Cardinal Strongman Challenge II Writeup & Video

TAGS: lightweight, Andy Deck, meet recap, strongman

The Setup

The original plan here was for a large group of east coast guys to travel up to Michigan together for the Cardinal Strongman Challenge II in order to keep the travel costs cheap and have lots of people to swap out the driving. As usual, lots of people liked the idea in theory, but reality came along and smacked most of them in the face with a novelty-sized rubber fist. Three weeks out it was down to four guys – Jeff “The Juggernaut” Sweet, Steve “Rantin & Roarin” Mattheu, Craig “A Summer Cold is Better than Summer Teeth” Pfisterer, and myself. Two weeks out, Craig had to withdraw due to injury. One week out, Sweet was climbing over the fence into “I’m not going” land. Steve was in the whole time...until it was actually time to leave. Then, he proposed the possibility of dropping late as an alternative to driving 1,300 miles to Whitey Ford without air conditioning and only two drivers. Fortunately, Sweet climbs obstacles like old people fornicate and Steve was not really serious. We rolled out from Maryland early Friday morning.

The trip itself is all a haze of heat, humidity, noxious odors, totally inappropriate conversations and swamp ass. Our discourse covered such varied topics as the use of powerlifting gear for strongman, the necessity of a clothespin and chapstick for certain lewd acts, and the possible merits of removing Pennsylvania from these United States. Eleven hours later we pulled into the Comfort Inn of Davison, MI, and weighed-in. I woke up at 226 pounds, but weighed in at 230, fully clothed, thanks in part to a pit stop where I killed a couple ice cream bars and the copious amount of diet Mountain Dew I drank on the trip. Jeff and Steve easily made 265 and 231 pounds respectively. After an unfortunate incident at the hotel that ended with irreparable damage to a washcloth, we had dinner at Bubba O’Malley’s, a local establishment catering to the fried bleach blond types and all those who like to party in general. After dinner, we went to grab provisions and then headed back to the hotel to get some sleep and get ready for the competition the next day.

The Competition

Thankfully for people like us, who had driven most of a day to get there, the contest did not start until noon. We got to the venue around 10a.m. to check out the MAMMOTH strongman equipment, get heights for the yoke and car squat, and get setup and warmed-up. All of the equipment was made in matched pairs, so that everything could be done head-to-head and everything was beastly solid. And FYI, a 14-inch circus dumbbell is just ridiculous to see, let alone to pick up and press. We all had to give serious respect to Aaron West for building such awesome equipment and being so damn creative with it in the process. The venue was the middle of Main Street in Davison, MI, at the town festival. We were surrounded by tents and bleachers and spectators who had come out to see us move some serious tonnage or wreck ourselves trying, all in the name of good old strongman fun. I got warmed-up, was feeling good, and in short order it was time to start the show.

Circus DB Medley – Clean and press 4 circus dumbbells of increasing diameter and weight (a 135 lb 8” db, a 150 lb 10” db, a 165 lb 12” db, and 180 lb 14” db) as fast as possible
In training I was repping 165 pounds for sets of four per arm, but I wasn't able to do the whole series all in a row the one time I was able to set it up at Brute Strength Gym. I was planning to hit them left arm, right arm, left arm, right arm, but I watched a couple people have trouble with the 8-inch dumbbell, and since I knew time would probably be a factor here, I just said screw it and would do them all with my right arm until I missed. I hit the 8-inch easy, the 10-inch easier, the 12-inch without much trouble, and then I was up to the 14-inches. I cleaned it, but couldn't get it set into a tight rack position on my shoulder, which I knew would result in a missed press if I rushed it. After what seemed like several minutes, but was apparently only a couple seconds, I felt it settle into a good position and I dropped and drove it up as fast as I could. I locked it out easy and finished the medley in about 30 seconds. Good for second place.

Yoke Walk/Barrel Carry Medley – 750 lb yoke for 60’ followed by 175 lb water-filled barrel carry for 60’
This was an event I was expecting to smoke since I did a lot of work with the barrel in training and figured out a technique that allowed me to move really fast with it. Plus, Steve showed me a slight modification on my high hand position when we were warming up that made it even easier. Unfortunately, I picked the yoke up funny and it was putting pressure on a nerve that made me want to pass out. I could not feel my legs and my whole body started to go numb and weak while I was getting tunnel vision. I somehow managed to finish the course without dropping it, but it slowed me down a lot and I was wobbling all over the place for the last 10 feet. I grabbed the barrel and sprinted back to the finish line, but the yoke cost me time and was only good enough for a fourth-place finish on the event.

