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Shout with 38 HDBs at Nathan

When you think of an amusement park you do not often picture a top-notch arena with bleachers and a powerful sound system, but this was the setting for Nathan's May 17 qualifier at Dorney Park, an impeccably clean, 200-acre park now celebrating its 125th anniversary in Allentown, PA.

In front of a capacity crowd of more than 500 -- a crowd that spilled from the mini-arena onto the pathways under the shadow of the 200-foot Dominator, which drops people 150 feet at speeds greater than normal freefall -- the eaters prepped for what would be a challenge: beating Humble Bob Shoudt.

Shoudt, visibly exhausted after an overnight trip from Houston, where he competed in the gyro-eating world championships on Saturday, stood quietly at the table, waiting for the start. Even weary, Shoudt is a fearsome eater and the other competitors knew it.

Shoudt popped to an early lead, perhaps off-pace slightly, but soon establishing a five-HDB margin, and he never looked back. Trailing Shoudt, but well ahead of the pack, were Russ Keeler, Wing Kong, and Steakbellie. Also performing well was Wild Bill Myers.

Shoudt ended with 38 HDBs in 10 minutes, foregoing a last-minute effort to top 40 and settling for a very strong win.