10 min read

Summer stonelifting competition special!

Plus news and updates from the stonelifting world.

Thanks to everyone who signed up for the newsletter this month! It turns out a lot of people following the liftingstones_org Instagram account didn't even know I wrote a newsletter – so welcome! This is newsletter number 16 since I started delivering them at the beginning of 2022.

In July's email, I accidentally sent out a broken link to the revised Japanese stone article that I talked about. I check links multiple times before sending out these emails, but that one slipped through the cracks somehow. So here's the actual working link: 大盤石 - Japan's heaviest power stone. Read to the end to find out about the sweet shop I visited!

Unfortunately, there's no new article on the website this month. August has been difficult due to some family emergencies, so I haven't been able to work on anything. Sorry about that.

Instead, here's a special newsletter featuring some summer stonelifting competitions from around the world! August seems to be the month for stonelifting competitions, and I'm certain I've missed some - but there were just too many to cover.

Here's your list of this month's topics. Feel free to jump around to the ones that interest you most:

  • Donald Dinnie Day, The Gathering VII
  • さし石さんが大会 – Power stone lifting tournament
  • 力石総社 – Soja power stone competition
  • Other events
  • Dinnie Stones enamel pin update

Donald Dinnie Day, The Gathering VII

I wasn't able to make it to the Gathering this year, sadly. Luckily, I could keep up with the action online on Instagram. Cerberus posted a lot of great videos and so did many other people in the stonelifting community. Most of the images in this section are from those videos - I'll link to them at the end of the section.

Donald Dinnie Day has been covered plenty of times this month, so chances are you're already up to date (I know a lot of people reading this were there too). I'll try not to write too much.

Donald Dinnie games and Jan Todd games

Besides the obvious focal point of athletes attempting to lift the Dinnie Stones at The Gathering in front of a crowd of hundreds, The Gathering also features The Donald Dinnie Games. The Donald Dinnie Games are a great event in their own right. Five difficult natural stonelifting events test all facets of strength by taking inspiration from historic stonelifting challenges.

Chris Beetham walks on a grass course with the Nicol Walking Stones.
Chris Beetham carries the Nicol Walking Stones, winning the event

There was some strong competition in the Donald Dinnie Games this year. Chris Beetham posted an impressive distance with his Nicol Walking Stones carry - surpassing the distance of some professional strongmen at the Strongman Classic from earlier in the year. He then ended up taking first place overall in the Donald Dinnie Games!

Jan Todd games

Named after the first lady lifter of the Dinnie Stones - and Physical Culture researcher - Jan Todd, this was the first year with a Women's competition at Donald Dinnie Day!

Three athletes competed in the inaugural event: Annika Karhu, Hannah Linzay, and Jessica Xuereb. And like the men's competition, the women took on five different natural stone events, ending with a natural stone load series.

Hannah Linzay lifts a heavy stone to her chest, before placing it on a barrel in front of her.

Hannah came out on top after her intense final stone run, earning her the first-place trophy in the first Jan Todd games!

There's no doubt that the Jan Todd games competition will flourish in the coming years.

Dinnie Stones lifters

There were over a dozen lifters this year attempting to lift the Dinnie Stones - so congratulations to everyone who put their names in the history books! However, there are a few lifters I'd like to highlight.

The first is Hannah Linzay, who became the second woman in history to lift the Dinnie Stones without straps!

Hannah Linzay lifts the Dinnie Stones at The Gathering 2023 without wrist straps.

Maybe Hannah will compete at the Rogue Record Breakers on the Replica Dinnie Stones next time we see them?

Martins Licis and Romark Weiss visited Scotland to film new episodes of their hugely popular documentary series "Strength Unknown". The duo toured some of Scotland's most famous stones with an incredible group of stonelifters. To cap off their visit, they took part in The Gathering where Romark challenged the Dinnie Stones.

