Veteran runner Gordon Eland upset the applecart at St Ronan’s Games on Saturday.
Despite having all the odds stacked against him, 69-year-old Eland, who suffered a heart attack in January, emerged victorious in the 100m handicap on the pastures of Victoria Park.
Although running off a big mark of 29m it was nevertheless a remarkable feat by Eland, who hails from Broughton in the heart of Cumbria.
Following wins in his heat and cross-tie, Eland found himself in the final of the event along with Geoff Keen of Selkirk (12m), Eoin Lowther of Jedburgh (7.5m), Connor Gillan of Kelso (6.5m), Angus Johnstone of TLJT (11.5m) and David Lauder of Hawick (12.5m).
Few thought that Eland would make the journey through the tape for a third time.
Eland, however, proved otherwise. Running from the front from the start, Eland held this position.
He was just not caught by the men behind him. It was as simple as that. Lauder emerged second and Gillan third.
A winning time of 10.69 seconds was recorded.
Eland said: “I have been running at the games in the Borders since I was 16. There has been a lot of travelling, but I don’t mind as I just love the games, as does my older brother Geoff who always comes with me.
“I had a heart attack at the beginning of this year and had a stent put in, but it hasn’t stopped me running. It was a 100m race today instead of the 110m and that suited me more.
“When I saw my mark I thought I might have a chance of winning and I just went for it.”
Another veteran to hit the winning trail was Tommy Finkle of TLJT (29m), who came out on top in the 200m handicap.
Victor of the Jedburgh Games 90m veterans’ handicap the previous week, 51-year-old Finkle dug in deep in the final to hold off a challenge from the strong Darcy Graham of Hawick (16m) and win in 22.56 seconds.
Graham was a close second.
Commenting on his victory, Finkle said: “I won the 200m handicap at St Ronan’s Games 32 years ago, so I have waited a long time to win it again. I was pleased with the way I ran today and it was a good win for me”.
Rory Anderson of Hawick (45m) ran extremely well from his back mark spot to do the necessary in the 800m handicap.
From the Alex Corbett school, Anderson hit the front before the home straight and strode on to cross the finishing line in 1 minute, 57.06 seconds, for his third win of the season.
Fellow Hawick athletes Stewart Fraser (45m) and Jordan Taylor (60m) got the other spots.
Alex Rowland of Falkirk (220m), a complete newcomer to the Border games circuit, won the 1,600m handicap with ease from Mark Young of Hawick (170m) and Nathan Cox of Morpeth Harriers in 4.20.78.
Hawick’s Ryan Elliot gained a photo finish win over Craig Gillan of TLJT and Leon Ali in 11.55 seconds (in the invitation sprint).
Ellis McKean of Hawick (23m) showed up well in winning the junior 90m handicap.
Caris Brus of TLJT (16m) also excelled when triumphing in the youths’ 90m handicap.
Hawick’s Tom Fowler (32m) took the honours in the junior 200m handicap.
In the youths’ 200m handicap, Marshall Smith of Eyemouth (22m) fired on all cylinders to emerge a fine winner.
Fourteen-year-old Euan Hood of Peebles (160m) gave a tip top show in winning the youth’s 1,600 metres handicap.
Michael Smith of Leithenburn (165m) was the winner of the 800m youths’ handicap for the American Cup (confined).
In the 200m handicap for the New Zealand Trophy (confined), victory went the way of Jake Houten of Cardrona (36m).