Saturday, 28 July 2012

Britains Strongest Man u105kg

BSM u105kg

What do you get when you throw together an unbelievable venue, unbelievable organisation, outstanding competition and fantastic support? Well on the 22nd July the answer to this question was Britain’s Strongest Man u105kg 2012. Everyone that made the trip to Lancaster was treated to an absolute stunning strongman show, that at times defied belief and definitely lived up to the hype that surrounded the show in the months leading up to it.

Well what can I say about Britain’s Strongest Man u105kg 2012? For the athletes it was the culmination of months of hard work and various regional and national qualification competitions. The competition would bring together the best u105 strongmen from England, Scotland and Wales and see them do battle in 6 gruelling events that were not for the faint hearted. The English national champion Ben Kelsey would be joined by 5 other strongmen vying for the BSM title. Scotland’s best Stuart Yule would be joined by 2 other team mates and Wales premier Anthony Griffiths would make the journey accompanied by Andy Gozwell. With Kelsey dominating a stacked England’s strongest man back in June, he went in as the favourite; however he would be up against the best of the best in Britain and would by no means have an easy ride.
The 12 strongmen would battle it out and go up against an incredibly heavy and varied set of events that were perfect from both a spectators’ point of view and would push the athletes to the limit. The competition would kick off with a superbly heavy log medley, follow on to the VikingR Powerstairs and then a brutal carry and drag medley. There would then be a well deserved half hour break before the final three painstaking events that would decide the strongest u105 in Britain. The crowd were treated to an awkward looking axel squat for reps, a rising bar frame deadlift and then the competition would conclude with the classic strongman event, the atlas stones. Not until the culmination of the atlas stones would we have a definite answer on who was the strongest under 105kg competitor in Britain.

After going through their own personal warm ups and tests on the various implements the athletes would be treated to their first event, the log lift medley. There were 5 logs in total, each log increasing in weight. The first log would weigh in at 110kg, which is of course already 5kg over bodyweight. The next log would then rise to 120kg and then 130kg, 140kg and 150kg would be lifted in order in the quickest time possible. First out on this event was Englishman George Winston who absolutely flew through the first 3 logs, combining great strength with solid jerking technique. He went on to lift the 140kg just within the time limit but was too burnt out to attempt the massive 150kg log. Little did the crowd know at the time just how remarkable George’s effort would be? Strong competitors followed but didn’t manage to eclipse George’s effort, Daz Clarke even having a rep cruelly disallowed by strict referee James Clayton for lifting the 130kg of his head. After watching his fellow competitors struggle with the weight of the middle logs Ben Kelsey came out and stormed his way into the lead, lifting 4 logs in a remarkable 42.49 seconds. He had an attempt at the 150kg beast, but this was 1 step to far, even for Ben. 4 competitors followed Ben on the event, but none could surpass his efforts so he was able to take the first event win of the day.

The top 3 on the event read;

1st Ben Kelsey – 4 logs in 42.49 seconds
2nd George Winston – 4 logs in 78.18 seconds
3rd Andy Gozwell – 3 logs in 31.78 seconds

The second event would see the strongman move onto a relatively unseen event in amateur strongman, the Powerstairs, which was sponsored by VikingR. This event would see the 12 strongmen put through their paces and be forced to carry a 185kg implement up 5 stairs come back down carry a 195kg implement back up the 5 stairs and if that wasn’t enough they would then return for a final 202.5kg implement and carry it up the 5 12” stairs in the quickest time possible. With this event being relatively new, I was not sure what to expect and to enjoyment of everyone, every athlete finished the event with there being only 15 seconds between first place and last place. The event saw Scotsman Mark Robertson or Leggiez as he is better known, come out a set a house record with a blistering time of 29.72 seconds, which pleased his large travelling contingent in the crowd. He was then surpassed by his Scottish counterpart, last minute entrant John Pollock, who flew up the stairs in a very quick time of 28.5 seconds. I knew from the first 2 competitors that this event was going to be one full of drama and excitement. John Rudgard then came out in a stunning pair of Cowboy boots and flew up the first 4 steps, then came down without loading the implement to the 5th step. This error cost John a very quick time on the event. With John Pollock’s time looking better and better, Damian Turner took the stage; complete with stunning tan, with one thing in mind, and that was a win in this event. Damo flew up the 15 stairs in an unbelievable time of 24.19 seconds to the delight of his home crowd. The time made even better by the fact he had managed to “out-tan” loader Shane Jerman. The competitors would try in vain to eclipse Damian’s time but it just proved too quick. Notable performances came from Sebastian Iwaniak, George Winston and Daz Clarke, with Ben Kelsey missing out on another event win by 1/100th of a second. However no one could take the win away from Damo, who was crowned king of the VikingR Powerstairs.

