In near perfect late summer conditions, 9 competitors gathered at Haylodge Park, Peebles on 10th September 2006 to contest the Peebles Highland Games Heavy Events title. Those men who arrived early were perhaps inspired by the local primary school children who had come along to try some of the specially adapted heavy events for the first time, courtesy of Celtic Spirit. (Celtic Spirit are a group dedicated to nurturing an interest in heavy events among children in the hope that this will help to sustain the events in the future).
It was not clear whether this end of season event was seen as a “last chance saloon” for some of the competitors, or whether they were encouraged by the prospect of becoming the first person to lift the new Peebles trophy, which had been generously donated by the Sloggie family of Castle Venlaw Hotel. However, the competition started in fierce style with both Graham Allen and Neil Elliot putting the shot a distance of over 13.5 metres.
In the absence of a 28lb weight to throw for distance (it had mysteriously disappeared from the PHG stores), it was suggested that the Games’ Chairman’s wallet would act as an appropriate substitute. However, on closer inspection it transpired that it only contained £27.85! Consequently, it was agreed that a 56lb weight should be thrown for distance, instead. Although this puts a tremendous strain on the competitor’s arms and shoulders, they all agreed to give it their best efforts. Graham Allen won the event with a throw of 10.36m. This was over a metre further than his nearest challenger, the experienced Malcolm Cleghorn.
Event three was the hammer throw. With the competitors donning their specially adapted footwear for extra purchase, Graham Allen again came out on top with a highly commendable throw of 37.24m. Mark MacDonald and Mark Hunter came second and third respectively in this event.
At this point in the proceedings the competitors took a break from the official competition to contest the throwing of the Peebles Stone. The object of this event is to hurl the “Peebles Stone” (a round stone approximately 12” in diameter) as far as possible by whatever means possible. It transpired that the two most favoured styles were to throw it backwards over the head and to throw it two handed from the shoulder. Although this event was open to anyone in the crowd to try and beat the heavy event athletes, it was Neil Elliot who produced the goods with the longest throw of the afternoon, winning a bottle of whisky for his efforts.
With Graham Allen threatening to run away with the main competition after three wins out of three, the competitors moved on to the penultimate event, the 56lb weight for height. With the entire field clearing a highly respectable height of 11’-0”, the competition ultimately boiled down to four men, namely Malcolm Cleghorn, Graham Alllen, Mark Hunter and Mark MacDonald. With all four men being successful at 13’-7”, the bar was raised to 14’-0”. At this point, Mark Hunter put in a mighty effort to go clear with his second attempt. With no one able to match this feat, the points were awarded based on the men’s success at previous heights.
With Mark MacDonald still able to catch Graham Allen in the overall points table there was still everything to compete for in the final event of the afternoon, the crowds favourite, the caber toss. With the arena glued to the action, Mark did all he could to overhaul Graham’s commanding lead by winning the event. However, although Graham could only manage 5th place in the caber, this was still enough to give him a three point win over Mark, allowing him to get his hands on the inaugural Castle Venlaw Heavy Events Trophy.
Many thanks go to the competitors, officials and all those who helped make the 2006 event a great success. The full points table was as follows:
|Name||Shot||56lb Distance||Hammer||56lb Height||Caber||Total||Place|