Author Archives: Chad Ullom

Dinnie Stone Gathering

By Chad Ullom

Group photo of the Dinnie Stone lifters.

Group photo of the Dinnie Stone lifters.

When I first heard from Stevie Shanks that he was hoping for a gathering of anyone that had lifted the Dinnie Stones to come together at Potarch I couldn’t have been more excited!  I got my Dinnie trainers back out and started working up to the full weight.  At some point in May, I saw that there were plans to walk the stones over the bridge!  I let my ego get the best of me and sent Stevie a message that I’d like to give the walk a shot! Just as I was thinking this was a bad idea, Stevie sent me the schedule with the rules.  A carry and drop would be allowed and you can continue as long as your hands don’t let go.

My wife and I really made a great trip out of this!  We did a great tour of Scotland, spent a couple of days on the Orkney islands and really had a great trip.  Even managed to lift the Dalwhinnie Stone a few days prior.  The night we arrived in Aberdeen we met a really nice American staying at our hotel who didn’t have a car or anything to do so we invited him to the Aboyne games with us the next day.  The Aboyne games were amazing!  As we were walking into the gate, we hear “and now her Majesty the Queen will douse the new caber with Scotch to officially dedicate the newly made Aboyne games caber…”  What???!!  The Queen was here??  The crowd was huge, so we never got a chance to see her, but on the news that night saw that, sure enough, it was Queen Elizabeth.

I knew the Dinnie stones were usually at the Aboyne games, but couldn’t see them anywhere.  We met up with Travis Willingham and decided to walk around after watching some the Highland Games comp and finally went to the overseas tent.  There they were!  We had walked right past them when we arrived but the crowd was too big to see.  The butterflies started right away!  Jim Splaine, Jack and Stevie Shanks along with James Grahame from Australia were posing for a pic right when we got there!

The morning of the gathering I could hardly sleep.   Our new American friend, Roberto, was really interested so we invited him along.  This really helped Tasha, because I wasn’t in much shape for conversation for the whole day!   As soon as we were ready to make the drive, the butterflies started.  We got registered and just started talking to old friends and making new ones.   It was great to see the people that showed up for this, Stevie did an outstanding job.  Terry and Jan Todd from Texas were there, David Webster, Bruce Aitken (maybe the greatest scottish hammer thrower of all time!) and many others.

Chad setting up for the Dinnie Stone walk.

Chad setting up for the Dinnie Stone walk.

The lifting started at noon and I was scheduled to walk at 2:50! The waiting was really tough!  It was even harder because a lot of people that had lifted the stones in the past were really having a hard time.  I was starting to second guess my walk attempt and thought seriously about just jumping in  for a lift.  As I was on my way to the car, Mark Haydock talked me out of it.

After the lifting attempts were finished, they moved the stones to the bridge.  They had us all line up and we paraded up to the bridge being led by a pipe band!  That was a great moment.  Luckily, I was second up so I didn’t have to wait too long.  There were mats laid out across the bridge and the first person to attempt, Brian Irwin from Northern Ireland, made it all the way!

Finally, it’s my turn.  To make sure I had enough energy to go as far as possible after talking to some people about, I was trying to pull just enough to clear the ground and move them.  For some reason, the light stone was giving me more trouble.  At one point, I dragged it to catch up and got a warning for this from Stevie.  If it happens a 3rd time, you have to stop.  I think I made it about 10 feet and my legs just gave out on me, I wasn’t getting any more clearance at all.

Travis Willingham, Stevie Shanks, Jim Splaine, Chad Ullom, Jack Shanks, and James Grahame at the Aboyne Games.

Travis Willingham, Stevie Shanks, Jim Splaine, Chad Ullom, Jack Shanks, and James Grahame at the Aboyne Games.

After two more attempts, Mark Haydock was up last and he really put on a show!  I had been watching his training leading up to this, and the only question in my mind was if he was going to try and carry them side by side the whole way!  In the end, Mark did the straddle like everyone else.  He completed the 17 feet in 1:40! About 2/3 of the way, he smashed the small stone into his right ankle and there was concern that he had really damaged it or possibly torn his Achilles.  In the end, it turned out to be nothing serious (thankfully).

This was such a special event to be a part of, I really wish Al and James Gardner could have been there, but each had other commitments.  I was extremely honored and humbled to be a part of it.  I can’t thank Stevie Shanks enough for putting this together.  It was conceived while they were making Stoneland.  If you haven’t seen that, put that on your list immediately!  It has been viewed over 16 million times on youtube.

Lifter on the Month – Al Myers

by Chad Ullom

Al and his award at the Gold Cup.

Al and his award at the Gold Cup.

The lifter of the month for November is our Secretary and Webmaster, Al Myers! Al competed in the Gold Cup and won the Howard Prectel trophy. Al represented the USAWA in the Belmont Heavy events in Perth and won the masters class! While in Australia, he also set a new record in the Power Row and on his second lift set a record in the Thumbless DL. Way to go Al!

Athlete of the Year

by Chad Ullom

Al Myers (left) and Larry Traub (middle) - Athletes of the Year.

The final yearly recognition award that was given this year was our Athlete of the Year. This is the “MVP” of the USAWA.  Ironically, the winner and runner-up for the Athlete of the Year were both present and finished in the same order the next day! I wonder if that’s ever happened?!

