Best is best at Sequim Strongman competition

The show had as many personalities as it did muscles.

The hometown favorite. The veteran and the rookie. The short one, a crowd favorite. The wisecracker. The wacky masters of ceremonies.

But even two years after his death, this one stills belongs to Jesse Marunde.

"It's all about Jesse, plain and simple," said Nick Best, the 40-year-old behemoth from Las Vegas who edged out training partner Foster Parnell for top honors at the annual Strongman invitational named in Marunde's honor.

"I knew him, loved him," Best said. "I thought he was an amazing guy, good friend."

The crew of seven showmen put their physical limits to the test May 8 as a highlight to the Irrigation Festival logging show's first evening, garnering cheers and adoration from fans young and old as they good-naturedly competed in a series of so-called Strongman events.

By the2 end of the second event, the two visitors from Las Vegas emerged as frontrunners. Parnell, the 19-year-old teen national champion, wowed the crowd with his unparalleled overhead lifts. It took an impressive effort from Best, a world record-holder in the Farmer's Walk, to top Parnell.

"He's going to be scary in a few years," Best said of his training partner. "He's a freak of nature. Once he gets to where he's winning, it's going to be how many he wants to win."

Events included a 1,000-pound car lift, log medley (lifting a series of increasingly heavier logs, dumbbells and axles), Farmer's Walk, 900-pound tire flip and stones, a series of five concrete orbs ranging from 275-400 pounds.

Event competitors honored Marunde, a professional Strongman since 2001 who competed in four World's Strongest Man events, placing second in 2005. He died in July 2007.

Breck Gault, the Sequim hometown favorite, finished third overall. He said the event takes on extra significance.

"Jesse was my best friend. He was my training partner and my trainer," Gault said. "If it weren't for him, I wouldn't be here right now. I wouldn't have been able to take third. It was all about him. He showed me everything I know."

Reach Michael Dashiell at

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