Romark didn't lift in his crocs this time round. Perhaps hinting that he was taking this attempt more seriously than his Replica Dinnie Stones attempt last year at the Rogue Invitational. His initial attempt of a side-by-side lift didn't quite make it, and he injured his arm in the process. But he came back to try the lift in a straddle style. This lift went much better, allowing Romark to put his name in the history book:

Romark Weiss screams in celebration after lifting the Dinnie Stones.
Romark Weiss celebrates his lift of the Dinnie Stones - Photo @levibunyanphotography

It was initially surprising that Martins Licis didn't attempt the stones himself. After all, having both Romark and Martins lift the stones for their Strength Unknown episodes would make for a great episode. Unfortunately, it sounds like Martins had a hand injury that prevented him from gripping the rings, so it couldn't be helped.

In an unannounced appearance, the Stoltman brothers attended The Gathering too! Luke, Tom, and Harry all decided to lift the stones. I know that a lot of people have wanted the Stoltman brothers to lift the Dinnie Stones for years - it's so great to finally see them do it.

Three stacked images each showing a Stoltman brother lifting the Dinnie Stones. Top to bottom: Luke, Harry, Tom.
The Stoltman brothers lift the Dinnie Stones. Photo: Cerberus Strength

Big Loz's Dinnie Stones carry was definitely the highlight of the day. He smashed his own carry record (14’ 10”, 4.52m) with an astonishing walk of 22’ 4” (6.8m) - making him the first person in history to surpass the width of Potarch bridge with the Dinnie Stones! A true legend!

Big Loz carries the Dinnie Stones at The Gathering in 2023.
Big Loz carries the Dinnie Stones - Photo @levibunyanphotography

I was a bit concerned that Loz was going to walk off the edge of the platform, but luckily he made it safely.

The organizing committee did an incredible job with The Gathering this year - and that's been corroborated by everyone I spoke to. Every year The Gathering is getting bigger and better. I can't wait to see what next year brings - I've already started planning!

Here are some videos from the day:

Loz and Liz's video 
Cerberbus strength's video
Stoltman Brothers' video

さし石さんが大会 – Power stone lifting tournament

On August 20th, さし石さんが大会 (sashiishi-san ga taikai) - a Japanese stonelifting tournament - took place in Chiba's Shinjuku Park for the first time in four years!

The type of stonelifting in this tournament might seem a little unusual compared to the stonelifting you typically see. Here, the aim is to lift the stone by the straps and keep wind beneath the stone for at least 10 seconds.

One of my favourite parts of this tournament is that there are divisions for women and children too! So it becomes a family-friendly community event that everyone can take part in.

For children, there were three stones: 6.5kg, 17kg, and 22kg.

A young boy lifts a stone from the floor using a harness wrapped around the stone.
A child lifts a stone at the competition in 2019

For women, there were two stones: 58kg and 83kg.

Finally, for men, a 103kg stone, a 133kg stone, and a final 185kg Yokozuna stone. The 185kg stone was only re-discovered back in 2020 at a nearby shrine.

To qualify to lift the Yokozuna stone, the competitor must successfully lift and hold the 133kg stone for at least 10 seconds. Then, to decide the men's winner, the person who holds the Yokozuna stone for the longest time wins!

Sakamoto-san holds the Yokozuna stone in the air with a harness wrapped around the stone.
Sakamoto-san lifts the 185kg Yokozuna stone

2023's winner was Sakamoto-san – a fellow stonelifting enthusiast who regularly lifts power stones in Saitama prefecture. He held the 185kg Yokozuna stone for around 18 seconds, beating the only other competitor who qualified to lift the stone.

Prolonged breaks are often fatal for annual events, so I'm delighted the competition came back after its 4-year hiatus. I don't know what the turn-out was like this year, but I didn't see much posted online. I hope the organizers continue to hold the tournament and grow it further in the years to come.

力石総社 – Soja power stone competition

Just a week after Chiba's stonelifting tournament, a very similar competition took place in Soja city, just outside of Okayama city. In fact, I think this competition was the inspiration for the Chiba tournament (although I could be wrong). Challengers from Soja City and beyond have put wind beneath the stones at his competition for decades – I've found reference in a book to stonelifting at the shrine in 1994!

Here, the rules are exactly the same as the previous tournament I mentioned - lift the stone and hold it for 10 seconds. Men can challenge the Yokozuna stone weighing 180kg after successfully holding the Ozeki stone (weighing 167kg). Holding these heavier stones is easier said than done, though; the straps look painful.

