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Here is my rundown of the my extended Arnold weekend, five days packed with odd experiences and memorable moments of every color, shape and size.

By: Dave Draper

Click here for Dave's "official" report of the Arnold Classic 2003!

From our IOL reporter, Tim Dooley-the overview:

Arnold Weekend 2003: Day One

Friday, February 28: We wanted to get an early start so it was up early for breakfast. Quick showers and rustling the children around we get the car loaded and are on the road by 7:30. It's a 2 hour drive to my parents home and there we drop of the kids, hello-goodbye, and out the door. It is 10:00 AM. We stop for gas, cashews and beef jerky and we are off, 50 miles to Columbus. We find the Greater Columbus Convention Center and begin hunting for a place to park. Apparently Vince Kirchner has this part whipped. We don't, and end up parking in a muddy lot four or five blocks away. No problem, we are on a mission, and are too excited, plus we figure the extra cardio is a blessing in disguise. We are in the Convention Center and making our way through the ticket line at about 11:20, giddy as school kids on a snow day.


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Ronnie Coleman

After paying our $20.00 we enter the promise land. No need to ask for guidance or direction. We can see the "Torque Athletic" banner across the floor and begin to make our trek. As we make our way into the 300 aisle we see Shawn Ray and stop for a picture and an autograph (this will be the first of many). We arrive at the Torque booth and find out that Dave isn't there yet, he's still not feeling well. He's expected in about 20 minutes. We'll check back.

We decide to head back to the front of the Expo hall and start a row by row assault upon the aisles. As we approach the head of the aisle we are suddenly assaulted and pushed to one side and told to stop and clear the way. A commotion behind us draws our attention as we spot Arnold heading our way. We snap a quick picture as he approaches and as quickly as he appeared he passed and was gone again. Not as big a deal as we had thought. In fact we both thought he was really beginning to show his age and didn't look all that good.

As we make our way around it becomes quickly apparent who is giving away the most "free stuff" because you can't get through for the throngs of people. We cut across another aisle and as we pause to discuss our next move Colleen points and says, "Isn't that Kim Lyons?" It was, she's hot! And she was so kind and friendly. After getting her picture taken with Arnold (who had made his way over to the "Physical Magazine" display) she stepped out and talked with us and I took Colleen¹s picture with her. We checked Torque booth again and still no Blond Bomber so we forge on. We see Dorian Yates and Bill Kazmaier. We talk with and get pictures and autographs from Nasser El Sonbaty and Mike Matarazzo, both of whom were super nice and great guys to meet. Then we saw another of my favorites, Jenny Worth. We talked with her and she was so sweet. Colleen and I both had our pictures taken with her and then discovered as we were leaving that the camera was out of film and Colleen had left the other disposable camera in the car. AAAGGGHHH! Oh well. We then got to meet Craig Titus and it was then time again to check on Dave. As we made our way back to the Torque booth we stopped and got an autographed picture of Tom Prince. As we got close we could see the line of people that had formed at the Torque booth and knew that the moment we were waiting for was about to happen. We were going to meet Dave!


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Dave Demonstrates The Top Squat

As we waited we got a copy of Stella's Cookbook and watched as Dave embraced friends, old and new, and demonstrated the "Top Squat" for those interested. It was our turn. We introduced ourselves and soon had his undivided attention. We had seen this wonderful man interact with others but to experience it for ourselves was a phenomenal experience. We talked about the "Draper Dungeon" and the "Top Squat" and Dave was so kind and generous and spoke with me as if I were an equal.

As I was talking with Dave I notice Colleen talking with someone else behind me and then this guy grabs my shoulders and said, "You must be Tim." Without looking I said, "Vince Kirchner!" I turn and we shook hands for the first time. But it was as if I were greeting an old friend. He then shook Dave's hand and said hello. I knew others were waiting so I thanked Dave for his time and Vince introduced me to his family. I saw Colleen and Dave talking and Dave signing Stella's Cookbook (I later found out that he offered to forge Stella's signature also, but didn't. We'll bring it with us in June so she can sign it herself). Then Dave signed three 8 x 10s for us. We thanked him again and said we would be back Saturday and would have another camera. Colleen and I will never forget those few moments we spent for the first time with "The Man!"

