Going up

Thunder Bay's Holly McRae has won several strong woman contests this year.

We celebrate the accomplishments of two extraordinary women.

Thunder Bay can be very proud of these women who recently set records and represented us in physique, fitness and bodybuilding competitions.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made this year a game changer and they have each responded well to the challenges.

Samantha Belliveau is a 28-year-old transplant to Thunder Bay originally from New Brunswick. Samantha’s 2020 is inspiring. She is a strong woman competitor as well as a bodybuilder. I have witnessed her transform her body and it is off the charts amazing seeing the work she has put in.

Samantha explains what the year has looked like for her it started with a trip to the big show the Arnold Classic in Ohio to attempt a world record on the circus dumbbell (180 pounds). She missed the record, but that did not stop her. She has opened a private gym studio with her partner Max Bourdreault.

“I competed in my first physique preparation where I placed second in the Winnipeg Vandijk Classic (held earlier this month). During that prep I broke the Canadian Circuis Dumbell at 163.8 pounds,” she says.

“I won a pro/am strongman competition in Fort McMurray and this Sunday I will try to beat the Canadian Middle Weight Log record.”

I have to tell you this woman is so humble and kind. The first day I met Samantha I knew we would get along she is very down to earth despite all her accomplishments. She wanted to thank all those who helped her along the way, including pose expert Lisa MacLean. I love how Lisa shares her knowledge of the sport to empower other women.

The new Gym and Studio is located 225 Hardisty St N. I will pay her a visit.

Holly McRae will be 33 years old on Dec. 24 and she has two children, Zakahai and Zander. She also found this year tough with training during a pandemic, but she talks about what she has accomplished.

“I currently am on my final exam for my nutrition course. I won Ontario’s StrongestAmateur Woman. I set the current Canadian Lightweight Circus Dumbbell Record at 109.8 pounds I qualified for the Official Strongman Games (World’s Strongest Under-64 kg woman) 2021. I won my second National title with victory in five out of five events. That earned me my PRO status in the Strongman Circuit. I also qualified for The Arnold 2021 again,” she said.

“I have a competition in a week and a half where I will be attempting to set the new LW Pro Log lift Record. I will be competing in Static Monsters to qualify me for Static Monster’s World’s 2021 as well.”

Here’s what her five-event competition shaped up:

• 400-pound yoke for 120 feet (finished in 24 seconds)

• 85-pound circus dumbbell for reps (got 8)

• Deadlift Medley. 300-pound Axel bar for three reps and then 315-pound

Olympic bar for as many as possible in the 60 seconds. Thirteen total


• 235-pound farmers walk for 60 feet followed by 155-pound per hand

farmers carry for 60 feet

• Axel hold. 185 pounds for 40 seconds.

Holly is a little package of sheer dynamite.

“I owe this success to myself. I worked hard for this, Holly says. “With the help of my coaches, my family, my friends and my children I was able to put my best foot forward this year. I dug into a part of me I had yet to experience. I really had to learn who I was.

“I’m just trying to be the best me I can be while sharing my journey.

Being a good role model and helping as many people as I can.”

Holly McRae also runs her own cleaning business UhaveitMaid. I hope these women inspire you as much as they have inspired me.

Johan Vass is a Thunder Bay-based writer. Reach her at jvass@tbaytel.net.

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