I showed up at 8 AM at the Wayne Sanborn Center in Deland and many of the lifters were not there yet though the lifting was to begin at 9 AM. Once the head staff of our group briefed us on handling the equipment and lifters I went in the lifters warm up room to see if I could get a couple of squats in before most lifters got there so I would be warmed up.
I only got one set of squats in using 135 pounds before I was kicked out so as not take up the competitors pre-lift lifting(It was pretty funny-they were like,"hey you get out' a here.") I got a kick out of being thrown out and became friends with some of them over it.
About 9:15 AM the lifting began. There were 8 of us there to load weights, spot, move equipment around, etc. So, I wasn't always on the platform and spent a good amount of time doing utility things like announcing to the lifters in the warm-up area that the next flight of lifters was about to begin, cleaning of and re-racking weights that were misplaced on the platform, scrubbing the bar with a wire brush to clean off excess chalk, and moving equipment like the mono lift, the squat and bench, and providing support to other staff members. Then there were the times I changed rack heights for benching and squatting, changed bar weights and provided a spot for squats or a lift off for benches.
Both days of RUM 8 I worked just over 12 hours. On Sunday though it was more like 13 hours because we had to clean everything up after the meet before we left.
The lifters were amazing and the efforts were gigantic. Having a view from 3 feet away was an honor and privilege. Getting to have a conversation with lifters like Ellen Stein(lifting legend and still at it in her mid-60s), speaking with Ernie Sr and Ernie Lillebridge, Jay Nera, The Oak, Dan Green, and on and on was as much and more than I ever really thought I would have the chance to do. I loved every minute of this experience.
Oh, on Sunday I was able to get some lifting in the lifters warm-up room because we had a long break between flights. I was lifting while all these elite guys and gals sat around the room taking a break. Jordan Wong one of the great 220 lbs class lifters even gave me a spot for safety sake on a squat while Dan Green was watching only about 3 feet away. I did a raw with no belt squat of 405 and 495 lbs but I am sure that was like watching a laughable amateur hour to those guys.
The energy of the lifters was intense and electric. I wish the crowd watching would have made more noise and shown more support. The staff working the equipment and surrounding area was the main support of cheering and I really clapped and whooped it up for the lifters as much as possible. My voice was quite hoarse at the end of both days as a result of my enthusiasm. Highlights for me was seeing a lifter squat nearly 900 lbs with no knee wraps or sleeves. I had the chance to give this lifter lift offs on the bench and we spoke after the competition. He was a very humble man and had a great personality.
I want to thank the meet directors and especially the announcer/director Spero Tsontikidis for including me in this event and the chance to be on the staff. Hopefully, I will be there for years to come and perhaps competing there next year as well. I think RUM needs more support from the lifting world. RUM is the dream, the Superbowl of powerlifting, where any lifter that meets the elite total can lift from any federation. Where you can expect expert judging on depth of squats, pauses on the bench, and red lights for hitching on a deadlift-the way powerlifting is meant to happen. Onwards and Upwards.