The top 3 were;

1st Damian Turner – 15 steps in 24.19 seconds
2nd Ben Kelsey – 15 steps in 24.2 seconds
3rd Daz Clarke – 15 steps in 25.45 seconds

The third event would see the competitors tackle a 130kg each hand farmers walk carried 20 meters and then go straight into a 230kg sled drag which would surely punish the strongmen’s legs beyond belief. This event would see the battle for the podium really start to form and would be a huge indication of the amount of effort that was being exerted in order to be crowned the strongest in Britain. This back and leg breaking event would see only 2 of a 12 man field not finish and would show just how strong these guys in an incredible, lung busting display of strength endurance. The first race showed the difficulty that the drag would provide the athletes, with Stuart Yule coming within 1cm of finishing the course. We would then see Dan Cave and Ant Griffiths take great steps to climbing the table and posing a big threat to the podium. They would clock times of 47.37 seconds and 49.69 seconds in a race which the whole crowd would be on their feet, willing the guys on for. Their efforts seemed to spur on the competitors around them and Daz Clarke and Sebastian Iwaniak charged into the top 2 places with times of 44.93 and 45.88 seconds respectively. The all out effort that these 2 athletes showed made the crowd believe that their times could not be surpassed but once again came Ben Kelsey. He flew down the first part of the course with the 130kg farmers walk and then dragged the heavy sled back to post a stunning time of 37.59 seconds and take his second event win out of three.

 The top three times were as follows;

1st Ben Kelsey – 37.59 seconds
2nd Daz Clarke – 44.93 seconds
3rd Sebastian Iwaniak – 45.88 seconds

The athletes were then given a 30 minute break to regain the feeling back into their legs after the incredibly heavy drag. Unfortunately their legs were about to take a battering with the axel squat and rising bar frame deadlift to follow. This would see the competition form and the athletes would start to take their places and key battles would form for the top 3 spots.

Barely refreshed from their break the strongmen were now to tackle the 240kg axel squat, which from first look, seemed awkward and would test the leg strength of the competitors to the max. The first 3 athletes came out and favoured a “low bar” squat style which with the big fat bar seemed awkward and forced the athletes to lean forward and loose balance. Stuart Yule favoured the best in the early exchanges with 3 reps which showed just how tough this test really would be. We then had former Olympic weightlifter Andy Gozwell take the stage and show us all just how it was done. He demonstrated perfect “high bar” Olympic style and would blast out 12 reps to take a lead that looked unreachable with only Damian Turner and Sebastian Iwaniak coming close with 8 and 7 reps respectively. However out strode Ben Kelsey, calm and confident, and completely focussed on what he had to do. He approached the bar with the Olympic style again and flew through to 13 reps. He asked referee James Clayton for conformation that he had achieved his target and re-racked the bar and soaked up the deserved applause of the crowd. For the athletes to even be able to rep the squat after the strength sapping carry and drag was an outstanding achievement in itself.

The top 3 for the event read;

1st Ben Kelsey – 13 reps
2nd Andy Gozwell- 12 reps
3rd Damian Turner – 8 reps

After 4 strength-sapping events the competition rolled onto the rising bar frame deadlift which would provide constant excitement from start to finish for more reasons than one. To complete the event the competitors would have to complete 7 lifts in the quickest time with the max weight to be shifted being a whopping 656kg. After a very leg dominant competition, the deadlift was the last thing on the competitors minds, however they would have to dig deep to claim the points they needed. The first explosive element f this event was seen from the second lifter, a certain John Rudgard. John would pull 5 deadlifts whilst projectile vomiting during each lift, he even managed to get referees James Clayton and Graham Hicks. The effort than John was willing to go to in order to complete his lifts was testament to just how much the guys put in to the events. Once the bar had been wiped down and the referees dried off Mark Robertson strapped onto the bar and became the first of the day to finish 7 reps, again much to the delight of his travelling support. By this point the fight for the third podium sport had really lit up, with no less than 6 people vying for the places behind Ben Kelsey and Sebastian Iwaniak. Dan Cave, Andy Gozwell and Anthony Griffiths put there best feet forward on the deadlift, with Cave coming out on top of the pack chasing the third spot with a splendid time of 21.68 seconds for all 7 lifts. Seb then took the stage and told the loaders to be quick coz he would be, he did not disappoint, taking the lead by .44 of a second. Seb was delighted with this, only for Ben Kelsey to come out and fly through the 7 reps in an outstanding time of 18.16 seconds, and if it wasn’t known already, Ben was pretty much confirmed as the strongest u105 in Britain with just the Atlas Stones to go.

