Brad Shepherd in action at the Alberta Strongman Competition at the Calgary Stampede. (Contributed photos by Sarah Morland).

Red Deer strongman Brad Shepherd places third at Calgary Stampede contest

He next heads to Canada’s Strongest Man competition

Brad Shepherd dead-lifted a pickup truck and squatted with hay bales on his back to place third in the Alberta Strongman Association Competition.

The 35-year-old Red Deer new home salesman said he was “ecstatic” with the weekend competition results from the Calgary Stampede.

As a professional strongman, Shepherd had to lift about 800 lbs to get the truck up off of the frame it was suspended on.

While that was plenty impressive, his most difficult task involved doing five squats with about 700 lbs of hay bales (placed on an apparatus) pressing down on his back.

The crowd of 500 spectators “went nuts,” he said — but he only found out later.

Shepherd had “blacked out” mentally in his extreme focus to pull off the repetitive squats.

He said the amazing tension throughout his body actually caused a blood vessel to burst in one of his eyes.

“Now it looks like I have pink eye,” added the 151 kg (333-lb) competitor, who at 1.8 metres (five-foot-eleven) tall, only went pro on July 1st.

Heading into the weekend’s contest, he figured that Jimmy Paquet and his mentor Jean-Francois Caron (who’s the World’s Strongest Man title-holder), would be next to impossible to beat. Sure enough, the two seasoned competitors from Quebec ended up with a lock on first and second place, respectively, at the Calgary Stampede.

As one of the seven remaining competitors, Shepherd feels getting his plague and $1,000 cheque for third place was an unbelievable thrill.

He was about as excited see his friend and fellow Albertan, Artur Walus, of Fort McMurray, place fourth. That’s the thing about the strongman/strongwoman community — “I like the brotherhood and the sisterhood of it,” said Shepherd.

“Artur Walus is one of my best friends — and my biggest rival. We’re always checking each other out as hard as we can, trying to beat each other… but we’re also cheering for each other.”

Shepherd, who works out at the gym four-to-five times a week, likes the crowd-pleasing aspects of these competitions, which evolved from the circus strongman acts of the 1800s into a sport that retains similar showmanship.

He next heads to Ontario for the Canada’s Strongest Man competition on Sept. 16 and 17.

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