In the mid-1990’s, I took a road trip with a friend from Kalamazoo, Michigan, to visit another friend living in Amherst, Massachusetts. While canoeing, we happened upon a rock face at waters edge. Two of us jumped at the same time from a 30-foot cliff, my friend (top) appearing to defy gravity having used a rope swing, while I simply dropped like a rock. Geronimo!
I was competing in a PDGA sanctioned disc golf tournament on a warm day with mild winds during the summer of 1999. The event was held at Cold Brook Park, located in Climax, Michigan, between Kalamazoo and Battle Creek.
At that time, organizers commonly added six alternate baskets to the 18-hole layout, in order to accommodate a larger field of players. The first new basket in this expanded 24-hole format followed the 16th hole, and was a short birdie opportunity along the edge of Portage Lake.
Everything seemed fine as our group approached the tee pad. The wind was calm and there weren’t any trees as obstacles, only a water hazard to avoid along the right edge of the fairway.
And then, it happened.
From out of nowhere, a small gaggle of geese flew closely overhead at a high rate of speed! They couldn’t have been more than 10-feet above the ground, riding the leading edge of a weather system. We all ducked, rising again only to be immediately greeted by headwinds of approx. 30 miles per hour, sustained for the remainder of the tournament.
So much for an easy shot – now, the water loomed large.
It was 1996 and I was 32 years old living in Kalamazoo, Michigan. My gym was American Fitness and I was working out 5 days per week (3-on-1-off, 2-on-1-off).
One day, I noticed a flyer posted on the bulletin board, advertising for a strong man contest to be held in 2 weeks – who could bench press their own weight the most times? This was my favorite exercise, so I decided to enter the competition.
The contest would be judged, and lifters had to adhere to the following rules:
- no bouncing weight off of ones chest
- no arched back – ones back must remain flat, in contact with bench
- to count, each repetition must be full and cleared as “good” by judge
- contestants would compete based on a weight class bracket
The event was to be held at an old, industrial building near the railroad tracks on the east side of town, used at that time for a bar known as The Warehouse. Based on my weight, I was in the 175-200 lbs. weight class bracket.
When it was time, I arrived to see that many others were also interested in competing, and a local news station had their camera set up to record the event. The first order of business entailed stepping on a scale to be weighed by an official. Each individual did so in private without clothing, and I weighed 190.5 lbs.
It was at that point that I learned another contest rule – that is, that weights would be rounded up in 5-lb. increments. Thus, I’d be lifting 195 lbs. instead of my actual weight. It was suggested that I run outside around the building a few times – hoping to lose 1/2 pound – and that a second weighing would be made available. I thought about it but wanted to conserve my energy, so I declined.
I waited for my turn back in the main room, stretching my muscles and warming-up on one of several bench presses made available.
When I was finally called, I walked up onto the stage, listened to a brief review of the rules by an official, and then got into position on the bench. Next, as with each competitor, a judge (a.k.a., the spotter) assisted in safely removing the weight from the rack, thereafter releasing contact for me to begin lifting.
I bench pressed 195 lbs. for 29 clean repetitions, good enough for second place in my weight class bracket. First place went to a 178 lb. competitor (from my gym!) who pressed 180 lbs. for 31 clean repetitions.
All told, I bench pressed 5655 lbs. during that series of lifts, which (in consolation only) was a total of 75 lbs. more then the winner. My 29 presses were also the 2nd most of any competitor across all weight class brackets at the event.
Living in Kalamazoo, Michigan, at the time, this neighborhood cat would periodically enter through a small window opening of my upstairs apartment in an older house. Shelter from rain, comfortable seating and an occasional helping of tunafish from a can served to reinforce a friendship over time.
Thanks for stopping by!