MANY a race has been won and lost since the winter of 1989 when a Jedburgh runner by the name of Tommy Finkle put himself into the record books by winning the New Year sprint handicap at the Meadowbank Stadium.
It may now be summer (really, it is) and the venue closer to home, but almost a quarter of a century on, Finkle has shown he still has what it takes.
For at Tweedbank Border Games on Sunday, the 48-year-old pulled out all the stops to win the main event on the card, the 80m handicap.
From the TLJT club, Finkle (10m) buzzed to a heat win in 8.77 seconds. This earned him a final spot along with fellow TLJT athletes Bruce Scott (13m) and John Steede (20m), plus Amy Clancy of Peebles (13m), Peter Denholm of Melrose (5.5m) and Richard Eland of Broughton (16m).
In his last run, Finkle produced the goods again when surging home ahead of Eland and Scott in 8.65 seconds.
Commenting on his winning show, Finkle told TheSouthern: “Because of an injury I missed Earlston and Hawick Games, so I am actually two weeks behind in my training and I didn’t really expect to do much this afternoon.
“I train four nights a week with TLJT and do some coaching, and I enjoy it.
“I was out of running for a while and I mostly run at veteran meetings these days and not a lot at the games. So it was just great to win something like this as the last sprint I won was at Jedburgh Games in 1998.”
Craig Grieve (7m) also put victory the way of TLJT and Jedburgh in giving a five-star show to take the 150m handicap. Recent winner of the Hawick Games 110m race, Grieve looked the part when breezing to a comfortable heat win.
It was a stylish performance – and the event’s backmarker Grieve showed the field a clean pair of heels again in the final when gaining the honours through a top-notch run. The other placings went the way of TLJT pair Dylan Ali (11m) and David Edwards (13m).
Following his impressive victory, Grieve said: “I love running in 150m races. Indeed, it’s my favourite distance as I seem to do well in it and last year I won the BSLT 150m classic at Tweedbank. As I train quite a lot on a tartan track I prefer them to grass, so everything just suited me fine today. I felt good when winning my heat and thought I was in with a really good chance in the final.”
Jedburgh also produced the victor of the senior 550m handicap in Andrew Thomson (55m). Running well from the gun, the TLJT athlete, who is coached by Brian ‘Chico’ Woods, took the lead on the final bend.
Kelso’s Colin Welsh (scratch) came in with a challenge from the back, but Thomson had plenty in store and raced on to break the tape in 1 minute and 13.72 seconds. The other placings went to Welsh and Iain Little of Langholm (12m).
Innerleithen’s Dean Whiteford (130m) excelled in the 2,000m handicap. Jacob Adkin of Moorfoot (185m) was out in front at the beginning of the last lap. Whiteford then strode ahead and had the look of a winner written all over him.
And that’s the way it turned out, as Whiteford surged forward to do the business in 5 minutes and 34.75 seconds.
Darrell Hastie of Kelso (20m) finished strongly to take second place, while Adkin was third.
Whiteford said: “I was a bit concerned about running on the tartan track as I have been bothered with injuries. Everything went ok, but it was a hard race, especially the last 600m, but I managed to get there.
“That was my fourth win of the season. It was my first in the Borders, though, as the other three were up north. It’s always nice to win, but it’s even better when it is in the Borders.”
Twelve year old Barrie McLean (12m) was one of three winners for Hawick as well as the Billy Edgar school. Competing in the junior 150m handicap, McLean, who has been a beaten finalist on several occasions this season, zoomed to a heat triumph in 20.22 seconds. Come the final, the Teri youngster shone again, pulling out the stops to gain his first final win, ahead of Angus Bryce of TLJT (12m) and Cameron Clamp of TLJT (12m).
In the youths’ 150m handicap, Logan Gordon-Woolley (19m) did the business for the Edgar camp as well.
Following a powerhouse heat win, the 13-year-old produced a grandstand finish in an exciting ending to snatch victory on the line from Cameron Burnett of Gala Harriers (11m) and Megan Shiel of Hawick (23m).
Megan Shiel (13m) made it three in a row for coach Edgar by coming out on top in the youths’ 80m handicap. Searching for her first handicap win, 15-year-old Shiel recorded the fastest time of the heats and in the final clocked up an identical time when sailing home in 9.25 seconds. Holly Mackay of Jed AC (13m) was second and Ryan Laidlaw of Innerleithen (6.5m) third.
Moorfoot’s Euan Hood (2m) gave an excellent account of himself in the junior 80m handicap. After impressing with a heat win, Hood got it right again in the final when gaining the honours from Caris Brus of TLJT (8m) and McLean of Hawick (5.5m).
Kerry Sandilands of Galashiels (80m) hit top form in the youth’s 550m handicap. In a race that attracted a big entry, 15-year-old Sandilands held off a challenge from Cameron Burnett of Gala Harriers (32.5m) in the latter stages to win with Burnett and Joe Agnew of TLJT (60m) emerging second and third.
Ten-year-old Craig Angus of Leithenburn (280m), a youngster who never knows when he is beaten, ran his heart out to take the youths’ 1,200m handicap. Running from scratch, classy Josh Ker of Edinburgh was second, while TLJT’s Joe Agnew (150m) came in third.