When March 12 brings the second annual Tri-Cities Highland Games to Johnson City’s Peak Fitness, founder Brenden Bohannon said plaid will be a popular sight. Last year, the event drew 19 competitors, most wearing kilts, and Bohannon expects more this year.
“Everybody had a kilt last year but one guy, and he was brand new,” Bohannon said. “You see a lot of that and all kinds of kilts. You see all kinds of patterns of tartans. They mean a lot to these people who wear them to identify with all sorts of different things.”
Tests of strength competitions go back to the old Scottish days when off-season warriors used to throw various heavy items at each other to prove their level of strength. The Tri-Cities Highland Games include a caber toss, sheaf toss, stone throw, hammer throw, heavy and light weight throws for distance and more.
It might seem that someone couldn’t specifically train for something like this, but Bohannon said there’s a traveling circuit of national-class Highland Game competitors who cover the United States, looking for competition like the Tri-Cities’ games.
For that reason, Bohannon and his organizers specifically made sure all weights were calibrated, registered judges are present and the proper equipment is in place, just in case something monumental happens at the hands of their top male or female competitors.
“If someone sets a world record at my games, then it counts as a world record,” Bohannon said.
Entrants will come from Maryland, Alabama, North Carolina and other states, but there’s also a strong contingent of local athletes. Three of this year’s competitors are adaptive or para-athletes, either competing with prosthetic limbs or from a wheelchair. Whether world-class or an athlete attempting a competition like this for the first time, Bohannon said there’s a fit for everyone to compete across the games’ four different divisions.
As competitive as it might get, the games’ founder said it’s going to be a fun, family-oriented atmosphere where everyone can get together and have a good laugh, while seeing how far each athlete can throw heavy items.
Pre-registration is $25, with day-of registration fees going up to $30. For those who wish to spectate rather than compete, the cost is $5. The event is being put on by the Tennessee Highland Heavy Athletics group at Peak Fitness, 103 LP Auer Road.
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