Friday, November 13, 2009


The best thing about being a journalist is discovering, even briefly, a world you never thought would be interesting in the least.

Published Aug. 10, 2005, in the Keizertimes

If a cow weighs 530 pounds, how many Keizer Fire District firefighters does it take to lift it?

Answer: One.

Don’t worry about checking the math, the answer’s right – as long as the firefighter in question is Ryan Harris.

On Saturday, Aug. 6, Harris bench-pressed 530.5 pounds, breaking the world record for his weight class by one pound.

“We’ve been working and planning for this day for a whole year,” said Terry Leurs of Salem, Harris’ trainer.

In a competition at the Sheraton Portland Airport Hotel, Harris lifted his way into the record books on only his second attempt. For his third, he tried to lift 540, three times his body weight.

“If he hadn’t been so tired from the previous lift, he would have smoked it,” Leurs said.

Harris, 27, began lifting in his teens and began lifting competitively in 1997. He presently lifts in the 181-pound weight class.

“I played football and wrestled in high school. I got a taste of lifting during training and it just took off from there,” said Harris.

Harris, a native of Prineville, went to school to become a paramedic and took a job in Tillamook before moving to Keizer in 1998. He began training with Leurs a year later.

Before claiming the world record, Harris held both the state and junior state records in his weight class.

Leurs said Harris entered a new realm of lifting when he changed techniques a year ago.

“What we’re doing now is more of a whole body lift than the old technique,” Leurs said.

Since making the change Harris has improved his top lift by more than 100 pounds.

He trains with Leurs just two days a week, and lifts at Gold’s Gym in Keizer on his own time.

It took about eight weeks to prepare for the competition earlier this month, Harris said. Since breaking the record, he’s taken some time off, but planned to get back to the bench this week.

“We train heavily for about eight weeks before a competition and then take a week off before we begin training for the next,” Harris said.

The next competition is the World Championships in Reno in November. Leurs already has Harris focusing on a new goal – 540 pounds.

“We’re going to start with 530 in November and then go for 540,” Leurs said.

If Harris hefts that weight, he’ll be the 30th person to lift three times their body weight in competition. Leurs was the 29th.

“Ryan trains hard every day. I have no doubt he’ll be lifting 600 pounds one day. He could even be the best lifter in the world,” Leurs said.

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