Rain the previous evening dampened down the red ash track at the Ballast Bank and it made for some exciting competition at the Inverkeithing Highland Games on Saturday.
It wasn't surprising that with the quicker under-wheel conditions the cycling events were the best seen on the circuit this summer. The field of 10 was boosted by three riders who were making their debuts, Tom Roper from Penrith, Julian Pearson ,Lancaster and Gavin Shirley,Castle Douglas.
They all had to play second fiddle however to Gus Gillies, Peebles who won three of the five races on the card including the Scottish 6,400 metres Championship.
Gillies, who earlier in the season took the Scottish 8000 metres title at Markinch showed his intent in the opening 800 metres handicap crossing the finish line ahead of Paul Gallagher,Kirkcaldy and James Melville,Dumbarton. The Borderer had to settle for second place in the 1600 metres handicap where victory went to Englishman Julian Pearson with Gavin Shirley in third.
The 6,400 metres Scottish Championship was a thriller of a race, in a contest where the lead changed hands on numerous occasions it was Gillies who gained the upperhand over the last lap to see off the determined challenge of leading English grass track rider Tom Roper with Scottish 1600m and 3200m champion Charles Fletcher,Grantown on Spey in third.
The 3200 metres handicap went to one of the front markers, although when Daniel Clark,Newburgh crossed the line he was being rapidly closed down by the chasing pack headed by James Melville and Julian Pearson.
Man-of-the-moment Gillies roudned off a good day by seeing off all challengers to win the concluding Deil tak the Hindmost.
Similar to the cycling the running events were boosted by a trio of English athletes from Oxford who were returning following a spell of competing on the circuit in 2015.
Former New Year Sprint winner David Lauder,Hawick showed his liking for the red ash surface by racing to victory in both the 90 metres and 200 metres handicaps, running from the 13 metres mark in the 90m he came through strongly over the last few metres to overhaul female duo Jessie Concannon,Dunfermline[16m], who also reached the final at St Andrews the previous week and Eve Huxley,Pitreavie AC[16.50].Kevin Eddie,Kelty,Willie Bates,Tullibody and Geoff Keen,Selkirk made up the six runner final.Lauder who also won this race in 2012 commented ''I only win Inverkeithing in Olympic years''!
Despite being penalised two metres, Lauder again proved too strong in the 200 metres handicap as he out-battled Willie Bates and Geoff Keen to take the tape in 21.58s.
It was great once again to see double figure fields for both the 800 metres and 1600 metres handicaps,
There was local success in the 800 metres with recent Burntisland winner Kyle Henderson,Pitreavie AC[80m] having to pull out all the stops to deny Ross Mathieson,Woodford Green who produced a great run from the scratch mark to finish a rapidly closing second, Tyler White,Pitreavie AC took third.
There was an English 1-2-3 in the 1600 metres with victory going to John Entwhistle,Oxford Uni[100m] who came home in 4:17.76 ahead of Charlotte Arter,Cumbria[240m] with James Taylor,Oxford Uni[140m] in third.The English contingent are expected to compete at a few of the games over the next couple of weeks.
Rory Muir,Aberdeen AC who heads off to Rio on Wednesday to support his sister Laura at the Olympics rounded off the day by winning the 400 metres handicap, he had to run all the way to the tape however to wear down Craig Bell,Forfar with backmarker Ross Mathieson finishing third.
Current SHGA Youth league leader Sean Bates,Tullibody came out on top in a close finish to the Youth 90 metres handicap, running from a start of 16.5 metres he edged out fast finishing backmarker and recent Burntisland winer Billy Doyle,Pitreavie AC[3.5] in 10.51s, Steven Bates, Tullibody was close up in third, Aaron Russell,Innerleithen,Samantha Turnbull and Imogen Lewis both Peebles completed the final line up.
Billy Doyle[7m] produced another fine run in the Youth's 200 metres but again had to settle for the runners up spot this time behind Donald McLean,Giffnock who was winning his first ever race on the games circuit,Aaron Russell took third place.
Another first time winner was 9 year old Lucy Nuttall from Anstruther who raced to victory in the Open 800 metres handicap in !:53.91,
Donald McLean was second with another debutant Ruby McNair,Pitreavie AC in third. For a long time in the Youth's 1600 metres handicap it looked as if the latter might hang on from her mark of 450 metres but was reeled in as the runners came off the final bend with backmarker Connor Allan,Pitreavie AC timing his run to perfection before going on to stop the clock at 5:00.86. Steven Bates took second with Donald McLean in third.
The heavy events were the victim of there being eight different Highland Games on up and down the country on the same day, it meant only three competitors contested the events on the Ballast Bank. It was a successful day for Sebastien Wenta,Poland who won all eight disciplines, Stuart Anderson,Lochearnhead took all the second places with Rafel Obrebski,East Kilbride the thirds.
Published: 2016-08-06 21:29:52