T Nation

Kilts, Celts and Beer

For one weekend every year us goofy Scots get together in Pleasanton, CA and have the time of our lives.

I’m talking about the Caledonian Club’s Scottish Gathering and Games.

The event takes place at the Pleasanton fairgrounds and is quite an impressive site. I got to meet and hang out with more of my clansmen (MacMillan) than I knew existed! There were probably close to 50 tents set up by all different clans. You could go get information about your clan or just talk to some random people who you might just be related to. This year was really special as my father had passed away in February.

There were dance competitions, bagpipe comps and of most interest, a strongman comp! No big names on the male side but Shannon Hartnet dominated the women’s comp. There are a number of different classes you can enter from amateur (open) to invite only pros to even a 50+ group.

After watching event after event my brother and I decided that we owe it to ourselves, our dad and our heritage to start training and compete hopefully as soon as next year. I’ll need to put on some considerable size as will my brother but we’re both more than capable of doing so. Now at 6’3 250 he’s been as much as 280 (still ran a 5.0 40) and I’m 6’5 225 and gaining. My brother just turned 20 and I’ll be turning 22 in about a month so we’ll definitely be the babies out there but I figure the sooner we get into it the sooner we’ll really be able to contend.

Well, sorry for the rant. I’m a little excited at the moment and felt like sharing it with other people who enjoy throwing heavy objects since my girlfriend and mom don’t seem to understand…

Anyone else make it out to the games?

[quote]Boondoggler wrote:
For one weekend every year us goofy Scots get together in Pleasanton, CA and have the time of our lives.[/quote]

They do this up here in the northwest, too. In fact, I think we Scot-descended folk like to get together and do weird Scottish things at least once or twice a year, just to remind the rest of the world that we aren’t exactly normal.

I toy with the idea of going to the local Highland games every year, if only to prove to anyone who cares that I still know how to wrap a great kilt. I can usually find a plausible reason not to bother, though, like work or family obligations. One of these days I’ll talk myself into actually putting it on the top of the list… probably when I start wanting to expose my son to the myriad components of his variegated heritage.

Boondoggler,
There are many big names on the male side, you may just not be aware of them. And I’m guessing you saw a Heavy Events competition, not a strongman. I guess this because I competed there last year. It was easily one of the highlights of my athletic career.

Pleasanton is home of the US Caber and Weight over Bar championships, and can be regarded as the North American Championships and World Amateur championships when considering the athletes. It is one of the, oh I’d say top 3or 4 premier games in the world.

All classes are invitation only. If you’re interested there are many Californian throwers to contact about training. Throwers are generally a very nice fraternity, willing to help out. But you’ll need far more technique than strength to be successful (although Mike Smith’s 800lb deadlift is a bonus I’m sure).

As far as Shannon Harnett, wow. She is quite possible the best athlete (male or female) I’ve ever met. Her bio speaks for itself at www.shannonharnett.com. In short order: Underfeated 8 yr Highland games world champion, WSM competitor, Olympic bobsleigh, pro football, bodybuilder, national softball team. The list goes on. Quick story : After the official competitions are over many games, including Pleasanton, offer a Farmer’s Walk outside of competition. Pleasanton’s weights are 85lb for women and 155lb for men. Definatly not a heavy FW, but the handles are incredibly thin and offer a different grip challenge. Last year Shannon, after 2 full days of competition and several extra attmepts at a world record (which she made), walked 225’ with the male weights. She’s an absolute freak, and a sweetheart to boot.

[quote]t bone y2j wrote:
And I’m guessing you saw a Heavy Events competition, not a strongman…[/quote] You’re exactly right. I’m talking about the Heavy Events competition.

I actually did manage to talk to a couple of the competitors and you’re absolutely correct; they’re a great bunch of guys (along with everyone else I met over the weekend). I got all the information on entering next year and there is a amatuer class which is open that I’ll be able to enter. A couple of the guys were actually local college football players.

That’s pretty amazing that you were in the games last year. Why didn’t you enter this year? That would have been great to watch a fellow t-man.

All the classes at the Pleasanton Games are invitation only to the best of my knowledge. There are tons of Games, and some of the very best throwers in the world in California, including Ryan Viera and Dave Brown.
These guys aren’t just big names in the sport- they’re HUGE names.
It’d be like watching Reza Zedah lift in the olympics.
Check www.nasgaweb.com for more info on the rules, locations and info on competing at games in North America.

Caber McJock…
From Manitoba…
I smell an Ingram.

You sure? That could just be the Guinness tent lol

Who are you?

When do they happen? I’m from Walnut Creek and a trip home would be fun if it included some Scottish Games.

This year it took place on labor day weekend.

It takes place at the pleasanton fairgrounds every year so you could just check out their website for information on next years events.