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Organising a Strongman Competition

With the number of Strongman competitions increasing year after year it is logical to assume that some of you are organising one for the first time. This article highlights a list of things to consider to help you get the most out of your first event and it might even give a few seasoned organisers something to think about.

1. Make it a Facebook Event 

Facebook is the main platform many people search on these days, and you should utilise this. By creating a Facebook Event it will make your competition easy to find and has the benefits of helping you reach a wider audience. Put it up on your website (if you have one) and all other social media, but a Facebook Event is free and will reach a lot of people. If the competition is situated at a fair or show do not rely solely on their page and promotions, make sure you share it on all social media you have accounts for.

2. Put all competition details in the Facebook ‘About’ tab

Following on from the last point and probably the most important thing to remember regarding attracting your audience. Putting weights and events only in the ‘discussion’ tab tends to put people off as they need to go hunting for the information they need. People will quite quickly lose patience and move on to finding another event. By all means put the event details in the 'discussion' tab as well but make sure you make it a pinned post so it's the first thing people see.

3. Details Details Details

This will all come under the ‘about’ tab or pinned post on your event page. Some things to think about are:

  • Categories
  • Events
  • Weights
  • Cost (for athletes and spectators)
  • How to pay
  • State whether refunds are given
  • Address
  • Parking Information
  • Organiser contact information
  • Platform heights (atlas stones, sandbags)
  • Log diameter
  • Single ply, triple ply sleeves etc 
  • Handle height on farmers or frame holds
  • Surface area (Grass or concrete, etc)
  • Facilities – i.e toilets, vendors
  • Accessibility

The more detail you can provide, the more people can prepare and in turn the more entrants you will get. This will also cut down a LOT on the amount of emails and messages you will get with questions about these topics.

4. Selecting athlete categories 

As the sport becomes more popular each year more people are competing for the first time and as such there are considerably more events hosting first timer and novice categories and for good reason. Very few athletes will get to the highest ranking so looking at just the numbers of people at the lower levels catering for them is a necessity. This being said as the years roll by and as athletes gain more experience the need for intermediates and opens categories is rising. On top of this, weight categories should be considered to level the playing field especially for the more experienced athletes. 

A couple of category combinations are

  • First timers
  • Novice
  • Intermediates
  • Opens

Or

(Men) 

  • U90
  • U105
  • Opens

(Women) 

  • U63 
  • U82
  • Opens

Something to take note of is some organisers break novice and inters categories down into weight categories also. This is something to consider if you have a lot of interest as this can help level the playing field. 

5. Is it open to Juniors?

State whether it is open to juniors (under 18’s) this one is important to help introduce the next generation of athletes. I get emails asking if any competitions are open to juniors and I can't answer because no one says so in their event details. 

6. Choose events wisely

Anyone can pick five events and hope for the best but picking the right ones and putting them in a logical order is probably the most important thing you can do. Spreading static, moving and loading events evenly is key, for example, you wouldn't have a deadlift followed by a farmers as these are two very grip dominant events. Thoughtful consideration of event timing  will not only help the athletes perform better by reducing injury risk and giving adequate recovery time but it will also give loaders, spotters and refs time to prepare and give the audience a better show. Additionally state that 'events are subject to change' when advertising your competition this will allow for last minute changes if necessary. 

7. Research your athletes

Let's talk "trophy hunters" , they are and always will be about but sometimes it isn't just about them wanting bling it's about athletes having the confidence to step up to the next level. 

Research who wants to compete in first timers to check they are indeed a first timer. Do the same for novice and state clearly in your event details what you class as a novice (top three placings in a novice event for example) . If you find out they don't meet the criteria reach out to them and ask them to step up. This is where the next point can help. 

8. Offer athlete practice days

Image athletes (Left to right), Joanne, Abby Carter, Faye Ashcroft, Rolonde Bradshaw, Matt Whalley

This is great for athletes to get used to the kit and will help you to get feedback on how things are going so far. Also it lets the athletes meet beforehand and this will hopefully calm some nerves on the actual day as there are some familiar faces there already. And if necessary you can ask some to step up to another category (see previous point) if you think that would push them after seeing what they are capable of. 

9. Warm up area 

You'd be hard pushed to find a decent warm up area at a Strongman comp but it's important to have one. You wouldn't go into a top set at the gym without warming up so don't expect your competitors too. 