Athlete of Year-Al Myers
Runner up-Larry Traub

Larry, a relative newcomer to the USAWA, has shown he will be a force to be reckoned with! At this point, Larry is still learning most of the lifts. With just a couple of pointers this year, he added 20 lbs onto his 1 arm clean and jerk! He’s nearly impossible to beat now with his pulling, pressing and squatting power. Give him some time to get more comfortable with more lifts and look out! Larry is the defending national champion and placed 2nd this year. He repeated his victory at the Monster garage meet. Hopefully we’ll see Larry in October for his first world championships. I’m sure we will open some eyes!

The winner of the athlete of the year is Al Myers. I can’t imagine that we had a more active lifter than Al in 2011. He competed in 12 Usawa/Iawa meets, not including record days!  Not only that, there were several others that he sat out to help, or that number would have been much higher. Here’s a quick rundown of 2011 of Al’s overall placings:

Dino Strength challenge-1st place
Grip Championship-1st
Club Challenge-1st place team Dino
Goddard postal (iawa)-1st place team, best overall lifter
Eastern Postal-1st
Heavy lift nationals-2nd
Team Nationals-1st place team Dino
Gold cup(iawa)-world record DL with daughter Emily
Strongman championships-1st
Delaware open-1st
Iawa World Championships, Australia -2nd overall.

That is quite a list! Most of us could go a few years and not be able to put that type of resume together! Al is a humble guy, you won’t see him point out his accomplishments. If I’m not mistaken, he currently sits 3rd all time on the USAWA record list and with that type of activity, it won’t be long before he’s on top. He is an increbible lifter and has been a great teammate, mentor, coach, travel buddy and hetero life partner to me:). Congratulations Al!

Things to do in Vegas

by Chad Ullom

Saturday nights banquet will be held at Tony and Tinas Wedding. I've done it before and its a good time!

For our Saturday night entertainment, we will attend an interactive dinner theater called Tony and Tina’s Wedding. I’ve actually been to Tony and Tina’s Wedding twice before and it is a lot of fun! You are a guest at an Italian Wedding and of course things go wrong all night. From the ex boyfriend that shows up invited, the pregnant bridesmaid, the drinking priest, the show can be different every time depending on who you sit next to! It’s much more fun if you interact, so come prepared to have a great time!

On Sunday, we are planning a bus tour to visit Hoover Dam. I have done the tour before as well and I highly recommend it! You can take a bus from Vegas, and they pick you up from many areas in Vegas. There is a lot of great information on the long bus ride about the dam and Vegas in general. This tour will take most of the day on Sunday. 

At our meeting Friday night before the meet, we will take the orders for the tickets to both of these events.  At this time of the year, we should not have any problems getting in last minute to either of these activities.  We are going to wait on the tickets so we can get all of our seats together at the banquet and on the same Hoover Dam Tour.  I will personally take charge of this project of getting our tickets so don’t worry about being left out or not getting tickets. Just let me know Friday night before the meet if you want to go to either of these activities.  I’ll take the orders and then hit the strip to buy them somewhere cheaper than we could get them in advance.  

The meeting will be held at the host hotel somewhere, at the Silverton.  Al will let you know at some time where this meeting will be held at.  He hasn’t even told me yet. If you have not made your reservation at the Silverton yet, don’t forget to get it done.  Link –

Also, I am renting a big van to haul everyone around.  Just think of me as your private taxi service.  If you need picked up at the airport, just drop me an email what time you are getting in to Vegas on Friday and I’ll be there to pick you up.  I’ll also be shuttling people to the meet on Saturday as well.

Polar plunge 2012

by Chad Ullom

Brianna, Tasha, and Chad at the Polar Plunge in Topeka, Kansas.

My daughter Brianna, girlfriend Tasha and I participated in the Polar plunge this year to benefit Special Olympics.  Tasha was a real trooper.  She pinky swore Bree last year that she would do it with us this, but the closer it got she was really having second thoughts!  Bree and I did it last year and I was expecting this year to be a bit easier to be honest. Last year, they had to chain saw a 30X30 foot section of ice out of the lake so we could jump in!  It was thick enough that the rescue crew sat on the edge of the ice.  With the milder winter we’ve had this year, there really wasn’t much ice except in shallow areas. It was colder on the day of the plunge than it was last year and it was a bit windier.  We ran in and I went under like I did last year and it really took my breath away!  As we ran around high fiving the rescue crew, my legs were burning!  I could hear Bree behind me and it sounded like she was having the same issues! We made it through the water and headed right for the tent to put on some warm clothes!

This really is a fun event.  People go in teams and there is a costume contest.  We went as the wolf pack this year, but honestly didn’t put a lot into it. Bree had a baby in a backpack we turned into a baby bjorn, Tasha had a tiger and I carried a “satchel”.  The best team by far in my opinion was the toy story group. They put a lot of thought and time into their costumes and looked great!  Before the plunge they do a 5k “strut”.  Bree and I ran it last year and she beat me. She’s been talking trash, so I was really going to try this year. I can’t say I really trained for it, but I thought I could just out run her. I pushed the pace this year, but she was able to keep up . I really kicked in on the last downhill thinking I would put some distance between us. It didn’t work, and she outlasted me to the finish.  The polar plunge is a great event and we’ve had a great time the past 2 years. We look forward to doing it again next year and Tasha said she would do it again with us! I’m proud to say that we raised over $400 for the cause!  I highly recommend the plunge, it is invigorating!

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