Strongman Sanctuary Summer Competition Write Up!
Our Charity Challenge raising money for Cancer Research UK began on the weekend of the 1st and 2nd August 2015 with a strongman competition at the Strongman Sanctuary in Kent. I (Ali) had competed there earlier in the year at their Masters Strongman Competition and I loved the venue and the people and was keen to return, and Faye was also gagging to have a go seeing that they have probably one of the most diverse arrays of strongman events around!
The events for this competition were a good mix; A truck pull, Hercules Hold (where you have to hold two pillars up that are falling to the sides), Log lifting, Fingals Finger (a large long metal pole you have to flip, think along the dimensions of a telegraph pole), Yoke carry and Atlas stones. This is a really nice mix of events with a few exotic strongman events you don’t normally see like the Hercules and the Fingals.
I also had a revenge mission. The Atlas stones were the same set up as the last competition I had done there, which started with a really light stone of 60kg, but it had to be loaded to a 6 foot metal ring, before you could move on to the heavier stones that were loaded to lower platforms. This defeated me back in May, and I was keen to have another go!
We also had Pj join us for the ladies competition on Saturday, as she loves a bit of competition! Pj was competing in the openweight novice category and Faye was competing in the openweight advanced category, and neither of these girls are particularly big! I was competing on the Sunday in the U105kg novice category, I thought the event looked like a good challenge for me as I normally compete at U80kg.
One of the competitors in the novice ladies was Tracy Crane who is the wife of Dom Crane, who we know from competing in powerlifting in the GBPF. Tracy was trying this stuff out for the first time and Dom was supporting her. Now Dom comes across as a quiet lad, but he has a spread of talents that is quite surprising! Today’s surprise was him demonstrating his ability to ride a unicycle! the man can motor on one wheel!
The first event was the truck pull which was 8 tonne, and as they were unsure if the girls would be able to pull, referee Laurence Shahleai put a call out for a tester and announcer Les Wiltshire stepped up! Les was able to finish the distance despite wearing dress shoes so the ladies felt a lot more confident tackling it! A few of the ladies in the novice class didn’t quite finish the course but Pj got a good run in and got 4th place. Faye also got in a good run, but being the lightest in the advanced class she still only managed last place. Bodyweight is a big factor in an event like the lorry pull! When I did the lorry pull they took away the rope, which is fair enough as the ladies all did the same size truck, although personally I would have preferred to keep the rope and add another vehicle! But probably wasn’t logistically feasable. Having never done a harness pull without a rope there was a bit of ‘on-the-job’ learning to do, and the lorry started easy and felt light, but I came up too early and lost a lot of drive early on. I got 6th place on this event which was disappointing as I like this one!
Next event was the Hercules Hold. This is a bit more exotic, not many places have this strongman event to try, it consists of holding two pillars that are falling to the sides up with handles, as if it was pulling you apart. All three of us did well at this event, with Pj coming 3rd, Faye coming 2nd and myself coming in joint 3rd. From my point of view I have to say this is the most pleasant strongman event I’ve ever done! There was absolutely no feeling of strain or pressure on my body, just eventually felt my hands open against my will! Strongman yoga maybe?
The third event was one of the most common events ever in strongman, the log lift overhead. This competition it was a set weight for repetitions floor to overhead in 60 seconds. Pj had to do 35kg, Faye had to do 50kg and I had to do 75kg. Pj absolutely stormed hers, I told her a target of double figures and she got 11 reps! I think she one motioned it every time, which if you’re strong or powerful enough is a faster method for reps. Faye was worried about this event as she has had long term shoulder problems, only just finding out recently that her joint problems are in fact genetic and can’t even be operated on. But she wanted 5 reps, she got 5 reps and called it a day, happy in getting her goal! I went into this event expecting not a brilliant amount, aiming for maybe 3 or 4 as I also have long term crappy shoulders, but I managed 6 reps which made me very happy! It still only got me 8th place with a few guys getting 7 reps, but take the good stuff when you can! Pj came 5th and Faye came joint 3rd in this event.
Next up was the yoke. I absolutely love the yoke! Possibly my favourite event in all of strongman. A wonderful blend of technique, speed and pain! Most people don’t feel about it like I do, and I can see why. It does beat you up! This yoke run was a nice simple 20 metre sprint, which suits us all! Pj had to lift 140kg, Faye had 160kg and I had 220kg. We all were able to run with ours, although Faye had a little difficulty early on with not getting the yoke height quite right and it hitting the floor a few times as she started to speed up. Pj got an awesome 2nd place in this (she is super fast at yoke! Quads of death!), Faye got 3rd and I also got 3rd in this.
