Memorial run marks racing legend’s special anniversary

Leaving Harestanes bound for Hawick in the Jimmy Guthrie Memorial rally. Picture: Bill
Leaving Harestanes bound for Hawick in the Jimmy Guthrie Memorial rally. Picture: Bill

An annual memorial run for a Borders racing legend has celebrated one of its best events.

The run for Hawick-born motorcycle champion Jimmie Guthrie took place on Sunday for the 56th consecutive year.

Not only did it attract 50 vintage cars and 90 pre-1980 motorcycles, it also marked the 80th anniversary of Jimmie’s tragic, untimely death.

Both the legend’s son Jimmie – who had flown in from South Africa for the event – and his daughter Margaret Bowen from Devon attended a ceremony at Jimmie’s statue in Wilton Lodge Park.

Jimmy Steel, who organises the event on behalf of Hawick and Border Motorcycle Club, said: “It was an exceptional day, especially because the weather was so nice.

“I’m not sure what the temperature was but the Green in Denholm where we start was heaving with people.

“The run itself went very well, covering the 40 miles in about two-and-a-half hours, with lots of people enjoying an ice-cream at the end.

“It was very successful and I think everyone really enjoyed it.

“We only had one mishap which was Mike Povey who suffered two punctures within one mile in his 1912 model T Ford.

“It was very unfortunate as no-one really gets punctures nowadays.

“Luckily Mike was only a mile away from his house.”

The first Jimmie Guthrie Memorial Run took place in 1962.

It was held to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Hawick and Border Motorcycle Club and also to commemorate the club’s most famous member.

The first run attracted 32 entrants and, at that time, it was an unusual sight to see so many vintage cars and motorcycles on the road.

The memorial run has been held every year since, even through the difficult foot and mouth outbreak.

Jimmy said: “I gradually took over the running of it.

“Now we have a committee of one – that’s myself – so there are no arguments!

“In the last 10 years the run has been really, really busy.

“It seems to be that this is the run that most enthusiasts want to be involved in.

“It’s not so regimented and it actually becomes quite a social event so people come and meet people whom they have not seen for a year.”

The first run was from Kelso to Hawick via Earlston, Galashiels and Selkirk and this continued for the next five years.

The run was then based at Lilliards Edge caravan park until the early 80s.

Today, the run starts and finishes from the Green in Denholm, approximately half way between Hawick and Jedburgh.

Taking in around 40 miles, the route varies from year to year.

However, it always makes a detour to Wilton Lodge Park in Hawick to visit the exhibition in the museum and to visit the Guthrie statue.

For the past 15 years or so, it has also been sponsored by Bonham’s Auction House.

Jimmy said: “They told us that they had been very impressed with the way 
that the event was run and told us they wanted to sponsor us.

“It was a very big thing for us because they could have sponsored any of the runs in Scotland.

“This year we had two entrants from Camberley in Surrey.

‘‘I was very surprised and thought I recognised the names of the people taking part.

“It turns out that I used to work with their mother and father and this was them making a nostalgic return to Hawick.”

Despite the fact that the latest successful run was just a few days ago, preparations have already begun for the 2018 run.