Strongman contest drops 'memorial' name

The name may be gone, but the event - and the legend - remains.

The Jesse Dawson Marunde Memorial Invitational Strongman Contest is sticking around but losing the moniker of the Strongman who called Sequim home.

Instead, Sequim's civic celebration hosts the "Strongman Showdown," set for 6-8 p.m. on Friday, May 7, at the Blake Avenue venue near Carrie Blake Park.

Gigi Marunde, Jesse's mother, said this week it's time to remove his name from the event.

Give and give back

"For three years, Jesse gave back to the community with a really great show," Gigi Marunde said.

"The last two years, the city has given back to Jesse with a great show. We feel that honor is sufficient."

Jesse Marunde became a local icon and popular national and world figure in Strongman communities after top finishes in events known for displays of human strength, from pulling buses and lifting cars to overhead presses of logs weighing several hundred pounds.

Annual events

He also brought Strongman competitions to Sequim, creating an annual event coinciding with the Irrigation Festival.

At 22 years old, Marunde became the youngest American to qualify for the World's Strongest Man event. He finished second in the 2005 Met-Rx World championship in Chengdu, China.

Knee injuries sidelined Marunde for a while but he looked to be on the mend and returning to top form in the summer of 2007. On July 25 of that year, Marunde collapsed and died following a workout in his gymnasium in Sequim.

Hundreds mourned

Hundreds mourned his passing days later at a service in Sequim and the Irrigation Festival's Strongman event was renamed in his honor.

Several athletes familiar to past Sequim events and friends of the Marunde family are back for this year's event, including Sequim's Breck Gault and Chris Lee, Maple Valley's Grant Higa, Kevin Nee of Arizona and Minnesota's Karl Gillingham and Dave Ostlund.

Strongman competitions generally include events such as the press medley, stones, truck pull, tire flip and farmer's walk.

Reach Michael Dashiell at

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