Running for the love of it

It went under the banner of professional running many years back and nowadays it’s known as open athletics.

No matter what you want to call it, the games season comes out of its blocks on Saturday, and hits the finish line in mid September and will feature runners of all ages.

And right there amongst them will be Ancrum veteran runner Iain Heard.

He is what the games scene is all abou t– he has never won a major event and rarely had the glory of reaching a final.

Nevertheless, he invariably pulls on the spikes and goes out on the track, where he gives his heart and soul, hoping his big day will come.

Fifty-four-year-old Iain told The Southern: “I love running at the games. It’s a big passion of mine. Sure, I might not have won much and it’s nice to win something, but it’s not all about winning. I just like the running.

“The patter and the banter between the runners is great. There is a brilliant camaraderie.”

Iain, however, came into the game at a late age.

He said: “I was 38 before I started running at the games. I had always done a bit of running but had done nothing competitively until being talked into appearing on the games circuit by a good friend of mine, Jack Law from Ancrum.

“My first run was at Hawick Games, when they were held on the rugby pitch at Mansfield Park. The handicapper was Adam Crawford and he gave me my mark on the day. I told him I wasn’t fit and had never ran before.

“Adam said if I as fibbing I would get a big pull in my mark the next time I ran. After he had seen me run, though, he knew I wasn’t fibbing because I was just terrible”.

Since his debut, Iain has appeared regularly on the games circuit.

Coached by Jock Steede, he has emerged a popular figure as fellow runners and crowds know that Iain always gives it his best shot.

He has not always been blessed with the best of fortunes – he went through a big knee operation which kept him out of action for quite a while, and once ended up in hospital after pulling his hamstring at Jedburgh.

But he has had some successes: “I have won veterans sprint races at Jedburgh, Pitlochry and Birnam Games and this gave me a big thrill, especially the Jed one,” he said.

“Even at my age I am chasing my dream.

“I would just love to win a big sprint. This might be impossible, but it’s what I am aiming for.”

The games circuit gets under way at Tweedbank with a full card of youths and seniors events.

Back marker for the senior 90m sprint is Jed AC’s Iskan Barskanmay, who runs off 5m.