On Saturday 3rd August we travelled to western Poland to a small town called Kostrzyn to witness Giants Live, a qualifier for this year’s World’s Strongest Man. The competition was held at Woodstock music festival, a huge event with over 500,000 attendees. An area of the festival had been cornered off and this was to be the arena for Giants Live. The line-up was as follows:
- Krzysztof Radzikowski – POL
- Misha Koklyaev – RUS
- Vytautas Lalas – LTU
- Lauri Nami – EST
- Ben Kelsey – ENG
- Martin Wildauer – AUT
- Bartlomiej Bak – POL
- Scott Cummine – CAN
- Eoin Graham – IRE
- Robert Cyrwus – POL
With only the top three qualifying for World’s Strongest Man and with at least four names you’d expect to see there it was going to be a tough event.
Event 1 – Farmer’s walk and drag medley
The farmers were two huge 160kg guitars (apt for a music festival) and the drag was a sled loaded with a log and straddled by a girl – interesting! The first athlete went up and finished the farmers but struggled with the drag – he kept slipping on the dry, uneven and long grass. The remaining strongmen soon clocked on to this and the one pair of size 11 football boots that someone had brought along suddenly became hot property. The remaining athletes all took it in turn to squeeze their feet into these boots so that they could complete the medley – and that they did. All athletes finished the event, with Lalas taking victory in a very impressive time.
Event 2- Overhead medley (160kg log, 95kg dumbbell, 110kg block and 185kg log)
The log was of the long, wooden variety, whilst the dumbbell was fairly standard (but obviously large, considering its weight) however the block was particularly bulky and cumbersome – more so than we’ve previously ever seen. As such, only two of the strongmen managed all four lifts (Lalas obviously included!).
Event 3 – Eight kegs (16-22kg)
The height some of the kegs were thrown – in particular by Misha – was incredible. Clearing the target by up to 2-3 metres! If it were keg toss for height we think he would have been on to a winner but, as it was, the unnecessary height cost him precious seconds and it was the more efficient athletes that managed to clock a quicker time.
Event 4 – Conan’s wheel
Whereby the previous events had seen the top competitors all consistently scoring well, this event saw the athletes finishing all over the place. It was a local Pole who won the event with an impressive 2.5 rotations, followed by Lalas, another and then the lightweight, first timer Brit, Ben Kelsey, in fourth. Radzikowski and Misha lost important points on this event – whether it was the heat, lack of practice or just bad luck they’ll can pull a better performance out of the bag if Conan’s is at World’s Strongest Man.
Event 5 – 420kg yoke and shield carry
Another mixed bag of an event – the first competitors to go both managed the yoke but ran out of time for the shield carry. One managed to throw it off its pedestal – scoring important points over the Irishman who just left it where it sat. It’s shape was cumbersome and, under the clock, its no surprise the athletes didn’t know how to tackle it. That being said, the more experienced athletes proved their worth and managed to complete the carry – Lalas proving that long arms weren’t a prerequiste and that strength and technique alone could prevail.
Event 6 – Atlas stones
There were some monstrously impressive stone lifters present with many of the strongmen completing all five stones in impressively quick time. Before the event, the strongmen had all carefully reviewed the scoresheet and knew what they had to do to either secure their position or catch up with an athlete just in front. Radzikowski powered through his run, checking the time and then nervously awaiting Nami’s run – the man who could knock him down from second to third. Fortunately for Radz, he had done what was needed and, after Nami’s run, proudly proclaimed “I am second!” in English, not Polish – rather odd but at least we understood it!
The final standings
- Vytautas Lalas – 53 points – LTU
- Krzysztof Radzikowski – 45 points – POL
- Lauri Nami – 44 points – EST
- Misha Koklyaev – 43 points – RUS
- Robert Cyrwus – 41 points – POL
- Martin Wildauer – 35 points – AUT
- Scott Cummine – 21 points – CAN
- Ben Kelsey – 18 points – ENG
- Bartlomiej Bak – 16 points – POL
- Eoin Graham – 13 points – IRE
In an event where beer was easier to come by than water and with temperatures upwards of 43c everyone did a sterling effort to perform as they did. That said, this year’s World’s Strongest Man is in China and so the athletes who qualified should expert even hotter conditions there! Until then, we’ll leave you with this photo of Kelsey and Lalas escaping the sun – one an Englishmen and the other living in Ireland, they’re obviously not used to the heat!