THE rain fell, the thunder crashed and the lighting flashed, but Jedburgh Border Games nevertheless rolled on.
Although the games were held up for a spell due to the atrocious conditions, it would take more than the elements to bring this historic event, which was celebrating its 158th anniversary, to a complete standstill.
And the wet weather certainly did not dampen the running of 18-year-old Connor Hedley of Bedlington.
He conjured up his own brand of sunshine by taking pride of place in the Jed-Forest sprint and lifting the £3,000 first prize.
Competing from a mark of 12m, Hedley won his heat on the rain-lashed Riverside Park track in 11.63 seconds. Come his cross-tie however, Hedley was beaten, but qualified for a final spot as a fastest loser, lining up against TLJT pair Craig Grieve (8m) and Angus Stanners (9m) plus Iskan Barskanmay of Jed AC (6.5m), Ross Weir of Hawick (22m) and Sean Harris of Edinburgh (7.5m).
As if by call, the rain eased off for the final. The storm was not quite over, though.
Metres from the tape it appeared as though front-runner Weir was going to hold on to his lead, but Hedley ruled this out by coming in like a bolt from the blue with a storming finish to gain victory in 11.35 seconds.
Weir finished second and Grieve third.
Hedley told TheSouthern: “I come from a running family, my grandfather Brian, my uncle Eddie and my cousin John have all ran at Border Games in the past years, so it’s a great thrill for me to have won the Jedburgh sprint.
“I felt good when winning my heat, but then lost my cross-tie and thought my chance had gone until hearing I was fastest loser.
“It was a second opportunity so I had to really go for it and I managed to pull it off, but it was a really close final.”
Scottish amateur internationalist Nick Smith of Shaftsbury showed a touch of class when winning the Border Athletics 100m championship. Powerhouse Smith, who ran from scratch in the big sprint, scorched to a very impressive victory. The other placings going the way of Greg Turnbull of TLJT and Steven Charters of Dolphinton.
Emily Douglas of Jed AC (44m) came extremely close to putting victory Jedburgh’s way in the 200m handicap. Having showed up well in winning her heat in 22.39, Douglas, who is coached by Chico Woods, headed the field coming down the home straight and maintained her lead until being overtaken just on the post by Edinburgh’s Graeme Armstrong (32m).
Douglas was second and Geoff Keen of Selkirk (23m) third.
Craig Robertson of Pitreavie gave an excellent account of himself, notching up a double triumph in the 800m and 1500m handicaps. In the half-mile, Robertson (15m) took the lead in the home run-in from Andrew Thomson of Jed AC (72.5m) and duly strode on to do the business. Thomson clinched the second spot and Callum Whillans of Hawick (57.5m) was third.
Robertson, however, was not quite finished and come the mile he did it all again. Hawick’s Gary Law (385m) was out in front at the bell, with Stuart Somervail of Jed AC (160m) second. Somervail then moved ahead before the final bend, but Robertson (40m) hit the front position and from there on the race was his. Somervail and Colin Welsh of Kelso (25m) got the other spots.
Jedburgh’s Craig Gillan of TLJT pulled out the stops on his hometown track to take the invitation 100m handicap. Producing his best running of the season, Gillan blitzed to victory ahead of Craig Smith of Tullibody and Drew Lauder of Hawick.
In-form Bruce Scott of TLJT (6.5m) recorded his fifth win of the term by gaining the honours in the veterans’ 90m handicap. Following a heat win in 10.24, Scott won the final from Tom Bradley of Edinburgh (13.5m) and John Paxton of Hawick (4.5m).
Former amateur boxer Paddy Jumella of Edinburgh (28m) proved to be a real knockout in the 400m handicap. The one-time Leith Victoria fighter emerged a clear winner from Hawick pair Dylan Ali (26m) and Ryan Trimby (30m) in 51.10.
After having triumphed in the youths’ 90m handicap (confined to Jedburgh) in the morning events, Craig Smith (TLJT) soared to another win in the afternoon, this time in the youths’ 90m open handicap – Smith (12.5m) securing victory in a photo finish. Hawick’s Darcy Graham (11.5m) and Ryan Laidlaw of Innerleithen (11.5m) were second and third respectively.
Games newcomer Smith said: “I have only been training for five weeks and it’s the first time I have ran at the games. I am a bit surprised to have won twice.”
Twelve-year-old Calder McLean (6.5m) continued Leithenburn’s recent winning streak in the junior 90m handicap. First-time winner McLean surged to a tip-top victory in the final. Michael Dennis of Edinburgh (4m) was second and Eve Huxley of Innerleithen (6m) third.
In the junior 200m handicap, Scott Armstrong of Durham (16m) got into the winning frame by romping home ahead of Michael Dennis of Edinburgh (8m) and Fergus Rule of Leithenburn (12m).
Victory in the youths’ 200m went the way of Edinburgh’s Ben Robbins (3m). He produced a grandstand finish to overtake Darcy Graham of Hawick (25m) in the final. Graham was second and Jordan Charters of Lasswade (3m) a place behind.
Amy Campbell of Hawick (320m) and Marshall Smith of Gala (320m) were the early leaders in the youths’ 1,500m handicap. At the end of the race, though, it was Ruaridh Brittan of Moorfoot (175m) who was out in front, winning from Kobe Stevens of Moorfoot (130m) and John McLean of Selkirk (30m).
In the morning races, Josh Kerr of Edinburgh produced some great running to win the youths’ 800m from scratch, Kyle Potts (30m) took the 400m youths’ race, while Scott Armstrong of Durham (20m) won the youths’ junior 200m handicap.
Scott’s dad, Neil Armstrong (6m) emerged the victor of the 70 handicap, while Tam Harker (10.5m) took the 60m handicap for men over 45 years. It’s the third time the evergreen Harker has won this hotly-competed event.