Highland Games Throwdown May 27 at ‘Bama Beach
By Fran Thompson
On May 27 from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. on the beach on the Al/Fl state line at the Flora-Bama. All are welcome to attend the free event.
Kilted athletes will compete in at least seven of the nine traditional Highland Game feats of strength, according to Throwdown director/organizer and Ragnarok Strength Training Center owner Tyler Thompson. At least 20 competitors from as far away as Virginia, including a two time world champion, are expected to compete. Distance and height will be certified for submission to the sport’s national organization. For added fun, the assembled will also compete in the more American sport of keg tossing.
“It’s not going to be huge, but it will grow over time,’’ Thompson said. “It will still be some good competition to get numbers up for those going onto the pro side of things.’’
Thompson, a Marine vet who has competed in 10 Highland Games already, said his inaugural event will not include Highland Game staples such as bagpipers, drumming and dancing competitions and vendors selling Scottish related food and goods.
“Not this year,’’ he said. “In the future, we’d like to add more Scottish things. But this year we’ll focus on athletic people in kilts.’’
Thompson opened Ragnarok Strength Training Center in a converted storage building behind Moe’s BBQ (just east of the Winn Dixie Shopping Center) in Orange Beach this past February. The Texas native has been working locally as a trainer for three years and is proud that his gym’s air flow comes from rolling up the garage doors on both sides of his building.
“I’ll work with anybody, but I work primarily one-on-one with competitive athletes,’’ he said. “My specialty is helping with issues of technique in the primary movement.’’
Thompson’s company name fits him and his field of expertise.
In Norse mythology, Ragnarök includes a great battle, the occurrence of natural disasters, and the subsequent submersion of the world in water. Afterward, the world resurfaces anew and fertile, the surviving and returning gods meet, and the world is repopulated by two human survivors.
“It is symbolic of destruction and rebirth, which is kind of what we do here,’’ Thompson said. “I’ve always had an affinity for the mystical and Scandinavian culture as a whole. So the name makes sense. The big battle represents all the effort that goes into creating something new, just like we do here.’’
Thompson has previously organized deadlift and bench press exhibitions on the Flora-Bama beach. He said the host site has been more than welcoming. “They’ve been extremely helpful. Beyond what I have the capacity to describe,’’ he said. “We thought we were going to have to come in and prove ourselves. But right from the beginning, they’ve been asking what they can do. They are great people.’’
There are logistical concerns with pulling off a full scale Highland Games on a sandy beach, but Thompson is confident he and his team will handle all that with a combination of plywood, astroturf, mats, common sense and caution rope.
“I’ve been wanting to do this for some time,’’ he said. “I thought it was a good idea. I’m not sure why somebody didn’t do it before.”
For more info about Ragnarok Strength Training or the Highland Games Throwdown, contact Thompson at 409-679-7890.