The 2018 Strongman Classic, which took place on Saturday, June 16 during Sam Steele Days, was the best year ever, according to organizer and owner of Fitness Inc. Trevor Zak.
“The community continues to support it, our sponsors are phenomenal, the volunteers are phenomenal and the athletes are phenomenal,” Zak said. “I think that was attested to by the large crowd that showed up, and the amount of money that we raised for the SPCA this year — $7,500.”
This year the winning man was Nathan Donahue, a commercial realtor out of Calgary in addition to being “professionally good looking,” with the “strongest hair in the west” according to his bio — and true to form, his hair was still flawless after winning.
Calgary’s Josh Cloherty took second and Australian born, U.S. based Declan Patton third — a close contest all around. For the women’s division, Cranbrook local Alanna Gibson took first, Rebecca Odnokon of Sparwood second and Audrey Peterson, torn fingernail and all, took third place.
Zak explained that each year they try to change things up in order to keep the interest of both the crowd and athletes piqued. Last year, he explained, they began focusing more on branding their apparatuses. Zak said that the event is well known for the apparatuses they have, how well made they are and how safe they are for the athletes.
They introduced new events this year such as the Conan’s Wheel and the Husafell Stone.
“It’s just constantly changing the event to keep athletes and crowd interested I think is a huge factor in our success,” Zak said.
Another big factor in this year’s event was the presence of Sportsnet on location. “Just the hype of them coming to town I think bolstered the attendance,” Zak said, adding that the producer of Sportsnet told the Strongman organizers to think of them as not even being there, and were 100 per cent professional as they got their footage.
“I think the athletes were obviously aware that they were there, but I don’t think it changed the mind of the athletes, I mean they go up there to do their best and camera or no camera they’re going to perform for the crowd that’s there and perform for themselves.”
Other factors that aided the success of the contest was the introduction of the women’s division three years ago. Zak also pointed to the fact that Hathor Bjornsson, who plays The Mountain on Game of Thrones, won World’s Strongest man this year, putting the sport into the limelight.
They certainly have a winning formula that Zak said they plan to stick with in the years to come. They have already had two athletes, one past competitor and one brand new one, express interest in registering in 2019’s Strongman.
“How the process works,” explained Zak, “in October we send out a registration email official letter. The top five in the mens and the top three in the ladies get a guaranteed spot in the next year’s competition. So then in the men’s there’s 11 spots remaining in the ladies there’s five spots remaining that are available.”
The event was relatively free from incident. One competitor Bryan Fennel had a previous back injury and he tweaked that during an early event and had to bow out of the contest. Keith Rathwell tweaked a hamstring and Audrey Peterson tore off a fingernail, but overall the contest was safe for all involved.