Galashiels runner Angus Stanners has appeared in a few finals in the open athletic scene, although victory has always eluded him.
In the sunshine, heavy rain and swirling winds at Selkirk Common Riding Games on Saturday, however, Stanners brought an end to that statistic. For the Gala flyer hit the high spots in winning the 110m handicap, which carried a prize of £1,000.
A student at Aberdeen University, 23-year-old Stanners (7m) showed it could well be his day when romping home to a heat win in 11.63 seconds, the quickest of the opening runs. Cross-tie triumph then handed him a final place along with home hope Geoff Keen of Selkirk (11.5m), Hawick’s Leigh Marshall (3m) and David Lauder (11.5m) as well as Billy Martin of Glenrothes (10m).
The last showdown on the rain-soaked Philiphaugh track saw Stanners soar to an impressive win in a time of 11.44 seconds. Keen was second and Marshall third.
Coached by Eddie McKenna in Aberdeen, Stanners said: “Bruce Scott from TLJT put me on to Eddie as he had coached runners when he stayed in Innerleithen. Eddie has helped me a lot and is a great coach.
“It’s really good to have won a sprint final and even more so when it’s in the Borders.”
Bruce Scott also put sprint victory the way of his TLJT Club by gaining the honours in the 90m (confined to Borders Region) handicap.
Running from a mark of 14.5 metres the Earlston veteran surged to a fine heat win and, in the final, the 54-year-old produced the goods again with another excellent run to break the tape ahead of fellow TLJT runners, Tommy Finkle (11m) and John Steede (23.5m).
Scott said: “I have had an injury and it was touch and go whether I should run or not. However, I am glad I decided to give it a go as I felt good and it was great to get a win.”
Eleven-year-old Angus Bryce got into the winning frame for TLJT as well. After showing up well in his heat in the 200 m juniors’ handicap, Bryce (14m) was triumphant in a thrilling final in which the result was decided by a photo finish.
Another to hoist the TLJT flag was Eoin Lowther (6m) who took the youths’ 90m handicap title.
Two Selkirk runners rose to the occasion at their home town games, pulling off splendid wins.
First to do the business was 12-year-old Callum Anderson who took pride of place in the juniors’ 90m handicap and, following his win in the 1,600m handicap at Hawick Games the week previous, Alistair Laurie (385m) won over the same distance from John Thomson of Coaltown (185m) and Chris Black of Kelso (90m).
Back marker Colin Welsh of Kelso (15m) gave a great account of himself to take the 800m handicap.
From the Adie Gray school, Welsh strode out from the gun and after moving through the field took the lead coming down the home straight.
The race, however, was far from over, as William Bates of Tullibody (75m) began to give chase, but Welsh held off the challenge to cross the finish line in first position.
Welsh said: “That was a tough race and my legs are like jelly.
“William Bates really surprised me in coming back at me the way he did and he pushed me all the way.”
Third place in the 880m went to Chirnside’s Cameron Burnett, anoher of Henry Gray’s stable who is enjoyed a successful season to date.
Henry Gray also coached Jamie Kinghorn (150m) of Chirnside, a young runner who has really caught the eye since the season began, was a convincing winner of the youths’ 800m while high-flying Daniel Elliot of Hawick (12m) took the youths’ 200m.
Jack Beattie of Rosyth (34m) won the senior 200m.