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King Kong International Challenge 2020 - Flesher Report [Wyalusing, PA]


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Tom Flesher

Chalk? Check. Zubaz? Check. "Ranger panties" shorts for weigh-in? Check. New York Yankers shirts? Check. List of nonsequiturs to include in my trip report? Working on it.

The next item on the checklist? @temmmeeee. Off to Piscataway to grab Tim and then hit the road.

Friday morning I dropped my dog at the vet to have a tooth extracted, leaving my wife with the unenviable task of managing a whining chiweenie while I was off to compete for the first time since NY Strongest in January. I'd had a strongman comp planned for July, but due to The Unpleasantness the show was canceled. Probably for the best, considering that it had a circus dumbbell for reps, which is probably my worst event (just ahead of zercher yoke and tied with all other overhead motions). I'd also scheduled a comp for August, but that was delayed to November 14... and then with Gripmas coming up, I'll end up competing three times in a little over a month after not doing so at all from January until late October.

I make poor decisions.

Tim and I were on the road by about 1:15 PM. I was trying to make 120kg and didn't do my usual brewery-hopping road trip style, while Tim pounded literally an entire case of White Castle sliders and a shaker bottle full of Mello Yello in the three-hour trip from Piscataway to Wyalusing. We stayed at the Wyalusing Hotel a few doors down from Peak Strength & Fitness, where Jedd runs his competitions. Anton and Anthony arrived shortly after (both of them also planning to make weight, so we didn't have the traditional beer and steak festival) and we spent some time sipping Gentleman Jack on the balcony of the hotel with a very friendly traveling welder from Missouri who quickly became argumentative with people on the street who declined to do burnouts. We learned quite a bit about his life and proclivities regarding women.

We all turned in a bit early and unfortunately missed Vinnie, who didn't get in until the big hand was on the 6 and the little hand was on the 10.

My wife Katie and her friend Diane did an incredible job putting together t-shirts for the four of us. Diane is a graphic designer and edited the New York Yankees logo to read "New York Yankers." Using Diane's template and something called a Silhouette, Katie cut out vinyl logos with names and numbers for each of us (Mine was "The Franchise" with #41, for which hopefully no explanation is needed [although my wife was really upset that that ended up in Yankees colors]) and Diane let us use her heat press to transfer the vinyl onto the shirts. The result looked a bit like a Yankees road jersey, at least conceptually. One of my favorite subplots through the competition was that about once every hour someone would stare at the shirts and then say, "Oh my gosh! I didn't realize it said YankERS!"

We weighed in at the crack of 8 AM after Jedd kindly let us know he'd be there early if we wanted to get our weights on an empty stomach. I woke up a few pounds over and started rehydrating about 6 AM, since it was evident I wasn't making it. The rest of the group all made their desired classes. I'm leaner than I've ever been, but I've put a lot of meat on my back and thighs over the past year. 264 is really attainable for me, it's just going to take more discipline in between competitions. I compete at 275 in strongman, which is obviously a lot more comfortable. I've mentioned in prior trip reports that I really think of myself as a 105kg competitor in both disciplines, and I think it's attainable with minimal loss of strength as long as I take my time doing it.

Training wasn't great for me. I had a grab ball, flask, and crusher, and trained LBH using vertical cannons at 2" and 2 7/8". I didn't really dedicate much time to training for King Kong, to be honest - I'd grab the Flask once in a while, but I probably did less than 10 grip sessions. Most of my grip work was indirect, coming from doing barbell workouts with an axle or just bending. I did pull a surprise 92 pounds on Tim's Flask back in June, which was 7 pounds higher than my 2019 King Kong pull. Coming in, I had a goal of 95 on the Flask, hoped to hit 160 on the Crusher, had no idea on the grab ball but planned my attempts at 120-130-140-150, and expected to pull my remarkably consistent mid-140s on LBH.

Flask went really well and I timed my attempts to get 97.xx on my final pull. Jedd let me take an unofficial attempt at slightly over 100, just to see if I could get triple digits, but it only floated. I'm not sure where the pinch strength is coming from, since I do so much more thickbar work.

The other lifts were pleasant, though not as big in terms of jumps. I pulled a modest PR on Crusher at 158, although I would have liked to get 165. The grab ball was very strange - on my fourth attempt I just couldn't seem to get the ball into the position I wanted it, and I think I gave myself a case of the yips. LBH being a stupid event for losers, I improved my PR by about 5 pounds to the high 140s. This is one I've had a lot of trouble with. Pulling with blocks helps but I can't quite get the hang of it.

After the comp, while the big kids were doing record breakers, we played with the log bar that Peak has. Anton showed a real talent for it. Tim, unsurprisingly, snatched it pretty easily.

The post-comp dinner at the Wyalusing Hotel bar was excellent as always. It's a fun ritual that lets us hang out and enjoy ourselves. Jedd, Delraine, and their daughter came, of course, as did Tim, Andrew Sasso, and Clint Ziegler. Clint is a very strong, very interesting guy with a real talent for picking out good equipment.

I was satisfied with my result - I was 66th, which is much higher than I've placed before even considering the slightly smaller number of competitors this year, and I got a flask number on the board that made me very happy. Overall very successful.

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