WAR, WEATHER......or PANDEMIC CAN'T HALT HISTORIC SPRINT writes Shane Fenton
It maybe six months on from it's original scheduled date, however, when the 152nd running of the famous New Year 'Powderhall' Sprint takes place this Sunday it will be maintaining the proud tradition of being the oldest continuous athletics event in the world.
First run in 1870 and uninterrupted by war or weather the race has taken place every year since, you can now add pandemic to the list of hurdles overcome.
The name Powderhall still remains synonymous with the event, bar a few exceptions the Edinburgh greyhound stadium which no longer exists was home to the first 100 years of the race.
Perhaps it's apt that Scotland's greatest ever professional sprinter, George McNeil from Tranent would be the last winner at that iconic venue in 1970.
The 'sprint' then moved to the Tartan Track of Meadowbank Stadium - also a victim of the wrecking ball in recent years - up until 1999 when the grass Musselburgh Racecouse became home to.the ancient 110 metres handicap.
In recent years the New Year sprint heats along with the supporting events have taken place at the East Lothian Athletics Arena at Meadowmill in Prestonpans with the semi finals and final taking place alongside a National Hunt race meeting at the racecourse on New Years Day.
That won't be the case at the rearranged meeting with heats ,semi finals and final all being decided at Meadowmill. Not being able to hold the final at Musselburgh Racecourse on this occasion is a major blow financially and for the atmosphere the sell out race day crowd provides for the athletes.
In recent years the Racecourse in conjunction with promoter Frank Hanlon have done a tremendous job in raising the profile of the event.The presentation and promotion has been first class, with the athletes images flashed up on the big screens when introduced, live TV coverage of the race as well as the after race presentations, photographs and interviews in the winners enclosure.
That sadly won't be happening this time but we should all be applauding Frankk Hanlon's perseverance and determination to stage the race has finally come to fruition and 152 years of unbroken continuity has been maintained.
Published: 2021-07-02 19:59:27