By: Krissy Mac, Founding GA Member
My experience at World’s Strongest Woman
On 16 and 17 December I had the privilege of attending the Official Strongman Games at Dorton Arena, Raleigh, North Carolina as a spectator.
There was no way I was going to miss this competition. It’s the first time the Official Strongman Games has been run and it encompassed World’s Strongest Woman in all weight divisions (Open, u82 and u64kgs), including Masters, as well as World’s Strongest Man u105, u90 and u80kgs and Masters. The Heavyweight men also had a platform with a Giants Live competition. Basically, it was set up to be the biggest strongman competition in the world, with a gathering of all countries, all ages, and all weight divisions.
It’s so hard to describe all of my emotions for such a weekend. As a strongwoman competitor and huge fan, it was basically Mecca for me. To see all the strongest, most badass women in the world duke it out over two days was some kind of dream come true.
As a Grrrl though, it meant something even more. I planned this trip with a fellow Grrrl, Amy, who I had never met before. Me being from Australia, and her from Maryland, we hadn’t had an opportunity previously to meet in real life. However, we had built a friendship online due to Kortney sharing a photo of me on her personal Instagram earlier in the year. Amy saw it, and commented “Hey, we look alike, and I pull stupid faces in my photos too. We should be besties”. So we struck up a friendship.
The friendship blossomed over a shared love of lifting heavy things and supporting one another through some tough times during 2017. We really do look alike, it’s quite uncanny really, so in May, Amy had the idea to do a “twinning” photo in our matching Grrrl clothes and show how Grrrl Clothing united two women from opposite ends of the earth. This started a global #twinning movement on Instagram and Facebook thanks to the savvy social media crew at Grrrl. To finish off 2017 with meeting my Twinnie in real life was just incredible. Amy walked into the hotel room and started talking like we were in the middle of a conversation, it wasn’t even weird. We didn’t shut up for 5 hours. And so the Twinnies were now real life friends with a bond that I don’t think will ever be broken. Grrrl brought me a human who feels like a piece of my soul that I didn’t know was missing. To be together with her, with someone who shares so many of the same values as I do, where we are always safe together in a judgement-free and supportive environment, was to be made whole.
Friday night we got to catch up and have steak and beer with another fellow Grrrl, Meredith. Meredith and I were real life friends in Australia, though she is American and moved to North Carolina in late 2017. We used to compete against one another in strongwoman in Australia, that’s how we became friends. Somehow, with the fates aligned, we reunited in Raleigh, North Carolina, on the eve of the biggest strongwoman competition in the world. It felt as if no time had passed, and of course, Amy and Meredith got on like a house on fire. What more could a Grrrl ask for?
That night the incredible Samantha Coleman texted me. I suspect some of you might know her as our athlete fit Shape Sam (#shapeSam). I’d never met Sam in real life, but through strongman pages on Facebook and through the closed Grrrl group, we had struck up an online relationship. Sam had had a really rough week and didn’t even know if she was going to compete on the weekend, but decided to go anyway and just see what happened. Sam needed help, and she reached out to me, a fellow Grrrl, to see if I could help her over the weekend. I got to play Sam’s coach, friend, handler, manager, official cheer squad and communicator with her real coach, her husband Kyle, who couldn’t make it because of sickness and a work disaster. Luckily, I came with Amy, and as a Grrrl-trio we were able to help wherever possible, keeping Sam on track and focussed where needed.
Sam went on to break the world record log press, twice, now the undisputed world record log holder at 270lbs/123kgs. To have played a small role in that historical moment fills my heart with joy. Sam proved that weekend to be just as kind, generous, hilarious, sweet and utterly determined as she appears online. She is a Grrrl to her core: hard working, never gives up, doesn’t listen to the naysayers and a true powerhouse. Our Grrrl Sam is the 5th strongest woman in the whole world after that weekend. If you wear shape Sam, wear it with pride. I feel so privileged and overwhelmed to be able to call Sam my friend. You couldn’t ask for a better role model.
Aside from these amazing moments, I got to meet so many other Grrrls in real life for the first time, including Sunny, Kikki, Cecilie, Laurie, one of my favourite strongwomen ever: Lisa, the now two-time World’s Strongest Woman: the incredible Donna, and caught up with another Aussie Grrrl Susan. The nations represented there include the US, Australia, England, Norway and Germany. I also got to catch up with other incredible women, some of whom I have competed with at competitions, others who I had never met before. Shout out to Brendali (South Africa), Kate (New Zealand), Kim (USA), and Britteny (USA) who are incredible women and a pleasure and joy to watch compete.
The women there were beyond inspiring. Strongwomen tend to be a special breed, the tenacious kind who don’t believe in the word “no”. The kind that will pick you up off the floor, dust you off, acknowledge you’re hurting, and tell you to go again. Grrrls are another breed again. The kind that will never judge you, who are open minded and want to hear your experiences and where you come from, the kind of people that grow from our differences, and find beauty in it. We are stronger together and the Official Strongman Games was the perfect example of that. Women supporting other women. Women shouting at other women not to give up, to show what they are made of. Women strapping their competitors’ arms and sharing equipment. This is unity. This is the future.