Living a strong life in the Fast lane
By Joel Wittnebel/Active Senior’s Digest
The man has hauled fire trucks, full family-sized homes, two-storey mining trucks and military airplanes. He’s had 500 kilograms worth of wine casks, and cheerleaders piled on his back (at separate times of course) and he’s arm-wrestled with dump trucks. These feats have landed Kevin Fast in the Guinness Book of World Records 21 times and he’s showing no signs of stopping now.
The 51-year-old father of three lives in Cobourg where he has been the reverend at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church for 21 years.
Fast was born in St. Catharines and grew up in Brantford. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from McMaster University, followed by a master’s degree from Brock and a PhD in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
During his years in school, Fast was mainly involved in weightlifting, and didn’t get involved in the Highland Games until the age of 30, after moving back from out west to his current home.
“I just heard some guys talking at the gym about these monsters that come in and throw big heavy things and I thought, ‘wow, that’s something I’d like to see,’” Fast says.
Heading down to the event, Fast put his name on the competitors list, and after winning that competition, he was hooked.
“So I did that for three years then turned pro. So I’ve been a pro ever since in that sport,” Fast explains.
In 1996, Fast would see something interesting on TV that would lead his strongman career on a new trajectory – one that would end up taking him all over the world. That bit of TV showed a man hauling a fire truck with nothing but brute strength.
“I never knew that guys did this before and I wanted to test myself on it,” Fast says. “So I called the fire department and said, ‘could I borrow your fire truck?’”
Fast admits it was the first time the fire department had ever received such an odd request, but they allowed it. After hauling the truck the first time, the department asked if he would haul the truck down Cobourg’s main street as part of their Fire Prevention Week. After that, comments started coming in asking if the pull could have been a world record. As it turns out, it was.
“Some people had asked if it could have been a world record, so that’s when I started up with Guinness and in 1998, I got my first world record,” Fast says.
That was for pulling a fire truck 100 meters. He would later go on to set another record by pulling two of the same truck the same distance.
“I’m a very curious person, especially when it comes to strength and testing myself,” Fast says.
In 2009, Fast would face one of his biggest challenges, something that he had been eyeing for a couple years – a 208-ton CC-177 Globemaster military plane at CFB Trenton.
“That is my best pull,” Fast says of the feat.
He jokes that up until that point people had labelled him as a “truck-puller” and he wanted to diversify.
“So I wanted to try a plane,” he says.
Fast waited an entire year before a plane could be set aside for his attempt. When the time came he was able to get a test pull in before the actual event. The test-pull went well, but on the day of the event, things were off. The tires on the plane looked slightly flat, and Fast admits it scared him.
“Not only the size and the enormity of the whole thing scared me, but the tires of course scared me even more because I knew from experience that that’s not good,” Fast says.
He asked to have the tires pumped, which wouldn’t have been a problem except the process to do so takes at least two hours, and he was scheduled to pull the plane in 15 minutes.
It was the first 45 seconds of the pull, after strapping in, that Fast remembers well.
“That pull was about 45 seconds of nothing, maximum effort, maximum strength and drive used and it didn’t budge. But during that time, what’s going through my head is, I’m going to do this, and I was getting more and more angry that it wasn’t moving and I was probably releasing a lot more adrenaline.”
At about the 46 second mark, the plane started to roll, and after hauling the plane the required five meters, Fast was numb, but he kept going.
“There was no feeling left in my body, it was all just mental and adrenaline,” he says.
The Guinness official yelled to him that he’d beat the record. His son, walking along beside him, yelled in his ear, but Fast didn’t hear them. Finally, his son snapped him out of it.
“He slapped me on the back three times, and I’m still pulling. After he slapped me on the back I turned to him and said, ‘why are you hitting me?’” Fast says.
While the plane pull may seem like a feat of superhuman strength, the same can be said for Fast’s training exercises.
“My training consists almost entirely of just pulling my pick-up truck up hills. Depending on the grade, a lower grade I’d use for building endurance and a steep grade I’d use for starting big objects,” he explains.
Following the plane pull, Fast has been to Rome, Switzerland, and Beijing, to name a few, to create or break world records.
“I’ve been all over the world doing these things, and they sort of come up with the record and I just come in and do it,” Fast says.
And he doesn’t just do it for himself. Many of Fast’s events raise money for different charities. Tim Hortons Kid’s Camp, Habitat for Humanity, the Lung Association and McDonalds charities have all benefited from Fast’s feats of strength.
“It’s really a great opportunity to raise awareness and money for good causes and it’s been my custom to do a different one all the time,” he says.
Most recently, Fast set a world record at the Trenton Scottish Irish Festival for the most cabers tossed by two people.
Fast says he does get the odd comment questioning the things he does.
“There are some people in some areas that say I shouldn’t be doing that kind of stuff and there are other people who say you’re too old and shouldn’t be doing this anymore. Negative comments, my whole life, have always been an asset for me because I always use it to fuel what I’m going to do,” Fast says.
To him, his strength is a gift and he intends to continue using it.
“This strength and desire, and to use that strength, is a gift and how are you thankful for a gift? Well, you enjoy it, you use it, and when others can benefit it’s even better still,” Fast says.