York 99 Writeup


The 1999 York Barbell

Strength Spectacular Weekend

Bob Hoffman Strongman Challenge

By Mark Samson Keshishian,

June 26, 1999 was the date selected for the Second Annual York Strength Spectacular Weekend. This event included the York Barbell Hall of Fame IPA World Powerlifting Championships, an Olympic Weightlifting Demonstration, a Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, a York Barbell AAA Stand-up Arm Wrestling Contest, and the Bob Hoffman Strongman Challenge.

After hearing several reports from spectators regarding the coordination of last year’s event, it seems this year’s Strongman contest improved by leaps and bounds—not only in its organization but also in the quality of events and competitors. There were known strongman competitors present as well as some impressive performances by new comers to the sport. With York Barbell’s backing, the York Barbell Strength Spectacular Weekend could soon become a world-renowned annual event. The rapidly growing popularity of the Strongman portion of the weekend alone will undoubtedly draw larger and larger crowds.

On to the Strongman contest

There were a total of 46 competitors and 4 classes. Managing such a large competition proved to be a challenge for the officials as they encountered several unexpected difficulties. However, officials addressed these issues and managed to run the competition smoothly and without much delay. Kenny Sellers, working under Ellen and Mark Chaillet, was in charge of the coordination of the contest. There were four weight classes: Light Women (under 132 lb.), Heavy Women (over 132 lbs.), Light Men (under 225 lbs.) and the Heavy Men (over 225 lbs.).

  • The first event was the Truck Pull. Competitors strapped an Iron Mind Harness around their upper body with the intention of pulling a truck down an 82-foot course on fresh asphalt in the fastest time. There was a slight decline along the course. The harness worked flawlessly. The original concept was to have the women pull a Wrangler Jeep, the light men pull a 72,000 lbs. Ford Van, and the heavy men pull a 10,400 lbs. Ford Box Van. The women, however, found the Wrangler Jeep to be too light. As a result, the officials decided that the women would pull the 7,200 lbs. van, and both the light and heavy men classes would pull the 10,400 lbs. Box Van.

Results of the Truck Pull:


Light Women: Ellen Stein with a time of 18.29 seconds.

Heavy Women: Kim Ferebee with a time of 16.16 seconds.

Light Men: John Jakobsen with a time of 27.30 seconds.

Heavy Men: Michael Anderson with a time of 20.53 seconds.

  • The second event was the Forward Hold. With straight backs, dumbbell weights were to be gripped with both hands by the shaft and held up with fully extended arms at a ninety-degree angle from the body for the longest time. The weights were increasingly heavier for each class. The Light Women used a 25-pound dumbbell. The heavy women used a 35-pound dumbbell. The light men used a 50-pound dumbbell and the heavy men used a 65-pound dumbbell. This event proved to be the most difficult for the contest officials. In consistent judging from the officials caused many competitors to protest the first round of results. These complaints were listened to. A satisfactory solution was reached when the old times were discarded and the event was run again with stricter judging that was evenly applied.


Result of the Forward Hold:


Light Women: Ellen Stien with a time of 32.41 seconds.

Heavy Women: Delora Serbin with a time of 38.47 seconds.

Light Men: Vincent Cooke with a time of 45.31 seconds.

Heavy Men: John Butler with a time of 54.39 seconds.

  • The Third event was the Farmer’s Walk. Gripping a dumbbell in each hand, competitors were required to walk, jog or run down a 40 foot course, turn 180 degrees and come back 40 feet. Time was stopped when the competitor’s body crossed the finish line. There was no controversy here, you either completed the entire course or you did not get any points. The dumbbells used were manufactured by York and had thicker grips than one would expect. The weights used were as follows: the light women used 60 pound dumbbells, the heavy women used 75 pound dumbbells, the light men used 130 pound dumbbells and the heavy men used 150 pound dumbbells.


Results of the Farmer’s Walk:


Light Women: Ellen Stein with a time of 16.34 seconds.

Heavy Women: Beth Orliss with a time of 13.50 seconds.

Light Men: Kevin Irwin with a time of 11.51 seconds.

Heavy Men: Michael Anderson with a time of 11.19 seconds.

  • The fourth and last event was the Loading Medley. There were four objects to be picked up off the ground, carried and loaded onto the lift gate of a truck. If an object fell off the truck, it had to be re-loaded again. The objects consisted of:
  1. a one-inch thick rubber mat, which was 4 X 4 feet for the women, and 4 X 6 feet for the men;
  2. a York weight plate, laying flat on the ground. The light women had to use a 50-pound plate. The heavy women had to use a 75-pound plate. Both the light and heavy Men used a 100-pound plate.
  3. a Keg: 65 pounds for the women and 175 pounds for the men;
  4. an Army duffel bag filled with sand. The light women had to take on a 100-pound sack. The heavy women had to take on a 125-pound sack. The Light Men used a 200-pound sack. The heavy men used a 250-pound sack.

The hardest part of this medley was the duffel bag. The differing weights may not sound like much of a challenge but this was dead weight and therefore was very difficult to maneuver. A 250-pound rock or keg would have been much easier to lift and carry than this awkward bulky weight. This one item turned out to be the true test of strength and perseverance for many competitors.


Results of the Loading Medley:


Light Women: Ellen Stein with a time of 52.93 seconds.

Heavy Women: Shannon Pole-Summers with a time of 33.94 seconds.

Light Men: John Jakobsen with a time of 34.27 seconds.

Heavy Men: Michael Anderson with a time of 35.21 seconds.


The overall winners:

Light Women

1st Place: Ellen Stein

Heavy Women

1st Place: Shannon Pole Summers

2nd Place: Beth Orliss

3rd Place: Delora Serbin


Light Men

1st Place: John Jakobsen

2nd Place: Vincent Cooke

3rd Place: Donnie Thompson


Heavy Men

1st Place: Michael Anderson

2nd Place: Scott Lewis

3rd Place: John Butler

  • Before closing, a special mention needs to be made of one competitor who in the spectators’ opinions should have been awarded the Perseverance Award. A competitor in the light men class competed with an artificial leg. He completed the truck pull and beat out a lot of other competitors all day long. On top of that, he had a great competitive attitude and cheered on everyone. No one I talked to seems to know his name. This man impressed the crowd with his athleticism and determination as he completed every single event. Being a competitor with a disability myself (I am missing the ring finger on my left hand), I was personally encourage by his valor.

Over all, the York Barbell Strength Spectacular Weekend was a great success. A special thank you to Mark and Ellen Chaillet and Kenny Sellers for putting on a great event which helped promote the Strongman sport and will no doubt, develop into the yearly competition not to be missed.


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