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Highland Games: Only the Strong Survive

Posted by Dr. Noah Dean on

If you know anything about ancient Scottish clans (or seen the movie Braveheart) you understand that medieval Scotland was no place for pansies. Nope, it was time when the phenomenon of natural selection ran full force – and only the biggest, baddest dudes were left standing after any degree of confrontation. Fitting this kill or be killed ideology were the sports the clansmen would get involved in; challenging one another to compare speed, strength, power, skill with weaponry, etc.; and any test was fair game. Swords, logs, stones, and just about anything that could be used to kill a man were incorporated in the competitions. Much like battle, it took a little luck and a bucket full of badass-ness to conclude as the victor.

If only we had such contests today…

Enter, the "Highland Games".


On any given weekend some of the strongest, most intimidating athletes in the world are finding solace in swinging hammers, slinging weights, tossing cabers, putting stones, and more – all the while representing the alluring kilt. Although it is a “game”, don’t expect any pussyfootin’ among these athletes. This sport is taken seriously… and there is no room for weakness. At the professional level (a far cry from the amateur), men can hurl a 56lb weight more than 17’ in the air (an event called “Heavy Weight Over Bar”) and then sling that same weight over 45’ in “Heavy Weight for Distance”.

(To put the later in perspective, take your 1.5 pood kettlebell and see if you can sling it across a 4-lane highway. Wait for traffic to clear, of course.)

Even the women of the Highland Games often unveil demonstrations of strength that would embarrass the average athlete. The women’s distance record for the 28lb weight is ~21’!

Despite the fierce competition (and demeanor) found at a Highland Games event, the athletes themselves are some of the most humble, kind, and supportive types you’ll find. Although they are a tight-knit group, it’s easy to be embraced by the veteran athletes. Simply show up (in a kilt) and give every bit of effort you’ve got. I speak from personal experience when I say the Highland Games are something you need to be a part of at least once.

(But seriously, unless you’re ready to prove yourself, perhaps just spectating might be the best choice.)

If you’re brave enough to challenge these Highland Games heroes visit the links below for an event coming near you. Also, don’t hesitate to check out Battle Bold’s very own Highland Games athlete (Spencer Tyler) as he pushes to be the world champion this upcoming season! Follow him here.