Strength And Conditioning
Strength, Strategy, and Spectacle: Inside the Official Strongman Games World Finals with Lynn Morehouse
Discovering the Perfect Stage for Giants: Choosing Charleston, West Virginia
When it comes to hosting the World Finals of the Official Strongman Games, the venue plays a pivotal role. Lynn Morehouse, the man behind the event, faced a unique challenge this year following a hurricane in Daytona Beach. His innovative approach led him to create a Request for Proposal (RFP), attracting 30 to 40 potential venues. Charleston, West Virginia, emerged as the standout choice, offering a perfect blend of facilities and a community eager to welcome the strongman world. With its recently renovated Coliseum and convenient logistics, Charleston promised to transform into the epicenter of strength sports on the first weekend of December.
Global Athletes, One Arena: The Scale of the Competition
Lynn reveals the impressive scale of the event, with 401 athletes from 36 countries converging to vie for the title of the world's strongest. This melting pot of strength athletes showcases the event's international appeal and the growing global interest in strongman competitions.
The Unsung Heroes: Judges, Referees, and Volunteers
Organizing an event of this magnitude requires a well-oiled machine, and at its core are the judges, referees, and volunteers. Lynn shares that the event's success hinges not just on recruiting but also on selecting the best from an enthusiastic pool of candidates. With around 40 to 50 staff members, each event is meticulously planned and executed, ensuring fair and accurate judgment across multiple lanes of competition. This section underscores the dedication and expertise of those who work tirelessly behind the scenes.
Titles at Stake: The Quest for Strongman Glory
The Official Strongman Games World Finals are not just another competition; they are a battlefield where titles and reputations are at stake. In partnership with World Strongest Man, the event features 12 divisions, including three weight divisions each for men and women, masters’ categories, and the coveted open division. Lynn highlights the direct path the men's open winners have to Giants Live, an essential stepping stone to the World Strongest Man.
A Glimpse at the Favorites: Who to Watch at the Finals
As the competition nears, speculation mounts about the potential winners. While Lynn plays it close to the vest, the excitement for the men's and women's open divisions is palpable. Athletes like Marcus Crowder, Lucas Hatton, and Tim Buck are mentioned as strong contenders in the men's open, while the women's division is equally competitive with athletes like Rebecca Roberts and Lucy Underdown making strong cases for the title.
A Celebration of Strength and Endurance
As we wrap up this insightful interview with Lynn Morehouse, it's clear that the Official Strongman Games World Finals are more than just a display of physical might. They represent a celebration of endurance, strategy, and the unyielding human spirit. This December, Charleston, West Virginia, will not just host a competition; it will become the global stage where legends are made, and stories of extraordinary strength are told.
Here is the actual interview
Joe Kenn [JK]: Hey, this is Joe Kenn, and I'm with Lynn Morehouse, the promoter of the official Strongman Games World Finals and the owner of trainstrongman .com. Lynn, we appreciate you being on tonight, and we've already shared a lot to ourselves. But, now we're going to have a quick official interview about the upcoming World Finals.
Lynn Morehouse [LM]: Excellent.
Choosing a Venue
[JK]: Thanks for joining us. First off, I know it's hard to find venues. During your discovery process, what led you to Charleston, West Virginia?
[LM]: I decided this year, after we had the hurricane in Daytona Beach, to just see what else was out there. I switched my approach. Instead of me looking for venues directly, I went and created an RFP. I created a request for a proposal and got it in the hands of the right people. About 30 to 40 destinations came to me. It allowed me the opportunity to do a little bit of comparison and then just recognize some of the pros of the event that we’re bringing to destinations.
Charleston, West Virginia ended up being an excellent choice because they had a lot of the things we were looking for. We weren’t at this stage looking for a massive metropolitan area where we might get lost on a given weekend. We wanted to be the show in town. And in Charleston, for that week of OSG in December 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, we’re going to be the main show. The venue, the Coliseum was recently redone. It’s a beautiful Coliseum. Lots of hotels nearby. You know, the airports right there with the free shuttle makes it really convenient for the international athletes. Overall, it was actually kind of an easy choice. Once you started, building out your pros and cons list.
[JK]: Well, I’m loving it because it’s a five-hour drive for me. I’m going. I’m excited to go and be a part of it. I’ve been to several events you run. Like I said, I commend you on the organization and how well run they are with the number of athletes that show up at these events is truly extraordinary.
Number of Athletes Competing?
