Seven competitors competed to become the Peebles Highland Games Heavy Events Champion at Haylodge Park on 12th September 2007. With the 2006 winner, Graeme Allen, forced to miss the competition due to injury former champion Mark McDonald became the hot favourite. However, with Neil Elliot and Malcolm Cleghorn in the field, it wasn’t going to be a “stroll in the park” for Mark.
Having donated a new trophy for the event in 2006, the Sloggie family of Castle Venlaw Hotel in Peebles had since moved on and the new proprietor of the hotel, Mr Pierre Guy, had kindly agreed to continue the Hotel’s association with the competition by sponsoring the event.
The first event of the afternoon was the shot putt. Neil Elliot achieved a superb distance of 14.26m, not once but twice during his four throws giving him an early lead in the competition. This was over two metres further than his nearest rival, Mark McDonald, who threw 12.24m.
Having procured a new weight to replace the one which went missing after the 2005 event, the 28lb throw for distance event made a welcome return to the day’s programme. Having had to settle for second place in the opening event, Mark McDonald made his intentions clear by achieving an impressive distance of 18.50m. Malcolm Cleghorn piped Neil Elliot by 4cm to claim 6 points and second place with a throw of 17.99m.
Event three was the hammer throw (Scots style). The recent damp conditions enabled the competitors to gain a good grip in the Haylodge Park turf. However, one of the competitors perhaps achieved a little more grip than he’d bargained for as he sent himself sprawling as he walked over to take his throw. Mark McDonald was again able to hold off the challenge of Neil Elliot coming out on top with a throw of 34.49m.
The penultimate even was the 56lb weight for height. In 2006, Mark Hunter excelled at this, his speciality event being the only man to achieve a height of 14’. The men at the top of the leader board therefore knew that if they could match Hunter, they wouldn’t be far away. Having established a two point lead over Neil Elliot after three events, Mark McDonald also knew that if he could beat Elliot in this event he would be favourite for the overall title with only the Caber toss still to come.
At the age of 55, veteran, Stan Pike cleared an excellent height of 10’-6”. This height was matched by Malcolm Nimmo before both men dropped out of the event by failing at 11’. David Bowie, who had performed steadily up until this point, opted to pass at 10’-6” and 11’, making his first attempt at 12’. Unfortunately for him he failed to clear the bar in any of his three throws, dropping him down to last place for this discipline. Having cleared 12’, 13’ and 13’-6” at the first attempt, it was a surprise when Mark Hunter failed to clear the 14’ mark that he achieved last year. With Malcolm Cleghorn also having dropped out after 13’, this just left the two men at the top of the leader board in the event. Both achieved the 14’ mark but neither could thrill the crowd by threatening the Peebles Highland Games record of 15’. By virtue of having cleared 14’ at his first attempt Mark McDonald took maximum points in the event. Neil Elliot cleared at his second attempt.
With Neil Elliot still able to catch Mark MacDonald in the race for the Championship Title there was still everything to compete for in the caber toss. Neil did all he could to overhaul Mark’s lead, however, he was unable to beat caber specialist Malcolm Cleghorn who came second in the event behind the remarkable Mark McDonald who had the best effort of the day to win his forth straight event. In fact Mark’s final points total was only one short of a perfect 35, giving him a five point victory and the Castle Venlaw Hotel Trophy for a year.
The hotel’s new proprietor, Pierre Guy, was on hand to present the trophy and prize money to each competitor.
Once again, many thanks go to the competitors, officials and all those who helped make the 2007 event a great success. The full points table was as follows:
|Competitor||Putting the Shot||28lb Weight for Distance||Scots’ Hammer||56lb Weight for Height||Tossing the Caber||TotalPoints||Place|
Peebles Highland Games Heavy Events Championship Table 2008