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Published: Sunday, 7/30/2006

Strong men duel in heat to stand alone

BY JC REINDL
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Alan Waterfield of Bryan strains and sweats in the heat. Alan Waterfield of Bryan strains and sweats in the heat.
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California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger fulfilled a campaign promise last year by converting the newest addition to his fleet of Hummers - the heavyweight title holders of fuel-guzzling SUVs - to run on hydrogen.

Yet the former seven-time Mr. Olympia bodybuilding champion's effort at demonstrating an alternative energy source was arguably outdone yesterday at the Lucas County Fair by eight muscled men in sweat-stained tank tops.

As participants in the fair's first Strongman Competition, the men spent the afternoon competing at the Lucas County Recreation Center in Maumee in a few events featured at the annual World's Strongest Man contest: the farmer's walk, the tire flip, and the log lift.

Those who earned the best cumulative marks in the two age categories won $500.

Fair officials said that because of Friday night's rain, the competition was moved indoors so that contestants, who needed to carry objects as heavy as 250 pounds, would not have to worry about sinking into wet ground.

The competition concluded with its own unusual contest to see who could pull an 8,600-pound orange Hummer H2 across the floor the fastest. Although whatever the event saved in fossil-fuel, it was offset by expenditures of muscular work.

Before the Strongman Competition got under way yesterday, Alan Waterfield spends a few moments with his infant daughter, Karah. Before the Strongman Competition got under way yesterday, Alan Waterfield spends a few moments with his infant daughter, Karah.
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Strapped into a harness attached by cords to bolts on the vehicle's front end, Adam Madar, 22, of Livonia, Mich., sprung forward with all his might as he struggled to budge the Hummer. To gain momentum, he grabbed a rope fastened to a trailer in front of him and gradually reeled himself - and the SUV - the 70 feet across the room in 22 seconds.

Mr. Madar, who said he recently was discharged from the Navy, later compared the challenge to docking a ship: "All I was thinking about was mooring lines - bringing it in."

The strongman competition was Ryan Rollison's idea. He is owner and founder of Dream Bodies Personal Training gym in Toledo and a competitive body builder.

Mr. Rollison, 35, said he regularly watches the strongman competitions televised on ESPN, but was first introduced the contests by his father, who trained strongmen competitors at a Sandusky gym the family once owned.

For many competitors yesterday, it was their first time in a strongman contest.

Alan Waterfield, 32, a tool and die maker from Bryan, said he had fun last month while earning second place in a strongman contest in Bryan and decided to try one again.

Mr. Waterfield said he is 5 feet, 8 inches tall, weighs 240 pounds, and lifts weights four days a week.

His training secrets? Hard work, a good diet, and not too much partying.

"I'm all natural," he said, answering an unasked question about whether he condones steroid use. "I get that question all the time. I just eat a lot."

His wife, Jamie Waterfield, who was sitting on the sidelines with their two young daughters, agreed.

"I cook enough for three adults - just for him," she said.

Strongmen traditionally have carried an image of being burlier and more stout than body builders, who generally favor muscular definition over sheer size. But that is changing, according to Mr. Rollison.

"A lot of the guys now are realizing they can't be big and out of shape and still perform at their maximum," he said.

The day included a second, separate bench press contest in which contestants competed to see how many times they could lift their weight.

The winner of the teenage category was Cody Riffle, 15, who will be a freshman this fall at St. John's Jesuit High School and a member of the football team.

His father, Todd Riffle, said he recently bought Cody a new set of weights, because he had grown too strong for the old equipment, which only featured weights up to 300 pounds.

Cody also was accompanied by his school's strength coach, Ralph Kiebach, 56, who said he once set a world record in his own age group by bench pressing 460 pounds. But that was five years ago.

"I should be in this competition, but my ego won't let me because I can't do what I could," Mr. Kiebach said.

Contact JC Reindl at: jreindl@theblade.com or 419-724-6050.



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