The top 3 for the deadlift event were;

1st Ben Kelsey – 7 reps in 18.16 seconds
2nd Sebastian Iwaniak – 7 reps in 21.25 seconds
3rd Dan Cave – 7 reps in 21.68 seconds

After 5 events this exhilarating competition would culminate with the classic strongman event, the atlas stone. This event would see the athletes load a series of stones to 48”; however this atlas stone run would incorporate a run in of the stones. A 110kg stone would be ran in 4.5m and loaded, a 120kg stone would be ran in 3.5m, a 135kg stone 2.5m, a 160kg stone 1.5m and a huge 175kg stone would need to be loaded, but to be nice the competitors would not need to load this stone with a run in. Many positions were still to be decided and the effort that all competitors were able to give in this final event was outstanding. The first 4 athletes came out and were unable to load the tricky 160kg stone, until Daz Clarke took to the platform to continue his battle with Damian Turner. Both men flew at the stones and loaded the first three in almost identical time, but whilst Damian was just re-working his tacky, Daz lapped the 160 stone and took a 2 second lead over Damian. This would prove crucial in the final standings. At this stage Daz was sitting in third place, but knowing Andy, Dan, Anthony and George were still to go on the stones, his battle for third place in the final standings ay be over. The next 2 out were Andy Gozwell and Dan Cave, again both fighting for third. Dan flew out of the traps and managed to load 4 stones in a rapid time of 27.3 seconds. A tacky malfunction caused Andy to slip with the 160, but he re-grouped and loaded the stone, but with his slip he saw the chances of third unfortunately slip away. So now Dan Cave was in pole position with only George and Anthony in his way. Both athletes were rapid in the first 3 stones and whilst Anthony progressed to load the 160, George seemed to be fighting a loosing battle with the massive boulder. It was so unfortunate to see, but it’s the nature of the strongman game. The same feelings went out to Anthony as he was just .79 seconds off Dan’s time. He faced an agonising wait to see the outcome for third. So just 2 athletes remained; the two stand-out competitors of the day. Seb just needed a solid 3 stones to confirm second and I’m not even sue Ben needed to lift a stone to confirm himself as champion. However this did not deter the two from putting on a great last battle. To this moment no athlete had loaded the huge 175kg stone, a few had lapped it, but none had come very close to loading. Both came out like a bullet from a gun and fired through the first 4 stones. They then both took their time and had a bash at the final stone. The big boulder got the better of Seb, but like a true champion Ben was able to lap and load the 175kg to the delight of a huge crowd which supported the competitors from first lift to last lift.

The top 3 on the stones were;

1st Ben Kelsey – 5 Stones in 41.73 seconds
2nd Sebastian Iwaniak – 4 Stones in 24.33 seconds
3rd Dan Cave – 4 Stones in 27.3 seconds

So after 6 superb events, full of blood, sweat and a fair bit of John Rudgard’s stomach, the Strongest under 105kg athlete in Britain in 2012 was found. Ben Kelsey won 5 out of 6 events and only missed out on total domination by 2/100ths of a second. His performance from start to finish was nothing short of outstanding and to witness it first hand was incredible. You will see from the results below, the race for third was incredibly tight with 3rd place and 8th separated by 5 points. What a comp it was to witness! So without anymore rambling the final results were as follows;

1st Ben Kelsey – 71 points
2nd Sebastian Iwaniak – 58 points
3rd Dan Cave – 46 points
4th Anthony Griffiths – 46 points
5th George Winston – 43 points
6th Daz Clarke – 42 points
7th Damian Turner – 41 points
8th Andy Gozwell – 41 points
9th Mark Robertson – 23.5 points
10th John Pollock – 21 points
11th John Rudgard – 21 points
12th Stuart Yule – 13.5 points

Ben Kelseys Winning Performance

Then to top it all off Ben Kelsey won the Hardcore Gym Monster Dumbell challenge and a £100 for lifting the heaviest dumbell out of all competitors, loaders and spectators. After the 6 monstrous events he was then able to press a 105kg dumbell overhead, which was quite an achievement to top of an incredible day for Ben, and confirm him as one of the strongest around.
A special mention also goes out to “The General Dan Withnall” who got a massive PB dumbell on 85kg.

The Hardcore Gym challenge just cemented what an unbelievable competition this was. So well organised and ran from start to finish. The loaders were efficient and superb, if not a little under tanned, Sanderson Scoring System was brilliant all day, keeping fans and competitors up-to-date all day, and finally the sponsors and the pries they were able to offer were amazing. I think Ben France has raised the bar with this competition and it was a privilege to witness such a great event.

So with one more set of congratulations to the winner Ben Kelsey, I’ve been Daniel Ashcroft reporting for VikingR, thanks for reading.

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