In a bold new move, organisers included all three peaks to mark the 50th running of the Eildon Hill race last Saturday, writes Rosi Capper.
The event began in 1961, climbing just the middle and highest of the characteristic peaks.
Some years later, local runner George Meikle had an unprecedented series of 10 successive victories, as well as having the honour of holding records for both the one and two-hill variants of the event. But this year, the three summits – known as Trimontium by the Romans – were all included for the first time.
And once again it was local runners who topped the bill.
A fine turnout of 90 runners lined up for the start in Gibson Park and the new route wended through the town and started with a steep ascent directly up the most northerly hill before descending to the Col as in previous years.
It then contoured on a small path to the most southerly hill and then back to the highest and central summit. From here, the old route has once more followed, down an initially treacherously steep descent, then a fast descending contour to pick up the line of ascent back through the town.
In a further change to tradition, the race finished in Gibson Park where it began, avoiding the grinding glory lap of the Greenyards rugby pitch.
The race was won in tremendous style by the host club’s Fergus Johnston, winning in a new course record of 37 minutes and eight seconds. Gala also won the ladies’ race, with Jenny Forbes winning her first hill race in 44.31.
With excellent runs by Rachel Fagan (44.41), Kirstin Maxwell (45.10), Fiona Dalgleish (46.59) and Shelagh King (1.06.19) Gala also won the ladies’ team trophy.
Hunters Bog Trotters claimed the men’s team prize, with the Gala men coming a close third after Carnethy, with some excellent runs from Mark Bryson (42.00), Jamie McGowan (42.41), Colin McCall (42.52), Tony Lunn (44.22), Alwyn Jones (44.26), Dave Nightingale (44.50), Derrick Brydon (46.23), Martin Clarke (47.05), Colin Tough (47.19) Tommy Knox (50.32) Ally McGilvray (56.28) and Billy McBain (58.45). Perhaps the biggest smile of the day, however, was on the face of the race organiser, Paul Morris (57.46) who, in addition to having the satisfaction of designing a successful new route, completed his first competitive hill race in 18 months following hip surgery last August.
Hunters Bog Trotters not only managed to take the team prize, but also won the relay race in the dad’s event as part of the Melrose children’s sports.
Thanks go to all who helped make the day a success.