About Texas Women's Highland Games

Our Purpose:

To increase awareness and involvement of women in the sport of the Highland Games. Promoting a fun, active, family friendly and competitive sport by providing information and resources to all those interested in joining us in our continuing adventures!

Please see our FAQ page for all those burning questions you have about how you participate, what to do, who to talk to and where to go!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Iceland in Review

The First Iceland Highland Games, spanning the first weekend in June, were a great success. They were held in the western fjords of Patreksfjörður in conjunction with the annual Seaman’s Festival, which is a remembrance to all those lost to the sea. Pétur Guðmundsson was the Athletic Director for a fantastic long weekend of a mix of Highland Games and Strongman Events, as well as tours of the local areas. The competitors came from all over the world, representing Iceland, Belgium, Holland, Scotland, Germany, Canada, and the United States. 25 competitors from seven countries competed in three classes.

The weekend began in Reykjavik, the country’s capital. All competitors boarded a local bus, driven by the world record holder for deadlifting, Benedikt Magnusson. Benni has quite a sense of humor! We quickly learned that Iceland has its own pace, which we quickly termed “Icelandic Time.” The “two-hour” drive to the ferry was definitely much longer than expected! It provided a good excuse to meet the other competitors and catch up with old friends. The ferry ride provided beautiful views of the Icelandic coast.

The final leg of our journey was again by bus and it was a welcome sight to pull into the town of Patreksfjörður, which has a population of about 750. The town sprawls along the coast with an amazing view of the ocean, inlet, and cliffs. Dolphins and whales occasionally poke their heads above the water, which was a frightfully chilly temperature (which I learned firsthand)! We were dropped off at our various lodgings with time to unpack before heading to the local schoolhouse for dinner. The town had a local gym complete with pool and hot tub, which was rather greatly appreciated due to the many excursions and competitions. The sun never fully sets during that time of year, so daylight abounded, confusing the body into thinking that it wasn’t really 3 a.m.!

Our first full day in Patreksfjörður held the first of the Highland Games competitions with the men throwing a few events and giving the women the day to relax and explore. That evening, after a diet of rotten shark (which was more vile than you could ever imagine – my personal opinion!), Brennivin (Icelandic liquor) and rockfish we went on the first of our many excursions to the neighboring areas by travelling by bus to the Dynjandi Falls (just an hour away by “Icelandic Time!”). The falls were gorgeous! The highlight of the evening was Joe’s proposal to Adriane, right in front of the falls. Many of the competitors attempted to pick up one of the stones at the falls (with several succeeding).

The next day held both men’s and women’s competitions, and it was one of many lessons of flexibility as caber for height turned into caber for distance. Definitely a new experience for me! There were a total of eleven ladies throwing, and for the four Icelandic ladies, it was their first competition. They did an amazing job!
That evening we went on a tour of Látravík, beginning with a stop at a local church where we were pampered with a catered meal of whale steaks, then traveling on along the shoreline to the locations of the Stones of Látravík. The first stop was to try our luck with the lady´s stone, Júdas. It is 130kg and not so easy to pick up. Most of us did attempt it and just standing it up proved a challenge. The next was the Brynjólfstak, 281kg, and the task is JUST to lift it from the ground. After wearing ourselves out on the stones, we travelled on to an area where we could climb the cliffs and get a fantastic view of the ocean and see the Puffins up close. They are much cuter than the pictures portray! We arrived back in town early in the morning.

Our last full day in Patreksfjörður was the final day of the games, as well as the arrival of the President of Iceland, who greeted each of us after his speech in honor of the Seaman’s festival. The weight over bar was termed the “Iceland Challenge” due to the structure. As a giant wooden trellis, it was no easy feat to win! Adriane took first overall in the ladies competition, Gene Flynn won the masters division, and Sam Grammer won the men’s division, but impressive throws were made by all. The rowing challenge was cancelled due to the temperature (downright COLD!).
We all packed up and headed back to Reykjavik on Monday, where many had planes to catch, and despite the crazy adventures in travel, all made their flights! (It’s good to have connections to the police force on hand.) Those of us who stayed on a few extra days were treated to dinner in town and lodging at Pétur Guðmundsson’s home. My last full day in Iceland, I was offered the treat to go with Magnús Magnússon to try out THE famous Húsafell-stone. It is 186kg. While I was able to stand it up, I was unable to lift it off the ground.
It was an amazing trip with many opportunities and fantastic experiences. I highly recommend these games to anyone who can make it!

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