Paradise Beach runner Les Williams continued to prove age is just a number, after the 67-year-old returned to Australia from Scotland following a noteworthy performance in the 2022 Highland Games.

The Highland Games are one of the most, if not the most, popular events in Scotland, with a deep cultural history dating back hundreds of years.

The annual games consist of a wide variety of events from track and field, tug-of-war, and tossing the caber, to Highland dancing and bagpiping, which take place from Cowal to Tomintoul and all points in between, running from May through September.

Scotland’s Highland Games attract hundreds of thousands of competitors and spectators from across the country and around the globe each year.

Williams was one of the thousands who travelled to compete.

Les Williams has returned home after competing in the 2022 Highland Games in Scotland. Photo: Zoe Askew

In taking part in the Highland Games, he finally fulfilled one of his life-long running dreams, as the Scottish event returned from a COVID-induced hiatus.

But before Williams could cross the seas, he made a quick stop in Perth for the 2022 Australian Masters Games.

“Because of COVID, all my event dates have been changed around,” Willams said.

“The Australian Masters Games, which is on every four years, was meant to be on earlier in the year, but because of COVID, it was moved to two weeks after Easter.

“So I went to Perth, and my next aim (after the Australian Masters Games) was to represent Australia at the World Masters Games in Finland like I did in 2016, where I came sixth in the world in the 800 metres.

“But the opportunity finally came up, which all my life I have wanted, to run in the Highland Games.”

Running in the 65-69 year group at the 2022 Australian Masters Games, Williams placed second in the 800 metres, first in the 8000m, and first in the mile.

After arriving in Scotland, the land of lush green forests, towering mountains and vast lakes, Williams wasted no time heading straight to his first Highland Games event in Blackford.

It wasn’t the running that took Williams’ breath away at the Blackford Games, but the enormous crowd.

“The crowds, I couldn’t believe it,” he exclaimed.

“It was the 150th Blackford Games, and there would have been 25,000-35,000 people there watching us run.”

“At one event, the crowd was so big they brought the police and army in!”

Despite having run professionally from the age of 16, taking him across the country and around the world, and in his later years participating in events like the Sale Park Run, Williams was taken aback by the unfamiliar conditions of the Scottish tracks.

“I was running on grounds I wouldn’t normally run on, up hills and down gullies,” Williams said expressively.

“The tracks were rocky as there were cow pats everywhere, definitely not what I am used to.”

Williams held his own in the open age group races at the Highland Games, placing sixth in the 1600m and fourth in the 800m.

Next stop: Helensburgh and Lomond Highland Games.

In a deja vu turn of events, Williams ran sixth in the 1600m and fourth in the 800m at Helensburgh.

“As soon as I finished at Helensburgh, I jumped in the car and drove two hours to get to Markinch Highland Games, which ran the following day,” William said.

“Everyone I ran with in the first event at Blackmore was going to the Markinch Games, and the crowds were just impossible; if you wanted to get food, you’d be lining up and waiting for hours. It was insane.”

Williams ran fifth in the 800m and seventh in the 400m.

“After Markinch, I went to Strathmore for the Strathmore Highland Games the next weekend,” he said.

“When I got to Strathmore, I began to run even better.”

Williams ran fourth in the 800m and third in the mile.

Les Williams placed third in the Opens Mile run at the Strathmore Highland Games in June. Pictured with Williams are Angela Bell Forfar who placed second and Tam MacCaskill Hawick who came first. Photo: Contributed

“I should have won the mile,” Williams exclaimed.

“The young Scottish girl who beat me for second, Angela, is one of the best female 800m runners in Scotland.”

Taking the opportunity to compete in the Border Games, Williams decided to ‘swing past’ the Border Games before returning home to Australia for a well-earned rest.

“The tracks were amazing,” Williams said.

“There were lots of guys I know who have come to run in Australia over the years there, huge trophies!”

Williams ran fourth in the 800m at the Border Games, making for a neat ending to his Highland Games adventure.