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SHANE FENTON previews Braemar & Blairgowrie

From the Princess Royal & Duke of Fife Memorial Park to Bogles Field that is the scenario for competitors, officials and spectators alike on the Highland Games circuit this weekend.

This is the last double header of the season with Braemar Games on Saturday[5th] and Blairgowrie on Sunday[6th]. With Blair being on the road back from Braemar many make a weekend of it.
Quite a few take the opportunity to celebrate the season by taking in the entertainment and joining in the revelry of the famous Braemar Night in Blairgowrie's Wellmeadow.
For those who make it out the next day to Bogles Field - which is situated in on Lethendy Road - the hangover usually adds to the handicap for many!

Competition looks set to be keen with many of the SHGA  points league's still in the balance for both winners and places.

A number of the top athletes have contested the track & field events at Braemar over the years, this year will be no exception. All the heavy event cmpetitors love to have Braemar on their CV.  The games have hosted all the top throwers down the years including Capes, Rowe, the Anderson's, Davidson,Robb and the likes of Rider, Colthart and the Wenta's from the present day, and of course many more.

The Royal meeting also stages the SHGA British 80 metres championship and has been won by many of Scotland's top sprinters in the past, the race was formerly the 100 yards championship and was won by the likes of Dave Deas, Buckhaven in 9 and 14/16th's of a second in 1969, the legendary George McNeil is also a former winner as is Flying Fifer Bert Oliver who ran 9.8 in 1976.
All are former New Year Sprint winners as is William Snoddy USA who won the 80m in 1986 in 8.91s, then won the 90m handicap from scratch, in 9.81. Snoddy once held the record as the World's fastest man[wind assisted] over 100m.
From 2001, the race was dominated by former Scottish champion Nick Smith who took the title 10 years in succession, recording a time of 8.52 in 2002. Smith, who won the New Year Sprint in 2000 is still the fastest 100 metres man in Scotland this century.

This year, for the first time, Braemar will stage events for Youth athletes  [9-15yrs] including running,jumping and a relay, with hopefully the latter being staged in front of the Royal party.

Blairgowrie Games also stakes it's claim to a piece of track history, in 2005 Sarah Inglis, Lothian Running Club, [then 14] became and still is the only female athlete to win a mixed SHGA handicap race from the actual scratch mark. Sarah, who is currently on a scholarship at Trinity Western University in Vancouver, Canada gave starts to nine males and three females on her way to winning the Youths 1600 metres Handicap at Bogles Field. Sarah is currently among the top 4 ranked female athletes in Scotland at 1500m,3000m and 5000m.

The SHGA cycling league for both open and youth competitors is very close, the three remaining games at Blair, Pitlochry and Invercharron each stage events for both categories so the destination of the titles look like going right to the wire.

Both games also stage hill races which have been won in the past by some of the top names in that branch of the sport. For Games enthusiasts, this promises to be a not to be missed weekend.

Published: 2015-09-03 18:10:06