Skills and prowess on display in colourful Ceres of events

The Ceres squad in the tug of war competition (picture by Dave Scott)
The Ceres squad in the tug of war competition (picture by Dave Scott)

It was bright and breezy on the Bow Butts for the 703rd anniverary of the Ceres Highland Games.

To add to the thrill, all the action takes place within the tight confines of a 200 metres circuit.

The big crowd that surrounded the arena was treated to a full programme of running, cycling, wrestling, heavy events, tug o’ war, Highland dancing and solo piping. The City of St Andrews Pipe Band was also in attendance.

The biggest prize of the day on the track is £200, which goes to the winner of the Open 90 metres handicap. It was won by Borders veteran Tommy Finkle, from the TJJT club, who broke the tape in 10.01 seconds ahead of Graeme Armstrong (Edinburgh and Geoff Keen (Selkirk).

The latter finished in the same position in the Open 200 metres Handicap, won by Willie Bates (Tullibody) in 22.59 seconds. He held off the strong late challenge of Francis Smith (Woodford Green).

There was a good field of 10 runners for the Open 800 metres Handicap, where victory went to Dean Whiteford (Innerleithen). Running from the 40m mark, Whiteford came home ahead of Willie Bates and Craig Bell (Forfar) in 2 minutes 2.70 seconds.

The Open 1600 metres Handicap was one of the races of the day, similar to the previous week at Newburgh.Angela Bell (Forfar) looked to have the race in her grasp, only to be overhauled as she entered the home straight for the final time. On this ocassion, she was reeled in by Greg Walker (Hawick), who broke the tape in 4 minutes 40.14 seconds. Angela stayed on determindly to stave off the late thrust of Matt Dougall (Gala) to claim the runners-up prize.

Rebecca Burns (Edinburgh AC) recorded her second win in the space of 20 hours by racing to victory in the 3000 metres Handicap.

Showing no signs of tiredness following her 1600 metres win the previous evening at the City of Edinburgh meeting, Burns strode out majestically to land the spoils in 10 minutes 10 seconds. Dean Whiteford followed her over the line for second, with backmarker Rory Anderson (Hawick) coming through late to snatch third place from Angela Bell.

Only six athletes contested the three youth events on the card. Each race, however, produced a different winner. The 90 metres saw frontmarker Lucy Nuttal (Fife AC) break the tape in 10.15 seconds to thwart last year’s winner Sean Bates (Tullibody), who finished runner-up with brothers Edouard and Gaspard Lecrivain (Aberdeen AC) dead-heating for third place.

The Lecrivain brothers had to settle for the minor berths in both the 200 metres and 800 metres events. Sean Bates was the victor in the 200m in 24.13, with Gaspard and Edouard second and third respectively. The second and third placings were reversed in the 800 metres when they finished behind Hayley Brown (Fife AC). The Glenrothes runner turned in a fine performance to win her first ever race on the Games circuit.

Eight cyclists contested the four bike races on the card. The tight 200 metres circuit has seen its share of thrills and spills over the years – and there was almost another when a youngster strayed on to the circuit during the 1600 metres SHGA Championship.

Fortunately, for the young boy and the cyclists, the danger was averted thanks to the quick thinking of the riders who took evasive action to avoid a collision.

The race itself saw the title retained by the in-form Charles Fletcher (Grantown on Spey), who came home ahead of Paul Gallacher (Kirkcaldy) and Gus Gillies (Peebles). Fletcher went on to land a treble, with wins in the 3000 metres Handicap and Deil tak the Hindmost events. He just failed to make it successive clean sweeps when he was held off in the 800 metres Handicap by Steve Jackson (Glasgow).

Five competitors contested the heavy events, where Sinclair Patience (Tain) was the dominant force, winning the Shot Putt, Ceres Stane, Caber for Distance and Traditional. He shared the first prize in the Sheaf Pitch with Dan Carlin (Renfrew). The latter also won the 56lb weight for height.