Scottish Highland Games
Now these are games for men. Strong men (and women). In kilts. Which,
unfortunately, I don't quite yet fit into that category. Its actually
kind of odd, but one of the lighter guys on the field.
However, I'm also only 28, and (I love this) men can just keep getting
bigger and stronger until about ~45-50, so I've got the time.
I got involved in the games a few years ago, when I was watching some of the
events and one of the competitors (Marshall Innis) called me out while
trying to get some crowd participation. Now I love it. The events take
a ton of strength, and even more skill. Here are some of the events as
I remember them:
Putting the stone
Heavy Weight for Height
Light/Heavy Weight for Distance
One of the classics, and actually the precurser to Olympic Shot
Put. The stone weighs (for men) either the light stone at 17-19lbs or the heavy
stone weighing in at 24-27lbs. Essentially, there's two ways of doing this one,
Braemar style, or open stone. Braemar is the classic,consisting of you planting
one foot just behind a block, then placing the stone behind your chin, and resting
it on one arm, then just twisting your body and shoving the thing as far as you can,
similar to a shotput. One foot must always be on the ground.
The other method is to do essentially any method you want, whether its spinning, hopping
or even running up to the trig (within a 4 1/2 x 7 1/2 foot area) plant your foot, and hurl
the stone. I'm not bad at this event, but hardly fantastic. Takes a lot of timing
with the twist to get it right. As with most of the events, the power comes out of your
This one's pretty harsh. It involves taking a 56lb weight (28lb for women), getting a bit of a
swing going with it then driving with your legs and hips, and finally your arm
and shoulder to clear a bar. All with one arm. Similar to a one-armed power snatch.
Needless to say, you need a bit of power for this one, not to mention timing.
The world record is 18' 4.5". I just barely clear 12'.
Clearing 12' has been compared to throwing an 6yr old child over a Greyhound
bus. Not that we condone throwing children over busses, I must add.
This event is difficult to make it look smooth. Its total skill, plus the strength in your fingers to hold on while you rotate a 28 or 56lb weight at arms length, before releasing it. The women have similar events using 14lbs and 28lbs. The spin is 1-2 times, and you have an 9'x 4 1/2' square to do it in, while being dragged around by the weight. You have to have one foot inside the trig at all times, and can never have a foot in front of the trig. Not an easy event, and I've seen some very large men get tossed around by the 56...
Again, similar to the Olympic Hammer Throw, except your feet stay still. No spinning. You just dig in, and rotate the hammer (a 16 or 22lb weight on the end of a 4' rattan or PVC pipe for some bend) around your body, then releasing it for distance. I've seen this one throw 260lb men onto the ground. Many of the best throwers use a spike on the toes of their feet to dig in. This takes enormous skill, and you almost have to learn to throw all over again, but it seems to be the way to add the extra feet on when you have it.
Sheaf! Sheaf! Not sheep! This goes back to one of the classic male things to do. Compete with each other while at work. You grab a pitchfork, stick it into the sheaf (a 16lb or 20lb bag of straw, etc), and toss it over a bar, and in between the two posts the bar rests on. Accuracy and power. After all, how long would you have kept your job if you couldnt toss a hay bale into the hay loft?
Not an original Highland game, but borrowed from the Farmer's Games,
this one is a power contest, and more of a strongman event than anything else. You have 2 sections of railroad track, with large handles welded to them. You take one in each hand, and you walk. For as long and far as you can. Simple, right? Feels like your arms are being pulled out of their sockets (probably are), and its a killer. Could be because each
of these things weighs 202lbs. Furthest I ever walked with one of these is 215ft. Im gonna beat that next year. (Hopefully =] )
Kind of looks like a telephone pole throwing contest, and is the last event usually. Probably the most well known of the heavy events, although usually the point is a bit lost in the translation. The caber is not thrown for height, or distance, but accuracy. You take the 'small' end of the caber in your hands, flip the caber and try to get the other end to land at 12:00 from your shoulders. A perfect 180.
This event takes more skill than any of the others (maybe). A world class caber weighs anywhere from 90-150lbs (or more) and is 16-25' long. The biggest challenge of the caber toss isn't in lifting the caber, its in controlling it. You can't out-muscle the caber. Noone is strong enough to fight that much leverage. You have to out-manouver it. Then get it moving in the right direction. Then its all timing and lift to get the large end to hit the ground, and keep the small end rising up,
over and perfectly land away from you. In professional competitions they have a qualifying caber, then the competition caber. I finally flipped a couple in competition this year. Hell, I'm just as happy to pick the damn thing up and get it moving correctly.
Ok, now those are just MY takes on things. For a bit more of a historic
view, try here.