It’s been a long road filled with lots of hard work, but after years of training a Red Deerian man can finally claim the title of Alberta’s Strongest Man.
Brad Shepherd of Red Deer laid claim to the prestigious title after putting up a dominant performance in the Super Heavyweight category at the 2016 Alberta Strongman/Strongwoman Provincial Championship in Fort McMurray last month.
“I just had what it took this year, so it feels pretty good,” said Shepherd of his win at the Aug. 27th event, which featured five different events such as the giant tire flip, where competitors have to flip an 850 lb. tire eight times in 75 seconds, and the Atlas Stones, in which competitors in the super heavyweight have to pick up a 340 lb. stone and put it over a 50-inch bar as many times as they can.
“I only needed two to win show, so I did three just to show off for the crowd,” laughed Shepherd of the Atlas Stones event, which sealed his victory.
Shepherd’s win at the Alberta event means that he qualifies for the Canadian championship competition in Regina later this month. “If I go win nationals it would actually qualify me to compete on the pro-circuit.”
This was Shepherd’s fourth time competing in the annual provincial competition, which features the best strongmen from all over the province. But this year’s competition actually bore a special significance for the 314 lb. strongman.
“This is the first year that we’ve managed to have athletes in every weight class out of Red Deer. That’s never happened before. Up until this year there’s actually only been two strong men out of Red Deer,” Shepherd said.
The City’s super heavyweight representative was joined by fellow Red Deerians Brett Milne in the middleweight, Ryan Jabalee as the light heavyweight competitor and Shepherd’s long-time training partner Dylan Olafson as the heavyweight competitor.
“I wasn’t even planning on doing this competition this year but it was just because the other three guys had qualified and they were going. So it was like, well if they’re going I have to go,” Shepherd said, adding the group was really lucky to find a permanent training space this year.
“We got really lucky this year. There’s a personal training gym up on the north end called Ludus Fitness. They had the opportunity with the slower economy to move into a much bigger space. They had a bunch of extra room but they didn’t have equipment to fill it.”
So the gym invited the strongman group into the space.
“They gave us a home where we can actually train for this stuff, which we’ve never had before. So through that we were able to encourage a couple of other guys to try it out,” Shepherd said.
Those two new guys were Milne and Jabalee, both of whom competed in their first Alberta’s Strongest Man competition late last month.
Milne finished in second in the middleweight competition and will join Shepherd at nationals in Regina.
“He’s a pretty decent powerlifter. He decided to jump forward and did one competition earlier this year out in B.C. just to kind of get his feet wet and through that he would qualify for Alberta’s. He came up and he did really well. He was up against one of the top strongmen in Alberta named Nolan Sauve and he managed to beat (Sauve) in an event,” said Shepherd of Milne.
Shepherd added anyone wanting to try out strength athletics can drop by Ludus Fitness and speak to one of the powerlifters.
Shepherd and Milne will be back in action at the Canadian Championships in Regina on Sept. 24th.