Montreal Highland Games athlete attempts to beat world record just months after falling off roof

Jason Baines, a Greenfield Park-raised athlete, suffered a chipped heel and shoulder injury when he fell off the roof of his cottage in January. Now he’s back in action, attempting to toss more than 122 cabers—long, heavy wooden poles—in 60 minutes, in support of the Douglas Hospital Foundation.

Jason Baines will attempt to toss 122 cabers in 60 minutes to support Douglas Hospital Foundation

Jason Baines, raised in Greenfield Park, is the athletic director of the Montreal Highland Games. On Sunday, he will attempt to beat the Guinness World Record for the most tosses in an hour. (Montreal Highland Games)

There was a split second on a snowy day back in January when Jason Baines realized that he no longer felt the ladder under his feet. 

He was clearing snow off the roof of his cottage in Grenville-sur-la-Rouge, in the Laurentians, when he slipped and fell about six-and-a-half metres, slamming onto the freshly cleared deck below. 

"I came to and dragged my butt down to the truck, all alone. I was a little bit worried, let me tell you," said Baines, a Highland Games athlete originally from Greenfield Park and now living in the Glengarry region of Ontario.  

After a painful drive to the hospital, he got the verdict: a chipped heel, a torn labrum and a torn rotator cuff in his shoulder, among other injuries. 

But the upside, according to Baines, was that he already had a goal in mind to keep him focused on his rehabilitation.

Among other injuries, Jason Baines suffered a torn labrum in his shoulder and a chipped heel bone, after falling roughly 6.5 metres while clearing snow from his roof. (Submitted by Jason Baines)

He had already committed in November to trying to break the Guinness World Record for the most caber tosses in 60 minutes this summer.

Baines will make that attempt in a livestreamed event on Sunday in support of the Montreal Highland Games and the Douglas Hospital Foundation. 

"I'm in great shape right now," he told CBC's All in a Weekend. "I got in a little worse shape, but I'm feeling pretty good again."

The caber toss, one of several traditional Scottish feats of strength that make up the Highland Games, involves a competitor balancing a roughly five-metre-long, 40-kilogram pole vertically, before flipping it forward, as straight as possible. 

A successful flip, or "turn" of the caber, must go end-over-end, something Baines hopes to do at least 122 times in an hour, in order to break the record set by Canadian strongman Kevin Fast, who holds 32 different Guinness World Records for feats of strength. 

While Baines will be allowed helpers to hand him a caber for each toss, he will have little room for rest or error, having to execute a successful toss every 25 seconds to break the record.

"It's the endurance and pace that makes it tough," said Baines. "We're more like power athletes. So we carry a bit of extra weight and it's just a quick explosion. Something like this is a bit out of the wheelhouse."

A successful caber toss involves flipping a long wooden pole, roughly five metres long and weighing about 40 kg, end over end. (Montreal Highland Games)

Supporting the Douglas Hospital Foundation

The livestream event, which will also feature bagpipes and Highland dance, is happening in lieu of this year's Montreal Highland Games, which usually takes place each summer on the grounds of the Douglas Mental Health University Institute in Verdun. 

Baines, who is also the athletic director for the Montreal games, said it's an opportunity to have some fun while raising awareness and donations for the Douglas Hospital Foundation.

"We all felt the strain during COVID. You can only imagine what it's like if you multiply that for people who have mental health issues," said Baines. 

Baines hopes viewers who tune in will check out some of the foundation's videos about mental health and even seek out mental health services, if they are in need.

You can tune in to watch Jason Baines attempt to break the Guinness world record at 6 p.m. on Sunday here


Ainslie MacLellan is a journalist at CBC Montreal. Follow her on Twitter: @CBCAinslie.


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