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Former Williams Lake resident wins Canadian Strongman Championship

Former Williams Lake resident wins Canadian Strongman Championship

Anne Butters is officially Canada’s strongest woman in her weight class.

Butters won first place in the amateur under-73 kg category at the National Strongman Championships held at the Minto Armory in Winnipeg on October 20.

“It’s awesome,” Butters said when asked what it’s like to be a national champion in such a niche sport.

“Being first at the national level was my goal from the beginning.”

Butters had been focusing on cross-training for eight years when the opportunity arose to try strongman in 2020. Strongman is a weightlifting-based sport where athletes compete in numerous events to prove their strength, speed and endurance.

Since Butters discovered the sport, she’s done one thing: She’s been working out three hours a day, four days a week for three years.

“I just do what I’m told,” Butters said of her training sessions set up for her by her coach, Durell Pettis. “He’s the mastermind behind it all.”

Born and raised in Williams Lake by her parents, Heidi and Herb, Butters has always been athletic and humble. She played on the local rugby team, where she was attracted to the inclusive and supportive feel of the sport. Something she said sounds very similar to a strongman sport.

While attending UBC Environmental Engineering, Butters worked summers as a firefighter with the British Columbia Wildfire Service at the Cariboo Fire Centre. Once she graduated from school and entered the workforce in her chosen career, she quickly realized that she had lost interest in environmental engineering.

“I realized relatively quickly that it wasn’t for me long term, and there was no sense of fulfillment,” she said. “Just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean you like it.”

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Butters changed career paths to something she was familiar with, firefighting, and headed to Cranbrook to attend a six-month fire service training program at College of the Rockies. Her time at the Williams Lake Firehouse gave her the confidence to transition into the structural protection field.

Once she turned her efforts to becoming a firefighter, she took fitness seriously.

“I considered it a requirement of the job.”

Eager to get to work, Butters applied for jobs all over the county and state, landing her first full-time job with the Grande Prairie Fire Department where she resides today.

Her work fits well with training as she works 24 hours, 24 hours off, 24 hours on, followed by four days off.

She is not strict with her diet. Butters said she’s eating more now than ever, adding that she’s also been known to partake in a “fire hall diet” of nacho chips and ice cream sundaes. Overall, she eats a healthy, balanced diet and listens to her body.

Butters first competed at Strongman Nationals in 2020 and placed third. In 2022, she competed and came in second place. This year, of course, she won first place.

“Third time is the charm.”

Butters competed in five different events over one day at the national level, with the barrel-to-bar event being her highest classification.

In this final event of the day, competitors hoisted a 200-pound barrel filled with sand over a chest-height beam. Butters gave it all she had left, hoisting the keg over the bar eight times in 60 seconds.

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“I knew I had to win this event to win.”

Butter’s rise to the top was not without challenges. She has suffered from back strain while training, but credits a strong team of practitioners with keeping her competitive.

She plans to compete at the national level again next year, and said she will take it as it comes next.

“I will continue to do my job.”

In Grande Prairie, Butters has settled into life with her two dogs and her partner, Kyle, who is also a firefighter. The two plan to get married next year.

“He’s my No. 1 fan,” she said.

Butter’s sister Jane lives nearby in Tumbler Ridge with her young family, and her brother Richard lives in Williams Lake.

For anyone interested in trying a new sport, Butters encourages them to give it a try.

“The strongman community is incredible, so welcoming,” she said. “I would recommend it to anyone. It’s a very friendly sport. Everyone cheers for you.”

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