NOTHING separated them – not even a fraction of an inch, not even a hair’s breadth.
And in the heavy rain that swept over Philiphaugh, Dolphinton’s Steven Charters and Nick Smith of Shaftsbury AC shared the honours in the final of the Selkirk Games 110m handicap by deadheating – an occurrence that is rarely witnessed on the Border Games circuit.
Bidding for the £1,000 first prize from a mark of 5.5m, 24-year-old Charters had qualified for the final through a heat win as well as emerging one of the two fastest losers of the cross-ties.
Scratch man Smith booked a last showdown spot with a cross-tie triumph after having reached the semi-finals due to being a fastest loser from the heats.
Facing Callum Murray of TLJT (10m), Iskan Barskanmay of Jed AC (5.5m), David McKay of Kelso (15m) and Connor Hedley of Ellington (11m) in the final, Charters and Smith were both outsiders with the bookies to do the business.
Earlston Games winner Murray, who had recorded the fastest time of the day, was odds-on favourite.
Murray had been looking the part and appeared to be in with a real chance of notching his second sprint victory of the season.
Matters then took a dramatic turn when 18-year-old Murray of Galashiels jumped the gun and was pulled back a metre – allowing Charters and Smith to break the tape together.
After consulting the photo finish screen and following a lot of debate, the judges came up with a dead heat – and no-one could argue with this.
The duo had both excelled against the odds and neither deserved to lose out.
Talking to TheSouthern, Charters said: “I was pleased with my running in the final as it was my best show of the day. Nick Smith ran brilliantly from scratch and showed what a top runner he is.”
Twenty-eight-year-old Smith, a Scottish amateur internationalist, said: “I was happy to reach the final and what a race it was. It was really close and I didn’t know which way the result was going to go. I was pleased to get a deadheat place.”
A time of 11.56 seconds was recorded, with the other final place going the way of Hedley.
Veteran runner Bruce Scott of Earlston (18m) emerged victorious in the 90m handicap (confined to Scottish Borders). Running for the TLJT club, Scott breezed to a clear heat win in 9.49. And come the final the 52-year-old did it all again when breaking the tape ahead of Hawick pair David Hush (18.5m) and Ross Weir (18.5m) in 9.43.
Scott said: “I was keen to do well today and have been putting in a lot of hard work. That has been a big help as I felt good in my heat as well as in the final.”
Edinburgh’s Kieran Reilly (19m) produced some dynamic running to win the 200m handicap final. Coached by Kevin Turner, 16-year-old Reilly hit full throttle and motored to an impressive win from David Edwards of TLJT (19m) and Graeme Armstrong of Edinburgh (29m) in 22.98.
Formerly of Stirling and now of Sauchie, Wallace McGowan (30m) a regular at Border Games meetings, pulled out the stops to take the 400m handicap. McGowan held off a challenge from Seb Harrison of Jed AC (7m) in the latter stages to break the tape in 50.66. Harrison finished second and Graham Lister of Kirkcaldy (29m) third.
McGowan was well pleased with his win and told us: “Selkirk must be a lucky track for me as I have won the 400m and 800m handicaps here in the past, so it’s nice to have made it a hat-trick of victories.”
Fifer Graham Lister of Kirkcaldy (65m) took pride of place in the 800m handicap. Hawick’s Rory Anderson (60m) headed the field at the start of the home straight before being overtaken by Lister, who in turn kicked on. Anderson gave chase, but Lister strode on to cross the finishing line in 1.55.19. Anderson clinched second place and Gordon Eland of Broughton (175m) third.
Chris Black of Kelso (95m) chalked up his fourth win of the season when coming out on top in the 1,600m handicap. Trained by his father Colin who was a top distance runner in his day, Black had to push all the way, however, to edge out Hawick’s Rory Anderson in 4.22.37. Anderson gained a creditable second spot with Adam Craig of TLJT (85m) coming in behind him.
Following an impressive heat win in 11.87 seconds, stylish Grant Goodfellow of TLJT (9m) blitzed to an excellent win in the final of the junior 90m handicap in 11.67 seconds, with fellow TLJT squad members Josh Dougal (6m) and Henry Clarkson (2.5m) finishing second and third.
Thirteen-year-old John Feeney (21.5m) also put sprint victory the way of TLJT in the youths’ 90m handicap. The Jedburgh youngster, who has been showing up well in recent weeks, recorded the fastest time of the heats when powering to a win in 9.91. Come the final, Feeney starred for a second time, when surging home in front of Ellie Temple of TLJT (20.5m) and Lewis Elliot of Hawick (22m) in 9.85.
Speaking after his well-earned victory, Feeney said: “I have been trying hard to win and have been second in two finals and I was really wanting to try to do something today. I tried my best and managed to win, and I am very pleased about this.”
Amy Armstrong of Edinburgh (40m), daughter of Graeme Armstrong, a regular on the Border Games front, did her dad proud in giving a fine show to win the junior 400m handicap from Daniel Elliot of Hawick (25m) and Grant Goodfellow of TLJT in 1.02.
The race brought about a thrilling finish and the youths’ 400m fitted into the same mould.
Running well from the gun, Mhairi Henderson of TLJT (65m) was in front metres from home. But Kyle Potts, also of TLJT (40m), who had tasted victory in the junior/youths’ 800m handicap at Hawick Border Games, came storming in from the back to snatch victory. Henderson was second and Euan Pettigrew of Kelso (20m) third.
Kazya Stevens of Moorfoot (205m) was out in front as the bell rang for the final lap in the youths’ 800m handicap. Before the last bend in the race Poppy Marples of Moorfoot (160m) was in the lead and showing up well.
Coming down the home straight, Marples was pressed by Fraser Wardhaugh of Gala Harriers (50m), but the runner still had plenty to offer and raced to win in 2.02.04. Wardhaugh came in second, with third place going the way of Mairi Wallace of Moorfoot (195m).