Record breaking day as Markinch Highland Games held for first time in three years

Following a break of three years owing to the pandemic the crowds, including many overseas visitors, flocked back to the John Dixon Park on Sunday for the 151st anniversary of the Markinch Highland Games.

By Shane Fenton
Tuesday, 7th June 2022, 8:51 am

There was something for everyone including the countries oldest pipe contest, solo piping, Highland dancing, running, cycling, heavy events, children's fun races plus an array of stalls, trade stands and a fun fair.

The organisers were warned ground records may be broken in the heavy events and that was the case with Vladislav Tulacek of the Czech Republic setting new figures of 16' 10'' in the 56lb weight over the bar contest wiping out the previous record set by the great Geoff Capes, 39 years ago.

On the track the race of the day was the 8000 metres RSHGA Scottish Grass Track Championship.

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Highland dancers at the Markinch Games.

With the ground riding firm the 15 cyclists thrilled the big crowd as they sped around the 26 laps of the 300-metre John Dixon Park circuit.

As the riders took the bell six were still in contention and it would be 16-year-old Isaac Small of Deeside in only his second games as a senior who would prevail, crossing the line a bike length clear of Alexander McCrae of Glasgow with Gavin Shirley Castle Douglas in third place.

The Ibrox Boys Memorial trophy which commemorates the five boys from Markinch who lost their lives in the Ibrox Disaster is awarded to the overall youth athlete of the day who on this occasion was Matty Fleming of Kelso.

Out with the main arena there was a huge entry of 140 Highland dancers from toddlers to adults as well as solo pipers who competed on two separate stages to accommodate the numbers.

Vlad Tulacek breaks Geoff Capes' 39-year-old record.

Chieftain for the day was local man Gordon Michie who is head of fund raising in Scotland for Poppyscotland.

He said: “As someone who has lived in Markinch all their life, and someone who has volunteered to help set up for the last 30 years and even before that participated in the youths’ events in the early 80’s along with the Gibson Twins, Neil and Lee, under the guidance of the legendary Cumbie Bowers, I was deeply honoured to be recognised as Chieftain of the Highland Games of my home town for my work with Poppyscotland and Legion Scotland.

"Arguably they were the most challenging games for the committee to run being the first after the global pandemic, but I should not have feared as the sun shone and the public came out in huge numbers to witness the events of the day.

“There were so many highlights of the day that I was able to share with family and friends, two of the memorable moments of the day was being presented by Lodge Balgonie a new Chieftain’s Crook that certainly helped me walk the many miles I did on the day, the fun of the kids and mum’s and dad’s races, but taking the salute from the Massed Pipes and Drums is an honour that will live with me for many years and was probably the most special moment of the day for me.

Sponsor John Morris presents Isaac Small with his medal following his victory in the 8000 metres Scottish championship.

“The action within the main arena certainly did not disappoint and the crowd certainly enjoyed all the events laid on for them, new records set by the heavyweights, amazingly close races on the bicycles had the crowd roaring from all around the arena.

"The dancers in their brightly coloured uniforms danced to an exceptionally high standard and the solo pipers were sounding the pibroch to inspire those around them.

“The Highland Games are a massive part of Markinch and there are so many people from the committee, sponsors, judges, stall holders, athletes, dancers, Pipe Bands that need top be thanked and as Chieftain it was my pleasure to be able to publicly thank all the unsung heroes.

"However, without the public coming and supporting there just would not be a need, so it was also a great honour to say thank you to the many thousands that had travelled from near and far, and I spoke to people from Europe, the States and Canada who had made their way to the Ancient Capital of Fife for some good old fashioned Scottish entertainment.”

Games Chieftan Gordon Michie with his grandaughter, Poppy.

He added: “The whole build up and weekend is something that I will treasure for ever, but it will be back to helping with the setup in 2023.”

The games concluded with the traditional march past of the pipe bands who played Salute to the Chieftain prior to the presentation of prizes.