2009 Liberty Strongman Classic


7-5-09  the Liberty Strongman Classic 2009 Turned the 4th Holliday into a Great Success!

By Al Thompson

Back row, Left to right: Steve MacDonald, John Conner, Walt Gogola, Josh Thigpen, Mark Philippi, Barry Perkins
Middle row, left to right:
Sam McMahon
, Callie Marunde, Chad Coy, Gerard Benderoth, Karl Gillingham
Front row, Left to right:
Glenn Ross, Don Pope, Mark Keshishian, Steve Kirit 

John Conner won the championship. I do not have the final results. I know that Glenn Ross won the Log press and the Tire Dead lift. Karl Gillingham won the stones. I will post the results as soon as I can. I will also post a video from Frawley stadium by tonight.

Philadelphia Police told us over 5,000 people checked us out at Welcome America! and this article by the Philadelphia Inquirer said the strongman show was the best of the entire week-long festival (including the Sheryl Crow concert!) that drew over a million people from around the world.

We performed the stones in front of 7,000 fans at Frawley Stadium Friday night. The Deck last night was light by any definition for the final two events - on a few hundred people showed.

But over 12,000 people saw our event's first two stages easily making us the top fan event in North America and one of the largest in the world.

Callie was wonderful as the MC and to me the most amazing moment of the weekend was when we played the National Anthem over huge speakers on Benjamin Franklin Parkway just a few blocks from the famed Art Museum to get things started. They have flags from every nation in the world lining the Parkway - except the United States.

Somehow - someone from the crowd handed Ireland's Glenn Ross a tiny American Flag which he proudly held up for the entire playing of the anthem. Literally thousands stopped to watch this - it was really something.

BIG DADDY Glenn Ross
(Taken with my cell phone!)

Led by Mark Keshishian, Evan Oxner (and the unit from Interboro High School), Don Sobert, Doug Kirby, Sarah Jackson, Gavin Westenberger, Lou Costa, the Zuzak family, the Lange family, Anthony and my brother Dan, this was easily the best crew we ever had.

A lot of these people know the sport well, some not at all, but last night at 11 p.m. we had a large group of people putting all the equipment back - it sucked - but they were there. The first two years, I was doing this stuff at the end by myself. I can't thank all of them enough.


Athlete Stones Pts T pull Pts Sub tl Hu pull Pts subtl medly Pts sub tl Log pr Pts sub tl tire dl pts total place
John Conner 5 (57.28) 10 39.15 5 15 16.57 12 27 27.03 11 38 6 10 48 905 10 58 1
Steve MacDonald 5 (47.54) 11 30.5 12 23 16.6 11 34 30.79 9 43 2 3.5 46.5 875 9 55.5 2
Glenn Ross 4 (36.21) 6 38.66 8 14 20.5 6 20 33.87 8 28 7 12 40 950 12 52 3
Karl Gillingham 5 (38.87) 12 32.72 11 23 19.12 7 30 34.81 6 36 3 5.5 41.5 835 7 48.5 4
Gerard Benderoth 5 (113.4) 8 33.91 10 18 21.34 5 23 113.06 1 24 6 10 34 935 11 45 5
Sam McMahon 5 (57.75) 9 37.5 9 18 18.32 8 26 40.82 5 31 4 7.5 38.5 0 0 38.5 6
Don Pope 4 (54.93) 3 38.97 7 10 16.63 10 20 34.2 7 27 3 5.5 33.5 745 3 35.5 7 (tie)
Josh Thigpen 4 (37.78) 5 39 6 11 17.75 9 20 22.96 12 32 2 3.5 35.5 0 0 35.5 7 (tie)
Chad Coy 4 (35.34) 7 42.85 4 11 23.22 3 11 30.16 10 21 4 7.5 28.5 795 4.5 33 9
Walt Gogola 3 (28.47) 2 43.53 3 5 25.91 1 6 44.82 4 10 6 10 16 835 7 27 10
Mark Philippi 4 (42.34) 4 109 1 5 22.56 4 9 45.4 3 12 pass 0 12 835 7 19 11
Barry Perkins 3 (43.87) 1 51.62 2 3 24.91 2 5 56.44 2 7 0 2 9 795 4.5 13.5 12
Steve Kirit  4 (31.09) 0                                
Lou Costa     55 0                            

Here are some Barry Perkins Shots


Here are some video clips... via Barry Perkins


Here is a clip of the article in the Inquirer.

