Last weekend was one to forget for those good people who mark out our tracks on the Games circuit with metric-mayhem prevailing at both Newburgh Highland Games on the Saturday, and again 24 hours later at the Peebles Beltane Sports in the Borders.
The 'faux pas' wasn't long in coming to light at Newburgh. When Steven Park won the first of the 3 heats in the 90 metres in a time of 8.77s eyes were being turned in the direction of the time-keeper, however, following Victoria Stephens romping home in heat 2 in 8.71 and Eion Lowther winning heat 3 in 8.68 it was obvious that something was not right, and that was, that the track was well short.
Because there was no huge differential in the times, it was decided just to leave it and run the final over the same distance with the same handicaps. The final turned out to be a fairly good race, but it came as no surprise [and with no disrespect to the winner] that one of the front-markers crossed the line first.
I now believe the track was measured in yards and not metres.
Who would have believed a similar scenario could have arisen the following day at Peebles, well it did, but in contrast to the track the previous day being too short, on this occasion it was the opposite.
Eventual race winner Fraser Neil won the opening heat of the 110 metres handicap in good style but in a fairly slow 12.59s, the next few heats followed in a similar vein with the times again slow.
Something was amiss, and after great confusion and debate the mystery was solved. The track had been measured incorrectly, and was 120m instead of 110m. It was decided the results would stand and instead of the fastest losers it would be the second placed runners in the heats who would go forward to the cross-ties.
Such incidents are very rare but they certainly don't do the handicappers any favors. At least the runners who contested the heats at both meetings still ran the correct accumulative distance if circumstances had been normal!
On a serious note however, as someone who marks out tracks for various games[not Newbiurgh] it's a thankless task starting out from nothing on a grass field. Runners turn up and run, often with no thought of how or who set up their stage to perform on, so lets not be too harsh on the guys at Newburgh & Peebles.
There is a mathematical formulae which can be utilized to mark out any size of track exactly, that is of course if you have an adequate grass area which allows you to do so. 9 times out of 10 on the Games circuit that is not the case. Mostly you have to make do with the space available, as the pear shape tracks with their hair pin bends at Burntisland and St Andrews bear witness.
Despite the vagaries of the various terrain that competitors endure on their travels around the games circuit, in the main they will find, that measurement-wise at nearly all the tracks is very much correct, despite their shape and underfoot[or wheel] conditions.
Lets just put last last week down to, just one of those things....or two, or maybe it was just mid-summer madness.
Published: 2015-06-25 16:35:53