Gillette's Strongman Competitors Head to Rapid City

(Gillette, Wyo.) Bryant Smith has never had to race to carry a 500 pound weight before, but this weekend he plans on competing in his first North American Strongman competition. He's been hefting a weighted yoke and tossing cement stones along with Shay Lundvall for the past six weeks, in order to prepare for it. But it's not like anything else he's ever done before. "I like it because it's completely different than what you normally see," said Smith, who played college football. "It's not a bench press competition, it's not a marathon, it's a totally different area of athleticism." "What you see on tv is what we're doing, just on a smaller scale," Shay added. [image: cropped2.jpg] *Carrying the yoke: Shay Lundvall preps for the heavyweight division* Bryant's been interested in trying a strongman contest since first seeing it on television, but didn't know any of the guys he's been training with before he started prepping for this Saturday's classic in South Dakota. His gym gave him Shay's number, and they've been carrying heavy things together ever since. "It's pretty exciting, the stuff these guys can do," said Bryant. "It's awkward, weird, massive amounts of weight that they're just moving around. Most people can't do it." The Rushmore State Strength Classic is in its second year. There are weight classes for both men and women in multiple events. Things like the log press, which involves shoulder pressing a cement log,; the shield carry; the block throw; the yoke carry (which, depending on weight class, can be between 550 and 700 pounds); and tossing the atlas stones, which are between 275 and 325 pounds. The events require balance, coordination, and core strength. It's not just lifting weights. Most events are timed, to see how many repetitions can be completed in a set time. [[[[[[[[[[[[[>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> For people new to the sport, they tend to hold their breath during a run, something that their trainer and fellow strongman Shawn Gallagher, who also plays rugby for the Powder River Prairie Fire league, has been helping them remember to do. "It's an excellent way of training and building strength," said Shay. "It rises and falls on you. You can't blame anyone but yourself if you miss a rep. How well you're prepared determines whether you win or lose." "You have an opportunity to take your weaknesses and your strengths and compete against guys that are just as strong as you are," Bryant explained. "It's also a fantastic way to meet new people." The guys train about once a week specifically for the strongman competition. This will be Lundvall's third one in three years. He started out at the 4th of July event in Gillette. He most likes seeing how much he can improve in each event. "I'm looking forward to seeing how far I've gone since the last competition," he said. The two describe strongman events as a competition of the utmost sportsmanship. Even though you're trying to best someone else's time, they're still there, cheering you on. It's a little-known and often overlooked type of sport, but Bryant says he's excited to try it out. "This is anything but traditional," Smith added. *Feature photo: Bryant Smith trains for the middleweight division* #county17 #news