UK Strongest Man 2010 - 26/8/2010



The city of Belfast has once again played host to the UK’s strongest man contest. The competition will be screened on Bravo round about Christmas time and I look forward to watching the final production. In the meantime I’d like to share my account of the competition from a spectator point of view.

National qualifying competitions had been held and the top athletes from each qualifier reconvened to do battle in Northern Ireland’s capital.

Four from Scotland: Christopher Innes, Steven Cherry, Louis MacLean, and Ken Nowicki. Four from Ireland: James Fennelly, Glenn Ross. Eoin Shanahan and Jonathan Kelly. Two from Wales: Dale Norris and Owen Lewis. Six from England: Dave Meer, Rob Frampton, Gary Gardener, Paul Carter, Dean Slater and Liam O’Sullivan.

I must first confess to a slight bias as to my hopes for the outcome as I was sharing a room with Ken Nowicki my training partner and team mate and was there to give him my full support.

Nonetheless, I hope to give as impartial account as best as I can.

Having been to a great many competitions both as a competitor and as a spectator including one World’s Strongest man and four Britain’s strongest man’s I can definitely say the UK’s is a favourite and I’ll explain why-In simple terms the TWI productions of WSM and BSM, while putting out an excellent end product for TV is, in as much as the spectator, and I dare say to a certain extent for the competitor as well, is concerned, like watching a TV show that happens to have strongmen in it, as opposed to the UK’s which is like watching a proper strongman show that happens to be being filmed. This not so subtle difference makes for a much more enjoyable athlete driven experience. 

Event one 140 log lift for reps, two athletes going head to head the two referees were Geoff Capes former Britain’s, Europe’s and World’s strongest man winner and Stuart Murray former UK’s winner and World’s strongest man competitor.

Athletes were instructed that reps were from the shoulder and if they wanted to rest then one hand must remain on the bar, removal of both hands and the ref would deem the attempt over.

Group A

Glenn Ross 7 reps

Dean Slater 5

Jonathan Kelly 2

Paul Carter 4

Ken Nowicki 1

Rob Frampton 8

Steven Cherry 6

Owen Lewis 0.


Opening event so everyone pretty much giving it their all to get some early points, Glenn maybe holding back, difficult to tell he was also looking a bit tired. Owen far and away the lightest and smallest guy in the comp, giving it a decent go but 140kg a massive lift at a body weight of maybe 110kg?

Group B

Eoin Shanahan 3 reps

Chris Innes 0

Liam 0’Sullivan 1

Gary Gardner 1

Louis Mclean 0

Dale Norris 5

James Fennely 0

Dave Meer 10


Solid from Eoin and Dale, a long way up for 6ft 9 Gary. Louis struggling for balance with the log out too far in front and Chris, locking out the right arm twice but clearly suffering from a problem with the left. Exceptional world class pressing from Dave who celebrated with a shout of “I’m the strongest log presser” James surprisingly enough I have to say was nowhere near getting it, the shoulders are there but he needs serious work on his pressing, reminded me of Martin Muhr, world class in all but his pressing.

33 reps in total for group A and only 20 for group B, an obvious disparity in pressing power but it would be a reversal of fortune in the dead lift next.


Silver dollar dead lift for max weight, starting weight 325kg,rising bar, straps allowed, no suits.


Group A

Owen Lewis 380

Ken Nowicki 400

Jonathan Kelly 360

Paul Carter 380

Dean Slater 380

Stevie Cherry 360

Glenn Ross 420

Rob Frampton 430


Dean’s strap broke attempting the 400, and took an eternity re-strapping and got timed out before he could have another go I had figured on Rob and Glenn agreeing to split points and leave it at the 420 but Rob must have saw Glenn looked tired he called for the 430 and got it., Glenn clearly wanted it but it wasn’t for going up.

Ken’s 380 looked as easy as his 325,and looked like having more but the 400 was the first sign of it looking laboured.


Group B

Chris Innes 340

Louis Mclean 380

James Fennelly 460

Liam O’ Sullivan 380

Gary Gardner 420

Eoin Shanahan 360

Dale Norris 450

Dave Meer 450




Gary proving that dead lift need not be a bad event for a tall guy, pulling 420, long in the legs is fine, it’s long in the lower back that causes the problems, great battle between Dale and Dave but James out in a league of his own here. The record in this event was mentioned 475 or 472.5 I think, I feel certain James could have done this had this been a last event but obviously as a potential winner in the final he would have been crazy to use up vital energy when he’d won the event already.


3’110kg for group A,3’240kg for group B



Coach winch

Group A


Jonathan Kelly 30.59

Steven Cherry 38.78

Owen Lewis 27.81

Paul Carter 28.87

Dean Slater 28.18

Ken Nowicki 27.61

Glenn Ross 26.09

Rob Frampton 24.28


3 event wins a row for the big man from Portsmouth.

