The Main Event


I can honestly say that at this moment, the only thing I was thinking was “don’t hook it into the stream, don’t hook it into the stream!”

As fun and amazing as Iceland was, one of the reasons we came here was to throw and Games day started out pretty normal. A good breakfast at the flat and a quick stop for some local style Monster drinks and away we went. Our GPS always kept things interesting and instead of staying on the highway the whole time, it took us into residential streets where (at times) it seemed like we were driving into people’s driveways. Could’ve been worse though, the Swede’s GPS took them to a gravel road and the bottom of a huge hill. Srsly…


This is where the Swede’s ended up on their way to Selfoss thanks to their GPS. I have a suspicion that the car rental agency people just load shit like this to mess with us;)

We all met for second breakfast at a nearby cafe and walked over together for the Games. Having met a few of the competitors at Petur’s house on Friday was nice and made things more comfortable from the get go. After talking to one Icelander with a southern accent (that was weird) it turns out his Dad works for the same company as one of our best friends here in town! (The world is kinda small, just like that annoying Disney song says. How does it go? IT’S A SMALL WORLD AFTER ALL, IT’S A SMALL WORLD AFTER ALL IT’S A SMALL, SMALL, WORLD. Have fun getting THAT out of your head. You’re welcome.) All of the competitors were so nice and ALL were great throwers. That was a change for us. I think each region in the US has their top throwers and when they’re all gathered at a main Games, it’s lots of fun to watch. But Iceland? I guess you could say that they’re region is all top throwers. No surprise.

I was a bit nervous, different than pre-game jitters that instantly go away once you start moving around the field. This was throwing for an Olympian; a coach, and someone whose opinion means something to me. Even though I was the only woman on the field, I had my numbers I wanted to hit that seemed within reach but mostly I didn’t want Petur to regret letting me share the stage with all of these young men.

At breakfast, I was able to reconnect with Svavar Sigursteinsson. I first met Svavar down in Texas nearly five years ago when I did my first Highlander Event. He was incredibly friendly but I didn’t really get a chance to talk to him much. In Iceland, he came up and gave me a big hug and I tell ya what, there are just some hugs that have perfect timing. We were getting lined up to walk over and I was looking at these throwers and thinking, “what in the world am I doing here?” Svavar is very easy to talk to and, as it turns out, a huge help to me throughout the day. I understood instantly why all of the people he trained with here in the states misses him so much. He’s a great coach with a very direct but easy delivery.

We started with the heavy hammer. So, hammers, ya. Still hate ’em.


I had a particularly bad hammer day and starting out bad on an event I’m bad at was a rough start. I was off my goal by nearly 2 meters. At the end of it though I was done and I did get some interesting hammer advice from the young Swede who was in Scotland earlier this spring getting help with his hammers. I’m excited to get out and practice them. But mostly this was not what I wanted my first impression to be.

Stones were up next. Stones. In front of an Olympic shot putter. Yowzer. It wasn’t great but the help I got from Svavar, Belgian giant Tommy De Bruijn and Petur has me very excited about this event and already after one practice, things are moving better in the middle and the finish is MUCH better. I’m stoked. I can take my indoor shot and work the moves against the School across the street which I can do easily as a drills warm up to either throwing later or even lifting. A weeks forecast of rain is fine too because I’m right next door and I can run over during a rain delay. I’m so excited and SO thankful to the three of them for their help.

Moving on to Light Weight for Distance. Okay! Something I’m on solid ground with. Goodie. The trig had a layout that was a bit different than what I’m used to. Instead of long and narrow, it was wider and probably the same length but it just seemed a bit shorter with the width. You had to start in the box which is different for me so on my first toss, I started in and a bit too forward. I ran out of room and though I think that throw was probably my best, I went head over arse across the toe board. Nuts.

My second throw was better and a competition PR of 19.70 meters. Sooooo, I hit a PR in Iceland. That alone is probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever done in my athletic life. I’ll take it man, I hit a PR in Iceland. Sweet. My third throw got a bit crazy and was off my second by a meter but that’s fine. I’ve already practiced keeping my right foot turning here at home and it gives so much speed out of the back that I’ve landed on my ass a couple times. Shweet. Harness that and we’ll see what can happen. I’d really like a 70′ toss this year. I honestly don’t know if it’s in me but I hope so. I’ll work hard enough to try anyway. On to the WOB.

Tommy's wob

When we were out at the WOB, Tommy walked up without practice and smoothly launched it over at around 16′. I learned a good lesson. Relax. Do your thing.

We screwed up here. The whole meter to foot thing messed with me. I came in at 11′ and nearly bombed out. I was nervous. Way too nervous on an event that I do well in if I settle the F down. Petur’s son, Palmi:  (not Vilhelm, he’s the younger one. I learned that after asking for him when it was Palmi who was kind enough to put his beautiful pictures on a flash drive for us and got funny looks asking for young Vilhelm. Heh.) Anyways, at Petur’s house Sunday evening for dinner after throwing, while we were looking at the pictures, Petur turned around and looked at both Matt and I and said, “You came in way too early.” Yup. Way too early. Palmi, who was standing next to me, said I should be coming in a foot or two under my PR. I quickly piped in, ‘no way, I get way too nervous doing that.’  He then said something very true, and very good to me, “Fear has no place in competition. Fear is fear.” He’s right. I have no business being so scared of an event that I’m actually (in spite of my height challenges) very good at. Mybad. Not again. I was the last to go out before the three finalists went out on the next height so I’ll take it. I think in between 11′ and 14’7″ or something like that we took about five or six throws. Too many. I was pooped. OH! I also broke Petur’s WOB implement.

