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They don't use the bathroom scale to weigh-in

By Bob Brown

brown@postbulletin.com

It's not like weighing yourself on the bathroom scale.

These people hop a big electronic scale, eight at a time to see how much they weigh.

That's how it's done in the tug of war world. If you're competing in the men's 680 kilogram, class, for example, the eight pullers can't weigh more than 1,502.8 pounds (about 188 pounds per man).

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There was a swarm of competitors waiting at 6 a.m. Thursday to get weighed for the first day of the World Tug of War Championships in Rochester.

There were four weight classes of competition -- one for women and three for men.

And there wasn't a single team overweight.

"They don't travel this far and come in overweight,'' said Glen Johnson of the United States, who serves on the Tug of War International Federation executive committee. "We have practice scales that are exactly like the competition scales, so they know exactly what they weigh when they got to the official scale.''

But that doesn't mean that some of them didn't skip dinner the night before or worked out extra hard to shed kilograms. At least one team walked from its downtown Rochester hotel to the Olmsted County Fairgrounds prior to Wednesday's weigh-in.

During weigh-ins, team members wear only bare essentials when it comes to clothing. After weigh-ins, their team weight class is stamped to their legs. If you have two stamps, that means you pull in two different weight classes.

Then there's the catchweight class for men. That's the unlimited category, and it doesn't matter what they weigh.

Tom Grosse, a former president of Tug of War USA and an ex-puller who's in Rochester this week for the competition, said making weight isn't always easy.

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"We were in a meet in Taiwan at one time and our team had to lose 64 pounds,'' he said. "That was eight pounds per man. We did everything we could to get the weight off he said.''

Even if the team is only one pound over, Grosse said the whole team works out to get to the right weight.

"We don't say to the fat guy, hey you lose the weight,'' Grosse said. "This is a team thing.''

There at times, Grosse said, when teams have only eight pullers and compete in different weight classes.

"That means you have to cut weight to get in the lower class and put some on for the higher class,'' he pointed out.

If a team doesn't make weight the first time, it gets a second chance, as long as the scales are open.

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