This event was all down to a fast start, not too hard an event for the guys I don’t think just fast and explosive.


Group B


Chris Innes 26.17

Eoin Shanahan 28.86

Louis Mclean 25.61

Liam O’Sullivan 25.36

Gary Gardner 23.56

Dale Norris 26.67

Dave Meer 20.90

James Fennelly 24.61


Dave attacked this like an animal destroying everyone’s times.


Conan’s torture circle


Group A

Steven Cherry 5.40m

Jonathan Kelly 9.70m

Paul Carter 29m

Dean Slater 14.2m

Owen Lewis 6.3m

Ken Nowicki 12.5m

Glenn Ross 16.60m

Rob Frampton 3.60m


Nasty nasty event, pick up like the yoke and there the similarity ends, the connan's arm pulls the athlete off centre and the pivot in the yoke turns in to meet the arm. By the time the guys were starting to get the hang of it they were already exhausted. Paul Carter nearly getting a full revolution seemed to have the measure of it. Rob I feel certain had already done his sums and wisely took it easy on what was potentially one of the hardest of the qualifying events.


Group B

Eoin Shanahan 8.9m

Dale Norris 30.50m

Chris Innes 24.6m

Louis Mclean 20.00m

Liam O Sullivan 32.3m

James Fennelly 23.4m

Gary Gardner 20.1m

Dave Meer 19.8m


Liam, a quiet unassuming guy who almost slips through the radar unnoticed putting in the most impressive distance of 32.3m.


End of day one 

Group A at the end of day one

Glenn 28 points position 1

Rob 25 2

Paul 19 3

Dean 19 3

Ken 19 3

Owen 12 6

Steven 10.5 7

Jonathan 10.5 7


Steven and Jonathan do not progress to day two.


Group B at the end of day 0ne

Dave 24.5 1

Dale 22.5 2

Liam 21 3

Gary 20.5 4

James 19 5

Louis 10.5 6

Eoin Shanahan 10 7

Chris 10.7


Eoin and Chris do not progress to day two.


Day two

Group A

Squat for maximum, 260kg opener and 4 more lifts.

Some big weights getting shifted, well up on previous years.

Owen 300kg

Paul 380

Dean 370

Ken 340

Rob 370

Glenn 390


Group B

Louis 330


Gary 300

Liam 300

Dale 360

Dave 360


Nobody really going for broke here, everybody pretty much had the measure of each other by now. A bit of tactics starting to come into play in a bid to save energy. No body up for killing themselves especially since they didn’t really know what to expect from the next event.


Group A

Naval tug of war.

A rope around two wheel hubs, the guys harnessed in and side by side.

Saw this back in the nineties at a few comps in Scotland and at the World’s in 95.

Can’t say I’m really a great fan of it. It is a bit of a crowd pleaser though, but essentially although it has a different slant to it remains basically a tug of war and as such is too much weight dependant. This was reflected by in large by the final placings with the heavier athletes taking the top spots with only slight exception.


Anyway the points:


Group A

Paul 6

Rob 5

Glen 4

Owen 3

Ken 2


Group B

Gary 6

Dave 5

James 4

Louis 3

Dale 2

Liam 1





Excellent event, in essence a 150kg stone, a big lump of concrete chopped and shaped to sort of egg shaped, to be dumped in a big metal egg cup. This stone took some abuse, it started off golden coloured and ended up battered and chipped, thankfully nothing hatched from it.

So used to watching the guys do runs with ascending stones it was good to see a variation with the loading platform increasing in height four inches every time, last man standing.

Although it was just one stone, it was very fast paced and the guys were starting to flag a bit now.

Here’s were we lost Ken as he tore his hamstring lifting the stone. The man of the moment here for me was Dean Slater who looked completely unfazed by the stone, the way he simply manhandled the stone he made it look like an 80kg instead of a 150. It’ll be interesting to see how Dean’s stone runs are in future. Also Gary Gardner excelled here and not just because he was tall, because he wasn’t just lifting them to waist high and plonking them in he was using his long arms to get a great purchase on the stone and get it high up. Both Dean and Gary completed seven successful lifts. Too bad these two were in different groups here it would’ve been good to see how far they could’ve pushed each other.


Group A

Dean 6

Ken 1

Owen 2

Glen 4.5

Rob 4.5

Paul 3


Group B

Liam 2

Dale 4

Louis 4

James 4

Dave 1

Gary 6


The last qualifying event




A large four by four type vehicle straps allowed

A seldom seen event, without straps it’s purely down to grip, with them it becomes a battle of pain threshold and who wants it the most.

I was hoping for a real blood and guts battle on this event put as it turned out no one was really needing it, the guys had all done their sums and knew what they needed to get and who they needed to beat to get a place in the final.

So some did just enough and others held on a bit longer just to be certain.