[JK]: It’s incredible to me with that being said, with this being the world finals, what is your anticipated competitor number and how many different countries will be represented?
[LM]: I already got that number. So we're at 401 athletes across 36 countries right now.
[JK]: I mean, that's just a testament to what you've accomplished. Kudos to you because I've run several events, not at that magnitude. I know how hard it is just to put together a small bench press meet, let alone 401 strong men from 36 countries and you have to help support their teams also so that I'm extremely excited.
I think the first event I went to see you all run was a Southeast regional in Concord. There was several hundred people there and I just was amazed with the quality of how you perfected this high volume machine, so to speak, and it just continued to run like it was on a treadmill.
Judges/Referees and Volunteers
[JK]: You can't do it alone. With an event of this magnitude, how many volunteers and judges do you have to recruit for an event of this type?
[LM]: You know, we're at about 40 to 50 staff members. The big key difference I would personally say is we don't have to recruit, we have to narrow the field. People actually reach out. Everyone's very, very excited about what we're doing. They want to be a part of it. They want to help the sport of strongman grow. And as we always say, if you want the best seats in the house, volunteer. I mean, you get full access. And we've just learned over time though that it's three hard days, it's a lot of work. We try to have more people than we need, even though it costs a little bit more on shirts it costs a little bit more on feeding the team and whatnot. It's much more worth it when you know that people can rest, they can go and get the breaks that they need. \
Especially the judges, we're doing four lanes at a time. In the past, we've had only enough judges for those lanes. Now we're even having backups so that they can get a break because you can only be so focused and perfect on your judging for so long without any kind of breaks.
[JK]: I'm going to ask you specifically about the judging and the referees. Having judged and been a part of that for the Shaw Classic the last two years, I know the pressure and the intensity to try to do things right, not just by the athlete too, which is number one, but by what the criteria is of the event itself. When you have your pool of judges, obviously they're people you have a relationship with, is there any particular background that you're looking for from these individuals? Or is it just guys that you've met or women you've met that have worked with you over time and they've evolved into being qualified or quality referees and judges for your events?
[LM]: You know, there's a mix of both. I do think though that for the most part, the majority of our judging staff are veteran promoters and athletes themselves. These are people that have been athletes. These are people that have promoted events themselves. They know the sport in and out. It's the kind of thing where honestly, you know what you're looking for. This isn't new to you. You don't need to be told what you're looking for.
The biggest challenge we run into, and this is a problem with strongman, right? Is a lot of events, you think weightlifting, you think powerlifting, it's one rep and you can actually have multiple judges deliberate and then make a decision. With most events in strongman, they're for multiple reps and it's under time, meaning you can't wait to get another set of eyes and have them go. The pressure is on for that one individual and you throw in the fact that, like OSG, like the Shaw Classic, this is a live streamed event. It's also there for in person spectators. It's very easy to completely block the view of the event with multiple judges,
multiple staff members. I think that's something we're still evolving with. And one of the things that I'm expecting to change this year is it's nice to be able to have people a little bit further away.
But as with the official strongman games, we have a lot more events where they are ladders and so an athlete will progress from far away to closer.
We're probably going to need to start getting that judge to be within earshot so that they can give those commands a little bit faster rather than it being strictly from a visual far away. Because we do find that maybe you're holding it up there because they're not locked out, but the athlete doesn't know what they still need to do. Most of the time, they know, OK, yeah, just need to push a little harder, pull a little bit more. But there are instances of some of the more technical moves. I'll give the example of a sandbag to shoulder where it has to be completely on the shoulder, not down your arm. That's a little bit harder of a cue for a judge to tell the athlete. So we're always evolving to try to make that a little bit better. It's a really high pressure situation for those athletes. Then you imagine that instead of just that one command, maybe three attempts, they're doing eight to 10 commands for each athlete during 60 seconds, or they're doing a ladder where it's four or five good lift commands. So you compound that across 400 athletes. The amount of times that a judge may have a bad call, but it's still less than 1 % of all their calls. It's kind of a rough job to be fair.
[JK]: Oh no, you talk about pressure. I understand that 100%. And it's funny you say that about when it's live stream, the referees sometimes are put in positions they have their eyesight changes. I know several times in the last two years, it was critical where we stood because of the TV cameras. I found in year two a little bit more confident than year one for myself. On some of the moving events, I did what you said, I followed the athlete so they knew, okay, you can drop the wheelbarrow, you hit the line. That's something that I feel like personally, I took as, I want these guys to make sure they get their best time and nothing's questioned. And even with the open, I think for me, I would when the athlete come out, I would walk with them and tell them, this is what I'm looking for. I just feel like try to leave, no stone uncovered, so to speak, because they train hard, I know how hard they train and you want them to be successful. You don't want them to lose a rep or get penalized time because they didn't actually understand the rules or you weren't prepared to do things that gave them the best opportunity to score their best points.
