This weekend was a particularly special as it was the 50th anniversary of Joe Weider's Mr Olympia contest. For those of you who are less into bodybuilding, this is the iconic competition which made stars like Sergio Oliva, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Franco Columbo, Ronnie Coleman, Kai Greene.
In shorts, anybody who is anybody in the fitness industry will be there for this special anniversary. Putting on this competition was no small feat
The setting- Las Vegas
The Olympia is the first time I had ever been to Vegas. May be it was from watching the "Hangover" movies or old westerns, but I figured I cease this opportunity to make the iconic drive from LA to Vegas.
The desert is beautiful-- for about 20 minutes. Never had I seen so many cars pulled over for overheating. The sun beat down constantly, with total impunity. Not a cloud in the sky was available to shield you from it. And, then there was the total absense of humidity. Yes, the lack of humidity made the drive probably more comfortable than say driving through southeast asia. Yet, it was utterly erie. You literally drive through death valley on this trip. Its worth doing once.
I kept having these related thoughts roll through my head-- its over 100 degrees out, there's no shade, there's not a single water source for miles - how long could someone last out here... don't wander too far from the car...carry plenty of water.... how did those poor settlers cross these lands in the 1800's... how did those poor rancher's horses and cattle live out here in this constant sun....
The landscape is at times mountainous, followed by rolling dry hills, and, at one point, salt flats. As you approach the Nevada border, blinding lights arises from a solar farm of mirrors, and the mountains begin to reappear. When you approach Las Vegas, it arises from the landscape like an oasis of civilization- large modern buildings in a flat valley, surrounded by colorful mountains in the distance.
Las Vegas is a city that exists because someone decided to build something there. It is not a city that arose from a favorable geographic location, such as being located on a protected harbor, at a river delta, or in a fertile valley, it's more of an invention of capitalists.
Las Vegas is much like LA in that it doesn't quite look the same way as it does in movies. I had the impression that the whole city would be like "the strip". Rather, the city is somewhat sprawling with one concentration of colossal attractions called "the strip". The most impressive part of Vegas, indeed, is the strip. Its complete with a mini-Eiffel Tower and mini-empire state building-- sort of like if you took an adult themed Disney World, reduced it by 60% and arranged it in a straight line. The Olympia Cup was held in the Las Vegas Convention Center which is just a mile off the strip.
The Las Vegas Convention Center is the perfect venue to house the Mr Olympia Expo. It has a grand entrance to it's South Halls, with a VIP entrance for exhibitors like myself. The Exhibiting supplement companies went all out. One had a 20ft high by 100ft long LCD display, in dazzling blue themed fitness videos all weekend long. Another company had a 2 level booth with DJ up top. Another two level booth had fitness models generously tossing out free t-shirts all weekend. This was definitely the place to be to get free samples of every protein powder a weightlifter would want to try.
I was busy 99.9% of the weekend. In the 15 free minutes I had all weekend, I got 3 free t-shirts a "jammy pack", and more supplements than I could count. Unfortunately, someone took all of my free loot- some of which I received only after tagging the donating company on instagram. Somehow, I manage not to get upset about it as I just kept thinking about the 200kg total I hit, number 1 in the country, and how easy it was.