Football stars to sprint in memory of Sandy Jardine

Sandy Jardine with the SFA Player of the Year award won with Hearts in May 1986. Picture: Brian Stewart
Sandy Jardine with the SFA Player of the Year award won with Hearts in May 1986. Picture: Brian Stewart
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The end of the football season is traditionally seen as a time to put old rivalries aside and focus on training and recovery.

But this summer star players from Hibs, Hearts and Rangers are set to put their athletic prowess to the test and go head-to-head in a unique 300m sprint.

The one-of-a-kind foot race is in memory of former Hearts and Rangers ace Sandy Jardine – who also competed in professional athletics – and will take place during this year’s City of Edinburgh Running Festival.

Donning their strips and boots, the players will be pitched against rugby stars and fellow footballers from Berwick Rangers and Edinburgh City FC as well as a range of other competitors.

And with all-important bragging rights at stake, competition is expected to be fierce as those taking part battle to snatch the crown from current champions Hearts. A first prize of £250 is also up for grabs for the victor.

A source close to the event revealed most clubs were still to decide which of their players would be put up for the challenge with only Berwick Rangers confirming youngster Calum Helm.

A Hibs spokesman said: “I think the fitness staff are still in the process of trying to determine who will be in the most suitable position to be put forward. But it will obviously be someone with athletic prowess like Sandy had – we want to win it.”

Sandy Jardine died in April last year at the age of 65, just 18 months after being diagnosed with liver cancer. Graeme Armstrong, former professional footballer and now chairman of the running festival, said: “We’re delighted to be bringing back the Sandy Jardine race at this year’s running festival.

“We created the event because we wanted to remember our friend and fellow sportsman Sandy who played over 600 competitive matches for Rangers and Hearts.

“Sandy ran at the Border Games during the 1970s along with fellow Ranger Willie Johnston and he loved being fit and competitive so the race is really fitting.

“Now in its third year, the City of Edinburgh Running Festival is a fantastic opportunity for families of athletes of all ages to train together and compete in this distinctive event.

“As a family event, we place great store on the runners’ family, friends and the general public coming along to support the competitors.”

The running festival’s main events – set to take place from 6pm onwards at Meggetland Sports Complex in Craiglockhart on Friday, July 3 – use a handicapping system to give each competitor an equal chance of winning, with every runner allocated a starting mark based on performance, age and ability.

The 800 metre race will see the quickest competitor run away with £1000 – making it the richest sprint of its kind in the UK. And an impressive £3000 is on offer to the quickest man or woman over 110 metres, with the second fastest set to pick up £500.

The competition programme on the night includes heats, semi-finals and the final.