Veteran runner surges to victory at Hawick Games

Graeme Armstrong, left, receives his trophy from David hush of Hawick Games (picture by Derick Thomson)
Graeme Armstrong, left, receives his trophy from David hush of Hawick Games (picture by Derick Thomson)
  • Hawick Races
  • Athletic action
  • High standards

Edinburgh’s Graeme Armstrong beat the age barrier as well as the opposition at Hawick Games on Sunday.

For 59-year-old Armstrong, an outsider with the bookmakers, upset the odds by winning the main event of the day – the 110 metres handicap.

I have been training hard during the winter and thought I might be in with a chance.

John Slorance

Competing from a mark of 22 metres, former Stirling Albion and Berwick Rangers footballer Armstrong looked good when breaking the tape in his heat in 12.01 seconds.

The Edinburgh veteran followed this up by clocking up a winning time of 12.05 seconds in his cross tie.

This victory earning him a last showdown along with Hawick trio Dylan Ali (3.5m), Leon Ali (10.5m) and David Lauder (16m), as well as Craig Bruce of Selkirk (10m) and Greg Turnbull of TLJT (5.5m).

The scene was set for an exciting final and, indeed, so it proved to be.

So much so that it ended in a photo finish, with Armstrong and Dylan Ali being the men in the frame.

Who had won the first prize of £1000 was anybody’s guess, and it took a long wait to find out.

However, after a delay in which the judges consulted the photo finish system seven times, a decision was made – and it was Armstrong who got the nod of approval.

A winning time of 11.83 seconds, the fastest of the event, was recorded.

Ali emerged the closest of seconds with Bruce third.

Members of the Tweed Leader Jed Track made it a day to remember by chalking up an excellent six wins on the Buccleuch Park track.

Sixteen-year-old Cameron Caldwell, in particular, emerged with flying colours through a splendid double triumph.

A young runner of great potential, Caldwell (6.5m) firstly blitzed to victory in the Novice Sprint handicap.

He was far from finished, though, as, two events later, he turned on the style again in the under 17 100 metres championship.

In an event in which all runners go from scratch, Caldwell scorched home in 11.78 seconds.

Commenting on his two-win show, he said: “I was happy just to have won one race but even happier to have won two.”

Scott Tindle (100m), the younger brother of high-flying top amateur runner Cameron Tindle, who had won the Earlston Games sprint from scratch the previous week, gave a fine account of himself in emerging the victor of the junior/youths 800m handicap in 2 minutes 32.37 seconds.

Producing some powerhouse running, Lee Goodfellow (23m) gave a top-notch show to take the 200 metres handicap.

Girl runners Molly Paterson and Kacey Taitt also did the business for TLJT.

Paterson (34m) recorded her win on the games scene through a fine show to take the youths’ 200 metres handicap.

Taitt (51m) also shone by gaining the honours in the junior 200 metres handicap.

Amy Smith of Lasswade (140m) put herself into the record books in being the first lady runner to win an 800 metres handicap at Hawick. Running well from start to finish, she recorded a winning time of 1 minute 58.43 seconds.

Coached by John Fleming, 12-year-old Ben Lyall, of Kelso, a new face to the games front, excelled in winning the junior 90 metres and junior/youths 400 metres handicaps.

North east of England man Paul Bellingham, of Cramlington, made the trip over the Border worthwhile by taking the 1600 metres handicap.

Going from a front mark of 310 metres, the 56-year-old, who normally gets overtaken in the latter stages of a race, held on to his lead this time round to win in 4 minutes 32.06 seconds.

Graeme Armstrong said of his win: “I have been running on the games circuit since the seventies and have managed to do well in the Borders, having won the St Ronans Games sprint twice as well as the Langholm Games sprint. Over the years, I have tried hard to win the Hawick sprint but have never been able to do this until today. I am over the moon that this has happened but it was hard going. The track is slightly uphill and that’s not good for a guy of my age. However, I have been training hard during the winter and, after winning my heat, I thought I might be in with a chance. The final was really close and, indeed, it couldn’t have been any closer. I was really thrilled to win it.”