Car Squat – BMW Z4 (500 lbs) for reps
I trained a decent amount for this event, since I never did a car squat before and knew it would be important not to go out and drop a bomb. I was unable to gear up until immediately before I had to compete because a couple other guys were also using the METAL Ace Pro Briefs that I had borrowed and they were going before me. I got them on as best and as fast as I could, belted up, and tugged up my elitefts™ super heavy knee sleeves. I got set and got the squat command and after a brief delay in getting the left side jack out, got to work. This was pretty damn heavy. It felt more like the high box squats I had done with 605 pounds a few weeks before rather than 500, but in strongman, everyone has to do the same weight. So I turned off my brain, kicked the intensity up to full, and proceeded to knock out five reps before time ran out. Good for second place here.

Arm Over Arm Truck Pull – Mercedes SUV for 60’
This is an event that I can do very well on if I get the technique right. I got it all nailed down the previous weekend in my last event training. Watching Steve wreck this event like it was his job helped reinforce the proper technique. Unfortunately, I screwed the pooch here and did not get my legs involved in it until halfway through the course, by this time I had created too much slack in the rope to really move fast. This was frustrating, but this was also the event I was least concerned about. More mental preparation would have helped here. Only good for fourth again.

Atlas Stone Series – 300, 320, 340, 360, 380 all loaded to a 54” platform
Going into this, I had no idea what the scores were. I knew I was either in third of fourth with Adam Lane in the other position and fellow light-weight pro Justin Blake and Ron Shock in first and second. I was a little worried about how my hammy would do on these since I only trained heavy stones once or twice since March. My plan was to hit the first four in a row, then rest 20 seconds or so and go for the last one. Lane ruined this plan since he got the 360 pounds up before me and had the 380 lapped when I went to rest. This made me cut the rest short and go for it early because if everyone got the fifth stone, then the guy with the slowest time was going to suck the proverbial hind teat on the score sheet. I lapped it and gave it everything I had, but even though I got it up to the lip of the platform, I didn’t switch my hands fast enough or get them low enough to push it the rest of the way on. I did take my rest after this and gave it another go, but I was done by that point. None of us loaded the last stone. I finished second on this event.

The Wrap Up

I finished up in second place in the super heavyweight class by one point to J Blake. Ron Shock was a half-point behind me and Lane was a half-point behind him. So, only two points separated the top four guys in the supers when it was over. Overall, I'm pretty happy with how I did. I would've liked to post a better time on the yoke, but that was a freak thing and I just need more practice with the rope and the concept 2 rower to improve on the arm over arm. Adam Lane is a damn good lightweight and he should easily be one of the top three at amateur nationals in November. Ron Shock had a hell of a day and moves extremely fast despite tipping the scales at over 300 pounds. Blake did what he always does and finished on top because he is so consistently good. I know he is pissed about a couple things, but his 10 reps on the car squat was a disgusting performance. No one in the super heavies had a flawless day, but everyone put forth a MAMMOTH effort and it was a tight race the whole time. Steve won the 231-pound class and the overall for the lightweights and Jeff finished 2nd in the 265 class. Maryland strongman put on a strong performance to say the least.

Time to say some thanks now. Aaron and Stacey West ran one of the best, most fun contests I have ever been part of. They were on-point all day and we finished the whole thing in less than four hours with no slip-ups to speak of. Willie Wessels was there on the mic cheering guys on, getting the crowd involved, and letting everyone know where they needed to be. I have to thank Branden McDowell from Michigan Rehabilitation Specialists Physical Therapy for sponsoring the event, as well as helping out with loading the weights and resetting everything between runs for the competitors. And speaking of helpers, JP, Dean, Clint, and everyone else working busted their backsides all day setting up, cleaning up, and making things run smoothly for the athletes. More thanks go out again to Aaron West, who made the matched sets of MAMMOTH strongman equipment we used, allowing us to go head to head on all five events. Thanks to my chiropractor, Dr. Jason Menges of Healthbridge Chiropractic in Bel Air, MD, for fitting me in right before we left, helping us out with the trip expenses, and keeping my back happy and in some semblance of a normal spinal curve. Thank you also to the bearded stranger for additional help in defraying travel costs and lending me a pair of METAL Ace briefs. And who could forget the briefs? Dear Lord Baby Jesus, thank you for showing me the pure and unadulterated awesome that is high quality powerlifting gear. The experience has been an eye opener for myself and several guys I train and compete with and I will be incorporating more METAL gear into my future training. Finally, thanks to everyone at elitefts™ for everything they do for me and for the strength community as a whole. I definitely would not be where I am today without the knowledge and equipment they provide.

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