They’re big, they’re strong and they’ve been throwing plenty of heavy rocks around. Now, three proud Palmy lads are ready to don their kilts and line up against their fellow big boys in a rural rumble for the Southern Hemisphere Highlander Champion crown.
Born-and-bred in Palmerston North and with illustrious backgrounds in athletics, Strongman and Highland Games field events, Adam Miller, Callum McConachy and Carl Waitoa will represent Palmerston North and face off against each other and their national rivals for the second year in a row at the Ford Ranger New Zealand Rural Games highland heavies event.
While the field is smaller this year, with no international competitors able to take part, Miller says he hopes to defend his 2020 title in only his third year competing in the sport.
“I feel really happy to be selected to take part in this event to represent my hometown,” Miller says.
“I was really happy to be selected last year as well and then I showed up and won, and I wasn’t expecting to win so I was really happy.”
Miller, Waitoa and McConachy, who is fresh off a second place in the New Zealand Highland Heavyweight Championships at the Paeroa Highland Games, will be up against some challenging competitors.
Winner of the New Zealand Highland Heavyweight Championships Craig ‘Lifts ‘n Bifs’ Manson, of Ashburton, will take on the Palmy team, alongside Reuben ‘The Man Mountain’ de Jong, of Auckland, and Andrew Wain, of Tauranga.
The six Highland heavies will compete in five events across one day – the 56lb weight for height, the Ford Ranger ute push, 28lb weight for distance, caber toss and 94kg to 158kg stones.
Miller’s favourite event is the caber toss, a crowd favourite traditional Scottish athletic event in which competitors must lift and toss a large and long post called a caber.
The objective is to toss the caber end over end, so it falls in the ‘12 o’clock’ position away from the competitor.
“I enjoy the caber toss. I’m not very good at it, but it’s one of those events that is synonymous with being Scottish.”
McConachy is also a fan of the caber toss and says he has spent time practising on the field of a local primary school, where he is a teacher.
“It must look very interesting to passing motorists.”
The pair have been putting in the hard yards in the gym and field to prep for the event, as part of their regular Highland and Strongman calendar training.
They agree the event is an impressive one and not to be missed over the Rural Games weekend. What makes this competition unique is the fast pace, with five events packaged into a 2-hour crowd-friendly window.
“It’s always great to perform in front of a home crowd in a really unique event in our city centre, and who doesn’t want to see big men in kilts throwing heavy things around in The Square?” McConachy says.
Miller says it’s an all-round good event, a good day out and there’s always good food.
The Ford Ranger New Zealand Rural Games will host multiple championships in various disciplines throughout the weekend from 12-14 March 2021. It is a free event in The Square in Palmerston North and is livestreamed on social media. A one-hour television programme will air on TV3 on March 27th.