Border teams invited to enter 'two valleys' triathlon for charity

Having gone the extra mile to raise over £40,000 for local charities in recent years, Selkirk’s Kenny Houston is once again hitting the fund-raising trail.

By Ralph Mellon
Friday, 13th May 2022, 11:02 am
The summit of the Bottom Swire, mid-point of the event’s final section (photograph by John Smail)
The summit of the Bottom Swire, mid-point of the event’s final section (photograph by John Smail)

This time, reports John Smail, the former police officer will be staging a special event in September – ‘Katie’s 25th Birthday Two Valleys Triathlon’.

All proceeds will be going to the Katie McKerracher Trust, a cause extremely close to Kenny’s heart.

The trust was set up in 2009 by Ettrickbridge couple Andrew and Anne McKerracher, close friends of Kenny and his wife Shirley, in memory of the McKerrachers’ daughter, Katie, who passed away in January of that year after being diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG).

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“The year 2022 would have seen Katie celebrate her 25th birthday,” said Kenny. “So holding a triathlon seems an ideal way to commemorate that while, at the same time, raising money for the trust.”

Kenny himself was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2013 and, since then, he has made it his mission to repay the dedication and kindness of cancer care staff by raising as much money as possible for local charities.

In 2015, he organised a black tie dinner and auction in support of the BGH’s Borders Cancer Centre and the Katie McKerracher Trust, with each organisation receiving a cheque in excess of £10,000.

Four years later, he staged a dinner-dance and charity auction in Selkirk’s Haining House, raising £11,000 for the Borders Cancer Centre. Later that year, he and Shirley joined the McKerrachers on a charity cycle ride from Ettrickbridge to Bamburgh, netting £5000 for Katie’s trust.

“The triathlon is taking place on Saturday, September 24,” said Kenny. “It is open to teams of three – swimmer, a cyclist and a runner. The emphasis is very much on fun, so entrants of all abilities are welcome.”

The event is being limited to 30 teams, with a minimum entry fee of £50 per person. This can be raised, or added to, through sponsorship.

The first stage comprises a swim in the Loch of the Lowes – 450 metres for non-triathlete swimmers, 900 metres (two laps) for established swimmers. Water safety will be in place.

Once completed, the cycling member of the team will set off for the Gordon Arms, then cycle over both the ‘Top’ and the ‘Bottom’ Swires, before heading back to the sports field in Ettrickbridge – a distance of 36 miles.

The team’s runner will then make his or her way to the cattle grid at the summit of the ‘Bottom’ Swire, do an about-turn and run back down to the finishing line at the Ettrickbridge sports field, a distance of five miles.

“There will be a trophy for the winning team as well as medals for all competitors,” added Kenny.

“I’m sure it’s going to be a fun event for competitors and spectators alike, and a fitting way to raise funds for the trust.

Kenny extended thanks for the support from main sponsor Kevin Crawford at KC Events, Colin Turnbull at Turnbulls Shoe Repairs and the advice and loan of equipment from Paul McGreal at Durty Events.

Anyone wishing to enter a team for Katie’s 25th Birthday Two Valleys Triathlon should contact Kenny for a registration form by emailing him at [email protected]