SCOTTISH HEAVY ATHLETICS
Scottish heavy athletics owe their roots to the Highland warriors who would keep in shape between battles by competing amongst themselves with everyday implements. A stone, a blacksmith’s hammer, a tree trunk (caber) became tools for building strength for battle.
Caber, in Gaelic, means simply pole or rafter. Unlike the standardized instruments common to modern track and field events, it has no fixed weight or dimensions. Contestants on a particular day all have to try with the log at hand. It should be noted that the goal of the effort is not distance, but to toss the log end-over-end so that it lands in a straight line from the tosser. Points are deducted according to the number of degrees off from the ideal 12 o'clock mark. The greater handicap in this event isn't the weight of the caber, but its length.
Throwing The Weight
Two separate events constitute the weight throwing contest. The 28 pound weight is thrown for distance and the 56 pound weight is thrown for both distance and height. Speed and coordination are the prime prerequisites for the weight thrower.
The Farmers Walk
The Farmers Walk is one event in which the participants are quite happy when their turn is over. It is very basic, with little technique. All you have to do is pick up a couple of weights and see how far you can walk with them. The difficulty lies in the amount of weight - at our festival the weights are 150 pounds each.
The Sheaf Toss
A pitchfork is used to hurl a burlap bag stuffed with straw over a horizontal bar above the competitor's head. Typical weight for the bag is 16 pounds.Three chances are given to each competitor to cleanly go over the bar, without touching it. After all challengers have made their attempts, the bar is raised and all successful competitors move on to the new height. This continues until all but one athlete is eliminated.
Putting The Stone
This event was probably derived from the ancient "stone of strength". Every clan Chieftain in Scotland had a large stone at the gatepost entry to his castle. Clansmen from afar would test their strength by tossing it for a distance. The stones varied in size and shape from clan to clan. Thus began today's shot put. There are two stones in our festival, a 16 pound stone that's thrown like a shot put, and a 22 pound stone that is thrown from a standing, stationary position.
The Hammer Throw
The fixed handle hammer throw is an event in which the early American "smiddy" excelled. There are pictures that show contests of men trying to throw the blacksmith's hammer the farthest, but the event really started in Scotland with the men working in the famous quarries mining granite. Much different from the Olympic style, which features a wire ring handle, the shaft itself is twirled around the contestant's head until maximum speed is attained, then it is let go. Measurements are made from the point of impact to the inside of a toe board fixed at the point of throwing. The light hammer weighs 16 pounds and the heavy hammer weighs 22 pounds. They each have a 50 inch cane handle.