Several Hawick athletes are bidding for glory in the 147th New Year Sprint which carries a first prize of £4,000.
The prestigious event, which is being held for the 147th time, has a new-look format this time around. And it’s a reshaping that has raised a few eyebrows.
The heats take place on the all-weather tartan track at the Meadowmill Sports Centre at Prestonpans today (Wednesday). However, the cross-ties and final are being staged on Friday at Musselburgh Racecourse in conjunction with a horse racing meeting.
Heat winners and the eight fastest losers progress to the cross-ties (semi-finals), while the cross-tie winners and the four fastest losers will make up the eight-strong final.
Under the watchful eye of enterprising coach Che Campbell, Hawick Sprint Club has five set to get down on their marks in the sprint handicap.
The stylish and strong-running Dylan Ali, who nailed his colours to the mast when putting himself into the record books when winning the self same sprint in 2014, is off a mark of five metres.
Competing from 11.25m is Dylan’s elder brother Leon, while Gordon McPherson is off 14m. Also representing the Hawick Sprint Club are the Selkirk father-and-son team of Colin and Craig Bruce who are on marks of 15m and 12m respectively.
Campbell said: “After the summer games season was over, a five-month plan was drawn up for the runners in the club who wanted to run at the New Year. And I’m very happy with the way this has been working.
“From the first day that training started every angle has been covered. I’ve had a gym which is basically a giant shed built in my back garden, so this has taken care of the gym work. Training has been done on grass in Hawick as well as on the tartan track at Tweedbank, so the guys have been well prepared to run on both surfaces.”
Campbell added: “Sprinting might be looked upon as an individual sport but it’s also very much a team sport as I’ve been seeing this for the past few months. Dylan, Leon, Gordon, Colin and Craig have all been helping each other out at training. A lot of hard graft has been done and I’m well pleased with the way things are going.”
Bidding for sprint glory for the David Grieve school are cousins Jack and Corey Wilson, both of whom are on 12.5m.
Grieve said: “Both Jack and Corey have been really sticking in at training. They’ve worked very hard and they should run well. Their training has been on grass and tartan. Personally I think it’s a bit silly that the sprint is being run on two different surfaces and with a day gap. And I’m not alone with this view as many others are thinking the same. But that’s the way it is and you just have to accept it.”
Another Hawick stable involved in the sprint is the David Rae camp. Along with the school’s only other representative, Jedburgh-based Eoin Lowther, 12m, Rae is in action himself from 12.5m.
He said: “I’ve no chance of winning anything, however, I want to run as I like to support the New Year Sprint and feel it is very important to do so.
“Eoin has been showing up well in training, though. He’s very keen and should do okay.
“It’s hard to try and pick a winner of the sprint as the race is wide open. But I can’t really see it being a back-marker and think the winner could be anything from eight to 12 metres.”
Hawick’s Glyn Desport, a member of the Graeme Armstrong running school from Edinburgh, competes from 10m.
Race back-marker is Berwick teenager Cameron Tindle, last year’s New Year Sprint victor. Representing Edinburgh Athletic Club, Tindle is on 2m.