IT is being billed as the hardest race ever staged in the Scottish Borders.
And amongst the many who will tackle Jedburgh Running Festival’s first Three Peaks Ultra Marathon is TheSouthern’s own Kenny Paterson.
Our news and sports reporter was at the 38-mile race’s launch on Friday – and he will spend the next 21 weeks going from someone who hasn’t run further than 10km to join the country’s best mega-distance athletes.
This October’s event will be the 10th staging of the hugely popular Jedburgh Running Festival, which now attracts more than 1,000 athletes every year to take part in the half marathon as well as the accompanying 10km and wheelchair races.
The latest addition to the day’s action will be an epic race along St Cuthbert’s Way, through forests, along river banks and over all three Eildons.
Stephen Nisbet and David Knox from the Selkirk Track club, who have both just returned from the 75-mile Scottish Ultra, organised the course.
Nisbet told TheSouthern: “We wanted a challenging yet enjoyable route that shows what a beautiful place the Scottish Borders is. The race starts beneath the shadow of Jedburgh Abbey and finishes close to the town’s pubs.” As well as 38 miles between the start and finish lines, the Three Peaks Ultra boasts more than 2,800 metres of climbing and a 10-hour deadline for finishing.
Our raw recruit enjoyed his first training session – and admits he is relishing the challenge.
Kenny said: “We did a 10-mile run around the Eildons then down towards the Tweed and I enjoyed every step.
“It was almost twice as far as I’ve run in the past. I know I have a long way to go before I’m ready for the whole 38 miles, but I’m looking forward to pushing myself.”
With medals and commemorative running tops for all finishers, organisers hope to attract close to the 200 limit.
Amongst them will be one of the country’s best known extreme athletes, Dr Andrew Murray. The former Hawick and Melrose GP is probably best known for his mammoth John O’Groats to Sahara charity run last year as well as winning this year’s North Pole race.
He said: “Running a marathon is a significant achievement, and anyone taking up the challenge of the Borders Three Peaks Ultra will have earned their place on the start line. In the years of running I’ve found that good views are the best painkillers, and this route will have these in spades.”
The route will roll out from Jedburgh using country lanes, forest tracks and undulating hill paths before dipping down through Maxton to follow the Tweed along past St Boswells and up to Old Melrose and the Rhymer’s Stone. If those 20 miles weren’t enough, the runners will then face going over all three Eildons before heading down to Bowden, Newtown St Boswells and back towards Maxton and Jedburgh.
Entries are already coming in for Jedburgh Running Festival’s half-marathon, 10km and wheelchair race. And, with the Three Peaks Ultra going live online this week, it is hoped there will be a similar response.
John Henderson from the Jedburgh Running Festival said: “We were delighted when we were approached regarding an ultra marathon being added to the already three established races.
“With the Jedburgh Half Marathon celebrating its 10th anniversary this year there could not be a better year to introduce a further event to the festival.”
Online entries for all races are available at www.jedburgh halfmarathon.org.uk