Smiles in the rain at Ari­saig Games and clan gath­er­ing

The Oban Times - - News - MARK ENTWISTLE men­twistle@oban­times.co.uk

YOUNGER com­peti­tors were de­ter­mined to grab some of the glory this year at the an­nual Ari­saig High­land Games, with the av­er­age age of com­peti­tors in many events lower than usual.

This year’s games on Wed­nes­day last week proved pop­u­lar yet again with lo­cals and visi­tors mak­ing their way to the pic­turesque Traigh Farm and its stun­ning views across the sea to­wards Skye, Eigg and Rum.

Games chair­man Al­lan MacDon­ald said the over­all turnout through the gate was not as good as last year, which was not sur­pris­ing given the rain-lashed con­di­tions for much of the after­noon.

‘It was still a good turnout when you con­sider the aw­ful weather and it’s been a very cheery and happy crowd,’ he said. ‘There’s been a lot of young peo­ple com­pet­ing - more so than pre­vi­ous years - and that’s nice to see.’

Asked if he thought the tra­di­tional mid-week date for the games had any­thing to do with a lower turnout, Mr MacDon­ald, who has been in­volved with the games for more than 50 years, said he didn’t be­lieve so.

‘We did try a Satur­day about 30 years ago and peo­ple just didn’t come - there’s just too many other things hap­pen­ing on Satur­days in the sum­mer,’ he said.

‘Th­ese are our 82nd games and of those 33 have been staged at this same field and we’ve never had to can­cel them. And de­spite the rain, there’s lots of visi­tors here and it’s still a good day out.’

Mr MacDon­ald says link­ing the an­nual Clan­ranald Gath­er­ing with the games for the past 13 years is about bal­anc­ing cul­ture and her­itage.

‘Th­ese two events to­gether help us pro­mote the cul­ture of the High­lands. We’re also grate­ful to Ard­na­mur­chan Dis­tillery for keep­ing faith with us and pro­vid­ing reg­u­lar spon­sor­ship.

‘This year’s events have gone very smoothly, apart from the weather, but you can't do any­thing about that.’

As usual the heavy events drew a big crowd of spec­ta­tors and one of the high­lights of the day was Blair Atholl's Lorne Colthart break­ing the games record for the 16lb ham­mer con­test.

Camp­bell, a na­tive of Oban orig­i­nally, posted a dis­tance of 140ft 6ins to break the pre­vi­ous record of 137ft.

‘Yeah, I’m happy with that given the con­di­tions and it be­ing such a cold and wet day,’ he told the Lochaber Times dur­ing a break in com­pe­ti­tion.

‘It’s a nice games to come to, nice at­mos­phere. As for the level of com­pe­ti­tion at games gen­er­ally, it is get­ting harder as a lot of for­eign com­peti­tors are tak­ing part and stay­ing longer through the sea­son for more events as they are all open meets.’

Asked about the num­ber of Clan­ranald mem­bers mak­ing the trip from the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Canada this year, El­iz­a­beth MacDon­ald, wife of the games chair­man, said there was a con­sid­er­able num­ber of Amer­i­cans this year.

‘The gath­er­ing is al­ways pop­u­lar and those tak­ing part re­ally like be­ing able to also spend time at a tra­di­tional High­land games as part of it all,’ Mrs MacDon­ald said.

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Crowds en­joy the games de­spite the rain.

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Lochaber Pipe Band en­ter­tains the crowds.

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Sis­ters Freya and Cora Farelly, aged five and three, brave the weather and en­joy their ice creams.

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Do­minic Hob­son, 12, at the archery stall with fa­ther Si­mon.

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De­ter­mi­na­tion on the faces of run­ners as the ju­nior boys’ race gets un­der way.

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Cal­lum MacDon­ald looks happy with his per­for­mance in the heavy events.

f31 Arisiag Games High­land dancers 6JP

High­land dancers show off their skills to the crowds at Ari­saig High­land Games.

f31 Arisiag Games lo­cal men’s race 10JP

Lo­cal men’s race be­gins.

f31Ari­saig games Brooke Bet­tin­son9JP

Brooke Bet­tin­son, four, dur­ing the ju­nior races.

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Ari­saig High­land Games chair­man Al­lan MacDon­ald en­joys a wel­come spot of sun­shine.

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