PLEASANTON - The “new voice in town” is that of Steve McDonald, making his first appearance at the annual Scottish Highland Gathering & Games in Pleasanton. The New Zealander is that country’s top selling recording artist. He joins a full lineup of traditional and Celtic Rock soloists and groups over the Labor Day weekend for the Games 147th run.McDonald brings a different tone and brand of music to the games. To quote his website, “Over the course of his career, Steve McDonald has entrenched himself into the hearts of Celtic music fans worldwide. His four albums tell the story of Clan Donald amid the rich history of Scotland, and feature a mixture of Steve’s original compositions and some well-loved favorites. The music is dramatic and beautiful, and is some of the most powerful and moving contemporary Celtic music you are likely to hear. His music has something for everyone.” To get a feel for McDonald’s brand of Celtic music, a sample can be heard on his website at: www.stevemcdonaldfanclub.com.
Tossing a 22-foot pole into the air would seem to be quite the task. Make that pole about 140 pounds and it would seem almost unimaginable.
Then, make that pole circle 180 degrees, hit the grounds top-side first and fall straight ahead, and, well, you’ve done the almost impossible. This combination of strength and finesse is the tossing of the fabled “Caber”, an event that will be featured at the 147th Scottish Highland Gathering & Games in Pleasanton Sept. 1-2.
The International Highland Games Federation hosts the World Championships for the Professional Class in the Caber and the Weight-For-Height events during the Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 1-2 Games at the Alameda County Fairgrounds.
The Pros will compete in seven international two-man teams, four from the United States and one each from Team Canada, Team Europe and Team Poland.
The pros will also compete in the 38th U.S. Invitational Heavy Events Championship that coincides with the world event and includes the Men’s Open Amateur Class, Women’s Open Class, Women’s 40+ Master Class and three Men’s Master Classes. A total of 75 athletes will compete, representing 14 states and six countries. All of these athletes are at the top of their respective classes and compete at Pleasanton by invitation only.
Last year at the 146th Games presented by the Caledonian Club of San Francisco the pro Team USA-2 with North Carolina’s Mike Pockoski and Californian Ryan Vierra won the world title by a single point over Team USA-3. Pockoski and five-time World Champion Vierra return to defend their title and will have their work cut out for them with several very sharp teams anxious to take the prestigious world title, especially at Pleasanton, which is noted throughout the world as one of the premier games.
An example of the wide-spread competition in the Men’s Open Amateur Class, of the 15 entries, only four are from California, with the states of Washington, Arizona, Missouri, Iowa, Virginia, Maryland, Texas and South Carolina represented.Unlike regular track and field, all of the heavy event athletes must compete in all eight categories. As an example, the pros include the 17.6 lb. Regular Stone Putt, the 26.6 lb. Braemar Stone Putt, 28 lb. Weight-For-Distance, 56 lb. Weight-For-Distance, 16 lb. Hammer, 22 lb. Hammer, 56 lb. Weight-For-Height and the Caber (Approx 22 ft. x 140 lb.). The weight of the different implements differs with each of the classes to reflect the class skills. The athletes are scored on each discipline. Finishing positions for each of the eight disciplines are posted with the aggregate scores determining the overall winner.
Each day the eight events are divided into two segments. In the morning from 8:30 a.m., to 11:30 a.m. on the Athletic Field the two Stone Putts, Weight-For-Distance and Hammer Throws are competed by all classes. In the afternoon from 1 to 3:30 p.m. the Weight-For-Height and Caber are contested by all classes on the track in front of the main grandstands.