The event, traditionally held in early January, was put back to the start of July last year due to coronavirus restrictions and it’s even later this year because of hold-ups besetting the opening of the capital’s new Meadowbank Sports Centre.
Proceedings begin with 800m open handicap heats at 11.15am on the 30th and culminate with the 153rd sprint itself, to be contested over 110m by a field of 67, including 14 Borderers, at 3pm on the 31st.
Initial handicaps were set in January, but they’ve since been revised in the light of performances at this year’s Borders Games meetings so far and other athletics events and might well be adjusted again at the weekend if appropriate.
A draw for heats for the sprint, to be contested by five or six runners, was carried out back in April, with the Borders being represented in eight of the 12 heats lined up for this weekend.
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Tweed Leader Jed Track Athletics Club’s Gordon Armstrong and Scott Tindle have been drawn in heat one, along with Jedburgh’s Scott Elliot.
Jedburgh’s Shellee Fojick and Hawick’s Ross Borthwick are in heat two, and the latter’s clubmates Ryan Elliot and Ryan McMichan are in heats four and seven respectively.
Selkirk’s Colin Bruce and Craig Bruce feature in heats five and nine respectively, with Kelso’s Douglas Young also running in the latter.
Heat six will see Hawick’s Jai Patterson and Kelso’s John Fleming competing, along with TLJT’s Janine Boyle, and Jedburgh’s Zoe Blair is drawn in heat 12.
The sprint’s return to Edinburgh next month follows 23 years in East Lothian – first at Musselburgh, then at Prestonpans.
Its £5,000 first prize makes the sprint – first run in 1870 at Powderhall in Edinburgh and won that time round by Jedburgh’s Dan Wight – the richest race in the open athletics calendar, and it also offers prize money of £1,000 for its runner-up and £500 for the runner finishing third.
The event’s one-mile race is also making a comeback over 50 years since it was last run in 1970 and promoter Frank Hanlon is marking the occasion by offering a £1,000 bonus for the first scratch runner to complete it in less than four minutes.
This year’s handicaps for the sprint currently put last summer’s winner, Edinburgh’s Molly Reville, back on 18.5m, with second-placed Boyle on 16.5m.
The other 13 Borderers’ handicaps, for now, see Young on 3m, Fleming on 14m, Ryan Elliot on 8.5m, McMichan on 9m, Borthwick on 13.5m, Patterson on 12.5m, Armstrong on 8.5m, Tindle on 9m, Craig Bruce on 10m, Colin Bruce on 19.5m, Fojick on 19m, Blair on 20m and Scott Elliot on 21m.
Dozens more runners from the region, including sprint contenders also having a go at other distances, feature among the entries for the main event’s supporting bill.
For further details, go to www.sportingworld.co.uk/newyearsprint