‘The best laid schemes of mice and men,’ Poet Robert Burns once penned. Had he witnessed Saturdays Burns Club races the Bard of Ayrshire may have felt compelled to change his opinion.
A special 50 year association between Hawick Burns Club and Teviotdale Harriers was marked with a highly competitive afternoons racing, culminating in the friendly hospitality of our local club.
Blessed by a cold but dry day, a bumper number of runners, both old and new, headed to the Common Haugh which overflowed with friends and families ready to support all who set foot on the start line.
As tradition, the first race of the day featured the Senior men competing for the Will Clark Trophy. ‘Thou need na start away sae hasty,’ was not the wisest strategy as six previous winners lined up alongside 16 others hoping to take home the title.
The starters stop watch and race handicap released runners, including the returning Sammy Walker racing alongside son Greg, along a 2.2 mile course that had to be altered slightly due to the ongoing Park regeneration, with back marker Rory Anderson ready to ‘rin and chase thee.’
As the handicap began to close, three time winner Brian Gibb took to the front. Brian proved to be a tough target to track down but with around 400m left to race, Brian was caught and passed by eventual winner and scratch runner Rory. Brian held on strongly for second place, his third silver in as many races, with Bruce Hughes having made steady progress through the field, fending off a late charge from Scott Watson to take third.
It was now the turn of the under 11 Boys, racing alongside the under 11/13 Girls on a course just over one mile for the Ian Watson Memorial Shield for the boys and the Stan Reid Trophy for the girls.
In the boy’s race, at the half way point heading past the Steve Hislop Statue, all 9 runners were still very much in contention. Sam Wight, Logan Kendal and Jamie Jack although competing in their first Harriers race were still in the mix.
Once he hit the front however, it was Irvine Welsh who managed to speed away and claim a 20 second victory, as well as fastest actual boy from the resolute Robert Wood in second with Shaun Chapman showing up really well to take third.
The girl’s race proved very similar to the boys with nearly all of the seven runners making the turn for home in close proximity. Young Gracie Dalgleish, assisted by her dad gamely ran on in her first Harriers outing.
With not much to split the top three, Ava Hughes mustered the strength required to hold off Nadine Elder to take the title. Nadine claimed silver and fastest actual girl with Maisie Ballantyne finishing fast for third.
The final race of the afternoon paired the under13/15/17 Boys alongside the under15 Girls/Ladies. The boys battled for the Burns Club Trophy whilst The John Elliot Trophy was at stake for the girls/ladies.
Also slightly altered to accommodate the ongoing work at the Park, the 1.8 mile course was keenly contested by an impressive 14 girls and ladies featuring first time competitors, Michelle Short, Sarah Legge, Nicola Hartop and Rachel Harris. Although not making the podium, all four should be pleased with their efforts which included Michelle claiming the fastest actual time.
Eventual winner and retaining her title, Lucy Ash really seems to enjoy this race and ran superbly to take the trophy home followed by fellow Langholm lass Macy Cropper who battled to take silver only one second ahead of bronze medallist Kirsty Hughes.
The boys race also went to the wire, with back marker Fraser Clyne only securing victory in the last 400m from Duncan Little. Leading the other 11 runners home, Fraser also retained his title from last year. Duncan produced a top notch run to secure silver with Harrison Hughes determinedly earning third as Jamie Waugh worked hard to close the gap.
Immediately following the races, all presentations were made in front of a sizeable crowd in the Burns Club. Life member Grant Moyes, on behalf of the Harriers began by presenting an engraved gift to the Burns Club as thanks for their contiuned support. First ever winner Tom Dagg was also on hand to present Fraser Clyne with the Burns Club Trophy, 50 years after claiming victory himself.
The Ploughman Poet may have wrote, ‘there is no such uncertainty as a sure thing,’ but I wouldn’t be too concerned with regard to the friendship between these two clubs. Here’s to another 50.
Alex Corbett’s photos here