Numbers may have been slightly lacking at Lauder Games on Sunday, due to numerous other athletics events going on around the country, but enthusiasm was there in abundance.
Set in the picturesque surroundings of Thirlestane Castle, the inaugural Lauder event was played out in glorious sunshine, much to the relief of the large number of supporters who had turned out despite warnings of torrential downpours.
Having been travelling up from the Lake District for more than 50 years to compete on the Border Games circuit, 68-year-old Gordon Eland said he would have come no matter what the weather, and was highly impressed with the series’ latest addition.
It certainly suited him as it was Eland who clinched the 90m sprint handicap event from his mark of 26m, ahead of visiting Aussie John Hilditch (12.5m) and Craig Smith (TLJT) (7.5m) who took second and third respectively.
Eland told The Southern: “There was a group of us who ran in races in our own area until we were about 15 and then we were told there was better money in the Borders so we started coming up.
“It was like a magnetic force pulling us.
“We have been coming ever since, although it is a smaller group now, and still thoroughly enjoy it.”
Eland also competes on the World Masters stage and added: “I’m looking forward to competing the 70s age group – it’s only 18-months away – so all this practice is standing me in good stead for that.”
In the Youths’ A group 90m, it was 13-year-old Ronan McKean who shone through in the end,
A regular on the Border Games circuit, along with younger sister Ellis, Ronan has been pushing hard for a place in the finals all season, and on Sunday, he managed to push it that bit further to clinch the win.
He told us: “That felt really good.
“I haven’t been getting in many finals lately, but I won last year in the younger age group and thought I had a good chance coming into it today.”
A member of the Billy Edgar (Hawick) running school, Ronan took up running to keep himself fit for rugby and football, and is now enjoying the sport so much he is hoping to keep improving and make a real name for himself on the circuit in the future.
The Youths’ B 90m was won by 10-year-old Angus Fuller from Chirnside, ahead of another TLJT pair, Isla Goodfellow and Emma Brus.
In the 200m events, TLJT runners Craig Smith and Angus Johnstone took the adult and Youths’ A titles respectively, while 10-year-old Keeley Womack from Hawick dug deep to take the Youths’ B race, cheered on by her entire family at the finish line.
The emergency services made their presence felt in the distance races, with Kelso fire fighter Colin Welsh (30m) burning up the track in the 800m title on his first foray onto local turf this season, and Innerleithen policeman Craig Rendle (150m) securing the 1,600m.
Rendle, whose impressive CV includes completing the Mont Blanc Mountain Marathon with some of his colleagues last month in aid of the St James’ Place Foundation cancer charity, managed to hold off a serious challenge from Welsh in the longer distance.
He said: “I had a wee look round with about a lap to go and saw Colin was just a wee bit behind, so I thought to myself if I just give it a wee bit push, I’ll be fine.
“I just managed to hang on, but I’m knackered, it was easier running the mountain.”
The race also featured half-mile specialist Kyle Potts, who had ran in the 200m heats as well as taking third place in the 800m.