story & photos
by Christopher Annino
On Friday, May 15, 27-year-old Derek Poundstone broke a world record at Mohegan Sun. Derek, a CT native, pulled two busses weighing 56,000 lbs, 100 ft in 44.6 seconds across the Thames Garage M Parking Lot. Randall Bumgarner, a drywall specialist from Lebanon, was pulled from the crowd to help spot Derek during the pull. “Being a former strongman, it is an honor to be a part of this. I have no doubt in my mind that Derek will be the next Mariusz Pudzianowski,” said Randall. Mariusz won more World’s Strongest Man titles than any other strongman competitor, winning the event in 2008 for the fifth time.
When asked the reason for attempting to break such a physically demanding record, Derek said, “Well, I threw the idea to Colin Bryce [former strongman competitor, ex-Olympian and CEO, Show Productions] in regards to pulling a bus to promote the Giants Live Qualifier at Mohegan Sun. Usually, Colin will respond by going to the next extreme. So that’s how we came up with the idea of breaking the world record.”
On Sunday, May 17, Giants Live!, 2009’s first World’s Strongest Man Qualifier, was held at Mohegan Sun Arena. World-class strongmen such as Derek Poundstone, Waterbury, Travis Ortmayer, Cypress, TX, Brian Shaw, Denver, CO, Mark Felix, Grenada, Sebastian Wenta, Poland, Terry Hollands, UK, and rookie sensation Johannes Arsjo, Sweden, competed at the event.
The strongman events included the Giant 800lb Timber Frame Carry, the Car Dead Lift, the Log Press 286lbs, Apollon’s Axle, the Husafell Stone 375lbs, and the most physically demanding, the Atlas Stones. During this event, the strongmen carry and load six stones, weighing 285 – 420 pounds, onto platforms. The fastest time to load all six stones (or the most stones) wins. The past two years no one loaded the last stone. Mark Felix, veteran professional strongman, said, “The most important thing to remember about this sport is that it is more mental than anything. Before you compete you need to be ready mentally.”
During the Apollon’s Axle event, both Johannes Arsjo and Travis Ortmayer set records, but within minutes Derek destroyed the record by blasting over 400lbs over his head. Travis said, “Dang!! I had the record for 5 minutes and ‘Poundcake’ aka Poundstone stole it from me. I am gonna have to get him some how tonight.” And that he did.
In the final event, Travis did what seemed impossible. He broke the two year curse by lifting the final Atlas Stone.
Overall, Derek Poundstone placed first, Travis Ortmayer placed second, and Brian Shaw placed third.
“This is great that Mohegan Sun adopted us by letting us use their facility. This sport has grown from being held in back yards and parks to arenas,” said the world’s youngest World’s Strongest Man competitor, Kevin Nee, 23, Massachusetts.
“I had 15 days to prepare for this event and I lost, but I would go at the drop of a hat if I ever get invited. It is truly an honor to compete with such amazing athletes,” said Gerard Benderoth, New York police officer.