Maryland Strongest Man

by Dan Cenidoza, CSCS, RKC

I had come in 2nd place the last three years. I knew this was my year, but of course, I said that last year too. Somehow "Second place winner of the Maryland Strongest Man contest" just doesn't sound right. Not that I compete for some obscure title, or that winning the contest proves that I am the strongest man in Maryland, but when you come that close that many times, you really want to take home the gold! Not to mention I was competing against my brother in-law who is twice as strong as me with a barbell. However, he's new to strongman and I've got a leg up on him when it comes to the events. Either way, I had my eyes on the prize and it was Jason who was standing in my way.

It was nearly 100 degrees by the time we got started at 11am. The contest was held in the parking lot of the Sport and Health Gym in Waldorf, MD. The blacktop of the parking lot didn't help the heat at all.

The heavyweights kicked off the event with the log press. 280lbs for reps... clean each rep. I knew this weight was out of my reach but I still approached the implement with authority. The clean squandered any authority I thought I had. Last year I tweaked my bicep on the same log with a lesser weight, so I had no problem walking away without even getting it to my shoulders. Jason took 1st place with 4 reps.

The next event was a farmers walk / tire flip medley. 330lbs each arm for 20 yds and then 5 flips on a 750lb tire. Both events are on my strong side, so I was quite disappointed when I dropped the farmers less than halfway down the course. I regripped, picked them up and managed to hang on until I got to the tire. Lucky for me, Jason dropped the farmers as well and took just a tad longer to get moving again. I finished first, beating him by 4 seconds.

The stone load was next. Six stones ranging from 300 to 380lbs had to be placed on barrels ranging from 52" to 48". I figured this event could go either way between Jason and me but I also knew that I was only good for 2, maybe 3 stones, so my best chance was to get to them as fast as I could and best him on time. The first stone went up easy enough for me. The second stone slid around on me but I got it up on a single lift. The third stone was not to be. Jason went next. He got the first stone up no problem but he didn't seem to have the urgency I had - all he had to do was get 3 stones up for the win. The second stone rolled around on the ground like it did with me but once he got it to his chest it slid down the front of him inches before he loaded it. Had he got it there and failed to load the third stone, I may have beat him by time, but as it was he was unsuccessful loading the second stone, giving me my second event win.

At this point I felt confident in a first place victory. The remaining events definitely were in my favor, but young Tommy, a 19 year old man-child and newcomer to the sport was certain not to be ruled out. Tommy struggled through the 800lb yoke walk as he made his way across the 20yd course to the 400lb stack of weights that awaited to be carried another 20yds. He waddled the weight stack almost half way home before time expired. I was surprised at how high he set the bar. I started the yoke off feeling good (well, as good as 800lbs could possibly feel on ones back) and I dropped the weight half way through. One drop turned into two, and then three, four; I don't know how many times I dropped it but time expired just as I got to the finish line. Second place was as good as it was going to get in this event for me, and Jason confirmed that when he was unable to finish the walk.

The final event, and one of my favorites, the one event I knew I would win, was the Conan's Wheel - 660lbs carried until dropped. Young Tommy went first and made it about one full rotation. I made it nearly 1.5 times around, I heard the measurement called out at 81'. Jason went for 82'! I couldn't believe it! I ended up taking first overall but it was amazing just how close it was. I won by a half a point!

No matter, a win is a win and a sweet win it was. Jason and I had about 2 week's worth of friendly trash talk beforehand and it looks like we'll have plenty to talk about around the dinner table at family get-togethers!

Jay, thanks for the competition! And in all seriousness, better luck next year :)