MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan --
Station residents pushed, pulled and battled their way to physical dominance during the 2012 Strongman Competition at Penny Lake Field here May 19, 2012.
The purpose of the event was to build camaraderie and bolster a sense of competition.
“We pretty much have a spice of gentlemen from across the base and the women are the same way,” said John R. Balthazar III, Marine Corps Community Services sports coordinator. “It’s boasting rights of who is the strongest one on base. It’s just brute strength. You bring it and compete.”
Female competitors participated in two weight classes: 130 pounds or less and 131 pounds or greater. Males competed in three weight classes of 160 or less, 161 to 190 and 191 pounds or more.
Nine competitors took part in the competition, which consisted of five events: the barrel press, the Farmer’s Walk; a two-minute Humvee tire-flip,; the Iron Cross, an event where a participant’s back was flush against a wall, females held out a straight arm with 17 pounds in each hand and males held 22 pounds. The last event was a truck pull where females pulled a 2 1/2 -ton truck and males pulled a 4-ton truck for 80 seconds.
The number of participants in this year’s event diminished in comparison to previous years and the ratio of participants reversed.
“We were two or three competitors down from last year,” said Balthazar. “We had more women than men this time, too.”
The events pushed the physical strength of contestants in a variety of areas.
“It’s a strongman competition,” said Balthazar. “That spooks some people (versus) doing a bench-press competition. You have to be strong in a multitude of events that are not normally seen in the weight room or gym.”
Though it is not essential to be able to bench press, or do other traditional workouts, to compete in the competition many servicemembers nevertheless hit the gym to train for this.
“Outside of the tire-flip, I didn’t train specifically for any event,” said Jesse Smith, 160 or less first place winner. “I just work out really hard and try to lift every day, swim and run a lot.”
Improvement was the name of the game for many of those who came out for the event. The desire to outperform how they did in previous strongman competitions served as a driving force.
“I really wanted to test how far I could go and see how I did in comparison to last year,” said Smith. “I did better in everything, minus the Humvee pull.” Overall, Smith said he felt pleased with where he finished. “I feel excellent about it,” said Smith. “I feel nothing bad about my score. I feel like I did very well and put out hard.”
Other competitors echoed Smith’s sentiment on wanting to come out and push themselves while enjoying a friendly competition.
“This is my third time in this event,” said Andrea Kawano, 130 and less first place winner.
“I came out here to see how much I’ve improved. I’m competing not only against my friends but myself.”
The benefit of having friends compete who motivated them was something competitors found important.
“It’s fun,” said Kawano. “We’re going through the same competition, the emotions. It’s not about placing. It’s about proving we’re strong enough. We have the same goals.”
The need to compete and improve is something ongoing and continues until we die. We strive to keep climbing higher, forever reaching upward. With this year’s strongman competition in the books, these practitioners of strength and endurance will hopefully have another opportunity to climb that ladder when the 2012 Open Bench Press Challenge takes place June 2, 2012.