After a few more minutes of working our way through the crowds we decided to leave for the day. We had dinner that evening at "Max and Erma's" and checked into our hotel. Later we would drop off the film at a one-hour photo and splurged on ice cream at "Friendly's." Tomorrow we will need another camera and some more cash.

Arnold Weekend 2003: Day Two

Saturday, March 1: The hotel wake up call came at 7:30 and we were up and ready for day two in no time. Showered and dressed we decided to skip the "complimentary breakfast" in the hotel lobby and headed for "Bob Evans." At breakfast we saw some friends from back home who were in town to watch the Ohio High School Wrestling Championship Tournament. We shared with them the pictures from day one and said goodbye.

As we approached the Expo center the dread of fighting traffic and hunting for a parking place set me on edge (No one else should be allowed on the road when I am driving!) At the Convention Center Colleen spots a "OPEN" sign on the Convention Center parking garage. What luck! We parked and headed inside. The long walk inside was much better than day ones traverse through the mud and cold. Even the ticket line was shorter. This must be our lucky day! Another $20 for tickets and its back to fighting the crowds.

Once inside we saw Shawn Ray setting up and stopped and asked him if he would sign the picture from day one. He kindly agreed and then I took Colleen's picture with him. Ditto for Nasser and then more pictures with Jenny Worth. Pictures taken and autographs from Jenny Lynn, Gunter Schlerkamp (who looks like he is going to punch Colleen), Mike Matarazzo, Laura Creavalle, the guy from the "Animal Pak: Shut Up and Train" ads (Colleen thinks he's really cute), Bob Chicerillo, Aleksandra Kobielak, Adela Friedmansky, Cathy Priest, Frank Zane and Dorian Yates; woohhh.


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Colleen & Tim Dooley With Frank Zane.

At the Torque booth I deepened my new friendship with Odis while Dave methodically and graciously greeted his fans. When it was again our turn to talk to him he turned to us shook my hand and hugged Colleen as though we hadn't seen each other in ages and this time we had a camera that worked. Colleen took a picture of Dave and I talking (okay, I was doing most of the talking) and Cindy took a picture of the three of us. We talked for a few more minutes and said goodbye. Reminding him once again about dinner and he assured me that Guy was coming to get him and bring him to the restaurant.


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Dave With Mits & Dot Kawashima, Friends From Hawaii.

We are starving and we are supposed to go to a lecture at OSU at 1:00. So we walk across the street to "Max and Erma's" (a different one from Friday night) and had lunch. We left our primo spot in the parking garage and headed to the OSU campus. As we passed the Convention Center, in the heat of midday traffic, I notice a short "hulk" of a man trying to get across the road (silly jaywalker). I stopped and let this law-breaking hooligan cross (next time us the crosswalk Vince Kirchner)! After a 45-minute search for the lecture hall and inquiring with several people walking around where it was we gave up and headed back to the hotel. We needed the rest before dinner.

We arrived at the Spaghetti Warehouse about 4:40 and went in and told the hostess who we were and that we would be in the bar until some others showed up. We ordered a couple diet cokes and began to wait on a group of people to arrive, half of whom we had never met. Not long had passed when three guys strolled into the bar ordered some water and diet drinks and had a seat at a nearby table (hmm, could they be . . .?). Two more enter and the bar is quickly filling up with large males (Colleen's worried that she will be the only female, but Cindy is coming). At about 10 till we go to the hostess and tell her that we will go ahead and go to the table if the will direct the others when they arrive. She informs me the several are already here and are waiting in the bar. Okay, so I go to the steps and holler "Draper . . . IronOnline Party!" and half the bar gets up and walks out; Tony Coduto and his two friends (One of whom was Bobby, who recently won the Mr. Rockford, Illinois contest) and Ryan Brown and his roommate, Craig.


