I HAD a chance meeting with Craig Grieve in Hawick High Street on Saturday afternoon.
The Jedburgh athlete was finishing work and closing the door of the Burtons clothing shop where he works.
We had a conversation during which he informed me that he was going to win the Hawick Border Games 110m handicap the following day.
His message was delivered quietly, but it was loud and clear – he fancied himself to do the business.
And almost exactly 24 hours later, Grieve lived up to his words in winning the Hawick sprint and becoming £1,000 the richer in the process.
Representing the TLJT Club, Grieve impressed in his heat when surging to victory on a rain-soaked track in 12.03 seconds from his 6m mark.
In his cross-tie, Grieve came in behind Steve Charters of Dolphinton (6m), but gained a final place by emerging second.
Come the final, Grieve, when facing odds-on betting favourite Charters, as well as Sean Grant of Innerleithen (10.5m), Ryan Trimby of Hawick (11.5m), Darren Tomlinson of Jed AC (13m) and Edinburgh’s Keiran Kivlin (5.5m), produced his best performance of the day through a scintillating run to break the tape in 11.88 seconds.
Kilvin was second and Charters third.
Victor of four handicaps last season and the recent winner of Earlston Games 60m invitation sprint, Grieve was delighted with his Hawick triumph and told TheSouthern: “I was pleased with the way in which I won my heat and although coming in second in the cross-tie I was confident I would win the final as I knew I had a lot more running in me.
“Steven Charters was the main danger, but by the 80m mark I knew I had victory in sight and it was great to have won the Hawick sprint.”
The 200m handicap brought about a remarkable result.
Remarkable, because its victor was a 79-year-old – Matt McMahon of Penton.
McMahon’s triumph was indeed astonishing. It astonished the crowd and McMahon himself. Never in a month of Sundays was the Penton veteran expected to win, but win he did. Competing from a big front mark of 72m, McMahon led the field coming down the home straight in the final. The pack were closing in, though, and it was expected McMahon would be caught and overtaken in the latter stages as normal.
However, it was the unexpected that happened as McMahon dug in deep and hung on to his lead to gain victory in 22.30 seconds.
Hawick athletes David Rae (18m) and Dylan Ali (18m) came in second and third.
Reflecting on his win, McMahon said: “I seem to have been running at the games for a hundred years and I just love it. Nowadays I don’t expect to win anything and although I always try my best I just run for fun.
“Near the finish I expected other runners to go past me. They didn’t, though, and I still can’t believe I won.”
Ewan Dyer of Pitreavie AC (14m) emerged a clear winner of the 400m handicap from clubmate Lewis Hunter (20m) and Ian Little of Langholm (28m) in 52.72 seconds.
In the 800m handicap, Little (80m) moved up the rankings when pulling off an excellent win. Showing a good stride from the gun, he took the lead on the last lap and kicked on to win in 1 minute and 57.25 seconds.
The other placings went the way of Andrew Thomson of Jed AC (75m) and Grant Kennedy of Glasgow (105m).
Following his win, 19-year-old Little, a relative newcomer to the games scene, commented: “I don’t belong to a club or a running school as there is nothing like that in Langholm, but hopefully this will change in the future.
“I have to train by myself and you have to push yourself, and that can be a bit testing. It’s all worthwhile if you get a win like this today.”
Hawick’s Ged Smith (280m) nailed his colours to the mast, gaining his first track win in five years when coming out on top in the 1,600m handicap.
Selkirk’s Alistair Laurie (320m) was out in front at the beginning of the last lap. Showing grit and determination, Smith took over the lead.
Coming down the final straight, Smith began to tire and with Kelso’s Wayne McIntosh in hot pursuit, a race was on. Smith, however, showed he still had something left in the engine and crossed the finishing line ahead of McIntosh and Ryan Milligan of Langholm (125m) in 4.38.86.
Delighted Smith told us: “At long last I got a win and it’s a great feeling. Coming down the home straight my legs felt like jelly, but I could hear the crowd cheering me and shouting my name and that kept me going.”
Hawick’s Ryan Elliot pulled out the stops to win the under-17 100m championship. The strong-running youngster lifted the title by powering to victory ahead of second and third-placed Jed AC pair Cameron Grieve and Rory Marshall in 11.80 seconds.
After having caught the eye through an impressive showing when running the junior 90m handicap at Earlston Games the previous week, 10-year-old Sam Archibald of Leithenburn (14.5m) starred again in winning the junior 90m handicap. Following a heat win, Archibald soared home in the final in a time of 11.93. Phillipa Robertson of Hawick (7.5m) came in second and Angus Bryce of TLJT (9m) third.
The Leithenburn club, which although perhaps small in numbers, has a wealth of promising young talent in its ranks, also produced the victor of the junior/youths’ 800m handicap in Craig Angus (185m).
The nine-year-old ran a great race from start to finish and gained the honours from Cameron Burnett of Gala Harriers (60m) and Mairi Wallace of Moorfoot (190m) in 2.03.42.
Coached by Charlie Russell, Ryan Houten of Cardrona (11.5m) took pride of place in the youths’ 90m handicap. Houten blitzed to his first games victory in the final when edging out Daniel Elliot (14m) and John Feeney of TLJT (14.5m) in 10.19.
Kyle Potts (17.5m) and Lewis Elliot (18m) both notched up victories for Hawick in winning the youths’ 400m and 200m handicaps respectively.