Ultimate warriors

Published 2:57 pm Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Strongman competitor Keith Moore participates in the truck pull event during a competition earlier this year. (Contributed Photo)

You’ve seen the events before. One guy pulling a bus or another guy lifting a stone the size of a small planet and said to yourself, “I wonder if I could do that?” as you take a bite out of your bacon double cheeseburger and wash it down with a Coke. For a majority of us that thought is gone faster than the burger on our plates, but that’s the difference between us and Keith and Randy Moore.

The Washington duo, who are of no relation, needed an answer to that question so one day in September they drove to Salisbury to compete in their first-ever strongman competition.

“I told Keith when we got there that I just don’t want to embarrass myself,” Randy said.

“We’ve seen it on TV and we’ve been working out for years and years and we just thought that’s something we’d like to try,” Keith said. “We just wanted to see what would happen.”

What happened is that after competing in the first event Randy, 38, who is 6-5, 254 pounds, and Keith, 27, who is 6-0, 192 pounds, changed their approach from “We don’t want to look foolish here” to “We can win this thing.”

Strongman competitions typically feature five events: Atlas stones, where the athlete must pick up large circular stones and place them on or over an object, the bus pull, tire flip, farmer’s walk and pole flipping. All of these events can vary from competition to competition.

“The first event we did was with the stones,” Randy said. “I have never picked up a stone before … but we both had all three stones picked up in like 12 seconds, which happened to be first in my weight class, and all off sudden it went from not wanting to embarrass ourselves to ‘Hey let’s win it.’”

That they did as Randy would take first place in the 250-pound-plus division while Keith would tie for first in the 200-and-under.

“I was surprised because we never did any of those kind of events before,” Keith said. “It was a real learning experience.”

The two Washington graduates met at Unlimited Fitness in Washington, where Randy works as a personal trainer and quickly forged a friendship that has lasted over the last 12 years.

Keith, who works as an electrician, did not play sports in high school but got into weightlifting because it was “something to do”. Randy, who played baseball on the Pam Pack team that went to state in 1991, began working out after he graduated.

The two are bonded by their competitive spirit, which is why it should come as no surprise that they signed up for, and competed in, a second strongman competition. Keith went two-for-two as he won first place at “The Rage” which was held in a Golds Gym in New Bern, while Randy took third place.

Keith shined as he has the second best truck pull as he dragged the 52,000-pound vehicle 92 feet in 60 seconds.

Of course, physical strength plays a tremendous role in the competition but Keith said having the right approach is more important.

“It’s all mental,” Keith said. “You have to get in the right mindset because you have to be ready because you only have 60 seconds. You have to just blank everything else out and focus on what you have to do.”

As in other sports, having the right form also plays a big part in the competition. That is an area that both Randy and Keith are trying to improve upon.

“I need to work more on technique,” Randy said. “We can kind of look at video to see some of the things we did wrong. Keith will help me with my technique and I will help him.”

Keith added that a lot of times the person or people you are competing against will be the first to help you out.

“The sportsmanship at both of the events has been the best thing about it,” Keith said. “The guy who you are competing against is your biggest fan and is pulling for you the whole time.”

While it started out as something fun to do, like any competitors, the two are looking to build on their success. Keith and Randy have already signed up for their next competition, which will be held on July 2, in Virginia. They have already answered the question “I wonder if I could do that? But now they must find out how far they can take it.