"Are you ready? Say Oorah"
Without him no party at the Walhalla Steps or big smile at the finish! Give it up for the one and only Strong Viking MC: Henry Wessels!
Who is this energetic presenter, what is his story and what are his most special memories at Strong Viking? Read his story and/or ask your question directly to Henry himself!
How did it all start?
At the end of 2014 I was approached by another entertainment agency if I was interested in presenting a new kind of sports event called Strong Viking. At that moment I was already presenting different kinds of sport events and was the main speaker for the KNVB (Dutch National Football association). As their speaker/MC I am still responsible for the stadium communication during matches of the Dutch National futsal team. Next to that, you can hear my voice as stadium speaker during football matches in the Eredivisie and Eerstedivisie as well.
Since sports is really my thing, I got into the conversation with Strong Viking and visited their event in Fürstenau to see how they did it at that moment. Since I’m also a DJ I thought it would be possible to combine the presentation of the event, while performing as a DJ. But immediately saw that this would not work during the Strong Viking warming up. I contacted a DJ in my Network called Vincent who is now my partner in crime during the famous Strong Viking warm-ups.
When did you give your first Strong Viking warming up?
Only three weeks after I visited the Strong Viking event in Furstenau, it was my turn to get people ready for their Strong Viking run. That was at the end of March 2015, during the Strong Viking Mud Edition in Nijmegen (NL). I was thrilled to get started and immediately knew that this was the place to be for me!
Has a lot changed since your first Strong Viking edition?
Yes, it did and it still does every event. The whole organisation/team is only getting better and more professional, we have become a strong presentation team. Together with Cynthia I am on the Walhalla Steps/stage for the warmup, but we really do it together and cannot do it without our technical boys. Vincent (DJ) who plays the music, Olaf who takes care of the technique/lights and also the guys who take care of the fire and smoke during the warming ups. Everything runs smoothly and we understand one and another by just looking to each other, this makes it very nice to be their every edition and work together!
Are you a full-time entertainer?
Yes, I am a full-time entertainer for almost 25 years now. I have my own entertainment agency for years, Henry Wessels Total Entertainment. Once started out as a ski instructor and DJ in the snow, but also as a summer DJ in Lloret de mar (Spain). Nowadays I organize parties everywhere, using different DJ's and artists and collaboration with different big artists in the Netherlands, party tents, sports canteens but I also host parties at weddings etc. Sometimes I work as a DJ on request, but I don't do that as often as I used to. I am mainly a sports presenter. Since the corona crisis caused a pause in the event industry, I am currently working for a school, where I am allowed to organize all kinds of things like travelling, museum visits, sports days, diplomacy, etc.
How do you prepare yourself for a whole day of Strong Viking warming ups?
This might sound a little bit weird, but I don’t really prepare myself actually. Most times I only know at what time the first start is, and when I need to be ready. That is as far as it goes most of the times. If I do get a request for something special, I'll read up on it and when I arrive, I talk to different people in the organisation to be up to date for any special occasions. Both my English and German are oke, but not always 100% correct. Sometimes I stumble over the words, but that does not bother me at all, since they always understand me and I'm too enthusiastic to drive everyone crazy.
What moments did you really remember?
There are quite a few ‘special’ moments that I will always remember, but seeing the first Strong Viking back at the finish is always a special moment for me. Also, the kids with a great smile at the start, people running for charity, a wedding proposal, a minute of silence for special moments and so forth. But the one thing popping up my mind directly is the finish of Pim Brouwers, who conquered 19 km during the heavy mud last October in Amsterdam. Pim is sitting in a wheelchair but decided to conquer this edition without his wheelchair, together with a close group of friends. When he finished his run the crowd went nuts, I’ve major respect for this great guy!
Where do you get all that energy from?
I get energy from people! The fact that everyone is participating during the warmups, the positive reactions at the start finish area, I really like it all! I'm also an optimist in normal life and always cheerful when others need it. Entertaining others/people is the best thing in life!
Have you ever run a Strong Viking run yourself?
Unfortunately, no and it is also not going to happen. I have a problem with my knee since I’ve no cruciate ligaments, worn hips and a lot of fluid in my lower legs. I have always been a real sports fanatic until 15 years ago. I played soccer, tennis, ran, skated and every winter went skiing a lot in Austria. Unfortunately, I needed to pay the price for that the last years. But, I did turn my hobby (sports) into my work (presentation), I can empathize with the athletes and feel connected with them!
What gives you the ultimate Strong Viking feeling?
The fact that everyone is equal, everyone helps each other, everyone greets each other. Together out, together in, Oorah!
The whole world should see what's happening at our events. Man and woman, young and old, regardless of origin, fat or thin, it doesn’t matter. Everyone can participate and is helping each other. Even if they’re complete strangers, that is the ultimate Strong Viking feeling!
How many times during the season have you lost your voice?
I have not once! My voice has been trained. At most when it's a bit colder and or raining all day, I'll be a little hoarse on Monday. But then some extra sleep and a cup of tea with honey makes my voice be fine.
Will we see you again next year?
YES, YOU DO! Even better, since the start of 2020 I will present all of them, including Germany. It’s terrible that a lot of events couldn't go thought due to the coronavirus. But stay healthy, keep training, and be aware of what you can do!
See you soon Vikings!
Get in touch!
Do you have more questions for Henry and/or are you wondering what Henry can do for your party? Check out his Instagram page and/or contact him directly!