We travelled to Hungary to watch the World’s Natural Strongest Man 2012 final, otherwise known as the Laszlo Classic.
Traditionally atlas stones are a finishing event but in Hungary they like to mix things up! With this in mind the competition kicked-off with head to head stones. Four stones to load, the heaviest of which was just 175kg, meant that for these monsters it was very much a speed event. The two hungarians shot off with admittedly very impressive times. Other competitors weren’t far behind but there was a suspicious lack of athletes finishing the left-hand set of stones – needless to say a few eyebrows were raised when the Hungarians insisted on using the right-hand set. All mere speculation and, regardless, Mr Hungary 1 and Mr Hungary 2 were very fast indeed.
This thing was heavy. 550kg heavy. To put this into perspective, over half of the competitors didn’t manage a single flip. The two Hungarians and the Swede, John Pasanen, clearly have the technique for this particular tyre nailed. Using a double footed approach – rather than with split feet, resting it on one leg and pushing with the other – they not only managed two flips but made the tyre look light! After two events the Hungarians were out in the lead, followed by Swedish John with English Ben Kelsey close on their tails.
Head to head again, the competitors had to carry this 180kg stone as fast as they could along the 20m course. Only two drops were allowed, anymore resulted in your event finishing early. Not everyone completed the course, but those that did varied from snail pace to blisteringly fast. The usual suspects were fighting for the top spot once again – despite Swedish John’s delayed start (we’re not sure he was quite ready!) he nearly caught up with one of the Hungarians who was almost jogging down the course. The other Hungarian was very fast but appeared to misjudge the finish line – dropping the stone slightly short. But fear not, with said Hungarian’s father organising the competition he was judged to have reached the finish line. Some of the athletes questioned the decision but to no avail. A bit of a shame. Nevertheless this didn’t stop English Ben from powering down the course at a sprint and claiming his first event win of the day.
Behemoths of men waddling down a course as fast as they can – what’s not to like?! With similar rules to the Husafell stone (two drops and you’re out) the grip element of this event eliminated many athletes before they reached the halfway mark. English Ben cemented his place as fastest athlete with another event win. With one event to go the two Hungarians were out in the lead with the Englishman in third, followed by the Swede in fourth.
Four sets of implements of varying weights, the heaviest of which was 300kg. If you managed the 300kg weight up two stairs you scored maximum points – there was no fastest time element. The Swedish entrant was the first to lift the 300kg weight onto step number 1 – good effort. The Englishmen played it safe, securing his position in 3rd by loading a lower weight before tackling the 300kg beast – unfortunately it wasn’t there on the day. Hungarian son numero uno managed to equal the Swede’s effort and get the 300kg weight onto the first stair.
The top five were:
- Miklos Fekete (Hungary)
- Laszlo Fekete Jr (Hungary)
- John Pasanen (Sweden)
- Ben Kelsey (England)
- Jack Lovett (Scotland)
We had worked out John and Ben as having equal points in third, with Ben winning on countback. Laszlo clearly went to a difficult school of mathematics than us!
Despite some slightly dubious results, the competition was otherwise very well organised. We had a drink or two with the competitors afterwards and all of them were a delight. The top six have qualified for a competition in Rio, Brazil in February next year – something we’re very jealous of!