At 7.2kms with 480m of climb, this is a surprisingly tough little race. I last ran this back in 2009 when it was a “2” hill race of 5.5kms (400m) and the new route is a nice improvement as it adds in some runnable sections.
Conditions: almost no wind and once the clouds cleared, it was hot. 21 degrees. Too hot!
Harriers in attendance: Me and newbie Sean Swindells.
The route starts with a quick loop around a small park within Melrose before heading eastwards along the high street and then southwards under the main A road. Soon after the route takes a sharp left between some buildings, down some steps and up through woodlands to the south of the town. Initially the path is a series of wooden steps covered in chicken wire which is just dandy for your studs. Once leaving the wood, the route opens up and there is a slow steady climb for about half a kilometre before the beginning of the main steep climb up the 1st main peak. This steep narrow path is bounded by gauze allowing no chance to pass anyone at this point. I was directly behind 2nd lady at this point and with sweat pouring into my eyes, my memory of this section is a little blurry but it was a tough climb.
A sharp 90 degree right turn on the 1st peak heads you SW down to the saddle between the two main Eildon peaks. This is fast and just lovely to get the legs going. Contouring around to the SE of the 2nd main Eildons peak allows one to finally get into a nice rhythm although the heather on either side of the path does not make overtaking easy. The climb up to the new southern peak is relatively tame and I managed to pass quite a few people between these two peaks. From the southern peak, the route then heads north for another fast section until the final climb up the final hill. Admittedly, by this point, my legs were starting to fatigue, but the climb did not feel as bad as the 1st peak. The descent is quite gnarly and the track is more scree-like than path, but once down at the saddle the route is plain sailing back down towards the town. Fast – with two Carnethy dudes and 2nd lady (who I had passed earlier) breathing down my neck. Alas the Carnethy boys passed me, but I did cross the line as 2nd lady! 🙂
24th: Rob – 00:47:28
67th: Sean – 01:09:35 (well under Bill’s 80 minute prediction)
This will make a great Grand Prix race for next year
Sorry Sean – could not find any pictures of you.