Yetholm Hill Race 2014

1.06.2014 – sunny, warm, minimal breeze. Always good weather in Yetholm!!

Despite a 1.5 hr drive, this is one of the better mid-distance races on the calendar as far as I am concerned and is well worth the drive. We left the grey cloudy weather of Midlothian and entered the sunny south-east of Scottish border region.

Stuart, Mike and I ran Yetholm last year when it was part of the British Championship (231 runners). This year however, it was a much more relaxed affair with only 37 participants. We were joined by Mark and Kirsty. As per advice from Melanie, I had bought some new hill shoes as the bevelled heels of the INOV8 300s appeared to be a possible factor in my calf problems. So, with Paolo Nutini ringing in my ears, I was all set:

 “Hey, I put some new shoes on, and suddenly everything is right,”

Yetholm is a ca. 12.5 km loop on the Scottish/English border with about 750m of climb.

Yetholm Hill Race Route

This year the course went clockwise (the harder way around) as opposed to last year’s more normal anti-clockwise easier option. This meant that times would likely be a tad slower.

The first half follows the final stage of the Pennine Way with a well marked path. However, it is a gradual climb, so is annoyingly runnable in a rather exhausting way. Last year running down this eastern side of the loop was fabulous. However, this time the return trip was down the western side loop which is much rougher and much more undulating.

Yetholm Hill Race Profile

Yetholm Hill Race Profile










A slow start by most runners except for “dummkopf” moi where I found myself not only in first place but stayed so (with Stuart, I think, shouting encouragement) for much longer than was probably wise. After about half a kilometre the universe righted itself and the proper lead runners passed me and cruised on by – all probably thinking, “idiot!”. Stuart and Mike soon followed. Once my legs forgave me for my quick start, I started to get into a rhythm and concentrated on keeping Mike in sight who was hovering between 50-100 meters ahead of me.

It took about 40 minutes of steady climb to get to the high point (The Curr) which is roughly the half way point. Apparently the views were lovely, but all I saw was Mike’s back end just ahead. The descent of The Curr is steep and rough and Mike was just in front of me and I was determined to keep up with him. Despite a tumble half way down (with appropriate screaming to try and get some sympathy from him – none came!), I managed to keep up with him. On the immediate steep upslope, I passed Mike who was making rather strange grunting noises. Having never beaten him in a race (although we have had some battles) I knew it would be tough to stay ahead. The next 4kms, although on average a descent, undulates between steep ascents and descents. Hard to get a rhythm. I focussed on the runner ahead in the distance and tried to think about catching him rather than worrying about Mike behind. This section seemed endless and I was happy to have brought a small water bottle with me as it was getting quite warm.

At the top of the last peak, I looked back – Mike was surprisingly far behind – could I actually beat him for once? Possible. The final descent was marked with a Saltire flag – with no time to think about yes/no votes, I plunged down the steep slope worrying that Mike might make a final push. A last mad dash through thistly scrub, over a cow hooved rutted field, through a small woodland and the final stumble across the finish line. Stuart shouting, “where’s Mike?”. I grinned and pointed back.

So – this has been all about me, but the real success story was Stuart. Last year, Yetholm had been his first race for almost 4 years after injury. This year he was back in top form. Of the 5 Harriers running, our places and times were:

Stuart Sanderson (6th):  1:19:10                (last year: 1:23:04)

Rob Wilson (16th): 1:27:30                         (last year: 1:27:14)

Mike Brooks (17th): 1:28:38                        (last year: 1:22:51)

Mark Dawson (31st): 1:52:36

Kirsty Loudon (37th): 2:47:15


A final thank you to the race organiser Les Turnbull who kindly brought Kirsty to the pub in Kirk Yetholm as we had buggered off to “sup up” in the beer garden there. In Kirsty’s own words:


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6 comments on Yetholm Hill Race 2014

  1. Les Turnbull says:

    Glad you all enjoyed the race (Kirsty?)…….sorry about the cakes, maybe next year!

  2. stuart Sanderson says:

    Another well worded report Rob . A tough day out,legs still complaining. Well done to all . Shame about the cakes tho, yes still going on about cakes!!

  3. Mike Brooks says:

    Great day out,
    Well and truly stuffed by Rob, never mind Stuart (brilliant time)

  4. Kirsty says:

    I had a huge learning experience…Hill run was great but didn’t eat enough, didn’t take enough fluid on board and got sunburned. Was shivery at top of the Curr and thought uh oh! Very tough. Great views but so steep and legs just not attached! Kept thinking runnable but…As soon as ran through stream and up hill couldn’t keep up with the gang. I was tired before and decided to over-ride stop button! Not sure good idea…

    I was so glad guys waited for me (in the pub) legs jelly did sit down strike at top of last hill, legs just collapsed then fell down rabbit hole. Alas no Alice I’m wonderland moment got back up pulled myself together and ran down through cows and calves. Alan from Berwick upon Tweed, was backmarker kept me going. Bit embarrassed could hardly move, and bit annoyed. Want to go back next Saturday and have another bash. Reverse as it will be next year. Practice I was told…And next time will try and get over feeling car sick and eat “door stoppers” the guys eat on route…

    But the views, the wild flowers, purple mountain thyme, wild yellow viola, yellow tormentil, skylarks singing made it all memorable, just feel bit embarrassed leap of faith and long runs been doing not enough…

    Anybody want to chum me to go back this Saturday to do reverse?*!! Recce for next year…


  5. Mark Dawson says:

    Great report Rob and thanks for driving down. It was a fantastic sunny day for the race, not too bad for over heating though. I knew this was going to be a tough run as Stuart had mentioned this at Thursday’s hill repeats. The first hill went on for ever but had a fine trail for keeping going. Once up, I did have a quick glance at the views which were stunning! This section would have been great for running back down in previous years, where I found it quite tough going running back down over the very clumpy tall grass on such a steep descent (I’ll have to work on this). I was looking forward to climbing the next hill to get onto some more runnable ground! The Saltire flag on the last hill was a fine site to head for and after that there was just a very steep ascent to some woods very close to the finish. Unfortunately there was a towel over the barbed wire at the woods which I took to be for runners to go over, as this was placed on other fences to get over on the route. Quickly realising my mistake as the trees were too close together I took a right turn over some quite scary barbed wire to get back on track. A tough run but really enjoyed it, well worth the hour and a half drive. Great pint of Pennine Way ale in the pub after!

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