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Scottish Athletics: The Luss Highland Games

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lhanson
Jul 11, 2014


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Culture

Scottish Athletics: The Luss Highland Games

America’s Independence Day was a quiet affair on the ship, but the next day, nearly 200 Summer 2014 voyagers experienced a completely different celebration of cultural tradition. The Luss Highland Gatherings have been a yearly event since 1875, sponsored by the local clan Colquhoun. Set in the “prettiest village in Scotland,” Luss is located on the banks of Loch Lomond, where the Colquoun clan has claimed home for more than 800 years.

The Gathering hosts an array of traditional Scottish games and competitions, as well as a few more significantly modern ones. From the tossing of the caber and traditional dance competitions to cycling and running events, there were constant cheers and the sound of bagpipes around the entire area. With hundreds in attendance, kilts in a variety of tartans were seen on many, from wee ones to the hearty men participating in the heavy lifting competitions. Voyagers were thrilled to find themselves a part of the action by taking a hand at archery and even entering the open events, such as the Overseas Visitors Race.

The village of Luss is tucked in below the hills and next to Loch Lomond, part of one of the first National Parks of Scotland. The games have their own field to the south of the River Luss, where they have been held for well over a century.
Voyagers followed the parade of the chieftain Sir Malcolm Colquhoun and the Helensburgh Clan Colquhoun Pipe Band from the edge of Loch Lomond up the games field in the traditional processional through the town. At right, Sir Malcolm Colquhoun walks across the field in one of the brief (but semi-frequent) rain showers that are typical of the Scottish Highlands weather.
Voyagers followed the parade of the chieftain Sir Malcolm Colquhoun and the Helensburgh Clan Colquhoun Pipe Band from the edge of Loch Lomond up the games field in the traditional processional through the town. At right, Sir Malcolm Colquhoun walks across the field in one of the brief (but semi-frequent) rain showers that are typical of the Scottish Highlands weather.
The tossing of the caber was an event that many marveled at. Though origins are nn specific, it’s suggested that caber tossing comes from foresters throwing tree trunks into the river and it was a competition amongst them prior to being a tradition in Highland Gatherings. The normal caber weighs about 150 pounds and is about 18 feet long. The sport is judged by style, not distance. Competitors must flip the caber one end over the other and it must land as close to a 12 o’clock position from where it left the hands of the man who tossed it.
Though origins are non specific, it’s suggested that caber tossing comes from foresters throwing tree trunks into the river, and it was a competition amongst them prior to being a tradition in Highland Gatherings. The normal caber weighs about 150 pounds and is about 18 feet long. The sport is judged by style, not distance. Competitors must flip the caber one end over the other and it must land as close to a 12 o’clock position from where it left the hands of the man who tossed it.
Students (from right) Kelsi Hamdorf of CU Boulder, Rebecca Kline of Stevens Institute and Kate McHargue of Colorado State University all have quite different reactions as they watched the show of muscles and brawn during the caber toss.
Students (from right) Kelsi Hamdorf of University of Colorado Boulder, Rebecca Kline of Stevens Institute of Technology and Kate McHargue of Colorado State University have varying reactions as they watched the show of muscles and brawn during the caber toss.
During the local piping event, competitors piped one of two tunes: the march Birnie Shield or Strathspey & Reel. At right, four University of Virginia students Addy Savarino, Gabi Jehle, Alison Dietze and Samantha Taylor make friends with a future Scottish heart breaker.
During the local piping event, competitors piped one of two tunes: the march Birnie Shield or Strathspey & Reel. At right, four University of Virginia students Addy Savarino, Gabi Jehle, Alison Dietze and Samantha Taylor, make friends with a future Scottish heart breaker.
The Helensburgh Clan Colquhoun Pipe Band poses for a photo with the clan chieftain, Sir Malcolm Colquhoun. The band was founded in 1913 and is one of the longest established non-military pipe bands still in existence.
The Helensburgh Clan Colquhoun Pipe Band poses for a photo with the clan chieftain, Sir Malcolm Colquhoun. The band was founded in 1913 and is one of the longest established non-military pipe bands still in existence.
Heavy weight competitors warm up for the Viking Press event showing off kilts and muscles. Athletes lift this 250-pound weight above their head until their arms are fully extended. The athlete who can do the most repetitions within a 90 second time limit is the winner.
Heavy weight competitors warm up for the Viking Press event, where athletes lift a 250-pound weight above their head until their arms are fully extended. The athlete who can do the most repetitions within a 90-second time limit is the winner.
Suzanne Shultz, partner of Executive Dean Marti Fessenden competed in an open obstacle race that included crawling through nets, running, climbing, a sack race, more running and then climbing over more obstacles. At right, two young boys competed in Scottish Backhold Wrestling in one of the brief rainstorms with their coaches and judges watching on. The games had no age limit for competitors in many events.
Suzanne Schultz, partner of Executive Dean Marti Fessenden competed in an open obstacle race that included crawling through nets, running, climbing, a sack race, and more running and climbing. At right, two young boys competed in Scottish Backhold Wrestling during one of the brief rainstorms with their coaches and judges watching on. The games had no age limit for competitors in many events.
A group of students, staff, Academic Dean David Gies and his wife Janna, pose with two young Scottish men fresh out of an open bagpipe event.
A group of students, staff, Academic Dean David Gies and his wife Janna, pose with two young Scottish men fresh out of an open bagpipe event.
Dance competitions were held on a side stage all day with age groups ranging from four years old to above seventeen’s in seven different traditional dances.
Dance competitions were held on a side stage all day with age groups ranging from 4 years old to 17-plus in seven different traditional dances.
Student Lorenzo Servedio of Clarkson University dashed past the stands in the Overseas Visitors Race. Photo by Alexa O’Connell
Student Lorenzo Servedio of Clarkson University dashed past the grandstand in the Overseas Visitors Race after struggling through the rope crawl. Photo by Alexa O’Connell.
The group Clann an Drumma played during the lunch hour directly in front of the grandstand, showing off their prowess on non-traditional Scottish drums.
The group Clann an Drumma played during the lunch hour directly in front of the grandstand, showing off their prowess on non-traditional Scottish drums.
The Scottish 5 Man Championship Tug-O-War was a display of diligent patience and extreme brawn. Teams of five, mostly comprised of local construction crews battled against each other to gain even an inch. The second that one team would have a slight slip on the moist field, the other team would pick up the slack with as much force as possible. Only one man per team was allowed to have the rope around him, and the same man was the only one allowed to have more than just his feet planted into the field.
The Scottish 5 Man Championship Tug-O-War was a display of diligent patience and extreme brawn. Teams of five, mostly composed of local construction crews, battled against each other to gain just one inch at a time. The second that one team would have a slight slip on the moist field, the other team would pick up the slack with as much force as possible. Only one man per team was allowed to have the rope around him, and the same man was the only one allowed to have more than just his feet planted into the field.
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