A year had passed. The outcome, the occasion, the event, the setting and the conditions, however, were still the same – it was déjà vu at its best.
For 12 months after having won the Langholm Games 90m handicap on the pastures of Castleholm in brilliant sunshine, Bonchester lady runner Martha Douglas did it all again in carbon-copy style. Quite amazing.
Coached by Brian ‘Chico’ Woods, 19-year-old Douglas was also amazed.
For winning the Langholm sprint two years in succession was something that she had not expected to do, and that’s putting it mildly.
Against all the odds, however, Douglas (19m) managed to pull this off.
Following a heat win in 9.86 seconds, Douglas was then beaten in her cross-tie after being placed third.
With the first three in the two semi-finals qualifying for the final, Douglas found herself in the last showdown for the £1,000 first prize.
Lining up against Fraser Neil of Kelso (6.5m), Craig Bruce of Selkirk (7.5m), Eoin Lowther of Jedburgh (7.5m), Kieran Reilly of Edinburgh (4m) and Angela Kelly of Giffnock (26.5m), Douglas was an outsider to lift the pot of gold.
There is an old saying, ‘make hay while the sun shines’. Well, farmer’s daughter Douglas went on to do just that and duly brought in a golden harvest. In as close a race as you could wish to see, Douglas gained a photo-finish win in 9.68 seconds. Neil was placed second and Reilly third.
A thrilled and surprised Douglas said of her triumph: “When I arrived today, I didn’t think for a minute I had any chance of doing anything as I haven’t won a single heat in a sprint since winning the Langholm 90m a year ago.
“I just wanted to run and do my best, but I had no hopes about winning and I just can’t believe that I have. There is no explanation how I managed to win, apart from I must like running at Langholm in the sunshine.”
Andrew Thomson and Jack Amos, also shone for the Chico Woods school on the sun-kissed Castleholm track, pulling off excellent wins – Thomson doing so twice.
Going firstly in the 800m handicap, Thomson (80m), excelled from start to finish with a great run that saw him break the tape.
Hawick pair Jordan Taylor (80m) and Rory Anderson (60m) gained the other places.
And in the 400mhandicap, the Jedburgh teenager (38m) starred again when pulling out the stops to surge to a fine victory ahead of Ciaran Turton of Edinburgh (29m) and Craig Sowerby of Seaton (28m).
Talking of his double triumph, Thomson said, “I was chuffed to win the 800m as it was my first win of the season.It was a hard race, though, as it was so warm and I felt a bit wobbly after it, and wasn’t going to run in the 400m.
“My coach Chico spoke me into it, though, and I’m glad that he did.
“When I was out in front near the end of the race, I felt my legs going and expected runners to pass me, but I managed to hang on.”
The Woods stable ruled the roost in the youths’ 800m handicap after taking the first three places.
Jack Amos (195m) emerged the victor with training mates Olivia Rodden (290m) and Ellie Cooper (320m) coming in behind him.
Following the 1,600m handicap, Langholm runner Ryan Milligan had a smile on his face that was as broad as it was long.
And Milligan had every reason to be smiling, for the man from the Muckle Toon, to the great delight of the home crowd, had won the Langholm mile.
After having taken the lead from Selkirk’s Alistair Laurie (380m) on the last lap, 20-year-old Milligan (215m) strode on to win well. Laurie gained the second spot with Dean Whiteford of Innerleithen (160m) coming in third.
A thrilled Milligan, who does not belong to a running school and trains on his own, said: “Things don’t get any better than this. For not only have I won my first ever race, but I have won it at Langholm Games at the Langholm Common Riding and you have no idea how much this means to me.”
Edinburgh’s Tom Holligan, the recent winner of the 100m championship at Jedburgh Games, picked up another title, taking the 90m championship in style.
Leigh Marshall of Hawick and Craig Grieve of TLJT clinched the other spots.
Fifer Cumbie Bowers of Glenrothes (24m) produced some top-notch running to take the 200m handicap.
In a thrilling final, Bowers performed exceptionally well in coming from the back to soar over the finishing line ahead of TLJT twosome Craig Grieve (25m) and Craig Smith (34m).
Nine-year-old Earlston youngster Kacey Taitt (33m) gave a splendid account of herself to win the junior 90m handicap.
Representing the TLJT club, Kacey won her heat in 9.47 seconds and then won the final.
Victory in the junior 200m handicap went the way of Liam Bouglas of Hawick (65m).
Strong-running Connor Gillan of Kelso (11m) made a big impact in winning both the youths’ 90m and 200m handicaps, which was an excellent achievement.
Joey Brown of Chirnside (360m) was a convincing winner of the youths’ 1,600m handicap.,