WATERTOWN, N.Y. — After a successful debut last year, the Strongest Warrior Competition will make its return to Watertown this weekend in what organizers hope will again live up to its name and prove to be an even bigger and better event.
The second annual competition, which will benefit the 10th Mountain Division’s Wounded Warrior and Scholarship Fund programs and features three new events and a new venue, will kick off at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at the Watertown Fairgrounds YMCA.
“(From) all of the comments we got from the competitors last year was (that) this was a very well-run event,” said Jeff Reynolds, who retired from the Army in 2008 and co-founded the local event with his son Jeremy last year. “It was unlike any they had ever been to. It was our first event ... but they said it was very smooth and very well-organized.”
New on the program — which includes four division of competitors — are stone lift, overhead log press and truck pull events — joining the prowler sled push/tire flip medley event from last year.
“It was such a huge success and there was a lot of great buzz about it,” Reynolds said, “it was like, let’s definitely do this again.”
This year’s competition will take place outdoors, weather permitting, in the parking lots adjacent to the YMCA, after last year’s event was inside the YMCA.
Divisions will include lightweight (under 180-pounds), light-heavyweight (181-235 pounds), heavyweight (235-plus pounds), and a new women’s division.
“Right now to date, we have 18 registrants,” Reynolds said during the weekend, “and out of those 18, we have three females. So if history repeats and I’ve confident it will, I’m anticipating we’ll have a good turnout.”
Besides the local military, the competition is open to civilians, including local fire, police and emergency personnel.
“It’s important because it brings the civilian community together with the military community in one competitive arena,” said Reynolds, “where people can come together and build camaraderie. And this is for a couple of good causes.”
Last year’s event drew about 30 competitors and raised $12,000, held by the Fort Drum Chapter of the National Association of the 10th Mountain Division, Inc.
“This is open to the public to compete,” said Reynolds, a Cortland native and a former Army-certified Master Fitness Trainer stationed at Fort Drum who served in Iraq and Afghanistan in the 32nd Infantry Regiment. “So firemen, policemen, EMS, the local farm boy from Lowville or the logger from Boonville can come out — it’s open for everyone.”
The event will have return competitors from Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, Albany, and the north country, according to Reynolds, who hopes this year’s event will draw close to 60 participants.
Competitors can register at the YMCA, or on the day of the event up until 8 a.m. The entry fee is $40 through Thursday and $50 through Saturday morning.
Established eight years ago, the 10th Mountain Division Wounded Warrior program builds support packs that are presented to the division’s soldiers wounded Iraq and Afghanistan at the National Military Medical Center (formerly Walter Reed Army Medical Center) in Washington, D.C. and the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.
Money raised has also funded more than 100 of the division’s wounded soldiers’ participation at adaptive winter and mountain sports clinics throughout the U.S.
The 10th Mountain Division Scholarship Fund was formed in 2006 and has awarded 31 scholarships of $5,000 each to deserving current or former division (light-infantry) soldiers and/or their family members who are either full-time high school seniors or traditional/non-traditional undergraduate college and technical school students.
“We have a pretty good outreach for this event,” Reynolds said. “We’ve been planning this since last September, so we’re excited.”
For more information, visit http://10thmtndivassoc.org/strongestman/