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I signed up for the Highland Games – First event in July, 2012


I just sent off my registration form for my first Highland Games competition. Why? Because it sounds fun and I’ve grown bored with a lot of my training. And I get to wear a kilt, which gives me a reason to do some direct calf work in hopes that my strong-but-thin legs won’t get me laughed off the field.

Payson, Utah, July. If you live around here you should probably come too. And throw the match so I don’t get last place. (I don’t really care about placing, but I do think you should come compete)

If you’re unfamiliar with the Highland Games, the events all involve throwing or heaving rocks, sheafs of hay, various weights on chains or poles,  or cabers.

How often do you get to go to the store and buy a pitchfork for an athletic competition? Not often enough, that’s the answer.

Here are the events I’ll be training for and competing in:

Stone puts

These are just stone heaves. One is called the “open stone” and is pretty much the shot put with a rock.  The open stone weight is 16-22 lbs. The other stone put is called the “Braemer stone” and weighs 20-26 lbs for men. You don’t get to run up to the line or spin for the Braemer.

Throwing weight for distance

There’s a light and a heavy weight. 28 lbs and 56 lbs. You throw the weight with one hand as far as you can, with lots of swinging and grunting. The end.

Hammer throw, light and heavy

Here’s a video:

Sheaf toss

Throwing a bag of hay with a pitchfork, for height. Throw it the highest and you win.

Caber toss

The one everyone seems to have heard of.

The goal is not to throw it the farthest, but to tip it end over and and have it land as near to the 12 o’clock position as possible.

Weight for height

One-handed weight toss for height. Everyone throws over a pole. Then the pole gets higher. Whoever throws the highest wins.

I’m very excited for this. As I start training specifics (probably tonight), I’ll write about how it’s going and what I’m learning. I suspect that there’s a lot more technique to all of this than I realize. should be interesting.

Then I’ll be competing again in Spokane in August.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Fred Blue March 13, 2012, 12:48 pm

    I am excited for you Josh. I have signed up for my usual 3 highland games this spring/summer. The first one is in May, so my training started awhile ago.

    I have no reason to be in Utah, but if I had an excuse it would be to compete at a highland games.

    Oh make sure you don’t get a MacTableCloth kilt. That is just embarrassing. Your better than that. 😉

    Good luck!


    • Josh Hanagarne March 13, 2012, 1:14 pm

      What’s the MacTableCloth kilt?

      • Fred Blue March 13, 2012, 1:42 pm

        MacTableCloth kilts are those “kilts” that some highland games attendees (heavy events athletes and/or audience members) appear to have taken their plaid tablecloth and wrapped it around themselves. They stand out like a sore thumb, and for those with Scottish heritage (like myself) it usually doesn’t sit very well.

        If you wear a kilt, please remember the pleats go to the back, not the front. I have given this advice to quite a few attendees as well. 😉



        • Todd March 14, 2012, 6:14 am

          Fred, how are the utilikilts looked upon at these games. I’ll be attending (but not competing in) my first highland games on the 31st, and I’m weighing my kilt options.

          • Fred Blue March 14, 2012, 9:28 am


            Utilikilts are fine. Lots of acceptance for them at the games I have attended. The athletes care less than the organizers and the “kilt police”. 😉 I even saw a few guys wear camo kilts too. Looked awesome when they threw.


  • Boris B March 13, 2012, 2:12 pm

    Looking forward to the updates! I’ve always wanted to do a Highland Games comp.

  • Heather March 14, 2012, 6:32 am

    DUDE! COOL! Too bad I’ll be at work, but I’ve always wanted to see one of these HIghland Games events. So. . . .video, mayhaps? COOL!

  • Todd March 14, 2012, 7:27 am

    Josh, that’s awesome. I just recently decided to compete in a highland games competition also. The one here in San Antonio is the end of this month, and just don’t have enough time to train for it. There’s another one in November near Ft. Hood that I may shoot for. Utah is a smidge far though. 🙂

  • Ben Edwards March 15, 2012, 12:51 pm

    Josh, you’ll love the Highland Games competition! I entered my first one in July of 2010 and from the first minute of competition I was hooked. Only did one more game after that before injuring my back in an unrelated training incident. Haven’t competed since but I think about it all the time. You’ll do very well with your strength and athleticism.

    Ben Edwards

    • Josh Hanagarne March 15, 2012, 12:57 pm

      Thanks Ben. I hope so. I’m hooked already.

  • Sandi August 22, 2012, 7:16 pm

    Just stumbled across your site while looking for information on Convict Conditioning. I’m looking at adding some BW exercises into my life and increasing my strenth. I’ve also started training for the heavy events this year with the plan to compete next year. I’ve got a great bunch of coaches in Canada. If you’re serious about the games, I highly recommend you find someone who’s been in the games a while to help out. Strength is important but technique is everything!

    • Josh Hanagarne August 22, 2012, 7:46 pm

      Thanks Sandi, I appreciate that. I won the B class in my second competition and would have been middle-of-the-pack for the As, but was clumsy and oafy. I’m pals with Dan John. He’s helping me out with some technique. I think I’ll actually be decent once I know what I’m doing.

      • Sandi August 23, 2012, 3:51 pm

        Yeah…clumsy and oafy is pretty normal to start. That’s something I’m trying to get over before hitting a real competition. I’m not starting out overly strong, so need to build that up before my first competition too. It’s scheduled for May 2013 so am looking forward to getting out there and not sucking. 🙂

  • Sandi August 23, 2012, 3:54 pm

    I’ve had a quick google on Dan and see that he’s competed and won in Pleasanton, CA. Do you know if he’ll be there this year? I’ll be there next week to watch my husband compete.

    • Josh Hanagarne August 23, 2012, 4:20 pm

      Not sure, Sandi. Good luck you your husband!