The first was in 1881, the last in 2009, and sandwiched in between there have been seven others. A total of nine. Nine Hawick men who have put their names into the record books throughout the years in winning a historical sporting event.
An event that began in the winter of 1870 and is still going on. The New Year Sprint is the occasion and it’s all set to occur again on December 31 and January 1 at Musselburgh Racecourse.
Six Hawick athletes – Leigh Marshall (5.50m), Dylan Ali (7.50m), Jack Wilson (13m), John Paxton (15.50m), Drew Bryson (21.50m) and Megan Shiel (21.50m) will be getting down on their marks in a bid to put the Teri list of victors into double figures.
Marshall is no stranger to New Year Sprint glory, though, as he won the coveted event in 2008.
Recalling this, Marshall told the Hawick News: “It was the first time I had run at the New Year and I didn’t really expect to do much as I had just turned 20 and had only run for one season on the games circuit. So to win the sprint was a big surprise and a big thrill for me, as well as a great experience”.
Talking of the forthcoming 110m handicap, Marshall continued: “I’ve been training hard for the past few months along with Dylan Ali. We mainly train on the Hawick and Wilton cricket pitch and also go across to Tweedbank. Our coach, Davie Rae, is in charge of our training schedule, while Chay Campbell is our strength and conditioning coach. We have a physio in Steven Riddle, so we are well looked after and fit.
“I would love to do well in the sprint and I’m looking forward to it as I like to support the meeting.
“A few weeks after the New Year, I’m going to be running in the Scottish indoor championships, which is something different for me and I’m quite excited. Dylan Ali is doing the same and it’s a big thing for the pair of us.”
Talking of matters, Ali said: “I had a very good summer season as I had double wins at Blackford and Loch Lomond Games and also won races at Earlston and Thornton. Since the games season finished I’ve been training six times a week. It’s been hard work but I enjoy training and I’m very happy with my fitness.”
The 18-year-old added: “Normally running in the winter is completely different from the summer because of ground conditions. This year has been a bit different, though, for the weather has been good. There has been no snow and little frost or rain, so the grass tracks have been good to run on. It’s like running in the summer but a bit colder.
“I’m not sure how I will do but I’m well prepared and ready to go in the New Year Sprint”.
Veteran pair Drew Bryson and John Paxton, as well as young runners Megan Shiel and Jack Wilson, will also be flying the Hawick flag.
The heats of the sprint will be held on December 31, with the cross-ties and final on New Year’s Day.