What Scott Wallace does would kill most men, and most men would say what he does is straight-up nuts.
Hauling around 290 pound kegs and dead-lifting 438 pound bars? The local ER would fill up quick if any of us tried it.
And that’s part of the attraction for Wallace, a big reason why he does something that seems so insane.
Because no one else can.
The former semi-pro football player got his first taste of Strongman life in Alberta. Several of his teammates were into it, and he gave it a try.
He “fooled around with it a bit,” then let it go, and didn’t think about it again until he moved west.
Wallace came to BC in 2008, settling in the Fraser Valley and taking a job in corrections. Early last year, he was walking out of the Jolly Miller and saw an ad for the Vancouver Men’s Show.
The ad mentioned a Strongman competition, and Wallace told his wife, Carrie, that he’d like to do it.
She didn’t believe him.
“Carrie kind of challenged me on it and said, ‘All you ever do is talk about stuff and you never do it,’” Wallace recalled. “And I said, ‘All right then, I’m going to do it.”
That was in May.
About a month later, he squared off with seven guys in the competition, and finished fifth.
And just like that, he had the bug.
“It’s my thing because I like lifting heavy (weights) and I like competing,” he said. “And I knew I had big potential to get better at it.”
Wallace forged an important bond with Brian Way, a Langley native and Strongman veteran who was happy to be a training partner and mentor.
One month after his first competition, Wallace tackled BC’s best in a provincial-level event.
He placed third.
Two months later, he finished second at a competition in Kamloops.
Wallace trained his butt off over the winter. He found a power-lifting coach in Barry Nelson and a sponsor in Elite Nutrition.
“I’m in the gym four days a week for two-and-a-half hours at a time, training to the point where my body’s done and there’s no more I can give,” he said. “And then I do another day of events training.”
Two weeks ago, he travelled to Des Moines, WA, for the sixth annual Washington’s Strongest Apple.
He was the only Canadian competitor and represented the country well in the 265-300 pound heavyweight men’s division, finishing first in each of the five events.
The first was a keg carry/sled drag.
“You pick up a 290 pound keg and carry it 100 feet, then you drag 600 pounds of sled back,” Wallace said. “In 90 seconds, I made it further than anyone in my weight class, but I fell to the ground afterwards and could barely get back up.”
The second event was dead lift reps, done with an axel bar as opposed to the traditional Olympic bar.
“The axel bar is two inches in diametre and takes a lot more grip-strength to hang onto,” Wallace explained. “The weight was 438 pounds, and got 13 reps in 60 seconds.”
The third event was the yoke carry, requiring Wallace and his foes to walk 100 feet with 750 pounds on their shoulders.
Wallace made it 59 feet 10 inches and threw up afterwards.
“The fourth event was the 270 pound overhead keg press, which is extremely difficult to do,” he said. “No one in my weight class even got one rep, but I was the only one to get it up to my shoulders. I just couldn’t get it over my head.”
The final event was Wallace’s favourite, the atlas stone.
Dead-tired competitors had to pick up a 352 pound stone and heft it over a 50-inch bar.
“You’ve got 60 seconds to get as many reps as you can, and I got two,” Wallace said. “No one else even got one.”
Wallace admits he’s not often the ‘strongest man’ at these competitions.
So it defies logic that he would win so handily.
But what’s that saying about the size of fight in the dog?
“I have more determination and desire to win than the next guy, and I truly believe that,” he said. “One of these events would put a normal man down, and when you’re doing five or six of them, pushing your body to the limit, that desire can help you overcome a lot.”
Can it help Wallace reach the upper echelons of the sport?
That’s where he wants to go, but can sheer will trump experience and muscle?
“Only a few people can put their bodies through what they have to for Strongman, and I’m stubborn enough where I’m never going to willingly let another man beat me,” Wallace said.
Winning Washington opened a door for Wallace, who’s been invited to Texas for the North American Strongman Championships in October.
A top 15 finish there, and he’s on his way to worlds.
“The opportunity is there for me to get where I want to go,” he said. “I want to be the best.”