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Tony Coduto (at right), & Friends.

As we sat down at our table upstairs Rick Cartwright arrives with his friend John Villers and then Vince and Cindy Kirchner with two of their boys. And the wait begins.


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Joel & Vince Kirchner.

This lowly and hungry group of weightlifters try to make conversation and thankfully John Villars' phone rings. His daughters want to know where he is and he cannot convince them that he is having dinner with a bunch of weightlifters in Columbus. He hands the phone to Bobby (Mr. Rockford-a handsome young man) and says, "here you talk to her." We are all starting to get a real kick out of this when someone says "let her talk to Tony he can sound just like Arnold." John hands the phone to Tony and the table bursts into laughter as he begins his impression on the phone. Later he would sign autographs to send home with John; and John, according to Rick, had a lot of explaining to do when he got home.


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Ryan & Craig, Roommates In Iron.

Five o'clock turned to six and we all debated whether or not to order. We'll hold on a little longer. Tony and his two friends have to leave for the night show soon so they go ahead and order and we watch them eat as 6:30 approaches. We go ahead and place our orders. No Draper but we are all having a great time. Suddenly, a mountain of a man in a flannel shirt appears and says something to the Kirchners before walking away (I thought maybe they had finally caught up with Vince for the jaywalking transgression). But the news quickly spread down the table . . . he's here!


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Tim, Guy & Dave.

Dave comes in with Guy (in the flannel shirt) and greets everyone with his infectious smile. Tony, a.k.a. "Arnold", and his buddies have to leave so they say hello and goodbye. Dave and Guy take a couple seats between the Kirchners and Ryan Brown; sitting across from Colleen and I as well as Rick and John. Dave orders an egg white omelet and a can of tuna. Okay, not really, although he did ask. Of course he had to ask because he could see the menu. He had left his glasses in Guy's truck. Fetch your specks Dave!

The food comes and we all enjoy a great meal and conversation. It all ends too soon: pictures are taken of individuals as well as the group that's left. If Tim would ever shut up we could get outta here and go back to the hotel.


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The IOL Arnold Classic 2003 Crew, Minus A Few Pals.

Arnold Weekend 2003: Day Three

Sunday, March 2: Colleen and I got up early and attended the 8:15 worship service at the Fishinger and Kenny Road Church of Christ. We finally got to hear the speaker we were suppose to hear yesterday at OSU. So that part of our trip was not a complete failure. We headed back to the hotel after worship and packed up and checked out. One more stop. We have to say goodbye to Dave before we leave town.


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Tim Dooley & Dave

Another $20.00 to get in the door and then we have to get some cash from the ATM. At the Torque booth we pick up a couple of shirts and Colleen takes a picture of Odis and I together. I have another brief yet profound conversation with the Bomber. Handshakes and hugs before we say good bye. Be careful, we'll see you in June.

A stop at the "House of Pain" booth for some more clothes and a picture of Bobby (Mr. Rockford) in a double biceps pose and out the door we go. Subway turkey sandwiches and water for lunch and the drive home. The new "Torque" shirts come in handy for the cold walk back to the car. Interstate 70 and 50 miles to Springfield, gotta pick up the kids. Hope they did okay staying with Nana and Papa for the first time. Two more hours home. Maybe the best weekend of our lives. See ya in June [at the IOL Bash 2003], I need to go build some muscles!

Comments From The Crowd

From Gary Breen:
My son and I caught up with Dave late Friday afternoon at the Expo. I've met Dave before and knew he would be friendly and full of more information than you can tap in a brief conversation under Expo conditions. I always think of a dozen more things to ask Dave on my way home.

