Last Saturday (30th November), the brave runners of Teviotdale Harriers were not going to let the overnight frost (which had cancelled most of the towns other sporting action) stop them from their annual Burns Club races and they descended onto the Common Haugh for an afternoon of enthralling handicapped racing writes Euan Welsh.
The first race of the afternoon was the U13/U15/U17 Boys competing for the main event, the Burns Club Trophy, over an enduring 2.4 mile round the outskirts of Wilton Lodge Park. Six runners took off from the Haugh and it was Sam Allott who lead the way after the opening mile setting a fast pace and asking questions of those in pursuit behind him. In the final mile, the back markers of the race, Robbie Welsh, Irvine Welsh and Calum Renwick made good ground, quickening with every stride and in the final few hundred metres it turned into a battle of two brothers as Robbie and Irvine fought for the title. Robbie, who had held Irvine off for the majority of the race finally fell away and it was Irvine who would go onto take the Burns club Trophy in an a time of 19.46, five seconds clear of Robbie (19.51) with the podium being completed by back marker Calum Renwick (20.10) who also claimed fastest time for the race in what was a tremendous effort.
The boys were running over a new route and a further distance which was introduced this season with their race being started in conjunction with the U15/U17 Ladies race who were contesting for the John Elliot Trophy. Twelve ladies, including two debutants head off on the new route, with past Ladies captain Ann Aitken making a statement in the opening stages. On the comeback from injury, Lauren Corbett was running comfortably in her efforts to lead the race, with teen flyers Maisie Ballantyne and Ava Hughes also making their presence felt in the middle to latter stages. Towards the close of the race, experienced Corbett would quicken and fiend off any late surge that newcomer Victoria Campbell gave, taking the victory in a time of 20.05. Campbell took silver (20.10) and 13 year old Ava Hughes finished well (20.12) to take bronze.
The second set of races to get underway was the U11 boys (Ian Watson Memorial Shield) and the U13/U11 girls (Stan Reid Trophy) over 1.4 miles. Ten boys set off at a fast pace with back markers James Wood and Greg Watson knowing they had to go flat out if they were to contend for medals come the final few hundred metres. Alfie Walker did well to get himself into the lead and with his eyes set firmly on the finish line he managed make a dash for the line break the tape comfortably in a time of 9.49 with front runners Calan Pender-Mills (9.58) and McLaren Welsh (10.00) second and third respectively.
In the girls race, nine budding athletes galloped off on their search for the Stan Reid Trophy and as expected with a short course it was the front markers who held their positions. Freya Walker gained confidence with every stride and once she was in front there was no looking back, breezing to victory in a solid time of 9.36. Alyx Armstrong was next over the line (10.17) and Emily McLeod was third (10.21).
In the final race of the day, 18 men set off on the same course that the ladies and boys had covered earlier in the afternoon. Club stalwarts Jim Pittilo and Frances Cannon set the pace in the early stages with Frank Birch and Alan Samuel also running well at the halfway point. It was at this point that some of the younger blood made their efforts to try and catch the front runners. Euan Welsh hit the front with 600 metres to run and despite determined efforts from the talented Rory Anderson and spirited Scott Watson, Welsh would take the title (21.20), his first in the harriers vest, with Frank Birch (22.19) second and Paul Lockie (22.27) third.