An interview with Mark Haydock - Dinnie hold World Record Holder (46.3 seconds)
1. Mark, why did you want the record?
I first visited the Dinnie stones in 2012 with a group of lifters from the I.A.W.A. (International All Round Weightlifting) after competing in Glasgow the day before. At this time there was no timed hold record, and on this particular day I did 25 side-by-side lifts in various clusters of repetitions, with the best one being 10 reps in 52 seconds. Over the next couple of years 2 or 3 people started to lift the Dinnies and the concept of the timed hold started to evolve. The 30 second barrier became a milestone with Mark Felix, Timo Lauttamus and Bryan Hunsakker all breaking this milestone followed by James “Hunter” Crossley (from Gladiators) who edged it to 34 seconds. This then switched me onto thinking that I should have a go at this, and anything over 30 seconds is commendable as you can see by the names listed.
2. How do you train for a record like this?
Grip, grip and more grip! When I did my first ever attempt at a Dinnie lift with replica rings without much knowledge in terms of straddle, side-by-side, etc. it seemed more logical to lift side-by-side because although it’s a longer pull it seemed more balanced. My first attempt was 192/152 kgs side-by-side. Therefore, the feat of actually lifting the Dinnie stones has never really been a problem and the weight of them is not something that I’ve had to specifically train for because I already had almost 30 years of unequipped powerlifting/all-round lifting under my belt (excuse the pun!!). Training for the timed hold centred around squats, trap bar deadlifts from various heights, timed holds on the trap bar, timed holds on Dinnie rings, timed holds on the chinning bar, thick bar work, and Dinnie lifts above and beyond the Dinnie weight to be able to deal with the fatigue when it sets in. Lots of super sets such as a heavy set of 5s on squats, followed by a set of 5 on the Dinnie rings to develop the ability to lift the Dinnies whilst under fatigue in the back and hip areas.
3.What about warming up to lift the stones?
Warm-ups in training is a comfortable process, progressively climbing through the poundages. Warming up to hold the actual Dinnie stones at Potarch is often a few stretches, a two-handed lift of the small stone, a two-handed lift of the big stone, a couple of quick lifts side-by-side with both stones just to get set for the grip, load and position of the stones. A couple of minutes rest are needed before tackling a big hold.
4. How significant are the Dinnie Stomes as a test of strength?
They are an absolute pure test of strength, grit and determination, with over 150 years of history behind them. There are no ways to cheat the lift, if you have any weak links they will find you out. I know over the last 50 years they have humbled many big, strong men. There is real tradition surrounding stone lifting in Scotland, and the Dinnies are some of the best known stones in the world. In over 20 years of competitive lifting internationally with the IPF, WDFPF and the IAWA, with many wins and records along the way, there is something magical and unique about being recognised by the Guinness book of records – the whole spectrum of society understands what the Guinness book of records represents. I must give thanks to Brett Nicol and Jim and Rosemary Splaine for their input with Guinness in recognising various Dinnie stone and Nicol stone lifts, and all they do to officiate and promote the historic legacy of the stones at Potarch. Also, in the 9 years that I have been lifting the Dinnie stones I have met some absolutely amazing people that I am proud to call my friends such as Brett, Jim and Rosemary, Gordon Ingram and Stevie Shanks. On a personal level, my Dinnie hold record represents never quitting even when the going gets tough – along the way there have been some significant set-backs, such as a partially paralysed left hand following a car accident when I was 19 that left me with the inability to even screw a piece of paper into a ball; the first time I ever lifted the Dinnies, in 2012, was only 5 months after bicep reattachment surgery; in 2017 I ruptured my right Achilles tendon…lifting the Dinnies, but returned 3 months later to lift and walk the stones!
5. Are you planning any future Dinnie Hold Wold Records?
Of course! Subject to covid restrictions the plan is, and always has been, to break the one-minute barrier. I want to leave a legacy that will take an enormous feat of strength to eventually break. Last year, based on training, I felt confident that I could have broken into the 50 second region, and I do feel the minute is possible in the near future.