CAMP DWYER, Afghanistan - A crowd of Marines gathered outside of the Harvest Falcon Gym to watch 20 Marines with 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, compete in the unit’s Strong Man Competition July 23, here.
The competition, which was hosted by the battalion’s Headquarters and Service Company office, pushed each participant to their limit as they competed against one another in body weight and weight lifting exercises.
“Our goal was to boost the morale of the Marines, while trying to keep them motivated and encourage physical fitness,” said Sgt. Joseph Jennings, 27, the company police sergeant with Headquarters and Service Company, 2nd Bn., 8th Marines. “I only expected a few people to show up, but the turnout was much better than I thought it would be.”
The first portion of the event was a series of body weight exercises to test the Marines’ endurance and strength. Participants completed as many reps as possible of pull-ups, push-ups, dips, and a timed 20-meter tire flip.
The second portion of the competition separated contestants by weight class and involved weight lifting exercises.
The first event was the bench press and each competitor bench-pressed 160 pounds with additional weight added after each round. The next event was dead lifts, which challenged the Marines to max out their weightlifting potential. The last event was squats, which allowed each participant three attempts to squat the heaviest amount of weight he thought he could handle.
Jennings said the weightlifting portion of the competition seemed to be popular with the audience and added to the event’s success.
As the competition came to a close, a few Marines stood out above all the rest.
Lance Cpl. Brendan Hennessy, 19, a rifleman with Company E, 2nd Bn., 8th Marines, won every event in his weight class, including the body weight and weight lifting exercises.
“I used to do strongman competitions back in high school,” said Hennessy, a Lynbrook, N.Y., native. “Once I really got into the competition, it was like being back in high school again.”
During the competition, Hennessy was able to dead lift 475 pounds, which he admits is a personal best. However, Hennessy explained that to him the event wasn’t about competing—it was simply about having fun and pushing himself physically.
“At the end of the day, it’s all about fitness and building camaraderie between Marines,” said Hennessy.