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Sunny Pitlochry provides glorious finale for SHGA season

SHANE FENTON reports from Recreation Park

The Pitlochry Highland Games once again provided a fitting finale for the 2018 SHGA season. Bathed in warm autumnal sunshine for the entire afternoon, the largest crowd for a number of years surrounded the Recreation Park arena cheering every heavy, runner, cyclist, dancer,pipe band and probably the loudest for the tug o war teams.

Nowhere on the circuit do the crowds interact with the competitors like they do at Pitlochry, the home straight terracing which was upgraded before the 2017 games was packed to capacity.
They were treated to an action packed afternoon of entertainment. Competitors came from all over Great Britain including 28 athletes from the Cambridge University Hares and Hounds.

With SHGA league points up for grabs it all added to the competitive nature of the competion.

The games staged SHGA Championships in running, cycling, jumping and Turg o War. The latter which was the British Championship was won in enthralling fashion by the team from Elgin, Cornhill finished runners up with last years victors Strathardle in 3rd and Moffat 4th.

On the track 8 runners lined up for the SHGA 1600 Championship four Scots and four from England. The race started at no more than a married man's pace, however once the ante was upped the trio of Oliver Fox,Wells City Harriers,Finlay Murray,Tain and Peter Cameron Edinburgh AC, broke clear and after a last lap battle it was Fox who prevailed to take the title back over the Border with Murray and Cameron 2nd and 3rd.

There was close finishes to both the Open and Youth 90 metres handicaps. The Open race featured runners who were chasing points in the leagues and victory went to leader David Allan Clydesdale AC who edged out Billy Doyle Pitreavie AC and women's league leader Samantha Turnbull. A great run from the backmarler Liam Woods East Kilbride AC in the Youth 90m had the crowd on their feet, agonisingly for the East Kilbride AC flyer the camera showed he had failed by the width of a vest to overhaul winner Fergus McKilp,Pitreavie AC, Tommy Beck TLJT finished in 3rd place.

Doyle gained consolation in the Open 400metres as he led home a Scottish clean sweep.

There was another Scottish 1-2-3 in the Open 800 metres with Sean Bates, Tullibody staying on courageously to hold off Finlay Murray and Peter Cameron, they were followed over the line by a big field of Cambridge athletes.

It was a different story in the Open 1600m and 3200m handicaps when the visiting Hares & Hounds runners came into their own, the 1600 was won by James Ackland, Cambridge Uni from William Dowd,Oban and Nancy Scott, Aldershot & Farnham AC, Oliver Fox finished 4th with Willie Bates,Tullibody and Dom Jaques,Enfield Harriers 5th and 6th respectively.

The 3200 metres had a total of 22 runners with almost an equal mix of male and female runners, it's the most I have ever seen for a race over that distance on the games circuit. It was won in tremendous fashion from the backmark by Oliver Fox.

SHGA Jumps league winner Ewen Bradley ended the season in style with wins in the High,Long and Triple Jumps.

As always there was big fields for the Youth 400 and 800 metres handicaps which are split into seperate races for boys and girls.All four races had a strong representation from the Leithenbuen and Pitreavie clubs .The Boys 400 metres was won by Leithenburn's Aaron Glendinning who held off Jason White TLJT and Caleb McLeod,Pitreavie AC. The Girls'quarter' saw Anna Suttie,Anstruther chalk up a win for Fife staying on gamely down the straight to thwart Grace Turnbull,Leithenburn and Lily Simom,Pitreavie. There was a Pitreavie 1- 2 in the Boys 800 metres with Kyle McFarlane taking the tape ahead of Caleb McLeod with Jason White in third.

There was an exciting finish to the Girls 800 metres with Gracie Linton,Leithenburn hitting the line a stride ahead of Lily Simon and Anna Suttie with joint backmarkers Skye Marshall Pitreavie AC and Hannah Steel,Lothian RC closing rapidly.Lucy Nuttal,Anstruther crept into the prizes in 6th place.

The Scottish athletic club relays was won for the 8th time out of 10 years by the team from East Kilbride AC. Despite dropping the baton at the final change over and lying in 4th place, Liam Woods running the anchor leg for the winners produced a breath taking 160 metres to take the title, joining him on the winners podium was his team mates, Taylor McManaman,Cara Gilbride and Oliver Selfridge along with coach Gordon Bury. The Pitreavie A and B teams finished 2nd and 3rd, Clydesdale 4th and Fife AC 5th.

There was a total of 18 cyclists in action 12 in the open and 6 youths. The highlight for the Open riders was the 3200 metres Championship of the Highlands which was won by Charles Fletcher,Grantown on Spey. The Cairngorm rider also won the Deil tak the Hindmost, victory in the 1600 metres went to Ryan Keir,Newburgh. Both the Youth races were won by Angus Hendry,Wick who was also the recipient of the Sir David Butter medal and £100, every year the award goes to a different youth competitor this year was the turn of a cyclist.

As ever was a big field of heavy event competitors who treated the crowds to an afternoon of non stop action. There was competitions for under 15s,under 17s the final round of the Perthshire league as well as the Open competition. The overall winner of the latter was Lukasz Wenta East Kilbide, who this season became the first heavy in highland games history to amass more than 1000 points in the SHGA leagues. Lukasz also set new ground record figures in the 56lb weight over the bar competition. Both hammer competitions were won by Kyle Randalls,Falkirk.

The sight of tartan was well in evidence with competitions in highland dancing, pipe bands and solo piping.

Published: 2018-09-08 22:51:51