He's got a promising invention in his "Top Squat" attachment. Dave demonstrated and we couldn't keep our eyes off those forearms. Dave's enthusiasm for lifting is refreshing. I don't think the younger bodybuilders show the kind of love for lifting that Dave demonstrates. He truly enjoys it and that attitude is contagious to all who meet him. His advice to my son is to keep lifting all your life as it will always serve you well and don't get caught up in training only for big arms. Dave's advice to me was to keep at it and look for ways to train around those aches and pain that come with Father Time.


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Bill Grant, Another Friend Of Dave's From Days Past.

From The GarageLifter:
The first thing I did at the expo was look for Dave. He wasn't there at 9:00 a.m. The woman in his section told me he was on his way. I checked back several times with no luck between then and 11:00 a.m. My heart was sinking fast because I really wanted to meet Dave. That's the primary reason I went to the expo this year. At about 11:30 a.m. I checked once again and there he was! He was busy signing autographs and taking pics with his fans.

When it was my turn, Dave shook my hand while I stammered that I was a part of his IronOnline family and greatly enjoyed his newsletter. I also told him that Laree said hello. He smiled and was full of warmth and friendliness. He shook my hand and placed his other hand on my shoulder while my wife took our pic. I now have the 8x10 photo he autographed and the pic of us framed and hanging proudly in my home gym. It was a hectic day with all the people (literally elbow to elbow on Saturday afternoon), but meeting Dave made it all worthwhile!


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Dave & Memorabilia Collector Bob Adams

From DocWas:
I have never posted here before, but just wanted to say that it was a pleasure meeting Dave at the Arnold. I think I was the first person that strolled up on Friday, other than those working in the booth. I stuck out my hand, he looked at me as if to say, "Do I know you?", but responded with a smile and a handshake. We had a little conversation and he graciously posed with me for a couple of pictures.

I also am probably the only person who caught Dave's cold. (Just kidding, but I did return from the Arnold with a cold. So, as people have been asking me, "Where'd you get the cold?", I respond with, "from Dave Draper". I either get a blank stare or a laugh in return, if they know who Dave is.) I'm 61, and only started lifting several years ago, but I can truthfully say that Dave's website was and is one of the influencing factors.

From Tony Coduto:
Some memorable stuff from last weekend's Arnold Classic:


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Arnold, 2003.

Three friends and I flew out of Chicago late Thursday evening. Got to the Expo Fri. afternoon, and the first booth I tried to find of course was Dave's. Not easy. Probably took a couple hours of "'scuse me's" and "pardon's" to find it. When I did he was demonstrating the squat device, and had a good line of folks waiting for books and pictures to be signed. I bought photos for my friends who were going to attend the IOL dinner at the Spaghetti Warehouse, Bob and Rick.

Bob is in his early twenties and is looking to compete in his second show this year. He won the local "Mr. Rockford" competition last fall. Rick is a high school wrestling teacher who hasn't competed in 15 years, but is making a "comeback" this Spring. They were both very excited and couldn't believe they were actually going to dinner with the Bomber. They spent a lot of time in the airport conjuring up stuff to ask.

We got to the Spaghetti Warehouse around 4:45, and I'd say by 5:15 or so we all were all seated, sans Dave. It really is a terrific, diverse group of people. Some are looking to compete in bodybuilding, powerlifting (myself), some simply staying in great shape, but we all have the common bond of training. I spoke mostly with Tim and Colleen Dooley, who put the whole shin-dig together. They are great folks with a great balance in their lives, family/work/training. We had a lot of laughs and topics ranged to everything from training, kids, & injuries to the wonderful Drapers.

Speaking of whom, Dave wasn't there yet. Before you know it, it's darn near 6:45 and we've got tickets to the finals that start in fifteen minutes (The Vet's Memorial is across the street). We say goodbye to our new friends, head out the door and there he is. I was thinking now, do we run over to the show and try to sell these tickets and come back, or just say "Hi" and "Bye" to Dave and get over there before it started. Sadly, I was out-voted 2-1 and we shook hands with Dave and headed out. What's cool is, what I was looking forward to as the highlite of the weekend still was. Great group of people. A couple other notes on the weekend...

