Original post with photos is HERE
On Saturday 16th July, I took an 8 hour drive to compete in the UK Strength and Power Series meet in Cardiff, Wales. This is a grassroots strongman competition that I first competed in last year when the competition was set up slightly differently - a one day competition with 7 events. This year sees the competition consist of 3 heats, 3 weight categories and the top 2 from each category going through to the final in October.
I had entered the South West meet as it was being hosted by my good friend Andy McKenzie from Ironmac Fitness. Andy is a tremendous strength and conditioning coach who won the lightweight category last year and had kindly agreed to programme for me leading up to this competition.
Also heading down with me was my friend and sometime training partner Louise Mather from the band Any Color Black and her sister Gillian. Louise was competiting in the competition too in the ladies middle weight category.
The drive down was long but filled with chat, laughter, no music ( stereo was broken ), eggs, dark chocolate and traffic jams.
After arriving in Cardiff to drop the girls off, heading back to Newport to stay and Andys, I eventually got to sleep.
Nervousness and a body clock set for early mornings due to my year old baby meant that I woke up at the crack of dawn. I got showered, fed and prepped with coffee and eggs. We set off for the short drive to Dragon CrossFit, venue for the fun and games ahead. This is a tremendous strength and conditioning facility that is located in a large industrial area.
After weighing in, and meeting a few faces that I remembered from last years competition and a few faces I wasnt expecting (my buddy form back home had travelled down with his girlfriend to cheer me on and hadnt told me they were coming), the main organiser of the event , Chet Morjaria, gave us the welcome speech and gave us a run down on the first two events of the day.
Event 1 would be circus dumbbell form ground to over head for as many reps in 75secs. Heavyweight men would be using the 53kg dumb bell
Event 2 would be the Conans Wheel, with 120kg on it for us big lads.
Due to company I work for, Strength Shop UK supplying some of the equipment for the competition, I was probably only one of a few people who had used one of these huge dumb bells on a regular basis as part of my training so I was feeling great going into this event. In training I had managed 15 reps so I was looking to get there or maybe a couple of more reps.
I managed to crank 15 reps again, which I was happy about but unfortunatley this was only good enough for 3rd place as 2 guys managed 17 reps.
The second event was something I dont think anyone had done before. As I had finished 3rd in the first event, I was 3rd last to go in this so it gave me a chance to see how some of the others attacked his piece of equipment. When my turn came around I picked up the arm and set off on what would end up puting me in 2nd place. This I was very happy about, but that really, really hurt!
After this event, we had an hour for lunch so I tried to eat and drink to fuel up for the afternoon. After lunch, Chet announced what the next two events would be.
Event 3 would be one hand deadlift for max weight
Event 4 would be a medley
Before the competition, event 1 and 3 were announced so we had time to practice. I knew I could do 130kg in the deadlift, but going by how the guys in the first meet did, I knew I would beed to do at least 150kg to stand a chance of getting a good placing.
This event consisted of 7 attempts but if you failed twice you were out so tactics would be important. To start with I went in at 105kg, which I lifted easily. Next lift was 120kg and again this felt good. My next lift was 130kg and this was a bit tougher. Another 10kg was put on the bar and I gripped the bar and got that 140kg up for a new PB by 10kg. There were still a lot of heavyweights in at this point. Another 10kg was put on the bar and again I managed it - another PB. But then the weight started to get too heavy. I had my first attempt at 160kg but I dont think it even came off the floor. My next and last attempt came off the floor slightly, but only slightly. Only 2 of the heavyweights managed to get the 160kg off the floor but none got a full lift so at the end of this event we had 5 men tying for first place.
This put me in 2nd place going into the last event.
During my training leading up to the meet, I had been doing hill sprints and sled drags and duck walks so when the medley was announced I was really happy to see it was as follows.
Duck walk 20m with 160kg
backwards sled drag 20m with 120kg
Tyre flip 20m
65kg keg carry 20m
I knew I had to do well on this event and I knew my fitness level was high enough for me to smash it.
The duck walk is also something that I have practiced in training as we use it at work as part of our event training, and I usually use 180kg. I gripped the handle and duck walked the 20m without putting it down. The sled drag was not that heavy but because it was being pulled over rubber flooring, the friction made it very difficult to pull, but i managed to get it moving quickly and keep the momentum going all the way. The tyre was relativly small but flipping it for 20m proved to be more taxing than I was expecting. The last part of the medley had proved to be a difficult item for a few of the guys to pick up, but i looked at it like an atlas stone so tried to lift it in a similiar way. I squatted down, got it in a bear hug, stood up and ran as fast as my legs could take me. when I crossed the line I had a huge rush of adrenaline as I heard my time - 1min 26secs
This was good enough to keep me in 2nd place which means I am heading to the final in October.
The next heat of the series will be held at CrossFit 3D in Manchester on August 20th. For more information check out the Facebook page.
The exact location of the final has yet to be released. The Facebook page for the final will be updated with details.
I absolutely loved the competition. Having competed last year and being a lot heavier and nowhere near as fit and strong, I was very happy with my performance. I was also over the moon to see my friend Louise utterly smash the womens middle weight category, winning 3 events out of 4.