So in the span of the first three months of the 2015 season I’ve broken a hammer handle; two measuring tapes; my lighter Heavy Weight for Distance, and an Icelanders AD’s women’s WOB. That’s a PR for sure.


Of course I didn’t tell Petur I broke things, I just didn’t think it would happen with his equipment!

We finished with Caber. OH! By this part of the day, it was getting cooler. Now, I thought the day was gorgeous and even warm at some points but we were moving around and the people watching were just standing in the wind. I can understand how it was cold for them but I still chuckled when, during the final WOB throws, I turned around and saw this:

drive up games

The crowd had moved to their cars and the cars had moved to the field. It was lol.

My first caber was very nice, long but lighter. I turned it at 11:55 I think which isn’t bad. I went on to the caber that the men used for their qualifier and it was a doozie. I didn’t turn it. Damn. My first pick was actually kind of nice and got some good speed going but let my hands get away from me at the end. I do that. I’ll fix it. By the third, it just felt heavy and though I picked it again, I remember it getting away from me and just yelling “shit, shit, shit” all the way until it was done. Heh. There ya go Iceland, you were grand.


I honestly don’t have the words to describe what throwing here, with this group, for these helpers, with my husband and especially for this AD means to me. I just don’t know how I ended up so damn lucky. Luck I guess. Heh.

When we were getting ready to go on Sunday evening back to the flat to relax, have a couple drinks (we took to heart advice not to drink and drive in Iceland) and head to bed and saying our goodbyes, we got a few more minutes with Petur to talk throwing. I tried to explain to him that with my stones throws, I’m losing the push in the middle and ending so flat but that Svavar sent me home with some drills. He says, ‘next year you come throw and get coaching from me.’ WHAT?! I didn’t even know THAT was an option!!! Heh. He then stood up and showed me the correct finish position I want to be in to launch the stones. And that just about sums up the trip as a whole. I’m in Petur Gudmundsson’s house getting throws advice in his living room. It’s too surreal to take in. Srsly.

There are less than a handful of days in my life that I’d like a chance to do again. A few are because of the mistakes I’ve made as a mom and a chance to erase them. But this day? This is a day I’d like to relive. It was magical. It was Island, that probably doesn’t make sense but to a Hawaiian, they’ll know.

I cannot thank enough Petur, his wife Elizabeth (we share a name) and his family; Tommy De Bruijn and his lovely wife Sigrid; Svavar; all of the competitors for their encouragement and positive energy all day. Our Swedish flatmate and his father, Andreas (who WON!) and Anders for great advice and shagging for us all day. My adorable husband, to share this with him is tops. Absolute fucking tops. And to the Aina of Ice for sharing it’s spirit with us. It has power every where you turn and is by far the best place I’ve ever visited. Mahalo all. A hui hou kakou.

shaka iceland

Shaka Iceland

The thing that keeps you grounded is doing the thing you love.

Tom Hiddleston 

About tosabarbell

For training opportunities at tosabarbell, call or text Juli at 320-296-9313. e-mail to At tosabarbell, I build relationships cultivated in a strength and learning environment. There is no 12 week magic pill program to strength but rather a lifetime commitment to be the very best and most useful human you can be. tosabarbell is a private, home grown gym with three lifting platforms; squat rack; prowlers; throwing implements; bars, bumpers and everything else needed for an effective strength and conditioning program. Straightforward barbell programming including the Olympic lifts; sound (read: not fancy bullshit) diet advance for weight gain or loss; and strong coaching will ensure you will meet your goals such as becoming stronger, more explosive, and better conditioned. I have been coaching teams and athletes for over 30 years. I grew up participating in various sports at various levels but was always drawn to those that require strength training. I have multiple local, national, and world records in the sports of Weightlifting and Highland Games Heavy Events as well as a combined total of 5 World Championships. My 5 years of training and coaching under Mark Rippetoe provided a wide range of influence from some of the top strength & conditioning and throwing coaches in the country. I will strongly encourage tosabarbell athletes to compete (and prepare you to do so.) However, tosabarbell is also for those who wish to be stronger and go through life feeling better. Matt WanAt is a retired Professional Strongman who competed frequently with Strongman Champions League in Europe. He played a year of D1 football with Iowa before concentrating on his Chemical Engineering degree in Iowa City. He is a native of Wauwatosa and still remains a staunch supporter of Tosa East. This blog will be a mixture of strength notes, coaching and nutrition tips, personal shit; bacon delicacies, and a whole lot of fun.
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1 Response to The Main Event

  1. Rick Kramer says:

    I know the feeling you had in Iceland throwing. I had it in Scotland throwing and winning the caber there. But the big one for me was the stone lifting tour I did. Being a part of Scottish history is an incredible feeling. Now I want to go to Iceland now more than ever.

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