Gerard Benderoth, 40, a former NYC police officer now with the Haverstraw Town Police, pulls a 33,000 lb. truck while competing in the Maximum Human Performance Liberty Strongman Classic as part of the Welcome America July 4 celebration. (Michael S. Wirtz / Staff Photographer)

Posted on Sat, Jul. 4, 2009

July 4th celebration strong, entertaining

Twelve of the world's strongest men dragged the Philadelphia Museum of Art down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway Saturday and dropped it in LOVE Park.

OK, well. They could have.

Competing in the Liberty Strongman Classic along the Parkway, as part of the Sunoco Welcome America festival, each man single-handedly pulled a 33,000-pound truck 60 feet, and repeatedly flipped 1,000-pound tires - a beautiful expression of the freedom in America to pursue your dream, whatever it may be.

Thousands crowded the Parkway on a beautiful July Fourth for a day of fun, food, music, and fireworks.

Sheryl Crow performed a free concert.

But strongmen ruled the afternoon.

Glenn Ross, weighing 425 pounds, flew in from Belfast. His back was as broad as Ireland, his stomach as big as the Liberty Bell - and his head as red as a Jersey tomato as he strained to pull the 33,000-pound truck.

In another event, each strongman had to stand, or sit, and tug a 5,200-pound humvee toward him.

But it turns out the vehicle was too light - too easy for the strongmen to pull. Organizers piled five beefy men into the humvee, but tugging it was still the easiest of six events.

Gerard Benderoth, a police officer from Upstate New York and massive at 370 pounds, competed in his kilt. He was a New York City cop on 9/11, pulling people out of the World Trade Center, but he has retired to a small-town police force. He has a tolerant wife who lets him keep a 300-pound log in the hallway of their home. Lifting logs overhead is another strongman event.

Valerie Hairrell, a spectator and a cancer survivor, was decked out in red, white, and blue and enjoying the Strongman Classic with her "very significant other," John Sharman, also dressed in patriotic colors.

"We're ballroom dancers," Hairrell said, "so I appreciate the strength of these guys. But I don't think they dance.

"I'm loving every day, and I love my country," she added. "We have so much to be thankful for."

Sharman agreed, and he professed to have deep patriotic roots. "My fourth great-grand-uncle was bailed out of jail by Patrick Henry in Chesterfield, Va., in 1772," he said.

As Sharman was talking, contestant Mark Philippi, an eight-time World's Strongest Man competitor, walked up next to them, and Hairrell squeezed his immense biceps.

"Oh, my God!" she exclaimed. "And that's just the arm."

She turned to Sharman. "Are we rooting for this guy?"

"The way you're touching him," Sharman replied, "I guess we are."

Like many enjoying perfect weather on the Parkway, Hairrell and Sharman planned to hang around until the Crow concert and the fireworks that followed.

Arriving by 3 o'clock, five Swarthmore College students spread a blanket in the grass under tall oaks near the stage. In honor of America, they ate apple pie baked by one of the five, Jen Spindel, and enjoyed the breeze and the lazy afternoon while waiting for the concert.

Joe and Donna Peters of Philadelphia strolled along the Parkway. Donna Peters, who wore a red-white-and-blue tiara, had served in the Air Force for the last 12 years and just moved back home, she said.

"Freedom is a wonderful thing, but it's definitely not free," she said. "We earn it."

As afternoon turned to evening, tens of thousands of people settled in for the concert and fireworks.

Couples cuddled on blankets, and families played card games. Children blew bubbles, and the hungry waited in lines for funnel cakes, cheesesteaks, corn on the cob, or waffle cones with ice cream.

Christina Campbell, who had just moved back to South Jersey from Prince Edward Island, Canada, wanted daughters Ashley, 8 and Hope, 5, who have dual citizenship, to remember their first American Independence Day.

"They have fireworks in Canada," Campbell said, "but nothing like in Philadelphia on the Fourth of July."

Amid the sea of humanity, as Frisbees flew and jugglers spun plates and the crowd grew, Scott Davison and his wife, Megan, sat peacefully reading on a blanket. He was revisiting The Hobbit, which he said was even better the second time, and she was enjoying a novel, Barefoot.

Asked if she had any profound thoughts about her country on this July Fourth, Megan Davison said, "We're in a better place now than a year ago."

Sahra Silanee and her boyfriend, Colin Champ, ate strawberries and played backgammon. Their evening was about as perfect as life can be, except he kept winning, five games to two.

Soon enough, on came Crow, followed by fireworks, for many the perfect ending to a very good day.