The Kilt Run
Saturday was the 5k Kilt Run. This annual event has two requirements: 1) you must pay an entry fee, and 2) all runners must wear a kilt. There were close to 3,000 participants in this year’s event – men, women, old and young, wheelchair bound, athletic and not. Many local businesses fielded teams, and it was all for the great cause of raising money for charitable works.
The UK Tug o’ War Championships were also taking place at the park. I noticed not all the participants were big, burly men as I would have expected. I asked the coach of the English team whether there were weight limits. Since his lads had just defeated the Scottish team, he was delighted to talk about the rules with me.
Weight classes for the eight member teams collectively range from 480 kilos (1,056 lbs.) for junior women up to 760 kilos (1,762 lbs.) for men plus an unlimited class. The first team that pulls the mid-point four meters in their direction wins. Few bouts last longer than a minute or so.
The Highland Games
Sunday brought the long-awaited Perth Highland Games. There were all kinds of competitions: pipe and drum bands, Scottish folk dancing, individual piping, drum majors, caber tossing, hammer throwing and bicycle and foot races. We counted twenty-four pipe bands. There were so many that the competition began at 10:00 a.m. in order to have time for everyone to compete.
The atmosphere was just like a county fair. There were rides for the kids, vendor booths, and lots of junk food (which we did not eat…except for some candy). There were good crowds although we never had difficulty seeing what we wanted to see. There are about 30 of these games throughout the summer in cities and towns all over Scotland. People come from miles around to hear the pipes and enjoy a day at the park.
We both love the pipe bands and the folk dancing. The other competitions are interesting, too. However, the folk traditions with the kilts and tartans and the music are hard to top. We both get goose bumps when we hear a bagpipe band play together. And we are relieved to be outdoors because the volume can get quite loud.
I can imagine wartime when an army would wait near a battlefield. Then they would hear the inevitable bagpipes blaring in the distance as the Highlanders approached, the blare of the pipes shattering the stillness of the morning. The Scots’ reputation as fierce fighters preceded them, so there must have been times when the enemies of the Scots felt the chill of doubt creep into their consciousness. Those echoes from the past arise in us today as the pipers play.
Highland Games are at least as popular in the U.S. and Canada as they are in Scotland. If you have never been I suggest you check one out. It is fun for all children of every age.