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Athletes To Channel Their Inner 'Braveheart' Saturday In Dunedin

The Dunedin Highland Games & Festival celebrates its 50th anniversary this week. Thousands of people –many likely wearing kilts-are expected to attend Saturday’s main event in Dunedin’s Highlander Park.

Festival goers can expect bagpipe bands, a sheep dog herding competition and plenty of whiskey and haggis.

But perhaps the biggest draw will be the traditional Scottish athletic games.

Events include the sheaf toss, a 16 pound bale of hay tossed for height.

Alan McHale is the head of Dunedin's Highland Games Committee. He said the marquee competition is the caber toss where athletes throw what amounts to a telephone pole for distance.

"The idea is to pick it up straight and throw it perpendicularly so that it looks like a clock,” he said. “So if it goes over at 12 o'clock that is the perfect throw. If it goes over five minutes past, or five minutes to, then that's less than perfect and they get less points for that."

At last year's super-caber toss, an athlete won one thousand dollars by tossing a 150 pound caber -16 feet.

"We don't like that so much because we like to keep the money,” McHale joked. “We are Scottish after all and Scottish means being frugal."

So this year, the caber will be 30 pounds heavier. If someone manages to hurl it past 18 feet, McHale said he'll write another check.

The Dunedin Highland Games & Festival happens Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Highlander Park in Dunedin.

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