The 2002 Strongest Man & Woman In The West!

There were men and women competing for the title of The Strongest Man and Woman in the West...
Over the 2002 summer, the best strongmen of the Northwest United States competed in the Northwest Superseries. Put together by Tod Becraft (Portland, Or), the Northwest Superseries (NWSS) consisted of four competitions. The Big Sky's Strongest Man, The Gold's Gym Salem Strongman Classic, The Bohemoths & Boats Strength Competition and The Bodybuilding.com Strongest Man & Woman in the West were the four competitions starting in June and finishing in August. I had planned on competing in one or two of the competitions, but once they were arranged as the NWSS with additional prizes involved, I decided to compete in all of them and try to win The Series.

The NWSS worked with cumulative points throughout all of the competitions. So, not only did you need specific points to win each of the competitions, but you also got points depending on how you placed at each of the competitions to go towards your NWSS total.

Starting June 16th in Missoula, Montana the NWSS began with The Big Sky's Strongest Man. Held on the university's campus, Missoula was a beautiful setting for a strength event. There were 4 of us in the professional division, all looking to win the prize money and points for the NWSS. The competition started with the Seated Truck Pull event. This is one of my favorite events testing grip, arm and back strength as well as technique. Each competitor pulled a 13,000lb Budweiser truck in a seated position. The person who pulled it the farthest in 90 sec or 100' as fast as possible would win. I pulled the truck 60+' (almost doubling the distance of my closest competitor) and winning the event.


Here I am pulling the truck with the 2" tow rope that's attached to it's front end.


Just getting started pulling the truck...

We followed this event with the Log Clean and Press. This event was for maximum weight, giving each person 3 attempts to do as much weight as they can for 1 rep. All of the Pros worked up to about 280lbs, leaving us in the same placing from the first event (me in first).


Here I am with 280lb locked out over my head. Heath Otto (Boise) locks out a 200lb log.

We then moved onto the Atlas Stone event. Here, each of the athletes had to lift a round stone, carry it over and place it on a platform varying in heights and weights. The Pro stones started at around 250lbs and the heaviest was over 300lbs. I won this event with the fastest time doing all 5 stones. The stone event is another one of my favorites, testing grip, arm, back and leg strength as well as technique. It is a classic strongman event.


Heath Otto places the first stone onto the platform.

Our next event was the front hold. The Pros had to hold a 56lb weight in front of our face for as long as possible. I won this event with a time of 1 min, 11 seconds. This event thrashed the shoulders and upper back as the body fatigued in the hot Missoula sun.


Me about to drop the 56lb weight.

After a short break, we had two more events to go: the Farmer Carry and the Tire Flip. For the Farmer Carry event, the pro class had to carry a 265lb cylinder in each hand as far as possible or 250' in the shortest time. I won the Farmer carry event carrying them the farthest distance. This event is a great grip testing event as the cylinders can just slip out of your hand while you try to walk as quickly as possible towards the finish line.

The final event of the day was the Tire Flip. I had won 4 of the first 5 events and tied on the 5th for first, so performance on this final event was to keep my first place placing. Everyone was very tired at this point and the heat was getting to everyone. The Tire Flip is a grueling event working the arms, legs, back and testing cardiovascular conditioning as you flip the massive tire over and over as fast as possible.

I placed 2nd in this final event, with Brice Gimbel beating me by a few feet. However, I had first place clinched for The Big Sky's Strongest Man 2002 as well as 4 points towards the NWSS.

We all now had points towards the NWSS. I had the most, 4 (as I got first out of 4 guys) Brice had 3, Dean had 2, etc... It was a great day and trip to Missoula and we were off to food after about 3/4 of a gallon of Gatorade.

The second competition that made up the NWSS was the Gold's Gym Salem Strongman Classic in Salem, Oregon. I had never been to this competition before and it had some events that I'd never done before. Brice, who placed second to me in Missoula, had placed well in Salem last year so beating him would be a great thing. The competition consisted of 2 loading medleys, a rock toss for distance, a shoulder press event, the "sun dial" event and a seated truck pull. We started with the "Junkyard Stack Loading Event"...I had to place well in this first event to capitalize on my foot speed.

This event consisted of loading a 180lb railroad tie, a 220lb steel break drum, a 280lb concrete suitcase-looking block and a 330lb concrete parking block. We had to load these items onto platforms of varying heights.

The next event, was the Sun Dial. This is similar to the Conan's Wheel that I've discussed in my earlier articles. I placed 2nd in this event but was still 1st or 2nd overall for points.


