US tourist breaks Scottish Dinnie Stones strength record

Bryan Hunsaker carrying out his amazing feat. Picture: Ballogie Estate
Bryan Hunsaker carrying out his amazing feat. Picture: Ballogie Estate
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A US weightlifter has rewritten the history record books after breaking a longstanding Scottish strongman record.

Bryan Hunaskar, a vitamin exporter from Salt Lake City in Utah, set a new best time for the famous Dinnie Stones challenge in Aberdeenshire.

The 167 year-old contest involves lifting vast boulders hewn from granite for as long as possible, a feat which began when Donald Dinnie, a stonesmason’s son, carried them across the width of Potarch Bridge, near Banchory, before spiriting them back again.

Until Mr Hunaskar took up the challenge, the record was held by Mark Felix, a veteran strongman competitor, who managed to keep the stones above ground for 31 seconds.

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The American, however, set a new record of 33.9 seconds, all the while dressed in a kilt in a nod to his Scottish heritage.

Having learned about the historic fear through weightlifting friends, the 36-year-old – who weights 22 stone and stands 6ft 8in tall – decided to give it a try while in Scotland on holiday.

He said: “We had the trip planned before I knew about doing the stones. A lot of people have tried to lift the stones and a lot have failed.

“The UK strongman set the record three weeks ago and I’ve beaten that, which was something special in itself. I grew up in the UK so I’ve been to Scotland a few times. My family has ties to the MacDonald and MacGregor clans, going back 140 or 150 years.”

Asked if he thought his ancestors would be proud of his achievement, Mr Hunasker, a former American football player, added: “I hope so.”

The smaller of the stones weighs more than 144kg while the larger boulder tips the scales at more than 188kg. Iron rings were attached to them in the 1830s so they could act as counterweights for scaffolding during the maintenance of Potarch Bridge.

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Helen Knowles, marketing co-ordinator at Ballogie Estate, the birthplace of Mr Dinnie, said of the new record: “Bryan’s attempt was an amazing show of inner core strength, on his first attempt the clearance he achieved was fantastic, there was certainly wind beneath the stones.

“To follow that with a further lift and hold for 33.9 seconds was a true example of strength and inner determination.”

Mr Dinnie is regarded as one of the finest athletes of the 19th century. His sporting career began at the age of 16 and spanned over 50 years. It is understood he initiated the stonelifting chalenge in 1860 to entertain watching crowds.