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First Annual Celtic Games

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Registered: October 2002
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Beaver Islanders greatly enjoyed the 1st Celtic Games on a very hot day and showed that they can Tailgate Party as well as anyone! Thanks to the organizing talent of athlete Jeremy McBain, the presence of Tom and Ellen Cole, who kept track of the ongoing scores and dispensed T-shirts, and the help of Rich Gillespie and his cherry-picker, plus food furnished by the Paradise Bay Coffee Shop and Runberg’s Red-hots, the large crowd had a wonderful time. The athletes had gone to the Ball Field on Friday afternoon to demonstrate the events, so the audience had some idea what to expect: tossing the quarter weight (28 pounds) and the half weight (56) for distance or height, throwing the caber, or pitching the 16 pound sheaf. It saw an unexpectedly high degree of skill–in addition to the brute strength needed in this sport. Just as in other sports, the little things, such as grip and footwork, made a big difference. In addition to competing, Jeremy McBain led an ongoing repartee between the athletes and the audience in which much of the history and significance of these events was explained: most originated as disguised forms of martial arts, learned and practiced as a way of combating the hated English. The Caber Toss seemed to elicit the most interest from the fans. This 150-pound, 18-foot cedar tree was difficult enough to pick up, let alone balance and throw; about half of the tries failed to turn it over, as is required. There were a couple of minor injuries–mostly strained hamstrings. Jody Gilbert, from Elkhart, Indiana, hurt himself on the caber toss and could not go on. The largest athlete, Mike Brown from Shepard, who tied Fort Wayne’s Damon Barth for 4th place, was a particular favorite. 80 commemorative T-shirts with a logo created by gifted Island caricaturist Kelly Duhamel were sold during the day. The judge, Jerry Bowersox, made several tough calls, but was considered to have been fair. As it happened, the athlete with the best pure form, Kip Miller from Mason, weighing a mere 260, won each event and was declared the day’s winner, receiving a long sword. As if that wasn't enough, he also won the final event by throwing the 100 pound Beaver Island Stone of Strength 11' 7". Saline’s Chris Snider followed Miller in the standings, earning a short sword, while Gaylord’s Dale Gehman was awarded a mace for finishing third. The biggest surprise was reflected across the 11 athletes’ faces when they challenged the audience to a tug of war–using Tom Cole's 300' 3/4" mooring line–and saw 10, 20, 30, and finally 42 fired-up members of the audience accepted. The athletes might have had a chance if this had been the day’s first event, but as it was they were lucky not have been dragged around the perimeter of the Island. As they brushed off the dust, everyone present wanted them to come again. Story appears in the August 2005 Beaver Beacon. Photos ©2005 Jeff Cashman.
· Date: November 8, 2005 · Views: 5,797 · Filesize: 68.2kb ·
Keywords: First Annual Celtic Games
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