Me about to let the rock go for a ride!

Our next event was the Rock Toss. This was an event testing full body explosiveness as we had to toss a 22lb stone as far as possible. We had two tosses and they would take the sum of both tosses for our total distance. I placed 2nd or 3rd in this event.

The shoulder press event was next. Unlike the log press, this is a variation of the Viking press that I've written about previously. One end of the apparatus is attached and you press the other end as many times as possible.


Heath working on his last rep before time runs out.

We had two more events to go: another medley and the seated truck pull. I was sitting pretty good after the first events in 1st place but had to do well in the last two to keep my placing as Brice was so close in points.

The next loading medley had us carry 2-80lb sand bags, flip a tire 3 times and then place that 280lb block onto a platform. Again, with quicker feet than a lot of my competitors I did well at this event.

I won this event and going into the seated truck pull I had to win this event to win the competition. The truck was a lot lighter than what I was used to but the rope was also thinner...making it a lot different from the way I'd been practicing. We were using a full size Chevy pickup for like 75' as fast as possible. I won this event and have the rope burn to prove it!


Me and my prize check-I had to fold it a few times to fit it in my wallet!

Two competitions down and two to go, I was ahead in points for the NWSS, but Brice was so close behind me I had to continue training hard for the next competition in two weeks.

The next competition was the Bohemoths and Boats held in Kennewick, Washington in conjunction with the Hydro Boat races. The events were a lot heavier than the Salem competition but the competitors were different and I didn't know how I'd compete with these guys. The events in this competition included a tire flip, carry and drag medley, bag carry, log clean and press for reps and a truck pull.


I gave the Tire Flip everything I had so that I could earn points in this first event of the day...

We started with the Tire Flip event, which I new I had to win in order to get a good placing for the next event. It was about a 700lb tire over a 100' course. I came in 2nd by 1/2 a second...so close!

The next event of the day was the Log Clean and Press. This event was slightly different from what is usually done at smaller competitions. Usually, we would only have to clean the log for the first rep and then just do a standing shoulder press for reps until time runs out. However, this time we had to take each rep down to the ground again before pressing it over our head. I tied for second at this event with 6 reps. The weight of the log was 260lbs.


Banging out my 6th rep to tie for 2nd place in this event and keep my overall 2nd place standing in the competition. (Dan Cantrell (Boise) standing to the side is one of my training partners. He competed in the lightweight category.)

The next event was a Medley made up of a farmer carry, keg loading portion and tire drag portion. I love these events as they test the whole body from grip, back and leg strength as well as stamina. We started by carrying 2, 250lb cylinders 75', then loaded 4 kegs ranging from 200-250lbs then dragged a 300+lb tire back 75'.

The next event was the USUK bag carry. Similar to the Husafelt stone event seen in World's Strongest Man competitions, the bag weighed 330lbs and we had to carry it as far as possible. Because I won the medley, I got to go last in the bag carry so I knew exactly how far I had to carry it to win.

After coming in 2nd in the tire flip and the log press then winning the medley and bag carry I had to do well in the final event-The Truck Pull-to win the competition. It was so close that we I was nervous how fast I could pull the 18 wheeler. Usually, we only have to pull the front portion of a semi-the tractor-but here we had to pull the truck part and the trailer. It was extremely heavy and as it was the last event of the day everyone was virtually spent.


Me pulling a Coca-Cola 18-wheeler 100' in 49 seconds.

I won this final event which put me in first place for the competition. At this point, I'd won the first 3 competitions of the Northwest Superseries. Only one more competition to go, and that was the Strongest Man/Woman in the West competition I promoted with Bodybuilding.com here in Boise. Depending on how many competitors entered, I could get away with not competing in the fourth competition and still win the Superseries. As it turned out, with the points I had earned at the first 3 competitions, I didn't have to compete in my own competition and I could just put all of my time and energy into promoting/running the competition.

The Strongest Man/Woman in the West competition write up can be seen by clicking here!

So, I won 3 out of the 4 competitions that made up the 2002 Northwest Strongman Superseries. I'd like to thank (in no particular order):

Bodybuilding.com
Jody, Meredith and Gordon St. Clair
Heath Otto (my training partner for the last 5 years)
Tod Becraft (founder of the NWSS)
Julie Havelka
Jesse Marunde
And many others.

For more information on strongman competitions, Click here!

For more information on strength events in the Northwest, Click here!

Please feel free to email me with any questions! Keep training hard!

Train hard!