Field tops 200 for 50th Eildon race

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THE 50th anniversary of the Eildon 2 Hills Race was bound to attract a large field, but the additional attraction of being the Scottish Athletics Championship and a counter in the Scottish Hill Runners Championship series brought more than 200 runners to the Greenyards on Saturday.

Conditions were good, if somewhat warm.

After the traditional circuit of Gibson Park, the field spread out enough along Melrose High Street to avoid too much congestion on the steps to the open hill. The leading runners were spread out on the very steep ascent through the gorse to the first summit, with Murray Strain (Hunters Bog Trotters) retaining a lead from early on. He was in no danger of being caught as he entered the Greenyards rugby ground for a final lap.

The organising club, Gala Harriers, had put up a prize of £250 for any runner breaking the existing course records. It was always felt Kenny Stuarts’ 1984 time of 25min 48sec was safe but there was felt to be more of a chance that the ladies’ time, 30.28, set by Trish Calder in 1990 might be vulnerable. Tracey Brindley (Ochil Hill Runners) came closer to the prize than Strain, but was still just over a minute short of worrying the club’s treasurer.

The prizegiving took place on the hallowed turf of the rugby pitch, and it was a special pleasure to have George Meikle, Jed Mather and Roy Kinghorn who finished first, second and third in the very first race to present the trophies.

George has the incredible record of having won the first 10 consecutive races, and had he owned a car, would no doubt have been much better known in hill running circles. He presented the very attractive new trophy – named after him to Fiona Maxwell (Shettleston Harriers) as the first lady veteran.

Many thanks to all those who helped to make this special running of the race possible.