Frank Zane was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award during the finals Sat. night (Previous winners were Joe Weider, Reg Park and Jim Lorimer). I'm thinkin' Dave's gotta be on that list.


(Click To Enlarge!)
Tony C. & Arnold S.

Met Arnold a couple times, and attended his training seminar Sunday morning. He looks pretty good, very lean and fit. He did have rotater cuff surgery three weeks ago. It's his left side, and he said it's from Maria's family pulling him to the left all these years. He also said he's disgusted with the "Big-Belly" look of many of today's competitors. He said it's time bodybuilding got back to the classic physique of old, and if he was in his top competition shape of 1974 he would have beaten everyone on the stage Saturday night.

IOLer Gary Edwards' new powerlifting gear has got me thinking of one of the highlights during last Saturday's finals at the Arnold Classic. They hold one of these strongman competitions, like the ones you see on ESPN, with the different events taking place all throughout the weekend. The final event is during the intermission on stage at the bodybuilding finals. They had 860 lbs. of railroad ties fashioned in a square with handles in the middle. These guys had to stand in the middle, essentially deadlift the thing and tote it uphill on a 40 ft. ramp. They had 30 seconds to take it as far as they could.

Seems like they shoulda field-tested the thing, because the first 6 (of 8) competitors were fortunate to move it at all. Brad Gillingham tore a bicep, another competitor pulled a hamstring, and most of them barely got it a few steps. It's starting to look like a train wreck in front of a captive crowd when Norway's Sven Karlsen, the seventh competitor, takes the stage. He works himself up into a frenzy then grabs this thing and darn near runs up that ramp. Something like twenty seconds. The crowd went absolutely nuts. He tears his suit off like Hulk Hogan and is screaming "VIKING POWER!!" over and over at the top of the ramp. His ovation was longer and louder than any of the bodybuilders' that night. Absolutely incredible...

Sorry this is so long, just wanted to get some thoughts out there while I can still remember 'em. Thanks again to Dave and all the IOL'ers who attended dinner Saturday night, it was a lot of fun.

As Guy Miller Tells It:
I finally have a chance to relate some of my Saturday experience from the "Arnold" . It looks like I will also have to fess up of my delinquency in delivering Dave to dinner.

Being a little over 200 miles from Columbus, my original plan was to leave the house around 9:30am and arrive at the expo at 12:30-12:45pm, check in with Dave and float for awhile around all the booths then come back around four and work on getting Dave out. Now Saturday I was scheduled for shoulders and arms but I thought I'd sacrifice the workout and pick it up on Sunday, however Friday night the thought occured to me that if I got up at 6am I could still get my workout in. Well, I got up at 6:30am still determined to workout before I leave, well from that point on I was late all day.

I didn't get to the expo till about 2pm. Right away I head for Torque Athletic to shake the Big Guy's hand and reassure him I'm there and will get him to the dinner. It's always such a pleasure to meet Dave and I found myself hanging in the booth just watching all the people standing in line anxiously awaiting their turn to shake his hand, get a picture taken or get his autograph.

I also spent some time talking with Odis and his wife and some of the other people around the booth, everyone was very friendly and open. In between meets and greets Dave would demonstrate his Top Squat apparatus (which is really Top Notch.....I can see this being a fixture in many gyms).


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Odis & Cindy Meredith Of Torque Athletic.

A little after 4 I began to get worried about making dinner on time as the line of hopefuls to meet Dave had not let up. I could see myself standing in line politely and anxiously waiting my turn to see the Man and how disappointed I would be if he left before I got my chance, also Dave enjoy's meeting everyone so much and I could tell he would hate to disappoint them.

