Saturday, October 28, 2023

2023 King Kong Grip Challenge

This has been on my calendar practically since it was announced.  I did the challenge in 2019 and toyed with the idea in 2021 and finally made my way out to Carbondale this year.  The event was founded by Eric Roussin and this is the 11th year it is being held.

The event was sponsored by Steve Millard (Carbondale) and Jeremy Everding (Carbondale).  In attendance were Kim (Thornton), Kenzie (Cheyenne, WY), Sarah (Glenrock, WY), Megan (Rifle, CO), Michael (flew in to Grand Junction), Colton (Cheyenne, WY), Jaland (Mead, CO), Jesse (Rifle, CO) and myself (Lakewood, CO).  The (11) of us faced down the 2.25” crusher, pinch block, Finnish ball and 2.5” jug.  I did not realize until we were well underway, that the Carbondale venue often has some world class lifters setting world records on the implements.

Check in for the event was easy.  I paid my $30, weighed in at 199 pounds (90.5kg).  Folks were pretty serious about warming up doing general fitness warm ups and hand specific warm ups with squeeze balls, IronMind toys and I even saw a pair of those steel ball pairs that people rotate in their hands.  We did rules briefings as we went along.  Most folks were pretty comfortable with the rules, but I learned some new things.

The biggest difference at the comp was lifting to a crossbar and the “seasoning” of the implements.  All of the implements had a healthy amount of chalk worked into the steel to give the implement an extremely nice feel.  They were well prepped and cared for with light brushing when needed and grinding in chalk when needed.

Steve Millard has excellent equipment with homemade crossbars, lifting blocks for shorter athletes, and Rogue calibrated kg plates (2 sets of 25-25-20-10-5).  He had  a few loading pins, the official implements and a cross arm that fits in the weight stack to strike the crossbar.  Everything was measured twice, recorded and the judging was spectacular.

The event was last man standing:
  • Crusher – 53.75kg, 56.25kg, 58.75kg (123.75lb; 166th)
  • IronMind Block – 11.25kg, 14.4kg, 15.4kg, 16.9kg, 19.9kg, 20.4kg, 20.9kg, 21.9kg, 23.4kg (48.18lb, 167th)
  • Finnish Ball (13” Lift) – 15kg, 17kg, 18kg, 19kg, 20kg, 21.5kg, 22.5kg, 23.5kg, 25kg (51.7lb, 136th)
  • 2.5” Jug – 41.35kg, 43.85kg, 46.35kg, 48.85kg, 51.35kg, 52.85kg, 56.35kg, 63.85kg, 67.35kg (140.47 lb, 153rd).
Overall, I was 158/182 men; 19/21 93kg men and 17/23 50+ men.

My increments may seem weird.  I started too heavy on the Crusher and despite it moving well, failed on my 3rd attempt.  

I was more conservative in my jump with the Block and ended up taking 9 successful lifts.  Keys were to start off center and really stretch webbing of hand to engage Block and press Block into lifting hand with opposite hand.  

The Finnish Ball was similar in that I took 8 successful lifts.  Key is to really set fingers opposite thumb and lift.  

The 2.5” Jug was weird.  I took 8 successful lifts.  It felt heavy until the 3rd lift and then it just started moving well.  Keys were to take all of the tension out of the carabiner and implement with free hand, set lifting hand and then go.  

All of the lifters seemed to listen for the crossbar and follow the implement down.  It has to be controlled but can shift in your hand as long as you follow it down.

After the comp folks were playing with plate pinches, half 90 blob, half 120 blob, red pill, an EH106 grip tester and other toys.  

I was most pleased with myself on the Jug.  The Crusher and Block are more raw strength.  The Finnish Ball is more technique.  The Jug is a combination of both.

I liked seeing how people prepped and competed.  One guy wore a mouthpiece.  Another guy had on elbow sleeves.  A couple of folks were wearing belts.  Several athletes were also using ammonia for final attempts.

Sarah was the Queen Kong of Grip winning overall best female athlete
Kim was 3rd in 57kg women (2nd in 50+ women)
Megan was 2nd in 63kg women
MacKenzie was 6th in 100+kg women

Jesse was 1st in 59kg men
Michael was 5th in 84kg men
Sanjiv was 19th in 93kg men
Steve was 7th in 105kg men (3rd in 50+ men)
Jaland was 4th in 120kg men
Colton was 4th in 120+kg men
Jeremy was 8th in 120+kg men

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