Athletics: Entry fees for pulled races go to charity

NEW YEAR Sprint promoter Frank Hanlon has apologised to all the athletes who were let down by the cancellation of the two middle distance events at the 141st New Year Sprint and has agreed to donate their entry fees to a well-known children's charity.

The main feature event, the 110 metres sprint handicap, went ahead at Musselburgh Racecourse last week despite the snow and frost which caused the cancellation of the National Hunt meeting planned for the second day on December 29. But racecourse officials insisted on the removal from the programme of the 1600 metres handicap and the youths 800 metres handicap which take place on part of the course itself.

"I've personally contacted most of the competitors or coaches involved and they're all in agreement with my plan so about 300 will be going to charity," said Hanlon, who is already making plans for next New Year.

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"Next year New Year's Day will be on the Saturday and there is a National Hunt Meeting planned for that day so we'll stage the heats on Friday, December 31 and the final on Saturday, January 1."

Hanlon also pledged that if the horse racing is frozen off on the Saturday there will be no postponement of the finals until the next National Hunt Meeting as was initially planned to happen this year. "We'll have the heats on the Friday and the Cross-Ties and Final on Saturday whatever happens to the horse racing."

The weather and in particular patches of ice on the promenade caused the cancellation for the first time since its inception in 1987 of the Porty Promathon.

The continuing cold spell is causing some concern regarding the staging of some events at next Saturday's Great Edinburgh Cross in Holyrood Park, with fears that snow ploughs and gritting may be required if the 5k open race is to go ahead on the road.