Record day as the Markinch Highland Games took place for the first time in three years


There was something for everyone including the oldest pipe competition in the country, solo pipe, highland dancing, running, cycling, heavyweight events, fun races for the kids , as well as an array of stalls, trade stalls and a funfair.

Organizers have been warned that floor records could be broken in the heavyweight events and this was the case with Vladislav Tulacek of the Czech Republic setting new figures of 16′ 10” in the weight of 56lb above the contest helm erasing the previous record set by the great Geoff Capes 39 years ago.

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

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Highland dancers at the Markinch Games.

With the company riding on the ground, the 15 cyclists thrilled the large crowd as they rode the 26 laps of the 300-metre circuit in John Dixon Park.

As the riders took the bell, six were still in contention and it would be Isaac Small of Deeside, 16, in just his second games as a senior who would prevail, crossing the line a bike length from 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 then young athlete who on that occasion was Kelso’s Matty Fleming.

Outside 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 numbers.

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

The leader of the day was local man Gordon Michie, head of fundraising in Scotland for Poppyscotland.

He said: ‘As someone who has lived in Markinch all his life and volunteered to help settle for the past 30 years and even before that, participated in youth events in the early 80s with the Gibson Twins, Neil and Lee, under the legendary Cumbie Bowers, I was deeply honored to be recognized as Head of the Highland Games in my home town for my work with Poppyscotland and Legion Scotland.

“They were arguably the toughest games for the committee to organize, being the first after the global pandemic, but I shouldn’t have feared as the sun was shining and the public came out in large numbers to watch the events of the day.

“There were so many highlights of the day that I was able to share with my family and friends, two of the memorable moments of the day were presented by Lodge Balgonie, a new Chieftain’s Crook who certainly helped me through the many miles I’ve covered on the day, the fun of the kids and the errands of mum and dad, but receiving the Massed Pipes and Drums salute is an honor that will live with me for many years and was probably the moment most special of the day for me.

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

“The action in the main arena certainly did not disappoint and the crowd certainly enjoyed all the events put on for them, new records set by the heavyweights, incredibly tight racing on the bikes had the crowd roaring from all over the arena.

“The dancers in their brightly colored uniforms danced to an exceptionally high level and the solo bagpipe players sounded the pibroch to inspire those around them.

“The Highland Games are an integral part of Markinch and there are so many committee members, sponsors, judges, vendors, athletes, dancers, pipers who need to be thanked and as a leader I have had the pleasure of being able to publicly thank all the unsung heroes.

“However, without the public coming out and supporting, it just wouldn’t be necessary, so it was also a great honor to say thank you to the thousands of people who had traveled from near and far, and I spoke to people from Europe, the United States and Canada who had traveled to the ancient capital of Fife for some good old-fashioned Scottish entertainment.

Games Chieftan Gordon Michie with his granddaughter, Poppy.

He added: “The whole build and the weekend is something I will treasure forever, but it will be back to help with the setup in 2023.”

The games ended with the traditional parade of pipers who played Salute to the Chieftain before the awards ceremony.

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Jennifer R. Strohm