Like you said, nobody's perfect, but if you can at least be consistent, right? I think everybody wants consistency rather than seeing different types of, well, that judge over there is dropping his hand a lot faster than that judge. But, you don't know if that guy's just better locking out his deadlift than that guy. So it's a crazy game.
What Titles are on the Line
[JK]: I have the utmost respect for the amount of reps that your judges and referees will see over three days. With that said, 401 athletes, 36 countries, how many overall titles are on the line? And am I correct in saying that outside of the open, all of these individual winners in the weight classes and the age groups will be considered world champions? Is that correct?
[LM]: Yeah, absolutely. You know, we partner directly with World Strongest Man. The men's open, their podium is a direct path to Giants Live, which is the official way to get to World Strongest Man. Obviously, because we have such a good, strong international base of athletes and the talent pool gets better and better, sometimes athletes are picked directly from the official strongman games to go. But, the official path is through Giants Live.
We have 12 divisions total. Every other division (11) is the world's strongest man or woman title for that weight class. We have three weight divisions for men, three weight divisions for women. We have two masters, a 40 plus and a 50 plus for men and for women. And then obviously the open division, which would be the heavy weight men.
And then for the women, that would be the outright world strongest woman title as well. –
Mark Felix and the 50 plus Master’s Title
[JK]: Yeah, I'm excited to see, as you know, we've talked, I'm a master's age, former powerlifter, I'm 50 plus. I'm a big fan of Mark Felix and a big fan of Nick Best. They inspire me to continue to train as hard and heavy as I can.
Does anyone have a chance of taking Mark off the throne this year for the strongest man over 50 years old?
[LM]: If I was a betting man in Vegas, I would say no, but there are always athletes coming out of the woodwork and I would be remiss if I didn't mention some of the athletes that were very strong in the master's 40 plus that have now entered 50 plus.
We've got George Pearson, extremely strong competitor, you know, really just turning 50. He's gonna be a really challenging in the podium there. Obviously with Nick Best sitting this year out because of he had some injuries and whatnot. He's pseudo retired, but you know how strongman are.
[JK]: I know. - He's pseudo retired. - And Nick's one of those guys, man. He is something else. I mean, I love that guy. –
[LM]: You know, it's one thing to go and say that I would say Mark Felix is number one competitor. Sitting this one out makes it easier for Mark, but we do have some athletes that have come in this year just hitting that 50 mark that are gonna shock people. And right off the top of my hat, George Pearson, he's been competitive as heck in the 40 plus. He is going to be, he's gonna be a challenge.
[JK]: Yeah, I was hoping, I know Chad Coy was hoping to compete and he had to pull out. I've known Chad, that was the one strong man meet I did compete in was Chad's when he was running it out of Kokomo, Indiana at the time. And I was really hoping that Chad was gonna be able to make it, but again, two guys Chad and Nick who are highly competitive and well respected in the field.
40 Plus Title
[JK]: That leads me to my next question. I'm excited for the masters. It seems like you've got at least three big time guys entering the 40 year old plus masters in Jerry Pritchett, JF Caron and Big Loz, Laurence Shahlaei. Am I my missing anybody else in that group that could be in the on the podium or in the top five?
[LM]: I mean once again you have Ken McClelland, I mean he has won it before,
and he is in there being strong. You know he's had some years in the past where one little bad performance can take you out of the running at first place but he's never far from the top. Ken is always dangerous. I would also say, there's some other athletes that are a little bit less known internationally, but the one that was kind of there were two other athletes, Grzegorz Szymanski. This is a world's strongest man competitor from 2022 in Sacramento. He's in the Masters now and Rauno Heinla is coming also.
Rauno got second last year to. We also have Johan Espenkrona from Sweden. He has been really just dominant in the SCL sort of the men's open circuit there, not as a Masters, he is just that strong anyway. I'm really excited this will be his first time at the official strongman game so, we don't really know how he's going to stack up.
