Winner got 22 reps, so not a huge separation. Enjoyed this bit of cardio and got some nods of approval!
Fourth event was the Farmers Walk, 100kg in each hand for two 25 metre lengths. Originally this was going to a maximum distance event, but again to manage time better it was changed to a there and back sprint race. I think maximum distance would have suited me better in terms of the competition, as it would played to my strengths (or not strengths haha!) of excellent cardio, but it would have also fucked my hands, traps, lats and quads into next week, so I didn’t mind the switch. Actually this was really easy, but I’m just too fucking slow haha! The guy on the other side of me in the video is Callum Evans, who won today, and is one of the strongest U90kg guys in the UK! Look at the speed he moves at! Why oh why did I have to be paired up with him?! Haha, I think I need to just take my medicine and try to improve a bit more at this event! But anyway, did this in 32 seconds and got 6th place.
Fifth and final event (the carry medley got cancelled because they were concerned about visibility outside, and with the clocks going back, fair enough) was a 55kg dumbbell to be lifted overhead for reps in 60 seconds. Originally it was a 50kg dumbbell, which I’d managed to lift in training for the first time just this week, but their 50kg dumbbell broke! So it was time to man up and go for a PB! ….Or not haha! I didn’t get a rep on this, but I felt how close I got, and I think with an extra week of preparation I would have got a rep or two, but as I’m not strong enough to just muscle or blast it up I have to play the balance and technique game, which requires more practice! But only four guys in my class got any reps on this so it was still joint 5th place, just for effort haha! Actually I’ve really enjoyed practising the dumbbell technique for this comp over the last couple of weeks, need to get some bigger dumbbells!
So overall I came joint 6th out of 11 athletes. With this being a very heavy, taxing competition guys were pulling out a fair bit, so only 7 guys finished the competition! I had an absolute blast though, performed over and above what I expected, got to hang around with some cool folk, and just generally do what I love; compete!
This was Alpha Gym’s first strongman competition and I look forward to their next one! It’s good to be able to compete locally and not have to worry about running the show myself!
Here is the video of my performance today, enjoy!