On Saturday, July 18th, nestled in the parking lot near South Marina Park, there were numerous and rather ginormous 600+ pound tractor tires, kegs filled with sand, weights, and assorted “big guys,” many with shaved heads, tattoos and muscles; all were competing in “Washington’s Strongest Apple.”
There were also two women, including the winner of the female “Strongest Apple” competition, Audra Boltin of Gig Harbor.
They were all there for the strength competition, which pitted “strong apples” (men and women) against each other for a chance for the top three in each category to qualify for nationals.
We caught up with Audra at her home in Gig Harbor, and here’s our interview with her:
When did you decide to become a “Strong Woman”?
Honestly, I think I have always been one! I’ve always been strong and sports have always an extreme interest of mine. But as for the actual “Strongman” shows…that decision came about 6 months ago.
What is a “Strong Woman” anyways? Is there a definition?
Strongwoman refers to either a woman performing feats of strength in a show or circus (in the old days), or a woman who competes in strength athletics. Traditionally, strongwomen have had a special appeal, as women involved in demonstrated feats of strength were exceptions. I think we are exceptions still, if you compare us to the men, there aren’t many of us. I totally believe that this strength comes from within as well, you have to have a strong mind to do this. Focus.
Tell us about your experience in “Washington’s Strongest Apple” competition – what did you have to do to win?
Washington’s Strongest Apple was an amazing experience. The competitors that were there were all pretty amazing people, and their sportsmanship and commraudery was something that I have never seen in a sport like this. They wanted you to win, to achieve, to do better, to not give up, and they pushed you, stood in the ring with you while you were doing your thing and pushed you on! It was a stunning sight and feeling.
The crowd too…wow. I had tons of people that came out for me alone, but complete strangers were hollering for me. The support I have felt in the last week is astounding and I am very grateful.
Okay, these events we competed in were…grueling! And I think Grant (Higa, who ran the event) made some of these harder to help train us for Nationals, both male and female.
I did the following events:
- 600 pound tire for 66’6”.5 feet in 60 seconds
- 314 (157 pounds per hand) Farmers Carry for 200 feet with one turn under the clock (60 sec)
- 121 pound Clean and Press, 10 reps in 60 seconds
- Keg load to a 50” platform, weights staggered lowest to highest…150 pounds, 180, 200, 220
How many other women were in it?
In this one there was only one other woman. Unfortunately there was only this one other this year. I am really hoping that as this sport gains more coverage we will be seeing more. We were going to have a great athlete who has won at Nationals and gone to Worlds, but unfortunately she injured her knee pretty badly and had to step out. At Nationals I believe there is going to be 15+ women, including the woman that I competed with here in Washington.
Was this your first strongwoman competition?
Yes!! This was my very first Strongman/Woman show. It rocked!
How did you train? How often and what’d you do?
Well, before I had decided that I was going to do this I was already lifting with my husband, Stefan. He is my lifting partner and we’ve been lifting together now for… Oh man, over 5 years I’m going to say. We have a pretty insane lifting routine, one that maximizes strength and muscle growth. I do cardio. (BLAH) And every Saturday and sometimes in-between, (depending on life) I go to the “Warehouse” and train with Grant Higa (the only Pro Strongman in Washington) and the Higa Monsters. I am very proud to be a part of that group, which they opened to me with open arms and again for that I am very grateful.
On the Saturday mornings that I go there I get up at 5am and make it to the “Warehouse” by 7am where we….well, I don’ think Grant or the rest of the Higa Monsters would like me giving away our secrets! But needless to say that we SWEAT A LOT.
What are your goals as a strongwoman?
Wow, well, honestly, I want to go to the Aronld Sports Festival as a competitor. Strongman has now made it to the Arnold and for me…that is one of those things that is on my “Bucket List.” I want to be at the Arnold, competing, meet one of my life long idols and be one of the first women to make it to the Arnold as a StrongWoman. Also, after Nationals, I am hoping that we are going to have Worlds this year. I want to go, meet some of the strongest women in the world, compete with them, have some fun!
If there are no Worlds this year I will be training for a Bodybuilding show here I think. Maybe the Ironman.
Have you ever hurt yourself in training or competition?
Ugggg…I think it was 2 years ago. I was getting ready for a bodybuilding show and something happened in my shoulder. I don’t know if it was from lifting or work, but whatever it was tore a muscle I’m pretty sure. I couldn’t curl, bench, pull up…it was aweful and pretty dang devastating to me. I had to litereally take a year and a half off of lifting for it to heal. I did manage to maintain my weight through that time, but that was not fun I’ll tell ya.
How much can you lift anyways? (or bench press, etc.)
Ok, well…Don’t freak out ok! My max right now on bench is 245 pounds. I can bench 225 for reps.
- I can barbell row 185 pounds.
- I’m not sure at all what my max on squating is? But the last time I did max it was 315 pounds.
- My standing Military Press is over 135 pounds.
- And curling a with a bar I can make 130 pounds.
And I am not just throwing numbers out there! Many, many people have watched me do these lifts. I mean, I lift at the Y in Gig Harbor…you can image some of the looks I get!
Do you like being able to kick a man’s @$$?
This is totally a loaded question! LOL I will say that when I was 15 I was attacked by a man with rape in mind. If I hadn’t been as strong as I am, a fighter, he would have won. So, in that sense, Yes I like being able to kick a man’s @$$. On the other other hand, A LOT of people are VERY intimidated by me before they even speak to me. Judging a book by its cover is not flattering or attractive. I am a very nice person and most people think that because I have muscles, or because I am “Buff” by their standards I am this gruff, meany. SO not true!
Any advice for young women thinking of getting into this sport?
Bring it girls!! Achieve, strive, DO. Go after after your dreams, no matter what they are or how big. And more over, BELIEVE in yourself. I am more than willing to help anyone, or talk to them about this…Do not be afraid to live your life, its way to short to sit on the sidelines and watch.
You’re looking for a sponsor, right? What would a sponsor get from you?
Someone who absolutely does not give up. A competitor, someone with ultimate sportsmanship, character, and a face people can look at and associate great things with. And I’ll volunteer my time, speak publicly, make appearances when asked. I will represent any sponsors to the fullest of my abilities.
Audra also adds:
I would also like to take a moment and say that there are people out there right now. Some who I had never met before my show, some who were just aqaintances or people that I would give the “head nod” to. Some are friends that I have had for a long time. And not to mention my Husband and children, who are supporting me. Trying everything that they can do to help me raise money for my Nationals trip.
Without these people, this experience would not be able to happen.
Thank you all. From the very bottom of my heart, thank you. I am truely blessed and thankful and deeply touched by your love.
I’ll be thanking you by name after Nationals. But please know, this couldn’t happen without you all.