Lifting 200-kilogram stones in Spain's Basque Country

In this Wednesday April 10, 2019 photo, Inigo Eizagirre, 24, a basque stone lifter, poses for a photograph holding a round stone at the end of his tra

In this Wednesday April 10, 2019 photo, Inigo Eizagirre, 24, a basque stone lifter, poses for a photograph holding a round stone at the end of his tra

In this Saturday, April 6, 2019 photo, basque stone lifters hold 100 kilograms stones, during an exhibition in the basque village of Azkoitia, norther

In this Saturday, April 6, 2019 photo, basque stone lifters hold 100 kilograms stones, during an exhibition in the basque village of Azkoitia, norther

In this Saturday, April 6, 2019 photo, a basque stone lifter waits his turn to hold a stone, during exhibition in the basque village of Azkoitia, nort

In this Saturday, April 6, 2019 photo, a basque stone lifter waits his turn to hold a stone, during exhibition in the basque village of Azkoitia, nort

In this Wednesday April 10, 2019 photo, Inigo Eizagirre, 24, a basque stone lifter, holds a 100 kilograms stone during a training session in the basqu

In this Wednesday April 10, 2019 photo, Inigo Eizagirre, 24, a basque stone lifter, holds a 100 kilograms stone during a training session in the basqu

In this Wednesday April 10, 2019 photo, Inigo Eizagirre, 24, a basque stone lifter, holds a 100 kilograms stone during a training session in the basqu

In this Wednesday April 10, 2019 photo, Inigo Eizagirre, 24, a basque stone lifter, holds a 100 kilograms stone during a training session in the basqu

In this Saturday, April 6, 2019 photo, basque stone lifters warm up as they prepare for an exhibition in the basque village of Azkoitia, northern Spai

In this Saturday, April 6, 2019 photo, basque stone lifters warm up as they prepare for an exhibition in the basque village of Azkoitia, northern Spai

In this Saturday, April 6, 2019 photo, Jose Ramon Izeta, 52, a former basque stone lifter, holds a 100 kilograms stone, during an exhibition in the ba

In this Saturday, April 6, 2019 photo, Jose Ramon Izeta, 52, a former basque stone lifter, holds a 100 kilograms stone, during an exhibition in the ba

In this Saturday, April 6, 2019 photo, a basque stone lifter holds a 200 kilograms stone, during an exhibition in the basque village of Azkoitia, nort

In this Saturday, April 6, 2019 photo, a basque stone lifter holds a 200 kilograms stone, during an exhibition in the basque village of Azkoitia, nort

In this Saturday, April 6, 2019 photo, basque stone lifters prepare for an exhibition in the basque village of Azkoitia, northern Spain. The "Harri-ja

In this Saturday, April 6, 2019 photo, basque stone lifters prepare for an exhibition in the basque village of Azkoitia, northern Spain. The "Harri-ja

In this Saturday, April 6, 2019 photo, a group of basque stone lifters line up as they wait their turn to lift a stone, during an exhibition in the ba

In this Saturday, April 6, 2019 photo, a group of basque stone lifters line up as they wait their turn to lift a stone, during an exhibition in the ba

In this Saturday, April 6, 2019 photo, a basque stone lifter holds a 100 kilograms stone, during an exhibition in the basque village of Azkoitia, nort

In this Saturday, April 6, 2019 photo, a basque stone lifter holds a 100 kilograms stone, during an exhibition in the basque village of Azkoitia, nort

In this Wednesday April 10, 2019 photo, jackets used by basque stone lifters hang on a rope in a sport centre, in the basque village of Zarautz, north

In this Wednesday April 10, 2019 photo, jackets used by basque stone lifters hang on a rope in a sport centre, in the basque village of Zarautz, north

In this Saturday, April 6, 2019 photo, Udane Ostolaza, 13, second left, waits her turn next to others basque stone lifters, during an exhibition in th

In this Saturday, April 6, 2019 photo, Udane Ostolaza, 13, second left, waits her turn next to others basque stone lifters, during an exhibition in th

In this Saturday, April 6, 2019 photo, Aimar Irigoien, 33, a basque stone lifter waits to take part in an exhibition in the basque village of Azkoitia

In this Saturday, April 6, 2019 photo, Aimar Irigoien, 33, a basque stone lifter waits to take part in an exhibition in the basque village of Azkoitia

In this Saturday, April 6, 2019 photo, a basque stone lifter holds a 200 kilograms stone, during an exhibition in the basque village of Azkoitia, nort

In this Saturday, April 6, 2019 photo, a basque stone lifter holds a 200 kilograms stone, during an exhibition in the basque village of Azkoitia, nort

ZARAUTZ, Spain (AP) — Their faces contorted by the effort needed to lift 200 kilograms (440 pounds) or more, these burly competitors keep alive one of the traditional sports of Spain's rural north one heavy stone at a time.

The "Harri-jasotze," or "Stone Lifters" in the local language of the mountainous Basque Country region, gather in competitions held both indoors and in town squares to see who can claim to be the strongest.

After grabbing hold of the stones on the ground, they use three movements to lift them to shoulder height. The competition consists of four three-minute sessions, in which they have to pick up a given stone as many times as they can. The Stone Lifter who tallies the most total weight wins.

The stones are made of granite, weigh between 100 and 212.5 kilograms (220 and 470 pounds), and have the form of a cube, a sphere, a cylinder or a rectangle. The lifters, which include some women, use resin to help grip the stones. They wear knee protectors, a band wrapped around their torso, and a leather vest that leaves their thick arms exposed.

Inigo Eizagirre, 24, can raise a rectangular stone weighing 100 kilograms (220 pounds) up to 21 times in less than three minutes, a pace that gives him a chance to win a tournament.

There is no written record of the origin of the sport, but standardized weights were introduced at the start of the 20th century.

The record for single lift by a Harri-jasotze is held by Mieltxo Saralegi, who successfully picked up a stone that weighed 329 kilograms (725 pounds) in 2001.

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Associated Press writer Joseph Wilson in Barcelona contributed to this report.

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