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Old 05-04-2006, 10:16 AM   #1
Martin Schap
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I'm thinking of entering a Highland Games competition in October. It's not the real version, I don't think, but the events include a caber toss, throwing a rock, throwing a bag of wool, and that might be all. I can't find the info on it, but I've watched it before, and it seems like the caber toss is the toughest part. Apparently it weighs something like 300lbs. I weigh a little more than half that. How should I get ready?
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Old 05-05-2006, 06:48 AM   #2
Chris Jordan
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Dan John talks about training for Highland Games in Get UP. http://www.danjohn.org/getup.html

Check out Get Up! issue 9 for example. The CrossFit FAQ mentions how to google Get Up!

I would suggest you stick with the main page WOD and add highland games practice a couple times/week. To oversimplify, pick up heavy things and throw them. Read Coach John's info and get to work. If you have any specific training questions you might try emailing him.
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Old 05-05-2006, 10:25 AM   #3
Martin Schap
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Thanks Chris. That's a good resource.
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Old 05-07-2006, 04:10 PM   #4
Kevin Rogers
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Ohhh Martin-

The cabers only seem to weigh 300lbs! LOL

I'll be glad to help with any questions that you have aboot the HGs. I organized a group called Ancient Athletics to help develop athletes for the games and served as Athletic Director for a number of years so I can probably help you with the general questions.

http://www.ancientathletics.com

I'm currently training for the US Nationals (<190lb class)in KC and the Masters World Championships(<200lb class) in Inverness, Scotland. I've finished 4th, 3rd, 2nd and 4th in the last 4 years at Nationals and 3rd in MWC Oregen '04 and 2nd in MWC NewHampshire '05.

http://www.scottishmasters.org

The sheaf toss is not usually a bag of wool either, but hey I've thrown a 30lb bag of beans at one place ... so who knows.

Just let me know if I can help,

-K
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Old 05-10-2006, 07:52 AM   #5
Martin Schap
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Ok Kevin. I'll bite. How heavy is a caber really? But see? This is why I need your advice. I don't know anything! In my defense, it's a really watered down version of the games. It takes place at a local historical reenactment, and people just sign up on the spot. Last time I watched it they had two cabers and only one guy succeeded in flipping the second one, so he was declared the winner. It should be said though, that this guy weighed easily 300, and nobody there weighed under 250, so I expect I'll be coming in heavily outgunned.
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Old 05-10-2006, 05:18 PM   #6
Kevin Rogers
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Martin-

A reenactment, Ren-Faire or HG ... its all fun!

The games are historically a big man's game... 300lber are most common. In fact, D1 college hammer throwers are some of the best throwers on the major circuit and they're all 250-290lbs. Ryan Vierra is our Pro National Champ and he's - 400lbs. So, just accept the size difference and try to beat the big boys, ... without mentioning it again.

The idea behind the caber toss is to toss a big stick, ... so big, ... that only ONE guy can turn it. If there's 15 guys in the competition the caber should humble all ... but the best.

In regular HG competitions the athletes are divide based on their experience or skill level by the Atletic Director. In your case, you would be a novice or a "C" division, or in many games they host a <190lb or lightweight class. And you would compete against 8-10 guys in you class.

So, a novice level caber is around 75lbs and 16ft long. Then a B class caber is 85lbs and 17ft long and A class is 100lbs and 19ft ... a Pro level caber is 130lbs and 21ft long.

The length is very, very important. Obviously its hard to turn a 20' stick no matter what its weight. Just think of how high you'll need to throw the bloody thing to get it over.

If you can learn "the pick" so that you're not wasting all you energy wrestling around with the caber, ... that should be your focus. Are you just doing the one event? We normally compete in 7 to 9 events.

enuf for the noo,

-K
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Old 05-12-2006, 05:13 AM   #7
Rick Griffis
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Kevin,
I had Ryan Vierra here in south Georgia for a weekend clinic back in January. He is no where near 400 pounds. He wasn't even 300 pounds. I think he was around 290 at the time. However, he throws like a 400 lb. gorilla!
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Old 05-12-2006, 03:28 PM   #8
Kevin Rogers
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Rick-

Don't tell him I said that! {Geeezzzz!} And I said it with much love and respect by the way ... he's a legend ... and among the most powerful people I've ever know.

I'd guess that he's heavier than you think, but my point to Martin is that, ... don't focus on the weight issue. Get in or get out.

Speaking of Gorillas, ... do you know Myles?

Myles (SilverBack) Wetzel, of Team Bama?

Good luck in your training,

-K
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Old 05-12-2006, 04:21 PM   #9
Kevin Rogers
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Martin-

The caber is a really difficult event to practice. You'll need to actually have one to pick-up and throw. So, the first question is ... where to get a practice caber? Around here we generally just take the chainsaw out to the woods and hunt one down, but out East they sometime manufacture cabers from 16' 2x6 lumber. Now, you can imagine the work involved with glueing, screwing and grinding or turning down a chunk of lumber like that ... but they do it and they make damn fine cabers that way. Whatever it takes.

Assuming that you find some 16' object (PVC, wood or lumber) for a caber to practice with ... here's what you need to focus on.

1) The base of the caber (narrow end) is nearly rounded and 5 inches across or so and should fit into your hands while your fingers are laced together. This is how you will throw it - fingers laced, and we like tacky.

2) When someone stands the caber up for you, plant your feet into a V so it doesn't kick-out, take it vertically, and cradle it into your neck and shoulder ... as you begin your squat.

3) Lace your fingers, with the pinkies more loose that the forefinger. Clamp onto the caber with the palms of your hands. (You'll be amazed at how much strength you have with just your palms.) Don't try to bear-hug a caber and pick it up one-handed. I've watched many big, strong guys try this and its usually just ... funny.

4) Slide your hands down to within 4-6 inches from the base of the caber that's on the ground while you lower youself into a strong squat position. Hands just a few inches above the grass.

5) Now, with the caber near vertical leaning into your shoulder and you in a deep squat ... let it lean slightly back to your shoulder, ... you'll feel the weight of the caber coming to you slightly as you clamp your grip on the caber with both palms... and explode up with your legs.

6) As the caber comes off the ground about 2-3ft and you extend your legs and then your back, quickly slide your hands by extending your arms down under the bottom of the caber.

7) With your hands now under the base and your shoulder feeling the weight of the caber over your head and slightly back of your shoulder, you must begin to look for your path. Keep control of the stick by pulling the base into your belt, but you must begin to drive it down the path toward the throw.

8) If you lose control here, don't panic but bail out and stay clear. Don't ever let a caber hit the ground while you still are in contact. Repeat: Don't ever let a caber hit the ground while you are still in contact. It breaks bones.

9) On the path, head up, base of caber around belt, short burst of leg drive to impart momentum into the stick, then plant both feet to prepare for the big pull. Some guys jump into it but whatever you've got left, here it goes.

10) Big Pull! Off of both feet, as the caber passes you ear ... pull ... for everything you've got. Extend your back, extend your arms and finish with both hands high over head in that final position on toes and with a great yell.

That's about it takes in simple 10 steps.

Let me know how it goes and good luck with your cabers,

-K
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Old 05-13-2006, 04:38 PM   #10
Joseph Hart
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Kevin,

Do you think tossing a Rail road tie would work? If you could only use one exercise to prepare for a Highland Games what would it be?

You wouldn't happen to know of any HG events in MN or IA would you?

Thanks,

Joe
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