Strongman Road Trip
Write up by Stainless, posted on RiotTraining.
STRONGMAN STONES ROAD TRIP
I have long been aware of the historical significance of the manhood stones and always wanted to have a go but the timing never seemed right either I was training for a comp or injured and kept putting it on the back burner so to speak. I first saw the Dinnie stones back in 2001 at the super series in Aberdeenshire where strongman host and strength historian Davie Webster offered a cash prize of £500 to anyone who could lift and carry them 5 yards. I recall Latvian strongman Ramonds Bergmanis lifting them and managing a few steps.
There exists a wealth of information on these historic stones and some fascinating tales and accounts of those who have lifted or attempted to lift them and I would encourage the reader of this to explore these further.
If people have travelled from the States, Canada and further especially to lift these stones then how can anyone daring to call himself a Scottish Strongman do less?
Having recently retired from competition but still enjoying training with the lads and feeling strong I figured that at 44 years old it’s now or never if I was to have a go at these stones.
So it was that I suggested to my training partners Andy Cairney and Ken Nowiski that we make the pilgrimage up North. Andy undoubtedly on of the strongest pressers this country has ever seen was eager to see if he could do the unthinkable and become the 4th man in history and the 3rd Scot to press the Inver stone over head, the others being Bill Kazmier, Hamish Davidson, and Francis Brebner. Ken is all ready on record as being the youngest person ever to have lifted the Dinnies at 17 years of age, back then he used straps and I knew he’d be keen to test his great grip strength and lift them unassisted.
So it was then that we planned the trip for the 1st of August 2009 and set out early in beautiful glorious Scottish weather-raining, perfect, as it should be.
I had phoned the Potarch Hotel the night before just to be on the safe side and ensure that the stones would be there for our attempt. As we arrived at the hotel the stones were nowhere to be seen, a little scout about but sure enough they were not there! Horrors, have we been stopped at the first hurdle? But no road trip would be fun without a bit of drama. We were informed that the stones had been moved that morning to the Aboyne Highland games some 5 miles or so down the road. Apparently this is the one day of the year they are moved. Can you imagine the roasting I would’ve gotten from the guys had I not phoned?
Anyway it seems fate was playing a hand in this, either we were not to get a go at these stones or they’d been moved for us for a reason. Onwards to the games.
For those of you who have been to the highland games, and if not I urge you to do so, there is something quite special about the walk to the games, the majestic backdrop of deep rich green mountains, mist floating above and the distant sound of the bagpipes drawing ever closer…FREEDOM!!! Death to the English…oops, sorry, got a bit carried away there for a moment.
The Aboyne games was a bigger affair than I’d imagined, very professional, great field of heavy athletes, Sebastian Wenta for one and a large crowd maybe 2000 plus. I was afraid that we might not have been allowed to lift the stone as maybe they were put aside for an allotted time slot, if so we might have had to choose between waiting for the Dinnies and missing the Inver. Not so. We explained to the officials of our situation and were escorted to the Dinnies. Arriving at the stones and seeing them in front of you is in it's self quite a moment, in strength terms this is the Stone of Destiny. This is it, we’re here, got to try and lift them now. Two impressive looking gentlemen dressed resplendently in traditional highland attire were introduced to us as the descendents of Donald Dinnie and custodians of the stones. Gordon Dinnie himself is the official register of authentic lifts and seemed delighted that we were here to attempt the stones. Fate, surely? In no time at all a large crowd had gathered to watch us as we warmed up, the stones were chained together by a loose fitting chain, an official tried to find out who had the key.
These are impressive rocks make no mistake, the small one 321lbs, the larger 413lbs, very large and awkward, the rings are very narrow, one more so than the other. We took turns in warming up, both hands each stone, then trying each stone one hand, a large hand is of no great benefit here in the way it would be wrapping it around a thick handle on say an axle or a farmers handle as the ring bites into a small specific area and forces you to open your hand up very quickly. I knew I would need to use a hook grip. Ken was the first to go, the crowd had grown, the local press had cameras poised, as did most of the crowd and much to our great pleasure so did Mr Dinnie.Big Ken disappointed no one and ripped them up with a jubilant cry:EASY!! Indeed it was. I should add at this point that none of us had even brought wrist wraps with us so intent were we at doing them unassisted. Andy had his first go but as they started to rise his grip, conventional, at this point opened up. I had one warm up attempt, putting about 90% into it, clearly that wouldn’t do it, right pec cramped up right away, seeing little stars. Andy had another go, same problem, grip. I went again, I should add that having Mr Dinnie present to advise on correct positioning of stones plus watching Ken’s foot position was a massive benefit, other wise I fear we would have wasted much time and effort on failed attempts. I hooked it and pulled them up and locked out. Fantastic what a feeling, I can’t say it was easy but easier than I thought, I didn’t expect to get them first time. The crowd were getting behind us big time, that, the venue, the illustrious company, the pipes all gave me strength, no question. Ken, now belt less and strapless went again and did 2 reps, easy, this boy’s middle name should be Donald. Andy was getting a bit ticked of now and borderline disheartened. Andy clearly had the strength but was like many big guys a victim of his own dimensions, the fleshy pad of his hands and the thickness of his tendons seemed to be preventing Andy from hooking. At this point, inspired by Ken I had a second attempt strapless, and this time belt less as well, another successful lift, c’mon!
Would you believe it Ken even picked them up and posed for a photo with Gordon Dinnie for the local paper?
Andy was almost ready to walk away, but no way were we letting him, we’d come together and weren’t leaving till we’d all lifted them. This time Andy managed to get the hook right and we jammed his thumb right under the ring, solid.easily pulled up and held good lift!
What a feeling, many back slaps, hand shakes and waves later we left the field on a high, buzzing and fired up for the Inver stone. Onwards.
Thirty minutes later we were standing above the famous stone. Knocked on the door and asked permission from the charming Mrs Richards, granted.
We each did one lift to chest straight away, a very dense stone, rough surface digging into the arms, smaller than a McLashen, not as round, more oval.
I wanted to have one attempt at seeing how far of pressing it I was before my true objective to shoulder it. Up to chest, lean back, had a good handhold and leg drive, got it about two inches off my chest, never in this lifetime. Next attempt, lapped, then up to shoulder, easier than the 132 kg Atlas I’d done 2 weeks before, but given the history and the significance of the moment, way more rewarding. Ken also, jerked it up of the chest, a couple more inches than me, and got it to shoulder.21 years old; Ken will press it in time.
Andy, after a couple of lifts to chest and after a few presses, all of which went above the head, Andy insisted on a convincing straight arm controlled lift. Up it went, nailed, and it looked easy to boot, as you can judge from the photos, film to follow. I cannot understate the significance of this lift; Mrs Richards who has witnessed hundreds of attempts over many decades and had never witnessed it pressed over head
Now, I sure this will be open to much debate, but this is the best lift I have seen, granted I have only seen photos of Kazmier’s and Brebner’s lift, I know nothing of Hamish’s lift, both those were with a big incline back and no were near as locked out as Andy’s, judge for yourselves.
All in all a pretty brilliant day, 3 very happy strongmen.
I didn’t expect to make history, but I feel that I’ve touched it and become a small part of it, and in Andy’s lift witnessed it.
Go have a go at these guys.
Heres the link to the gallery of pictures, videos to follow shortly: [link=http://img403.imageshack.us/gal.php?g=dinnystones001.jpg]http://img403.imageshac...php?g=dinnystones001.jpg