On July 1, Wallace Street will be transformed into an outdoor stage for Hope’s first-ever Strongest Man and Strongest Woman competition. The event will co-exist with the annual collector car show, which should bring a collective buzz to the downtown on Canada Day.
Karen Scalise of Hope’s Muscleworks Gym contacted B.C. Strongman organizer Robin Wright to see if he could bring an event to Hope and he was keen to take on the task.
Wright got involved in the sport in 2004 and has since established the B.C. Extreme Athletes’ association, which he runs from his Kamloops base.
“There was a one-off event in Kelowna and I came in second,” said Wright on Monday. “Then I did some research and found there was no one doing anything other than one-off events, so I got the BCEA going and started organizing events.
“I like to design my events depending on what’s in the community,” explained Wright. “For the truck pull in Hope, we’ll be using a tow truck. In Prince George, we might use a logging truck. We try to have fun with the stuff.
“Provincial or regional Strongman competitions don’t make any money — but it’s fun and there’s great camaraderie,” said Wright. “The spectators love it too.”
Wright has planned six challenges for the Hope event. There will be a women’s class and two men’s divisions: up to 230 pounds and 231 pounds and over.
Wright said, “The heaviest I’ve seen in B.C. is Matt Parks of Victoria, who topped out at 320 pounds — and Ivan Olaf of Mission who is 6’5” and 320 pounds. He might very well come to Hope, if he can work it around his shifts. He’s a policeman in Coquitlam.
“We’ll have the truck pull and the log press, where we have handles in the log and you have to lift it off the ground and raise it over your head for as many reps as you can do.
“We’ll also have the single arm dumbbell or “Louis Cyr” press, named after a French-Canadian who was one of the world’s strongest men in the late 1800s,” said Wright.
“The other events are the tire flip, the Atlas stones and the car deadlift. I have an apparatus that we park the car on, with a handle to lift from. It’s on a fulcrum, so you can adjust the amount of weight that is lifted.”
Wright has taken part in his events in the past but is taking the year off to recover from a neck injury that happened outside of the sport. He said when he’s in his prime, he is able to bench press 500 pounds and dead lift 765.
“It’s a neat feeling to be stronger than 90 per cent of the population,” he added.
Wright welcomes Hope’s strongest 10 per cent — and best of the rest — to try out the competition, which costs $25.
“People can still sign up on the day — but it makes it a lot easier for preparation if they pre-register at the BCEA.org site,” said Wright.
“This will be open to novices, so there will be first-timers,” he added. “Some will want to just come and watch before they take part in the next event. Others will just want to try it out because it’s local. I tell the guys to ‘know your limits’ and stop before you injure yourself.”
There’s also room for the less able-bodied to be involved with running the event.
“The competitors help out — but we’ll need help from the community with timing and writing down records,” said Wright.