England’s Strongest Man

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With temperatures reportedly higher in England than the Caribbean this weekend it was a tough old environment for the rosy cheeked Englishmen to battle it out for the title of England’s Strongest Man 2013.

Held in a casino car park in Reading, it wasn’t the most glamorous of locations but the lineup was strong – all the more so for the late addition of World’s Strongest Man competitor Eddie Hall, who fancied a chance at the title too.

Truck Push

Although not a scheduled event, the last minute change of venue meant there were going to be a few surprises in store today. The athletes had to push a truck down a 20m course as fast as they could. It became apparent, pretty quickly, that there was a technique to this – start with your back to the truck pushing with your legs and then, once you had gained enough momentum, switch around to push with your arms and drive further with the legs. Traditionally truck push/pull events favour the heavier competitors but in this instance first place went to Mick Brown a short, but admittedly quite wide, competitor. Close on his heels though was Ben Kelsey – the lightest competitor on the day.

Log Press – 140kg for reps

Originally planned to be log for max weight, this was the second change of the day. We thought Eddie Hall had this one in the bag but his six reps were only enough to secure joint first place with Ben Kelsey and Wayne Smith. We suspect the scorching heat may have affected Eddie’s staying power. Both Ben and Eddie couldn’t have shown more opposing techniques – Eddie choosing to strict press all six reps with Ben instead power jerking all of his.

Deadlift – maximum weight

Each strongman had to lift the initial 300kg – standard olympic bar, straps but no suits allowed. After that the competitors had four lifts of their choice. Adam Bishop put in a sterling effort to lift 360kg at a lower bodyweight than most of the other competitors. Tom Shaw pushed Eddie Hall with both of them making 370kg. However, Eddie proved why he had been to World’s Strongest Man with a strong 380kg pull to win the event.

Conans Wheel – 340kg (ish)

There’s always a debate about whether slow and steady or fast and furious is the best technique for Conan’s wheel. On this occasion it was the strongmen who were a little faster footed who picked up the points. Ben Kelsey put in an impressive performance clocking three and a bit revolutions, almost a whole turn more than anyone before him. Eddie came out determined to beat Ben’s performance, pushing himself to the absolute limit with a simultaneous throw and dive of the Conan’s at the last second. Unfortunately for Eddie he was just pipped to the post by Ben – finishing a couple of centimetres short of the lightweight’s excellent effort.

Atlas Stones

Unusually the stones weren’t the last event, with the organisers opting to have head-to-head farmers as the decider instead. There were five atlas stones going up to 175kg. Adam Bishop stormed out of the blocks and lifted the first four stones in 17 seconds. What appeared to be a miscalculation on the tacky front (the glue/wax like substance strongmen use to “stick” to the stones to help their grip) caused Mr Bishop to fail the fifth stone as his grip repeatedly slipped. Again, Eddie Hall made his credentials well known with a blisteringly fast stone run for the win.

Farmer’s Walk – 130kg

Going into the final event Eddie Hall was in first, four points clear of Ben Kelsey in second. Closely on their heels were the other strongmen, all vying for, if not the podium, at least a qualifying spot for UK’s strongest man in Belfast, Northern Ireland later this year. The event was head-to-head and organised so that Ben and Eddie would have an awesome showdown. The whistle blew and Ben went flying down the course, dropping, turning and returning the farmer’s implements in the fastest time so far. Eddie put in a quick effort but it was touch and go whether he had been quick enough to not drop his four point lead…

The Final

A lot of calculating and discussion was done by the organisers of the competition (which included static monster Glenn Ross and WSM veteran Terry Hollands) until they finally concluded that Eddie and Ben had not only finished on equal points but were equal on count back too! No-one knew quite what to do – should the title be split? Should an additional rule be introduced to somehow separate their scores? It was eventually decided a tiebreaker event would determine the victor. Without much thought tug-of-war was declared to be the final event but, when Eddie’s and Ben’s extreme weight difference was brought to Glenn Ross’ attention (Ben having won England’s u105kg just two weeks ago) it was decided a farmer’s walk hold (with straps) for time would be a better finisher.

The head to head event was touch and go with Eddie’s grip visibly slipping but it was Kelsey’s straps that went first and Eddie roared his way to a well deserved victory.

Final Standings (top six qualify for UK’s Strongest Man)

  1. Eddie Hall
  2. Ben Kelsey
  3. Tom Shaw
  4. Mick Brown
  5. Adam Bishop
  6. Mike Thom
  7. Gareth Pavey
  8. Wayne Smith
  9. Ash Winton
  10. Karl Alcock
  11. Luke Fulbrook
  12. James Conolly

It was a volcanic day at England’s Strongest Man in Reading with a field of excellent athletes. Well done to all involved and a small shout out for Dan Cave who won the Junior competition earlier on in the day.