In one of the most open New Year Sprints for a number of years East Kilbride AC's Calum McWilliam made it back to back wins for coach Gordon Bury following the win of Greg Kelly 12 months prior.
Following Saturday's heats at Meadowmill it was difficult to determine a favourite with many of the qualifiers all within a narrow time differential.
On the day of the x ties and final at Musselburgh Racecourse bits and pieces of money came for a few of the fancied athletes and it was twice runner up Ryan Houten,Peebles who emerged as a marginal favourite before the x ties were run.
In the first of the four semi finals last years winner Greg Kelly East Kilbride AC powered through the field from the back mark of 5 metres to stop the clock at 11.63 seconds edging out William Hutchison,Lasswade AC who was the fastest up in the heats 48 hours earlier and also winner of the 90 metres handicap. Hutchison's time of 11.68 saw him progress to the final as a fastest loser.
X tie 2 saw 16 year old Alexander Young Larkhall YMCA AC come right into the reckoning with an impressive run, Young, the winner of the biggest sprint on the Highland Games circuit in the summer at Bridge of Allan was a strong fancy before Saturday's heats but only qualified as a fastest loser, he left that run well behind to record an excellent time of 11.54 seconds.
X tie 3 as expected was a close run affair with Kieran Reilly,Lasswade AC recording a time of 11.70 to touch off Max Leslie, Edinburgh AC 11.74 and Cameron Caldwell 11.75. Leslie made the final as a fastest loser with Caldwell just failing by 100th of a second..
A similar margin of 1/100th seperated the first two runners in the final x tie with Calum McWilliam ,East Kilbride AC getting the verdict over Ryan Houten,Peebles, the latter actually passed McWilliam mid race but the East Kilbride man battled back to nail the verdict. Kyle Potts Hawick excelled to book his lane in the final with his 3rd place time of 11.74.
Such was the openness of the final only a point covered the first five in the betting, similar to before the x ties it was once again Houten who went to the marks as favourite.
A 20 minute spell of persistent rain prior to the final being run softened the track and had the supporters scratching their heads as to who would adapt best to the changed conditions. They weren't long in finding out with Calum McWilliam, whose only sprint win in the summer came in bottomless ground at Stirling Games blasted down the track and crossed the line a stride ahead of his rivals in 11.80 seconds.
There was a four way photo for second with William Hutchison finishing just ahead of Ryan Houten, Greg Kelly and Kieran Reilly. Alexander Young,Kyle Potts and Max Leslie finished 6th, 7th and 8th respectively.
The racecourse once again proved to be a great stage for the historic race with all the action played out in front of packed stands and the race shown worldwide on ITV Sport/Racing UK. Every athlete was individually introduced in the cross ties and final by racing commentator Gareth Topham and flashed up on the big screens around the racecourse.
Thoughts now turn to the 150th anniversary in 12 months time.
Published: 2018-01-01 20:34:33