The traditional Highland Heavy Games go all the way back to the 11th century and possibly even before that in the Scottish Highlands. The same games, under the same rules, will be played once again on the Steamboat Landing, one of Maine’s most beautiful athletic venues.
Anyone is welcome to join the Highland Heavy Games competition for a $10 entry fee. Registration begins at 8:00 a.m. The games start at 9:00 a.m. and continue until about 2:00 or 2:30 p.m. Different weight classes are offered for men and women in each event. It will be a long and hard day for the athletes, as the Highland Heavy Games test the strength and coordination of each competitor to their maximum. It is like watching the Olympic games firsthand but in Celtic cultural form and tradition.
The Caber Toss is probably the best-known Heavy Games event. The athlete holds up and balances a long tapered pine pole in his hands, then runs forward and launches the caber and tries to flip it end over end the longest distance of any other caber toss.
An Open Stone Put is similar to a shot put, yet with a heavy stone as the object. The stone can be thrown by any method as long as the toss begins with the stone in one hand cradled in the athlete’s neck.
There will be a Heavy Weight Throw and a similar throw with weights not quite so heavy. Weights are metal with handles attached, thrown with one hand by the athlete, some putting a spin on their toss. Again the longest throw is the winner.
In the Weight Over the Bar event, the athlete heaves a very heavy weight over a horizontal bar. Each competitor gets three tries, and those who are successful move to the next level by raising the bar until only one is left.
If time allows, this year’s Games will also feature the Scottish Hammer Throw. A heavy metal ball is attached to a four-foot wooden shaft. With both feet in a fixed position, the athlete whirls the hammer overhead and then tosses it forward in an attempt to reach the longest distance.
Whether you decide to compete or just watch, you will certainly be impressed by the individual strength and power of the serious competitors in these tough contests.