There wasn’t a Scotsman among them. But more than 2,500 would-be Scottish revolutionaries, clad in kilts and many with their faces daubed with blue and white paint nevertheless took to the countryside outside the town of Munnerstadt at the weekend.
They were there to take part in a bizarre yet gruelling iron man-type competition which takes place each year in German Bavaria – hundreds of miles from the Scottish Highlands where the events on which the contest is based, took place more than 700 years ago. The Braveheart Battle is a 26km cross-country race in which contestants are forced to wade through, mud, icy water and scale walls and hills before reaching the finish. The event takes its theme from the 1995 Mel Gibson cult film Braveheart, which tells the story of unfortunate Scottish rebel leader William Wallace who ended up being hung drawn and quartered on the orders of England’s Edward I in 1305 after his defeat at the Battle of Falkirk.
Joachim von Hippel, the German ex-soldier who invented the Braveheart Battle, launched the competition four years ago and attracted 600 participants. The numbers have steadily risen. Nearly 3,000 took part in last weekend’s event and 97 per cent finished. Whether Braveheart Battle’s success should be put down to Mel Gibson or the legendary William Wallace himself remains unclear. Von Hippel has his own explanation: “There is no figure in German history who’s on the same level as William Wallace and that’s why I used the name Braveheart to motivate participants.”