This weekend, 20 of the world’s strongest men — some of them weighing us much as 200kg — will battle it out for the title of the World’s Ultimate Strongman at The Meydan Grandstand in Dubai. From hauling a fully loaded truck with their bare hands to lifting a 180kg log repeatedly, it’s going to be a test of not only brute strength but wit and stamina.
The event, to be held on October 25, will be open to the public, where attendees can not only test their strength but also have fun with live music, food trucks and entertainment.
Here’s everything you need to know:
What is the World’s Ultimate Strongman competition?
It’s an annual competition where athletes from around the world compete in strength and speed for a cash prize of $150,000 (Dh550,892). Last year’s winner, Hafthor Bjornsson, famed for playing The Mountain on ‘Game of Thrones’, will aim to hold on to his title as he competes with 19 other challengers. At 6 feet 9 inches and 200kg, Bjornsson will face off contestants from 15 countries, including Latvia, Ukraine, Norway and Russia. The games will be judged by four-time World’s Strongest Man Zydrunas Savickas and Ilkka Kinnunen, the owner of Strongman Champions League. Eddie Hall, the British Strongman who was named World’s Strongest Man 2017 and holds the current record for the heaviest dead lift at a whopping 500kg, will be one of the guests (more on him later).
How are the contestants judged?
In order to win the title, athletes have to take part in what’s called “events” designed to push them to their absolute limits, challenging not only their physical strength, but their agility and mental toughness too. One of them is Maximum Deadlift where the athlete must pick up the maximum weight from the floor to a fully standing position. Then there is the Truck Pull, in which the athlete must pull a vehicle over 30 metres using nothing but a harness and rope with his bare hands, moving from start to finish as fast as possible. There is also a Log Lift that requires the athlete to pick a tree trunk from the ground and to press it overhead. The trunk this year weighs 180kg and contestants need to achieve the set target of as many repetitions as possible in 75 seconds. That’s not all, there is also a Yoke and Shield Carry where a 300kg yoke must be picked up by the shoulders, followed by a 15-metre run, followed by picking up a shield weighing 180kg and another 15-metre run. Finally (phew!), the Atlas Stones, where the athlete must pick up 10 atlas stones ranging from 110kg to 200kg to a height of 1.4 metres. This event has never been done before in this magnitude.
Who are the participants?
Besides Bjornsson, some of the contestants are:
— Brian Shaw from the US who stands at 6 feet 8 inches and is a four-time World’s Strongest Man winner.
— Zydrunas Savickas, a Lithuanian powerlifter and professional strongman who has won Lithuania’s Strongest Man contest 11 times.
— Robert Oberst from the US who stands at 6 feet 7 inches and weighs 185kg.
— Krzysztof Radzikowski, a professional strongman competitor from Poland who is also a PE Teacher.
— Terry Hollands, a former Britain’s Strongest Man and England’s Strongest Man winner.
— Mateusz Kieliszkowski who is just 25 but stands at 6 feet 5 inches and weighs 150kg.
— Iron Biby from Burkino Faso who has biceps with a circumference of 63cm.
— Mikhail from Russia who is known for his big dead lifts.
— Jerry Pritchett from the US who has been strength training since he was 15.
— Ramin Farajnezhad from Iran who has been nicknamed ‘The Persian Lion’.
— Tom Stoltman from Scotland who is the younger brother of five-time Scotland’s Strongest Man Luke Stoltman.
— Luke Stoltman, Tom’s older brother.
— Oleksii Novikov who is only 22 but is a Ukraine champion three times over.
— Matjaz Belsak a Slovenian professional strongman competitor and powerlifter.
— Jean-Francois Caron a pro-strongman and gym owner from Quebec, Canada.
— Rauno Heinla is a six-time Estonia strongest man.
What other activities will be there?
The World’s Ultimate Strongman has been promoted as a family event. There will be an Adrenalin Zone with an inflatable obstacle course, a mixed martial arts class, games and a Kid’s Zone. For those who just like to chill, there will be live music, food trucks, a muscle car show and photo walls. Children under 12 enter for free.
How much do tickets cost?
Tickets starting at Dh195 are available online. Gates open at 3pm.
World’s Ultimate Deadlift
Ahead of the main day on October 25, the World’s Ultimate Strongman will be conducting a world record attempt for the World’s Heaviest Deadlift on October 24 at Burj Plaza. The record, which is currently held by the famous British Strongman, Eddie Hall, stands at 500kg. There will be food trucks and a DJ playing music as some of the most famous strongmen in the world take to the stage. This event is free to attend.