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Yetholm Shepherds Show Hill Race – 2023

View from the Back

After last year’s Grand Prix outing to this race, which was in glorious sunshine, it was a no brainer for me to sign up once again for this year’s edition (Sorry Men’s Captain Club Relay Team Manager).

The weather however proved somewhat different with rain all the way there, several very deep puddles to negotiate and a huge worry bead about driving off the tarmac to park in a muddy field at the Showground. Arriving to see the sheep judging well in hand, registering advised that the two fun river crossings were now reduced to using the bridge as the river was something like the rapids at Grandtully and snorkels would be needed.

42 worthies toed the line with just the one CH, the usual front runners attired in running vest and shorts and those further down the field in full waterproof rig. Even with the conditions of the day, bumbags seem to be optional!?! No views of the two hills were available as the mist was down to almost field level and a steady drizzle filled the air. No whistle, air horn or shout at the start, just a very eco-friendly drop of an arm. Novel or what? Well, you had to pay attention.

A run out through the gloy of the show field, a short road section then onto the first hill trying to keep the second last runner in sight. Runner? Oops, wrong terminology.

Back down, try to keep running through the showground to impress the viewers and the head honcho show announcer, across the bridge and then onto the second hill. Tough uphill then a nice run along the top followed by a frantic unsighted, descent through bracken and field to reach the finish line in the showground. Unsighted because it was into the wind and rain and specs are not a preferable design feature for this terrain/weather. Thankfully no falls and sadly no sight of any other runners, so the excellent taping of the route was a lifesaver – well, certainly reduced the distance that I might have run otherwise. Advising the marshals standing in the rain that they can go home as I ‘sprinted’ through the controls proved a welcome piece of news for them.

One DNF so I don’t count myself as last since I survived, but being the only M70 to come out of the pub into the rain, I picked up a bottle of Dark Island and a bag of potatoes – well what else at a Show full of farmers.

Massive thanks to Les Turnbull of Norham Running Club , the organiser for this race along with his club teammates making the event fun, extremely well marshalled and signposted, and along with the many, many attractions of the actual Shepherds Show make this an event that really should be in everyone’s diary. Great features included a parade of vintage tractors and landrovers, vintage/veteran cars and a number of static engines, large marquee for range of craft and food outlets, a whole marquee devoted to crook manufacture – Scottish Champion of Champions – there must have been hundreds on display and the compulsory flower/veggie/cakes/jam/and craft ware competitions. A beer tent of course and several food outlets. A real family event this one.

Here’s to next year. Les insists it will be good weather.

Your Not So Fast Nowadays Roving Reporter