Friday, 30 June 2017

Eildons 3 Hills Race 2017, aka ‘The Race of Dust’, 24th June

Here's Pete Hall's race report:
Race day for this years Eildons 3 Hills Race was a regular summers day in Scotland – nice, warm, a slight breeze with no rain and no midgies.  Gods Own Country indeed!  It was also Beltane Saturday and was part of my ‘escape from the Beltane’ plan.
The race starts and finished on the sports green in Melrose, opposite the Greenyards rugby ground and is part of the Melrose Games Day, with 91 runners taking part this year.  As the gun went, the field took off around the field and headed up through Melrose to the start of the main climb to the summit of Eildon Hill North.  Knowing this was going to be a stiff and fast start and also knowing it takes me a mile or two to get into my racing, I hung back and prepared myself for a solid climb to the top, my strategy being to really start racing once I got the first climb out of the way.  The field soon strung itself out and we were single-file up this calf burner of a hill, through head high gorse and soon onto the loose scree towards the top.  At this point it was heads down, looking at the person in fronts heels, trying not to let gaps grow.  At the top, the Borders Search and Rescue Unit were attending the first race casualty of the day – this could become a race of attrition.
As we hit the top we also hit that ‘slight breeze’ and the dust storm being blown up the hill.  True to plan I started to lift it over the top for the descent to Eildon Wester Hill and started to work my way through the field.  Wester Hill was ‘bagged’ and the pace lifted again to head back to the final climb of Eildon Mid Hill (whoever named these hills ran out of imagination J ).  By this point I was going past people as if I was still in my twenties…finally a good race but no sign of my nemesis, a certain Mr Alan Elder?!  Unfortunately (or fortunately) for me he was taking part in the Beltane Sports Day the day after – from hill running to track sprinting, he’s a man of many talents!
The final climb saw me put more distance into the following group as it was a head down, hands on thighs, vest blown over the head sprint up to the summit, followed by a classic rocky, dusty, loose hard descent chasing the next group.  Off the hill and heading back into town, vaulting fences to find good lines and the final climb of 15 stone steps to hit Melrose  (and trust me, these steps hurt!), all the while battling with Tommy Knox from Gala Harriers.  Upping the pace as we headed back through Melrose towards the sports field, I was gapped by Tommy as he put 7 valuable seconds into me in the final 200 meters or so.  Race done and time for a sit down.
Up front, Gavin Bryson from Edinburgh AC won by over a minute in 35:58 with Kirst Wilson of Gala Harries claiming First Lady in 43:28.   I came in at 49:58 in 38th place, 8th MV50.  There’s some classy runners out there in all age groups.  No other Moorfoots were racing, more than likely due to the Beltane celebrations.

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