As the cursed year of 2020 chugged along the tracks of despair, a beacon of light shone ahead for some of those aboard; competition was on the horizon! With the Strongest Man/Woman in the Forest always held as part of the Mountain State Forest Festival, and all festivals in WV being cancelled, rescuing the show from the vacuous abyss of 2020 took a monumental effort by a lot of people. In short, the show was saved, and for the first time ever it was run in a different city, with an all-new staff, and with an all-new format in order to comply with state guidelines as best as possible. This went from a being a competition that virtually runs itself, to essentially a brand new event entirely. With me having less time than ever to devote to such endeavors, it took help from a lot of folks to keep our annual “Strongman Homecoming” alive, and for that I am forever grateful.
This 14th edition of the show featured the return of former champions that hadn’t competed for some time like Josh Sill and AJ Freda, as well current defending champions like Tonya Mahoney and John Mouser. As is common at this contest, we also had quite a few folks making their competitive debuts, like Julia Scruggs and Cameron Williams. These mighty athletes and several dozen more accepted the challenge of 5 grueling events in their quest to become the Strongest in the Forest!
Memorable performances included Devan Futten recovering from a nearly disastrous stumble on the Block Carry to go on an impressive run with the giant chunk of steel, LJ Workman being the only guy in his class to shoulder the heavy option stone in the Stone to Shoulder event, and Chris Vachio hitting a 225 log lift while still deep in rehabilitation of some nasty nerve damage in his upper body.
Congrats to everyone that achieved something they set out to do, even it was simply “showing up”, because in 2020, simply showing up is a significant win in itself.
- Paul Mouser