Group A

Ken 26.00

Owen 33.15

Paul 21.76

Glen 9.51

Rob 31.17

Dean 27.91


Group B

Dave 8.81

Liam-did not lift

Dale 19.94

Louis 10.51

James 7.47

Gary 5.75


Group A at the end of day 2

Glen 43.5

Rob 43

Paul 35

Dean 33.5

Ken 28

Owen 24


Ken and Owen to not progress to final


Group B at the end of day 2

Dave 39.5

Dale 39.5

Gary 36

James 33.5

Louis 26

Liam 25.5


Louis and Liam do not progress to final.


Day three the final


Railway walk.

Basically a frame joining two sections of railway sleepers together, weight in the region of 380kg. Over 15m

These have appeared in the UK's a few times now and shocked a lot of people in the beginning but times and distances have gradually improved.

Some real surprises here. Rob who had been so dominant in the heats was now starting to look a bit jaded whereas Glenn who had looked tired in the heats now seemed to have come to life, he said later that it was his first full night’s sleep in about two weeks and it couldn’t have came at a better time for him.


Big Paul Carter had been looking tired at the end of day two and now the big man looked like a spent force, he failed to pick up the frame.

Dave and Dale picked them up but only managed 0.30m and 0.55m respectively. Rob, surprisingly only fairing slightly better with 1.62m.

Dean had to pick them up more than once but completed the course in 41.25s. Glenn in 34.25s, Gary put in a very respectable time of 27.12. But it was James Fennelly with that back of iron and clearly a grip to match strolled up with the frame like he was taking his suitcases to the check in desk-time:10.84sec.





It doesn’t get much more raw than this.

Five roughly cut stones increasing in weight to be lifted from ground and pressed above the head.80,90,100,110,and 120

Dale struggled the most with this one only registering one lift, James not liking this at all-two stones. Gary three stones in 59.25s, Paul quicker with three in 46.4s.

All the others managing four Dean in 1.53, Dave in 78.9, Rob 61.50 and Glenn in 49.04.





Quite a high pick so not a very large range of motion required, except maybe for Gary of course.

As it was we got big numbers all round. Geoff’s refereeing here was a little out of keeping with the norm and as the event went on the athletes, seeing that others were getting away with it were bouncing the reps and it has to be said as you will no doubt see for yourselves there was more than one questionable lock out here and there.


Gary 15reps

Paul 16

Dale 19

Dean 25

James 27

Dave 28

Rob 30

Glenn 32





Carry a very awkward duck walk-two gas bottles on top of each other 200kg ,then pick up a handle attached to articulated lorry and pull lorry facing into the lorry and moving backwards.


Again some real surprises here, Dean went over on his ankle badly just as he finished duck walk, at first I thought he’d dropped the implement on his foot but it was a bad sprain. Partly because the guys have got to make a footwear choice here and most opted for the climbing shoes normally used in truck pull for extra grip to tarmac, ideal for pulling but not offering any support for the ankle during the duck walk. Dave, despite being in what looked like a perfect position to do so could not budge the lorry an inch, neither could Paul. James managed 23cm ,Dale 40cm, and Rob 45cm. Glenn managed to pull it 5.66m and Gary excelling here with the biggest pull of 11.60m.

The lorry pull had been tested by Pete McCallan and Stuart Murray both pulling the two lorries comfortably but the guys must have just been tired on the 3rd day of compeittion.





Paul 9

Dale 12

Dean 15

Dave 16

Gary 19

James 19

Rob 24

Glenn 29





Very high platforms and weights of 200, 225 and 250kg to go up. To this point only Simon Flint and Mariusz Pudzianowski had completed this set of stairs.

So Glenn was almost out of reach, Rob was looking very tired at this stage, and with Gary’s height and James’s back I think he knew his second place was under serious threat.

Dean would’ve done best to miss this one but the guy’s a warrior and it was the last event but he was forced to withdraw after 3 steps in clear discomfort.

Dale failing to load the 225 to the second step.

Rob and Paul managed to get the 225 up four steps, Paul in the slightly faster time. Dave and Glenn completing the second set of 225, Glenn in 57.18s and Dave in 50.41. The most exciting pairing here though was between Gary and James, they were both flying through this faster than anyone when James so cruelly missed the last step with the 225 and had to watch as it went crashing to the ground, you wouldn’t have blamed him for a tantrum here but he just got back into it and loaded the 250 to the first step by which time Gary had already loaded all three and won the event.





Glenn Ross 34 1

Gary Gardner 27 2

Rob Frampton 27 3

James Fennelly26 4

Dave Meer 22 5

Dean Slater 16 6

Dale Norris 14 7

Paul Carter 13 8


So the DADDY wins once again, he had looked tired in the heats but brought his A game to the final and done the business once more.

Looking back at the competition as a whole it was very enjoyable, good events and a good group of athletes.

Write up by Stephen Murray


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