Interview with Chad Ullom

by Al Myers

The start of the Dinnie Walk, one of the events in the World Stone Challenge.

Al: Recently you participated in the World Stone Championships in Scotland. Could you tell me how you got invited to this prestigious event? Please feel free to share any other details of the event.

Chad:  Well, Francis Brebner has been planning on doing this type of challenge for many years, but circumstances caused it to fall through.  He didn’t tell me this, but I believe after the controversy involving the Dinnie stones last year, he decided that this was going to be the year to pull it off.  Given the success in lifting the stones that Al Myers, Mark Haydock and I had last year, he extended an invitation to all of us to come over and compete in this challenge.  I made it clear to Francis that I am NOT a stonelifter!  I had success with the Dinnies because I have a good hook grip and a strong enough back.  After the support he showed us on the Milo forum and in writing the Milo article, I wanted to go and support the event.  Not to mention, it involved a trip to Scotland!

Inver Stone

Al:   What were the events, and how did you do?

Chad: We started off with the Dinnie stone carry for distance.  We were allowed to use straps since the farthest walks on record were done with straps.  This caused even more of a dust up after we were done!  Now, I have rarely lifted with straps so I made a big mistake!  I didn’t wrap my right strap all the way around and after two feet my strap broke!  I was going to try again, but someone shut us down early (that is another story!).   The two feet got met 4th place, Mark finished 2nd with 9 (I need to check that) and a big Hungarian named Peter Putzer   walked 18’4”!  Going over the 5 yard mark that was our target!  It was very impressive to watch!

We then did the bare handed walk with the smaller Dinnie stone.   Mark took 1st in this event with 30ft, and I came in 3rd with 21. 

Next it was on to the Inver stone.  We were given 75 seconds to lift it as many times as we could with 1 points awarded for lapping it, 2 for bringing it to the chest and 5 for an overhead press.  I was able to bring it to my chest 4 times which again placed me 4th

Next was the inverstone carry.   I went 1st here and made a big mistake!  I brought it to my chest and squeezed, cutting off my breath so I only went 37 feet and finished 5th here.

On the final day,  we threw a 98 pound stone that the Portland stone was designed after.  This one turned out to be my best event and with some advice from Ryan Vierra, I took 2nd place with a throw of 12’2.   

Mark ended up tied for 1st, but lost on count back to Istvan Sarai.  Overall, I finished 5th, but it was a lot of fun and I was honored to participate! 

The one handed Dinnie Stone Walk.

Al:  I seen that you lifted the Inver Stone, something that you couldn’t do on the stone tour following the Gold Cup.  I bet this was exciting for you.  Could you share the details of that accomplishment?

Chad:  That was very important to me.  As I’ve said, I’m not a stone lifter, but this was something I really wanted to do.  I was disappointed after the gold cup that I wasn’t able to lift the inver, but I was totally focused on the Dinnies!  Well, before we got there, I felt the butterflies.  After all, this was being filmed and I didn’t want to fail!  I went over to warm up , I grabbed it and it came off the ground very easily!  I had some issues with balance during  the comp, but I was happy to bring it to my chest 4 times.

Hans Darrow hosted a good ole fashioned BBQ on our first night in Germany, and he welcomed us right into his home.

 Al:  I know after this Stone Championships, you went to Berlin, Germany to participate in the IHGF World Amateur Highland Game Championships.  How did that go, and what were the highlights of competing against the International Highland Gamers?

Chad:  That was a very humbling experience!  Hans Darrow and his family treated us like one of their own.  I’m happy to say that the international throwers are a great group of guys and I made some new friends!  I finished in 10th place out of 14, I was happy with how I threw.  I threw pretty close to seasons best in each event, nothing great, but I didn’t bomb anything either.  The highlight for me was definitely caber.  Going in, I wanted to surprise some people with the caber.  I ended up placing 3rd here and was very happy with that.  It was a tough stick, only 5 got a turn I believe.  I’m happy to say that I was able to turn it all 3 times. 

Setting up for the Weight for Height.

Al:  I know there has to be at least one interesting story you would like to share with us from this trip.  I don’t expect for you to share the ones you told me privately about Hamish Davidson, but I’m sure there has to be one that is fit to tell here! 

Chad:  That’s a tough one, LOL.  The best stories aren’t mine to tell, but I can tell you Francis Brebner had me in tears for days after!  So the best story that is PG would be after the bar closed down!  Several of us decided to go out and celebrate.  We started at the field watching the fire show drinking beer, diesel(beer & cola mixed 1:1), and a few shots.  After a stop at a regular bar we moved to a dance club.  Had a great time,  and closed it down!  A few of us decided to walk back to the hotel, a few others took a cab to another bar.  So, 3am in Germany and everyone I was with spoke only broken English!  We weren’t 100% sure where we were so one of the guys stepped away to call a cab and left me with his brother.  Well, we waited….and waited…finally his brother laid down on the sidewalk and passed out! After a half hour, I woke him up and said we have to try to find our way!  We disagreed on where to go, but I finally convinced him to head my way.  Turns out, we were like 3 blocks from the hotel!   We must been out there a half hour!  The best part is we found his brother drinking in the hotel bar!  

