Celtic Games

Strongman  |  Caber Toss  |  Hammer Throw  |  Weight Over Bar  |  Sheaf Toss  |  Stone Put  |  Weight Toss

2017 Games Schedule


 Celtic Heavy Athletics are a group of different athletic events that, in part, make up a Highland Games Festival. The athletic events are focused on testing the competitors’ strength and skill using a variety of objects. While they are not directly a martial exercise, the events began as a way to encourage competition between the clans and were used as a substitute for battlefield training by the Scottish during times of occupation when the establishment and maintenance of a large fighting force was forbidden. The specific events offered can vary depending on which Games you are attending. To qualify as a Celtic Heavy Athletics competition at least five of the six events described below must be offered at the Games. The thrower, who must be kilted to participate, must compete in the majority of the events offered at a particular Games venue.

Free sports massage will be provided to the heavy athletes Saturday and Sunday in the early afternoon by students from New Mexico School of Natural Therapeutics.


The Caber Toss Event

One of the strangest and most ancient competitions of Scotland is the tossing of the caber, probably the most severe test of muscle and skill. The origin of this event is a source of great speculation, ranging from being used in battle to cross moats to being used in the logging industry to launch the trees into the river. The game has been played by the Scots since the earliest times and is still one of the most featured events on the programs of all heavy athletic contests. A long-tapered pine pole or log is stood upright and hoisted by the competitor, who balances it vertically, holding the smaller end in his hands (see photo). Then the competitor runs forward attempting to toss it in such a way that it turns end over end with the upper (larger) end striking the ground first. The smaller end that was originally held by the athlete would then hit the ground in the 12 o'clock position measured relative to the direction of the run. If successful, the athlete is said to have turned the caber. Competitors are judged on how closely their throws approximate the ideal 12 o'clock toss on an imaginary clock. (The height or distance of the throw is not scored.) The Caber Toss is considered and "open" event, as competitors' advancement is based on successful turn to reach the next caber and the competition will continue until all competitors fail or the Games uses all of its cabers.

Scottish Hammer Throw Events

This event is similar to the hammer throw as seen in modern-day track and field competitions, though with some differences. In the Scottish event, a round metal ball (weighing 16 or 22 lbs. for men or 12 or 16 lbs. for women) is attached to then end of a shaft about 4 feet in length and made out of wood, bamboo, rattan, or plastic. With the feet in a fixed position, the competitor throws the hammer while standing facing away from the throwing area. He or she whirls the hammer about the head and throws it over the shoulder.

Weight Over Bar(WOB) Event

The objective is to throw the weight up and over a bar similar to that used in pole vaulting. The competitor is only allowed to use one hand to make the throw. The traditional method of throwing is to stand with the bar behind the athlete who then swings the weight up and over the bar. The starting height of the bar is the lowest height agreed to by all the athletes. Competitors may choose to wait until the bar reaches the height where they wish to enter the competition, but once they start to throw, they must compete each time the bar is raised.

The Sheaf Toss Event

This event comes from the agricultural community and is most likely an outgrowth of loading the sheaves of wheat into hay lofts, piling them into the largest, highest piles possible. The sheaf toss is very similar to the Weight Over Bar event and generally uses the same apparatus, although the heights thrown are usually much greater.

The sheaf is a burlap or plastic bag filled with a suitable material such as straw, mulch, or rope. The sheaf is thrown over a crossbar for height using a pitchfork. The sheaf itself generally weighs 12-13 lbs. for women and 16-20 lbs. for men

The starting height of the bar is the lowest height agreed upon by the athletes. Competitors may wait until the bar reaches the height where they wish to enter the competition, but once they start to throw, they must compete each time the bar is raised.

The Stone Put Event

The "Putting of the Stone" is similar to the Olympic shot put. However, instead of a steel shot, a large stone of variable weight is used. There are two versions of the stone put event (differing in allowable technique)-the Braemar Stone and the Open Stone.

The Braemar Stone uses a 20-26 lb. stone for men (13-18 lbs. for women) and does not allow any run up to the toe board to deliver the stone: that is, it is a standing put. In the Open Stone using a 16-22 lb. stone for men (8-12 lb. for women), the thrower is allowed to use any throwing style so long as the stone is put with one hand with the stone resting cradled in the neck until the moment of release.

The Weight Throw Event

Also known as the "Weight for Distance" event, the weight throw is a contest where the weights are of metal with a handle attached with a length of chain. There are actually two separate events- a light weight throw and a heavy weight throw. The implement used for the light weight throw weights 28 lbs. for men and 14 lbs. for women.

The implement used for the heavy weight throw weighs between 42 and 56 lbs. for men and 20-28 lbs. for women. The weight is thrown one-handed from the throwing area behind the trig. The throwing area extends 9' behind the trig to allow the athlete to advance during the throw. Any style may be used, but the most efficient is to spin the weight similar to what a discus thrower does.



Strongman Event

A sport which tests competitors' strength in a variety of different ways. Some of the disciplines are similar to those in powerlifting and some powerlifters have also successfully competed in strongman competitions. However, strongman events also test physical endurance to a degree not found in powerlifting or other strength-based sports. Competitions designed to test the strength of participants have a long history going back many centuries before the televisation of strongman competitions in the 1970s. This ancient heritage can still be seen in a number of traditional events, the most famous of which is the arguably traditional Highland Games, which itself is a source of many events now practiced in modern strongman competitions.

  • 1. Woman's 120 lbs. and Under
  • 2. Woman's 121 lbs. and Over
  • 3. Men's 230 lbs. and Under
  • 4. Men's 231 lbs. and Over

The first event will be the Log Press. Each contestant will complete as many reps as possible in 60 seconds. The second event will be the Yoke Carry. The athlete will have 60 seconds to complete the 60 foot course. The fastest time for the 60 foot course wins. The third event will be the Farmers Hold for time. The athlete that holds the weight up for the longest time wins. The forth event will be the Carry and Load Medley. The athlete will carry the first implement 50 feet and then load over the bar. The athlete will repeat this until 90 seconds is up. The fifth event will Axel Bar Deadlifts for reps. The athlete that completes the most lifts in 60 seconds wins the event.


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2017 Games Schedule

Host Hotel: Marriott Pyramid North

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Rio Grande Valley Celtic Festival

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Contact for Athletic Director

Chad Thompson
Phone: (505) 250-9622

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