Airmen show true grit in Strongman competition

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Clinton Atkins
  • 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
Airmen, Sailors and Soldiers battled it out in a showdown of guts and glory at the Strong Man/Strong Mind Challenge Oct. 25 at an air base in Southwest Asia.

Out of the 20 participants in the multiforce face-off, three Air Force warriors emerged victorious with the top three spots. 

Senior Airman Troy Bear from the 746th Aircraft Maintenance Unit received first-place honors and Staff Sgt. Donovan Horning from the 379th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron Petroleum, Oils and Lubricants Flight was the runner-up. Third-place went to Senior Airman Nate Mahoney from the 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron.

"(A servicemember's) first priority is to support the war on terrorism and their second priority is to stay in shape for the military," said Chris Tyler, the Blatchford-Preston Complex Fitness Center manager. "This event allows them to take a different approach to fitness. We try to come up with these competitions to build leadership, camaraderie and to get (the servicemembers) outside of the gym.

"A lot of (servicemembers) work out at the gym ... so we want them to see how much stronger they've gotten," said the native of Killeen, Texas. "A lot of the Strongman events were things they normally do, they just don't realize it. With this event, they realized what they can do with all of the muscle they've gained from lifting weights."

The competition consisted of five grueling events.

First was the farmer's carry and super yoke events. Competitors had to carry two 85-pound objects through an obstacle course and then lift and carry a 200-pound apparatus across the finish line. Sergeant Horning posted the best time with a time of 18.59 seconds.

The next event was a 135-pound log press followed by a 165-pound tire flip event. Airman Mahoney bested the bunch with 25 reps for the log press and Sergeant Horning was top dog during the tire flip with a time of 22.78 seconds.

During the fourth event, the contestants had to drag a Humvee weighing more than 2.5 tons across a finish line. Airman Bear, in his first Strongman competition, separated himself from the pack with a time of 18.94 seconds.

"I just tried to give it everything I had," said Airman Bear, deployed from Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. "I pushed my whole body to failure for every event."

After the points were tallied, the top five continued onto the final event -- the water challenge. Competitors had to wade through more than four feet of water back and forth to pick up a total of three 45-pound plates. Sergeant Horning, in his first competition ever, made his case for second with a time of 1:58.

"I left it all in the pool," said Sergeant Horning, deployed from Mountain Home AFB, Idaho. "I think the water challenge was my best event.

"Its not all about weight-room strong," said the native of Mayville, Mich. "It's about raw strength. I'm not that strong in the weight room, but I think I held my own."

Each event was designed to push the competitors to their limit, Mr. Tyler said.
For that reason, the fitness center staff placed a huge emphasis on safety.

"We used more spotters and professional equipment this time around to ensure better safety," the fitness center manager said. "We also had medics on standby in case anyone got hurt. My guys and I are there to ensure their safety. If we see something unsafe we stop it immediately. Safety is our No. 1 priority."

The fitness center staff is providing an excellent service to deployed servicemembers, Airman Bear said.

"These types of events really raise the morale of the servicemembers here," said Airman Bear, a native of Post Falls, Idaho. "It's fun when you compete against other people from other services and it's a great opportunity to test yourself to see how strong you really are in mind and body."

Though they had different agendas, the top two finishers relished the opportunity to compete.

"I signed up for this event just to get my feet wet because I plan to compete when I get back home," Airman Bear said. "I purposely trained for this event and my work in the gym has paid off. I have a long road ahead of me in order to compete competitively in Strongman events back in the states."

For Sergeant Horning, his curiosity worked in his favor.

"I've always seen it on TV so I wanted to come out and try it," Sergeant Horning said. "I was even the last person to sign up for the event. Now I can go home and tell my son I competed in a Strongman competition."

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