Drizzling rain switched to sweeping rain and it was hot and humid, but St Ronan’s Games missed out on the thunderstorms that hit other parts.
There was, however, a flash of lightning over the pastures of the Victoria Park track.
This bolt from the heavens was conjured up by Selkirk runner Geoff Keen. For he showed that lightning can not only strike once, but twice and even three times, as he won the St Ronan’s Games 110m handicap for the third time.
From the Edinburgh-based Graeme Armstrong running camp, Keen did not win his heat, but qualified for the cross-ties as a fastest loser.
In his semi-final outing, though, Keen bounced back in style when blitzing to an excellent win in 11.51 seconds.
This earned him a final place along with his coach Graeme Armstrong of Edinburgh (17.5m), training mate David Lauder of Hawick (13.5m) and TLJT and Jedburgh pair Tommy Finkle (13.5m) and Darren Tomlinson (13m), plus Selkirk’s Craig Bruce (10m).
In a hotly-contested final, it was Keen who produced the trump card with his top run of the day by far, which earned him a photo-finish win. Finkle and Tomlinson came in second and third.
Expressing his thoughts on his triumph, Keen told The Southern: “I didn’t run well in my heat when I was beaten by Darren Tomlinson.
“However, I managed to get into the cross-ties as a fastest loser. This gave me a second chance and I was determined to do well. I was very happy with my cross-tie run. In the final, I knew I would have to be at my best as I was up against some good runners, including two from my own school.
“I managed to pull it off, though, and I am really chuffed to have done this, especially as it is now the third time that I have won the St Ronan’s sprint.
“And my father Bill Keen won the sprint here in the 60s, making it an even better feeling.”
The Armstrong stable also produced the winner of the 200m handicap in Hawick’s Glyn Desport (28m).
Having returned to the scene this season after an eight-year absence, former Hawick YM rugby ace Desport powered to a heat win and then produced another barn-storming run in the final when racing home ahead of TLJT duo Craig Smith (30m) and Mhairi Henderson (54m).
Hometown boy, 38-year -old Dean Whiteford (175m), did Innerleithen proud by winning the 1,600m handicap, with the crowd behind him every inch of the way.
On a rain-soaked Victoria Park track, Selkirk’s Alistair Laurie (380m) headed the field as the bell sounded for the last lap. Trained by his dad Alex, an athlete of great note in his own running days, Whiteford then edged ahead. Well known for his late surging finishes, this was a fairly early move for him, but he was on a mission and it proved to be a winning one.
Showing purpose in every stride, Whiteford began to leave the pack in his wake and amongst great cheers raced to a clear win in 4 minutes, 11.54 seconds. The other placings went the way of John Thomson of Coaltown (200m) and Kobe Stevens of Moorfoot (165m).
A thrilled Whiteford said: “I haven’t been running as well as I would have liked during the season.
“It just hasn’t been really happening as I have perhaps not been relaxing enough during the race.
“I was a bit nervous today as I was wanting to do well on my home track.
“Once the gun went, I felt better, though, especially when I heard the crowd roaring me on as this gave me a real lift.
“So I just went for it and I was surprised how well I managed to run. I won the same race in 2010 and it’s just brilliant to have won it again.”
Kobe Stevens of Moorfoot produced some fine running to gain the honours in the 800m handicap.
Victor over the same distance at Earlston Games earlier in the year, Stevens (80m) a young runner who always gives his all broke the tape in 1 minute, 50.2 seconds, following a well-executed run from the gun. Hawick’s Stewart Fraser (60m) emerged second and Peter Cameron of Edinburgh (65m) third.
In an exciting 110m invitation sprint handicap, Craig Grieve of TLJT hit the winning frame. A former winner of Kelso and Hawick sprints, Grieve gained a photo-finish triumph over scratch man Cameron Tindle of Berwick and Craig Gillan of TLJT.
Galashiels youngster Caris Brus (22.5m) chalked up her first victory on the games circuit when triumphing in the 90m youths’ A race handicap. Coached by veteran Innerleithen coach Charlie Russell, 13-year-old Brus buzzed to a heat win and then produced a sizzling final run that saw her sail over the finishing line.
Coach Russell saw two more of his young protégés gain wins by firing on all cylinders in their respective events.
Ten-year-old Jake Houten of Cardrona (24m) followed up an impressive heat win in the youths’ 90m handicap B race by doing the business in the final.
Eve Huxley also shone for the Russell school by coming out on top in the A race of the youths’ 200m handicap.
Victory in the youths’ 200m B event went the way of Max Johnstone of Jed AC (64m), who excelled with winning shows in his heat and cross-tie.
Jack Amos (355m), another member of Jed AC, which boasts Brian ‘Chico’ Woods as coach, was a convincing victor of the youths’ 1600m handicap.