Heavy Athletics and Running Events
Athletics are a big part of the Portland Highland Games and we welcome competitors of all ages with activities like the Kilted Mile, the Youth Run and physically demanding – Heavy Athletics. Learn more about these events and opportunities for you to participate.
Heavy Athletics at the Portland Highland Games
The Scottish Heavy Events have been a part of Highland Games for centuries. The ancient Heavy Events date back early in Scottish history originating during the reign of King Malcolm Canmore in seven traditional events. At the end of the second day of competition, all the points are totalled, the winner being the one with the most points. The basic events are:
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What are Heavy Athletics?
This event, unique to Portland, is so grueling that some athletes opt out (scratch). Harvested from the Sandy River many years ago, the Portland Stone weighs 96 pounds. It is shaped with a slight depression on its under side that athletes nest against their clean motions, the competitor picks up the stone, bringing it to waist height; swings it to the chest; then raised it to the head. Although allowed a 15-foot lead-up, most athletes chose to run five feet or less before tossing the stone. Tradition tells us that the louder the athlete yells, the farther it goes!
The hammer is actually a 16-pound steel ball bearing that is bored out, with a cane handle fitted into it. A professional athlete will usually wear custom boots with a long steel shank off the side to help him keep his balance, and he will resin his hands for a better grip. He swings the hammer in a circle overhead several times before releasing it from a twisted position. Because the athlete is throwing the hammer opposite the direction he is facing, spectators are encouraged to stay behind the safety screens.
Weight for Distance
This event vaguely resemble the Olympic discus throw because the athlete prepares for releasing the weight by spinning forward in the approach. The great difficulty for the athlete is maintaining balance, whether the weight is 56 pounds or 28 pounds. Holding the linked handle in his/her hand, the athlete takes a good spinning windup and releases the weight. Women use a 14 pound weight.
This is a popular event for both the spectators and athletes. It is called the Braemar Stone because athletes use the “Braemar” style of throwing the stone. Portland competitors throw an 18-pound stone with a natural “thumb hole” depression. The thrower nests the stone in the crook of his neck with arm cocked behind the ear. With toe against the line, he gets a rocking motion going, pulls back and releases the stone.
Weight for Height
In this event, the athlete throws a set of steel weights overhead. Male competitors use a 56-pound weight, and women use a 28-pound weight. The weights must clear a bar above the athlete’s head. Each athlete gets three attempts to clear the bar and, if successful, can then go on to the next height. The athlete stands under the bar between the cross pieces. First, he swings the weight out to the side to gain momentum, swings it between his legs, and pulls it up high to release it overhead.
The Caber toss is considered the most impressive of the Heavy Events. The Caber is generally a spruce log measuring about 20 feet and weighing approximately 120 lbs. From a crouching position, the athlete cradles the base of the caber in his clasped hands. Carefully adjusting his grasp as he rises, he keeps the caber balanced against his shoulder. Once the Caber is balanced, the athlete runs to build up momentum, he plants his feet and releases it by heaving it so that it goes end over end. Those who successfully turn the Caber in this fashion continue on to compete in the Challenge Caber on day two. A Caber that fails to flip is not recorded. A judge runs behind the athlete and if the toss is successful he calls it with an imaginary clock. The athletes feet are positioned at six o’clock and he attempts to toss the Caber so that it looks like the hands of a clock at 12 o’clock. This would be a perfect throw.
Join the fun and the challenge of running a mile in a kilt. This competitive event has been a part of the Portland Highland Games for several decades and it’s a crowd favorite.
Kilted Mile Details
- Race is around the Mt Hood Community College Track
- Runners must be registered in advance to compete. The event registration is still being planned. Check back for details.
- Runners today are required to wear their Highland kilts for the entire race
Why the Kilted Mile?
The Kilted Mile Race has a tradition dating to the reign of King Malcolm III. He decreed that a foot race be held, beginning at the current site of Braemar Castle, and finishing at the top of grim and forbidding Creag Choinnich.
According to tradition, young MacGregor was late starting the race, but sped like a deer and climbed the crag without a stumble. As he overtook the leaders, his elder brother tried to hold him back by grabbing his kilt. Knowing his brother’s strength, and being himself uninhibited, he slipped off his kilt, and so gained the victory.
A Long Tradition at the Portland Highland Games
The Kilted Mile has been an event at the Portland Highland Games since 1991. This year will mark the 25th Kilted Mile race. The fastest overall runner is awarded The Memorial Sword. The top runners from each category also receive awards. All runners receive a commemorative t-shirt.
Runners today are required to wear their Highland kilts for the entire race.
A Fun Run for Kids 13 and Under
If your wee-highlander is inspired by the Kilted Mile, we have a fun run for any child under the age of 13 right in front of the grandstands on the main field.
No pre-registration is necessary, just show up at the Kilted Mile Tent on the North end of the main field between 3 and 3:30 p.m. to sign up and get your number.
The run will commence at 3:45 p.m. and every child will receive a prize.
- Baby – Children age 4
- Children ages 5-7
- Children ages 8-10
- Children ages 11-13
Groups may be altered based on the number of participants.
Ready to be part of the Scottish fun?