10. Equipment/event back up

Things can go wrong so think about back up equipment should things get damaged and alternative events should weather or unforeseen circumstances change things last minute. Post up 'events subject to change' on your advertising to make people aware. 

11. Costings

Things to consider:

  • T shirts
  • Medals/trophies
  • Equipment transport (if applicable)
  • Equipment hire
  • Insurance
  • Venue hire (if applicable)
  • Loaders, refs and helpers goody bags or tee’s
  • Refreshments
  • Advertising
  • Bank/paypal charges

12. Sponsors

Consider getting sponsors to help with the costs of running your competition. Mobile food establishments, welders, clothing companies and printers are good places to start. Start communications early as it can be a long process and in some cases requiring invoices (sponsorship costs may be tax deductable for businesses). Also be realistic, sponsorship is a business deal not a gift so be prepared to demonstrate what you are bringing to the table. 

13. Toilet facilities 

People get squirty bums when they're nervous, tell people if they need to be prepared to share one toilet. Also stock plenty of loo roll and air freshener. 

14. Water

Supply bottled water if you can, hydrated athletes = better athletes. Your competitors could forget their water bottle or lose it, so having water available during the event could make all the difference

15. Spectator information

Is there seating? Can you bring your own seating? Can you bring your dog with you? Baby changing facilities? Are there refreshments? Is there a spectator fee? How long is the event? These are all questions that need answering and will encourage the athletes family and friends to come and support the event. Maybe even consider an audience participation event to get them involved and keep them engaged during times when the person they're there to support isn't competing. 

16. Give athletes their own area

In smaller venues this may be more difficult but if you can give the athletes an area to warm up, get changed, or have a meltdown it is usually very much appreciated. It doesn’t have to be away from the view of the crowd but just an area where they can have their own space should they need it.

17. Communicate with people 

If people ask questions answer them, you will get a lot of them from people wanting a lot of information and details but it’s because they are nervous. It might be someone's first event and they might never do one again or they might love it that much they go on to being a  top level athlete but no one forgets their first competition. People remember how they are treated, competitors made to feel happy, appreciated and like they are getting their money’s worth will perform better and create a great environment. It will also make sure you get positive feedback leading to a good reputation and ultimately more competitors the following year. Treat every competitor like a top level athlete. I shouldn’t have to say this but argumentative and patronising responses are a definite no no. 

18. Ask if you need help

Loaders, scorers, referees and spotters are all really helpful and necessary people to have and will help the day run smoothly. If you need help put a shout out on social media and/or your website. Offer an incentive like free gym day passes, PT sessions, free entry into the next competition or a goodie bag or t-shirt for those that help out. Another consideration is a guest referee from an elite Strongman or woman, this can help draw athletes and spectators and can make the day even more special. 

19. Scoreboard

A running scoreboard is always nice as it lets the athletes see where they are in comparison with others and helps the spectators know what’s going on if they have never seen a Strongman/Strongwoman event before. Plus if someone has to bob away for a while they will want to know what they have missed. 

20. Post your results

This is an often neglected part of the post event details but a very important one. A lot of people will want to know how they did post event but won’t be able to recall details because of the adrenalin of the day so having it in black and white is very helpful, also it’s nice to see your name in print and somehow makes it more real. Also a lot people will look for previous results before they even enter a competition to see whether they are ready to enter, so this may influence whether someone wants to compete at your event the year after. Clean and Pressed have a results page so you can publish them on there for maximum exposure.

21. Preparations closer to the event day

Get athlete t shirt sizes in enough time to arrive before the event hut not too soon as there will be dropouts. 

State weigh in and registration times and dates (make sure you have scales ready) 

Post parking restrictions if any 

Do a kit itinerary and confirm your loaders, spotters etc are still available. 

22. You can't please everybody 

Organisers need to be prepared to not please all the people all of the time, someone will moan about an event, the weights being heavy or light, the reffing being strict or slack, just be consistent and fair.

And most of all.... make comps FUN

23. Clean and Pressed can help

Use this website and social media pages to your advantage:

This article will hopefully give you a good insight into what needs to be considered before, during and after a competition. The biggest takeaway from this is at the end of the day you want to get the most out of the athletes as these are PB days for a lot of them and you need to make it enjoyable for everyone. It may be someone's first competition or maybe even their last or some young girl or boy might be sat in the audience being inspired by what they are watching. Either way, if you make it unforgettable you've done your job right. 

Special thanks to Sons of Anxiety Strength Club and Oak Strength Emma Kennedy for their input into the article and use of images.