The fifth event was the fingals finger…. Now this is a pant filler. Hardly anyone has ever done this event, so nobody really knows what to expect. The ladies had to flip a 100kg pole, and originally I was supposed to do a 200kg pole. Pj absolutely gave it her all, but with Pj being a tall, slim, lean lass the pole was a bit of a relentless hammer on her bony bits and she couldn’t keep pushing against it to get it over. Not many of the girls in the novice managed to flip it at all, and I think the winning score was 2 or 3 reps, so it was very hard! Faye in the advanced category managed to flip it once, and it was horrible to watch. At one point near the top the pole came back against her and you could see her body starting to fold back…. But Faye is a strong dickhead and managed to muscle it over, but not without straining some back muscles which needed a rub down straight afterwards! After watching the ladies struggle I was absolutely terrified of my turn! I figured if I could flip the 200kg once then that would put me top half of the table minimum, but as it turned out…. they decided to drop our categories weight to the 100kg and I didn’t complain! I was up second on this and tried to just keep it moving, it was quite a cardio event. I thought I did quite well with 10 reps, but then everybody started to learn the timing and lots of guys got 11 and 12 reps, so I ended up with 7th place on this.
The class after mine was the openweight novice, and they went straight back to the 200kg finger. The first two guys couldn’t quite get it to their chest and gave up, then the next guy managed to get it to his chest but then it came back down on his stomach and leg, knocking him flat! He jumped straight back up and had another go but it was not to be, and he then needed to be helped out back and lay down with some ice! Then up stepped Mark… I had just spoken to Mark prior to his attempt on this, it was his first competition, he had just turned 40 and wanted to try something a bit different. Mark was a trooper in his attempt. He shouldered the finger and relentlessly kept pushing it further and further up…. It looked like it was geting very close to going over! Then, I think Mark just ran out of gas… The finger just crushed him into the floor. they managed to get him from under it and then they tended to him while ambulances were called. Poor Mark was not in a good way, but at least he was still conscious. After a couple of hours they managed to get him out on an air ambulance, apparently he dislocated both knees, broke a shoulder, broke some ribs and punctured a lung, but the paramedics were confident he would be ok eventually. Hope you fix up well and soon Mark!
After that the fingers event was abandoned and we moved on… So the final event was the atlas stones. Now the Strongman Sanctuary have an unusual set up for their stones, you have to load them on to metal cups. The ladies had to load all of their stones on to rings set at 4 foot. Pj did well getting 4 out 5 stones and loading a 60kg stones which she has never done before! Faye was very close to loading the 75kg stone, but had to settle with 3 out of 5. Pj scored 4th and Faye got 3rd in this event. As for myself…. Well just getting the first 60kg stone into the 6 foot ring would be an improvement from last time! On the go command I picked up the 60kg, was lifting into place and I felt my right elbow go ‘pop’. I have a small sprain on the small joint just below the elbow, so it was expected, but once I realized I was ok I manned up, picked up the stone got in it went! Next was 80kg to 5 foot, an easy shoulder and in it went. Now the heaviest stone we have at the PTS gym at the moment is 80kg, so now I’m in new territory! the 100kg stone was easy, the 110kg stones was easy, felt good going for the 120kg, got too eager and lost balance just as it was going in and dropped it. Laurence called out 5 seconds left and I picked it up, got it to the ring and heard ‘Time!’ a fraction before it slotted into place! Fuck! And with my fumble on the 60kg stone my split time on the four stones within the time limit was slower than anyone else so I came 9th! If I had got that 5th stone in time I think I would have come 4th or 5th, but alas, that’s how tight my category was! This was the highlight of my day, and funnily enough my worst scoring event!
So with all the events done, Pj came in 3rd place, which is fantastic considering it was openweight and she competes sometimes at U63kg! Don’t underestimate a lady in her 40’s! Faye came in 4th place in the openweight advanced, which she was happy with as the events were fairly heavy and she competes at U57kg! I ended up in joint 7th, which isn’t very good from the competition point of view but I was very happy with my performance and my category was incredibly tight, I’ve never seen such closeness in a whole field in terms of rep and time spread!
It was a fantastic weekend, they were on their own charity mission with getting a little boy called Dom a special rigged up bike so he can ride for the first time, I hope they were successful! We had a number of cash donations ourselves, so thank you to everyone who supported us, the fund raising is going well! I look forward to the next time I get to compete at the Strongman Sanctuary!
As I write this we have now managed to raise about £2,500, which is amazing! If you wish to donate then please go to www.justgiving.com/FayeAndAliShaveTheirHeads and drop us a few quid! Thank you!
Here are the videos of the competition, Faye and Pj are in the first one and I’m in the second one. Enjoy!
Our next competition is the All England National Powerlifting Championships, Faye is doing the Classic on Friday 14th August in the evening, then she has got the equipped on Saturday morning! I’m competing in the Classic on Saturday night, then the next morning I’m going to Milton Keynes to compete in the Kent Hill Rumble Fitness Competition… I might die.
See you soon!