Memorable day for visitors and locals at Highland Games

Experienced riders took part in a variety of cycling events at St Andrews.
Experienced riders took part in a variety of cycling events at St Andrews.

The rain stayed away and a huge crowd thronged the arena in the Station Park for the 35th St Andrews Highland Games.

The Games, which take place in the shadow of the famous Old Course Hotel, are now one of the most popular on the circuit among both spectators and competitors.

The crowd was boosted by a large number of overseas visitors, many taking part in the special races put on for them.

An afternoon of non-stop action featured Highland dancing, solo piping, heavy events, tug o war, running and cycling, as well as fun races for the children.

The running events brought together competitors from the Highlands to the Borders as well as Canada andthe USA.

The youth runners outnumbered the seniors on this occasion, which was encouraging to see.

Such was the entry for the 800 metres, it had to be split into separate races for boys and girls, while a youth relay was also added to the programme.

There was local success, with Isla Thoms, Balmullo, out-battling Archie Suttie, Anstruther, to win the Youth 1600 metres,

Victory in the boys’ 800 metres also went to Archie Suttie.

The girls’ 800 metres saw victory go to Kerry McIntosh, Clydesdale AC, who crossed the line ahead of Anna Suttie, Anstruther, and Hannah Steel, Lothian Running Club.

Prizes to the first three were presented by current GB internationalist Sarah Inglis who, next month, will run the 5000 metres for GB at the European Cup team international in Poland. Sarah is a former SHGA female athlete of the year.

Ryan Morrison, Kirkcaldy, finished third in the final of the youth 90 metresbut had better fortune in the 200 metres, storming through to take the tape ahead of Kyle McFarlane with Robbie Morrison in third place.

In the Open 90 metres handicap, former finalist Ian McEwan of East Kilbride snapped the worsted ahead of winners from the previous two days, Douglas Young, of Kelso, who won at Langholm on the Friday, and Samantha Turnbull (TLJT), victorious the previous day at Airth.

Callum Letham (Central AC) won a closely-contested 200 metres from Craig Bruce (Selkirk) and Natasha Turnbull (TLJT).

Bruce went one better in the 400 metres, winning the battle to the line over Ewan Bradley (Inverness), with USA athlete Damien Wehrley third.

Despite running from a pulled mark for his success at Airth the previous day, David Allan (Balloch) still had enough in the tank to edge out veteran Don Bradley (Inverness) in the 800 metres handicap, with backmarker Ron Loewen (Canada) making rapid late headway to finish third.

The Canadian again finished third in the 1600 metres behind John Thomson (Glenrothes) and Jamie Massie (Forfar). Thomson had won the same race at the same venue 30 years prior.

In the longest running event of the day, Canadian Loewen finally made his games debut a winning one as he came through the field from the backmark of 110 metres to take the tape ahead of John Thomson, with the previous day’s Airth Games winner, Dean Whiteford of Innerleithen, in third.

One of the fastest runs of the day came in the ladies overseas visitors’ race.

The crowd was astonished by the speed of the woman who broke clear of the large field to storm to victory.

It was later transpired she was an international tri-athlere from Switzerland.

Ten bikers contested the cycle events – many still suffering from the exertions in the conditions at Airth the previous day.

The opening 800m went to Davy Mathieson of Newburgh, from Paul Gallacher (Kirkcaldy) and Paul Anderson of Perth.

Lewis Stewart (Glasgow) came through from the backmark to take the 1600m, with Gallacher again second and Mathieson third.

Gallacher eventually got his wheel over the line first in the 3200m, with James Melville of Dumbarton and Craig Hamilton of Edinburgh filling the minor berths.

The final cycle event, the Deil tak the Hindmost, went the way of Lewis Stewart, from Paul Gallacher and Craig Hamilton.

Grampian Tigers brother and sister, Reubens and Heidi Thomson, shared the top prizes in the three bike races, with Heidi winning the 800m and Reubens the 1600m and one lap handicap. East Kilbride’s Aaron Murray was runner-up in all three.

The prizes in the heavy events were well shared. Stuart Anderson (Lochearnhead) won the 22lb hammer, 28lb weight for distance and caber. David Melnicuk (Aberdeen) was the victor in the 22lb shot putt and shared top spot in the weight over bar with John McLeod (Lochinver). The latter also won the 22lb shot putt.

Greg Walker (Fettercairn) was successful in the 16lb hammer contest.

An enthralling tug o war contest was won by the team from Moffat.