Borderers taking part in delay-hit Edinburgh new year sprint given two months to prepare

Borders athletes in training for 2022’s delay-hit Edinburgh new year sprint have now been given a date to work towards.

By Darin Hutson
Thursday, 2nd June 2022, 3:40 pm
Selkirk's Craig Bruce taking part in 2019's Edinburgh new year sprint meeting, held at Musselburgh (Photo: Stewart Attwood)
Selkirk's Craig Bruce taking part in 2019's Edinburgh new year sprint meeting, held at Musselburgh (Photo: Stewart Attwood)

The event, traditionally held in early January, was put back to the start of July last year due to coronavirus restrictions and it will be even later this year because of hold-ups besetting the opening of the capital’s new Meadowbank Sports Centre.

Dates have been fixed at last, though – Saturday and Sunday, July 30 and 31 – and a timetable has been announced giving a running order for proceedings beginning with 800m open handicap heats at 11.15am on the 30th and culminating with the 110m sprint itself, to be contested by a field of 67, including 14 Borderers, at 3pm on the 31st.

Handicaps were set in January, but, given that six months will have elapsed by the time the 153rd sprint finally goes ahead and that it will be preceded by events including the Border Games beginning at Earlston this Saturday, they’ll be reviewed nearer the time and adjusted if appropriate.

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A draw for heats for the sprint to be contested by five or six runners has also been carried out, with the Borders being represented in eight of the dozen lined up.

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 8.5 metres on 17.5m, with second-placed Boyle back 7.5m on 15.5m.

The other 13 Borderers’ handicaps, for now, see Young on 3.5m, Fleming on 13m, Ryan Elliot on 7.5m, McMichan on 12m, Borthwick and Patterson on 12.5m, Armstrong on 7.5m, Tindle on 8.5m, Craig Bruce on 9m, Colin Bruce on 18m, Fojick on 18m, Blair on 19m and Scott Elliot on 20m.

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.