Hammer Throw

Al:  What can you tell me about the organizers of these events?             

Chad:Francis Brebner and Ryan Viera make up the IHGF(international highland games federation).  I’m not sure how many countries they went through on this trip, but they are working very hard to expand highland games across the world!  I would say they are having great success, the games in Germany had 14 athletes representing 11 countries!  I believe it was the most countries in an international highland game.  They are taking some heat for reasons I don’t understand in some circles.  I can tell you after spending a week with these two, they are doing this for  the love of the sport!  They have a wealth of knowledge and a true passion for the games.  They also drug test at each of their games which makes them fit right in to our way of thinking!  I wish these men great success in what they’re doing. 

Group picture at the Highland Game Championships.

Al:  Thank you for taking the time to do this short interview.  The USAWA is very proud of you and these great accomplishments! 

Chad:  Thank you Al!

Jackson Stones

by Thom Van Vleck

My circle drive, the Jackson Stones in the foreground and my other concrete "strongman" stones behind them.

When you come to my place I have a circle drive in front of my house.  In the center is a tree planted on honor of my mother in law, Peggy Lynn Barton-Baybo, who passed away about 10 years ago.  Around the tree are four limestone fence posts that weigh around 225lbs each that came from central Kansas courtesy of Ryan Batchman.  Ryan is a great lifter (one time USAWA member) and thrower and a real friend.  They came from his farm and are fence posts carved from limestone used in the 1800’s in central Kansas when trees where scarce.  Then around that are my strongman stones.  I have several different sized  concrete stones….kind of your traditional strongman stones from 225lbs to 300lbs.  The biggest round stone sits on a concrete slab from my Great Grandpa Baugher’s well.  It has a hole in it where the pump went and a concrete ring around it.  I like it because it reminds me of a mill stone.  But I also have three natural Granite stones I dug up on my farm starting 20 years ago.

The 220lb "First" Jackson Stone

I eventually dubbed my three natural Granite stones the “Jackson Stones”.  But early on, about 20 years ago I discovered some stones that had been pushed in a draw on my farm.  Years ago the top had been row cropped and I’m sure as they came up with these glacial till stones they pushed them in the draw to get them out of the way.  They were half buried and I just wanted one to practice stone lifting so I picked the smaller one that was around 220lbs.  A good “starter” stone.  This stone was kept in my yard and from time to time I’d lift it.  It was used in my first ever strongman contest as part of a medley event.  Chad Ullom was at that event.

The second Jackson Stone, 299lbs

About 15 years ago I decided I needed a bigger stone so I went back to the draw and after much digging and work pulled this 299lber out.  It looks smaller in the photo but it’s not as round as the first one and the odd shape made it a challenge.  It was at that same time I pulled out the third stone, which weighed in at 330lbs.  This trio of stones was used in several of my strongman contests and was part of my training when I used to work on strongman events.  They also were often used in our strongman shows that USAWA member John O’Brien did with me.  We had a standard Whiskey Barrel that we would lift the stones on.

The 330lbs, the third Jackson Stone.

These stand as a challenge for anyone that comes to my place.  As far as I know, only Eric Todd, John O’Brien, Joe Costello, Brian Kerby, and myself have lifted all three in succession.  While they are rough and easier to grip, they are odd shaped and finding the center of gravity can be a real problem.  Making them challenging in their own way.  For years I just guessed the weight and I was at 225, 300, and 325.  I finally weighed them officially and found I was not too far off!  I have a plan if I can find a 440lber to make some Dinnie Style rings!   The pink granite crystals make them really beautiful in my book over the grey concrete stone.  I hope others will take the challenge.  If you want a crack, just come to my place!

The King’s Stone

by Al Myers

Attempting to lift the 7000 pound Naha Stone

Just recently I was on vacation in Hawaii and had a chance to try my hand (or back!) at lifting the Naha Stone, which is located in front of the Public Library in Hilo, on the big Island of Hawaii.

The story behind the Naha Stone is a very interesting one. According to legend, King Kamehameha not only lifted this huge volcanic rock but stood it on end and flipped it over!! King Kamehameha was the first Hawaiian King to unite all the Hawaiian Islands under a single ruler. The legend goes that early in time a kahuna (or holy man) prophesied that a very strong warrior would eventually lift this stone, and upon doing so, would become a great King and Ruler over all the Hawaiian Islands. King Kamehameha was a very big man, standing over 7 feet tall and weighing over 400 pounds.

Naha Stone

I gave the Naha Stone all I could and at one point thought I heard it cracking the ground, but that was just my back. I guess I am not destined to be the next King of Hawaii!!