The names for the two heaviest stones come from sumo's ranking system, and they represent the two highest ranks in sumo -Yokozuna (the highest rank), and Ozeki (the second highest rank). Those names aren't the only similarities to sumo either. Lifting the stones takes place inside a mini dohyo (sumo ring), and participants throw salt before entering the ring - just like in Grand Sumo. This is almost certainly because these are Shinto rituals and this stonelifting competition takes place at a Shinto shrine.

A Japanese Strongman lifts a stone using a harness in a mini dohyo.
A competitor from Osaka Chickenlegs lifts the Ozeki stone, but fails to qualify for the Yokozuna stone.

The same fun community aspect was on display here too - competitors of all ages could challenge themselves!

A girl attempts to lift a stone using its harness.

A local politician got involved over the last couple of years too, trying her hand at some stone holding in a suit:

A Japanese politician wearing a suit and a weightlifting belt lifts a stone using its harness.

59 year-old Sugimoto Katsuhiro won the men's competition with a 30.77 second hold of the 180kg Yokozuna stone. David Dunlap (u80kg Strongman competitor) came in second place with 29 seconds.

In the women's category, Mitsuhata Akemi successfully held the 120kg stone to take the win.

Finally, in the children's category, 11 year-old Nakata Daiai held the 82.5kg stone for the win.

Here's a YouTube video showing a small slice of the day.

I'd have loved to participate in one of these Japanese competitions had they been scheduled when I was traveling the country earlier in the year. Maybe next time!

Other events

This newsletter is getting a bit long - but I didn't want to leave out a few other competitions that I noticed in August - so here's a quick-fire look.

The Battle for Mercia

BTB hosted the Battle for Mercia in Staffordshire – which was once part of the Kingdom of Mercia from the 6th century to the 10th century.

Some grueling (and unique!) events were in store for the fierce-looking competitors.

A man with facepaint carries a pair of ringed stones along a grass course.

The McGregor stonelifting games

Jamie Gorrian has been hosting the McGregor stonelifting games for a couple of years now with a spectacular Scottish backdrop. And it looks like it's growing into a fantastic series of competitions!

This past weekend featured the women's competitions - for novices and the open class.

A picturesque photo of Scotland with a stonelifting competition laid out.

Basque stonelifting

There was more Basque stonelifting in August too. Ryan Stewart documented his trip to the Basque country on his Instagram, where he met some legends of stonelifting.

Ryan got to train, do some exhibition lifts, and compete in an exhausting stonelifting event where he lifted a 134kg (294lbs) stone to shoulder for 9 full reps in 5 minutes - a truly phenomenal performance.

Ryan Steward lifts a large stone to his shoulder while a crowd watches.

Dinnie Stones enamel pin update

I don't want to keep talking about the pins every month since it feels a little too much like I'm advertising them. That's really not my intention. But a lot has happened!

The community's response to the pins has been overwhelming to say the least. And I can't thank everyone enough for their support. Designing and manufacturing the pins before actually seeing if anyone want them was a bit of a risk, but it seems to have paid off.

A picture of a Dinnie Stones enamel pin on a backing card.

Sean Urquhart posted a photo of his pin on Instagram. It was the first mention of the pin outside of this newsletter, and I ended up with an inbox full of DMs asking how to order one. The liftingstones.org shop still wasn't ready yet - so I manually sent order pages to everyone who asked.

I had to finish building the shop page as fast as I could and integrate it into the site a fair bit earlier than I expected to. But it was a great relief since I could simply link to the shop page and point people there instead of manually sharing an order page.

So that means the liftingstones.org shop is now open.

After Big Loz's record-breaking walk with the Dinnie Stones, I sent him and Liz a pin each to commemorate the day. They ended up showing off their pins on their Strongman Sunday livestream! It honestly made my week.

Big Loz holds shows off Dinnie Stones enamel pin during a livestream.

Half of the initial batch of pins are now out in the world – in people's hands, on their kilts, and on their gym bags. And I've shipped pins to a dozen different countries so far including: 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 🇮🇪 🇺🇸 🇨🇦 🇵🇹 🇫🇷 🇨🇱 🇳🇱 🇸🇬. It's been so much fun seeing where the pins end up!

As always, thanks for reading.

In strength,

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Dinnie Stones enamel pin

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