Athletic Events

The Heavy Events test the athletes’ strength, skill and endurance. Events containing the word Toss generally refer to competitions for height whereas events containing the word Throw are for distance.

Of course at every Highland Games you can also enjoy the delights of watching the dancers perform in the Dancing Events, and of course listening to the pipes and drums in the Music Events.

There is just something wonderful about seeing the Highland Dress, the men in their Kilts and Flashes and often even children wearing Tartan clothes. Of course you may start to wonder (as many do) what Scotsmen wear under their kilts. You may also be unsure about the difference between tartan and plaid - if you are, please click HERE to learn a bit more.

You may be wondering about 'the poles tossed by Scots', or as we call it "Tossing The Caber" - so I've devoted a whole page to it. I find it one of the most spectacular athletic events.

Click on Highland Games in Fife - to get the details of this year's local events in the Kingdom.

Tossing the Caber

Athletic events

But let's look together at some of the different athletic competition which take place at Highland Games.

Weight Throwing

This is one of the major athletic events. The men throw 28 and 56 pound weights for distance in this event. For women, the weights are 14 and 28 pounds. The competitor grasps the weight in one hand and begins swinging the weight from side to side. Once a bit of momentum is achieved, the athlete spins the weight around, usually twice, to impart additional momentum and releases the weight. The winner is the one who throws the weight the farthest.

Weight Tossing

Men will use a 56 lb weight, but in this event it is thrown for height and not the actual weight. Women will use a lighter 28 lb weight. The athlete stands beneath an adjustable height crossbar. He (or she) grasps the weight with one hand and swings the weight back and forwards between the legs. On the final swing, they bring the weight up in a smooth arc and release the weight so that it will pass over the crossbar. The winner is the one who tosses the weight the highest.

Stone Throw

This event is more often held at Festivals rather than Highland Games. This is where a rounded stone, called a clachneart, weighing between 16 and 32 lb for men and 8 to 12 lb for women is thrown for distance in this event. The athletes usually spin around to gain momentum before they actually release the stone, in a similar way a shot put is tossed. Others gain momentum using a sort of a forward glide.

The winner is the one who throws the stone the farthest. The weight of the actual stones vary, therefore the distances achieved also vary from one games to another. I don't think it has the same visual impact as tossing the caber, but it's still good to watch.

Braemar Stone

This is similar to the Stone Throw except that the heavier stone must be "tossed" without the spin or the glide.

Hammer Throw

For this competition, in the Athletic Events, a metal ball is attached to a wooden handle, to create a hammer. The total length of the hammer must not exceed 4' 2" (50"). For men, the "light" hammer weighs 16 lbs and the "heavy" hammer weighs 22 lbs. For women, the "light" hammer weighs 12 lbs and the "heavy" hammer weighs 16 lbs. The athlete spins the hammer in a circular motion to build up momentum; then, when ready, the hammer is released. The winner is the athlete who throws the hammer the farthest.

Farmer's Walk

In the Farmer's Walk, the competitor picks up two weights, each weighing up to 150 pounds, and walks around series of pylons. The winner is the athlete who walks the farthest.


In the traditional tug-of-war, all participants wear kilts. Some games have teams from the various clans and families compete against one another. Others permit anyone to compete. The winning team is the one that pulls the opposition past the centre line. Once again this is more a lot of fun than something that would be considered one of the more 'serious' athletic events.

Kilted Mile

The kilted mile is a Scottish version of a traditional track event. In this race, the runner runs the entire race while wearing a kilt. The weight of the kilt adds an additional degree of challenge to this foot race. The winner is the individual crossing the finish line first

Tossing The Wellie

The story goes that the tradition of this competition arose as the result of men coming home trailing mud into their house. In retaliation, women threw boots at the men. The modern competition is one for distance where a "Wellington" (boot) is thrown.

Bonnie Knees Contest

I guess this shouldn't exactly be in the Athletic Events, but I thought I would add it on this page anyway.

Here, the Judges who are normally female and often blindfolded are asked to rate the portion of the male leg that is exposed between the top of his socks and thebottom edge of the kilt. Some functions have specialized awards for "Bonniest" and "Most Dimpled" knees.

See also look at:-

Dancing Events - Learn more about the Dancing competitions, always a joy to see, and again featured in every Highland Games.
Music Events - Learn a wee bit more about the different Music Events which are a common feature in all Highland Games.
Tossing The Caber - Look at this wonderful athletic event. If you don't know what it is, you might refer to it as 'poles tossed by Scots'
Highland Games in Fife - for this year's venues for the games in the Kingdom.

Tartan, Plaid and Kilts - A brief look at Scottish Tartan and Plaid.
Underneath Men's Kilts - A quick look at the age-old question, and the fascination people have about what Scotsmen wear under their kilt.
Kilts and Flashes - A brief look at the history of the kilt.
Tartan Clothes from Scotland - A summary of some of the tartan clothes that come from Scotland.

Return from Athletic Events to Highland Games Categories

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