The Farmers walk has been a feature of WSM for over twenty-five years, making its debut, as the ‘Fergus Walk’ in Christchurch, New Zealand in the 1983 edition. Initially, wooden implements were used, weighing 80kgs each, and it was the thickness, rather than the weight that caused competitors the most problems. At this time, the requirement was to travel as far as possible around an oval track. Thus the emphasis was on distance covered, and when the logs were dropped, a measurement was taken. Latterly, the Farmers Walk has been more concerned with covering a set distance within a time limit, with no restriction on the number of times that the apparatus could be dropped. The logs were replaced over time by a variety of other apparatus. For example, as well as the wooden logs used in 1983, gas cylinders and anvils have both been used at various junctures. The cylinders used in 1995 were 115kgs each, whilst the anvils, which were utilised in a number of subsequent finals, weighed 120kgs.
This is an event where in the past the names of Phil Pfister, Magnus Samuelsson, Janne Virtanen and Vasyl Virastyuk would be to the fore, each one of them a former WSM winner. In 2000, on a 70m course featuring two right-angled turns, and using the 120 kg gas cylinders, Virtanen won the event in 25.6 seconds, narrowly beating Pfister by 0.6 seconds, with Samuelsson in third. One year later, and with the weights increased by 5kgs per cylinder, and on a 75m course, the top two positions were reversed. Fast forward 5 years, swap the cylinders for 120kg anvils, and the American was still demonstrating that he had lost none of his grip strength, winning the event in his WSM heat, (on a slightly uphill course with a series of ramps) and ultimately securing the title outright a few days later.
Most recently, and as seen in the finals in Malta in 2009, as well as The Bahamas in 2004, the current implements are often referred to as the ‘Giant Farmers Walk’, tipping the scales at 160 kgs each. In 2009 the distance to be covered was 50 metres (25 metres and back), in a time limit of 75 seconds, and on this occasion, it was the five-times champion Mariusz Pudzianowski who triumphed.
The weight of just one of the ‘Giant Farmers’ is thus equal to the combined weight of the equipment seen in the ‘Fergus Walk’ in 1983. However, the weight alone is not the only factor when assessing the Farmers Walk. Each of these individual designs offers a different challenge due to their dimensions, and the thickness, knurling and height of their handles from the floor. Definitely an event for the guys with grips of iron, and foot speed to match.
July 4, 2011 | by WSM