Well I start calculating.....hmmm.....maybe it's not that far to the restaurant.....a few more minutes can't hurt...yeh we'll be okay. When the decision is made to leave we take off to find my truck. "Don't worry Dave it's not that far" I confidently tell him.....right through the glass walkway to the 3rd floor garage. Well after going up and down different floors of the garage searching for my truck a kind parking attendant lets me know we are in the wrong garage.

We hike over to another garage (I'm sure Dave enjoyed this as he was a little run down already, recovering from a cold and hungrey from not eating most of the day). The truck is found and off we go.......I pull out the little green map from the information booth and locate where the restaurant is. After driving a bit .........hmm...the turn off road didn't seem to be this far, we should have been there by now. Uh...Oh...hee...hee ahh the map was turned around, we're heading in the wrong direction. At this point Dave happens to glance at my clock in the truck and I believe his right pectoral muscle jumps....."it's an hour fast Dave" I say, I never reset it from daylight savings time-boy am I scoring points with him or not!

Finally we make it to the restaurant, I check to see if anyone is still there.....I am assured they are. While Dave takes a quick stop in the restroom I venture up to the table and hope no one is carrying a handful of stones for me.

I apologize for the lateness and am received kindly by all at the table. It was agreed by everyone that my tardieness would not be given away (have I said Hi Laree yet?) :~) . It was a real treat meeting everyone and putting faces to names, Tim and Colleen are wonderful people. Vince and Cindy were a pleasure as were Rick and his buddy John, I'm sorry for forgetting the other names however it was really special to meet everyone.

All to soon it was time to break up (after all, the group there had been sitting in the same seats for something like 4 hours). Photos were taken and handshakes and smiles were exchanged. I dropped off Dave near his hotel (won't tell you how many times we drove around the block trying to get to it). I believe at some point Dave muttered something about taking a cab next time.

I arrive home about 12:15am and contemplate the events of the day and smile to myself on how fortunate I was to hang with such great people for a few hours.

Dave's Side Of The Story

Scuz me, mam, have you seen a Dodge pickup truck? Cheers bombers at large... I gave a brief rundown of the my extended Arnold weekend, five days packed with odd experiences and memorable moments of every color, shape and size. Those of you who were there know what I mean. All you need to do is stand in one place and the rest happens.

And you who stopped by the place I chose to stand to say hi and dowse me with encouragement, a big thanks. I had a ball in spite of fits of coughing and a nose that ran a marathon. Do you realize that the toilet, which was only a 100 feet away, took 30 minutes of aggressive maneuvering to reach... and then you had to stand in line. Unforgettable.

The crowd was dense, eager and appreciative and I found it hard to leave early for the IOL spaghetti slam-down. Guy Miller, a short stout pesky fellow from Pittsburgh who volunteered to drive me to the dinner, understood my dilemma. We left later than planned before commencing the great Columbus, Ohio, hunt for the vehicle of transportation. After several miles of hurrying up this staircase and down that endless corridor, waiting for the walk signs at huge intersections and slipping on patches of ice and snow in the shadows of tall buildings looking for familiar landmarks we found Guy's really cool truck. Guy's map to restaurant and our ...er... patiently waiting friends was vague and smeared with what looked like mustard and ketchup. It was eventually deciphered by this pair of bombers and we arrived just as everyone was leaving. It was a swell time... I'm being facetious. Guy is not short.

Yes. We were late and it was entirely my fault and we did eat with hearty appetites and laughed and told stories for hours and took pictures and embraced. We're getting to know each other. Then Guy took me back to my hotel. I didn't know where it was and Mr. Miller didn't know where it was. We searched Ohio and found it exactly where I left it. Good night, good buddy. You're a champ. God bless America and her friends... Dave

Click here for Dave's "official" report of the Arnold Classic 2003!

God bless you,

2003 Arnold Classic Overview!
ldraper@davedraper.com

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