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Camaraderie in competition: Highland Games take place in New Glasgow

Steve Young, from the Annapolis Valley, warms up for the hammer toss.
Steve Young, from the Annapolis Valley, warms up for the hammer toss.

NEW GLASGOW - “Even though you’re trying to out-do everyone else, you want the other guys to throw far, too,” says Adam Ogilvie, one of the dozen or so competitors who took part in the Highland Games events at the Festival of the Tartans in New Glasgow during the weekend.

Ogilvie, a marine biologist by profession who resides in Debert, said they all belong to the Old Scotia Heavyweights Association, which has been around since the mid-1970s.

They tour around the Maritime circuit, sometimes competing for cash prizes.

“We all go to the same festivals,” says Ogilvie.

Their interest in a fringe sport can lead to a camaraderie, in no small part due to the fact that they meet up at so many of the same events during the summer months.

Many of the Highland Games events were pre-cursors to modern track and field events, such as the hammer toss, the discus and the javelin.

Scott McHugh throws a 28-pound weight across Tartan Field.

“It’s a natural progression from track, as you get older,” says Scott McHugh, a six-foot-six, 310-pound resident of Lincoln, N.B. (near Fredericton), after he muscled a 28-pound weight across a portion of New Glasgow’s Tartan Field on Saturday morning.

About a dozen competitors would also throw a 56-pound weight, a 17-pound stone, 16 and 22-pound hammers, a caber and another weight that must clear a bar hung between two poles (above their heads).

Ogilvie, who started competing at these events about a dozen years ago, said the caber toss, which may be the most popular event, is totally unique.

“You’re hoisting a telephone poll, running with it and trying to flip it through the air,” he said.

Boot knives are must-haves for hammer-toss competitors.

“All of us lift weights, but there is no lift that can train you for the caber. There is nothing like it.”

Ogilvie is organizing a Highland Games event to take place in Bible Hill, just outside Truro, on Sept. 9

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