Mountain Games 2017 is a festival celebrating our Appalachian heritage by inviting competing in, watching, and experiencing all the things our ancestors used to do just to survive in the mountains, hills, and hollers.
The only all-female team to compete in last year’s Mountain Games plans to return for the Mountain Games 2017 competition and this time enter their children.
“Mothers of Dragons” aims to bring a full contingent of seven members. Last September one woman had a sore back, which reduced her to donning a T-shirt to cheer on her teammates.
“We left some blood on the battle field,” says spokeswoman Cassie Miller, noting that that team member Amanda Day cut her leg during the steel walking event. However, after getting a pair of stitches, Day returned to action.
“It was a great way to support the community, be with friends, and enjoy camaraderie and competition, not just give money,” Miller says. “This September we’re going to put our kids in it and form a separate team.”
Launched last year in the wake of record-breaking Summer Olympics performances by Team USA, the Mountain Games are West Virginia’s version of the familiar Highland Games. To say they were a hit is an understatement. The event drew about 220 participants and more than 350 spectators, and another 200 volunteers working behind the scenes.
“My goal is to double this year’s turnout,” says Velma Workman, Development Outreach Coordinator for the Cabell Huntington Hospital Foundation. “Moving out past Labor Day weekend should help. So will having people who were there.”
“My grandson competed and now his whole Boy Scout troop wants to do it. People from several companies have said, ‘Oh, now I get it and are trying to put teams together, ” said Workman.
Thanks to participants and sponsors who supported the games, the inaugural event raised more than $30,000 for the Hoops Family Children’s Hospital.
The games will again feature competition on an obstacle course, feat of strength, big foot hunting, coal mining, rock climbing, shelter building, archery, steel walking, target shooting, and tomahawk throwing. A new twist will be added this year: a logging competition.
The events are open to all ages, with entrants invited to compete individually or as a team for the titles of Mountain Man, Mountain Woman, Mountain Youth, and Mountain Team. Adults and youth ages 10 and up will compete on the adult course, while children under 10 will compete in the Family Zone. Events in the Family Zone include long jump, bucket ball, pool noodle games, ladder golf, giant sling shot, boat races, obstacle course, basketball shoot, and softball throw.
The day also features 5K and 10K races on trails around Heritage Farm. They include an opening climb of three-tenths of a mile at a 12 percent grade, and a similar climb later for 10K runners. Runners must register by Sept. 5.
For Miller, the most challenging event of the Mountain Games was the tomahawk throw. While not that physically challenging, it demands precision, and form required isn’t something you do every day, she says with a chuckle. “The most fun was the obstacle course,” she says. “You’re competing against yourself and you want to compete against everyone else’s times too. I was nervous, seeing how fast others did it. It was a good way to get your heart rate up in two minutes.”
After the female squad completed their events, they hung around to enjoy sandwiches from La Famiglia, sip on sodas, and watch a demonstration by an expert chain saw cutter.
They would have stayed longer, but around 2 o’clock the moms had to shuttle kids to soccer games and other events.
“This year we’ll put our kids in it and make a day of it,” Miller says. “It was the perfect way to feel you accomplished something by raising money for the Children’s Hospital and pushing yourself to the limit of your comfort zone. It was a great way to spend a Saturday.”