[JK]: I'm excited to watch that group again, because that's my generation. And when I saw some of the guys coming in, I think it's kudos to what you're doing, that someone like Big Loz is training for this event, because, you know, he had retired and like, they can't, they can't get away from it. He did an event, and then he had come out and said, Hey, I'm going to go do official strongman and try to challenge for the world's strongest man at 40 plus years old. So again, kudos to you, Lynn. It's pretty impressive.
[JK]: I'm going to end with this question, because this is the big one. Who are the favorites for the men's and women's open? Because obviously, that's for the most part, we call that the crème de la crème of events like this.
[LM]: I'll kind of start with the men's open. We've got some really strong Americans that I'm excited about. We've got some athletes that just missed the podium last year that are looking to be even stronger this year. I'm talking about, Marcus Crowder, Lucas Hatton, Tim Buck, these are all people that, you know, any given day, they have the opportunity to be competing at that high level at a giant’s live and above. So the men's open, I'm excited about every year because it's the new talent. These are the people you're going to be talking about later. There's a bunch of international athletes in that mix. There was a gentleman from the Czech Republic that actually just did a giant’s livde that's going to be in that mix as well. Sometimes they're completely unknown to us in the US, but they've been having dominant performances in other federations across Europe,
I really excited to see how they do. The women's World's Strongest Woman title is a little bit more kind of known, I'd say, because there are such strong contenders. You never want to go and not think about Rebecca Roberts. She's just won Britain’s Strongest Woman. She's impressive. She's doing great. She was second at Europe Strongest Woman. And then, that leads me to Lucy Underdown. She's really just gotten stronger than ever. She's the strongest female deadlifter in the world.
You know, it's a shame that due to injury, Victoria Long had to pull out this year. So we, as Americans, you know, that was one of our top candidates. We also have Inez and Gabby on the American side. There's five women, I think, that if, if they don't make mistakes, they are absolutely in contention for the title. And that's one of those groups that you just kind of got to watch because they are starting to perform and do numbers that,
you know, just a few years ago was completely unheard of.
[JK]: Well, I kept telling people, being at the Shaw Classic and watching the women compete this year, I was like, I couldn't touch any of those openers. Again, I mean, it's just, amazing to me what these women are accomplishing. And it's just kudos to them.
And you know, we go back to the men. It's funny, because I've met Tim Buck. I kind of follow Tim. I think I first saw, I know he'd been around, but I think I saw Marcus Crowder pull over a thousand pounds at one of your events earlier this year. And then didn't the Hatten gentlemen just win America's strongest man?
[JK]: I want to end it like this. Does it give you a sense of pride and, and like understanding of what you have accomplished as a promoter and the people that are willing to sacrifice finances, training to come to your event. We were in the guest area this year at World's Strongest Man in Myrtle Beach and several of the competitors came through your event?
I mean, how do you, I know you enough to know that you've got a humbleness and you've got a sincerity to yourself, but these are people that came up through your event. I'm even kind of excited for you. Like that's got to say something about what you've accomplished hosting this event.
[LM]: A hundred percent. There's a little bit kind of a, I don't know, a mantra or slogan that started to click with me over the last year or two. And it really is, you know, don't try to make it cheaper. Try to make it worth it. And that's what we've been doing is we recognize it costs a lot to compete internationally, not just financially. It takes a huge toll on your relationships, your employment, your body. And you just want to make it worth it to these athletes. I feel incredibly honored when I get the opportunity after the event to hear from these athletes where they are pushed to keep going in the sport. I've given them something that motivates them on some of the weight classes. They really never felt like they were treated as equals within the sport or there wasn't a goal.
Now this event has been able to give them that goal marker. So, I don't take it lightly, but I continually just say, you know what, let's just make it worth it. It's recognized how much they're putting into this and make that weekend worth it.
[JK]: Perfect. I'm a fan of everybody, but I'm going to throw in my plug. If I am cheering for at least one athlete to do very well, it's in the women's, I believe it's 82kg Class, Sam Belliveau, Maxime's, finance. I got to meet them, I love them, they are super cool. So, I am gonna be a fan boy to Sam, but I am excited to watch all the events.
And again, Lynn, man, I appreciate you letting us get involved and being able to see some of the stuff backstage when we arrive and I'll stay out of the way, I promise. December 1st through 3rd, if you are a strong man fan or a strong woman fan, or you just want to learn more about it, head to Charleston, West Virginia, and you'll see some of the greatest strong man athletes participate. 401 athletes, 36 countries, all headed up by my man,
Lynn Morehouse and Lynn again. Thank you very much. And we really appreciate you giving us the time tonight.
[LM]: Thanks so much, Joe.