Despite ever-changing pandemic restrictions, this year’s Strongman Classic competition in Cranbrook was the one of the best they’ve had out of the 17 years it has been running.
Trevor Zak, owner of Fitness Inc and founder of the Strongman Classic, says that between the athletes, volunteers, judges and coaches, this year’s event was a huge success.
“We obviously couldn’t have the same amount of people attend, because of restrictions, but the energy was still super high. The fans are usually a big factor in that; there are always close to 1,000 people that attend. Even though it was a much smaller event, the camaraderie and the energy was really inspiring. I heard from so many people that this was the best year yet.”
Fitness Inc.’s Strongman Classic is held annually during Sam Steele Days. It started back in 2004 as an idea, and has since grown into an entire community. This year, the event was held on Saturday, September 11.
The event is also a fundraiser, and supports the East Kootenay chapter of the SPCA. Over the last nine years the event has raised over $32,000 for the BCSPCA.
Zak says that the event draws in many athletes and judges from Alberta and Kimberley, and Fitness Inc. always looks forward to hosting during Sam Steele Days.
“Sam Steele Days has grown so much in this community, and we’re always happy to have the Strongman alongside such a great event. We have such an awesome relationship with the organizers and supporters of Sam Steele Days,” Zak said. “So many people are moving here, to Cranbrook, because of events like these and the supportive community. Strongman is definitely a part of that.”
This year Darcy Flaska from Edmonton came in first in the men’s division, followed by Darren Hennig from Cranbrook in second, and Neil Fajnor from Claresholm in third.
In the women’s division, Jessica Allen from Cranbrook took first, while Cranbrook’s Anne Butters followed in second, and Mandi Parker from Lethbridge took third.
A total of 14 men and 10 women competed this year, with approximately 75 per cent of participants from Alberta, and 25 per cent from Cranbrook.
Last year’s event was cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions, so Zak says it was nice to be able to host the event again, even though it was a little different this time around.
“We streamed Strongman online so people could watch from home. It was really nice to host an event and have that socialization and camaraderie back. It’s so great to see all the athletes come together and support one another,” he said.
The Strongman challenges are no easy feat. Lifting 300LB atlas stones, pulling trucks and flipping tires are just some of the amazing feats of strength involved.
Zak says that athletes spend quite a bit of time training for the event, and have the help of some fantastic coaches.
“Darren Henning moved here to Cranbrook two years ago, and brought Tom along with him. We’ve always wanted more local people to help promote and foster this community, and they’re the perfect fit. Between the two of them, they’re always supporting the athletes and have a lot to offer.”
The athletes also work together, Zak says, and help each other to grow.
“A big thank you to the volunteers, the judges, the athletes – everyone involved. We look forward to next year, it will be bigger and better than ever,” he said.
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