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Jedburgh 3 Peaks Ultra – Iain McCready reports back from this friendly ultra

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After booking a Half Term holiday with the family in the Scottish Borders to visit family and have a break I thought I would look to see if there was anything to do. I came across the Jedburgh Three Peaks Ultra site and thought I would have a go. This event is organised by a small team of two and in my short running time I have not been to many better organised events. In the lead up to the event the team regularly post updates and information regarding the event.

The Ultra has been going for the last six years and is run in association with The Jedburgh Running Festival, Scottish Ultra Marathon Series and Scottish LGBT Charter. The ethos of the event is to have fun and it comes with a set of rules with number 1 being Don’t be a D**k!!

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Registration started very early in a car park on the main road from Jedburgh to Edinburgh at 6:30am where we were given our race t shirt, number and a timing chip. The car park soon became very busy with runners arriving. There are two races on the same day with a Relay race (groups of 4) all wearing mandatory fancy dress milling around with runners who were there to do the 38ish mile ultra. After a couple of cups of strong coffee served from the café in the car park we all listened to the race briefing and Just before 8am we were all guided to a grassy knoll on the other side of the main road to the start position. The warm up we were told was mandatory and non-participation would lead to disqualification! So picture a scene were nearly 300 runners are dancing to YMCA at 7:55 in the morning. Luckily the Klaxon sounded at 8:00 and we were off.

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The first part of the route lead us back through the town and onto St Cuthberts Way which is an ancient route which runs from Melrose to Lindisfarne. After a very short road section of about two miles we crossed the main road again and headed along the river Jed to a small wooden bridge leading to woodland. The route for the next eight miles was a mix of woodland trails and river banks. Unfortunately due to the autumn leaf fall all the tree roots were covered so people were tripping and falling throughout. I fell twice and bashed my head on a branch in this section but managed to get to the first check point without any more mishaps. The Checkpoint was full of helpful marshals handing out water and coke. The checkpoints throughout the day only have drinks and racers can have drop bags ferried to each of the four checkpoints if they require food throughout. Most people who use this service leave anything they don’t want at the checkpoint for other people to consume. I decide not to do this as I was using Tailwind and carried enough sachets for the day.

After the first checkpoint the course continued along the river then passed the edge of a Golf Course and onto a nasty little hill. After a further five miles of rough grass and very boggy ground another main road is crossed and checkpoint two at Rhymers Stone is reached.

After a check of the mandatory essential kit (foil blanket, phone and a waterproof jacket) I continued towards the first of the Eildon Hills (Eildon Hill North). After a gradual climb of about 100 meters I then turned right and faced a near vertical climb. The going was very tough with hardly any purchase on a the very wet ground. After about 15 minutes of climbing the summit was reached and after nearly getting blown over by the full force of the Scottish wind I then started down and onto the next. The second hill (Eildon Mid Hill) was even harder with the climb being in the high winds and the loose gravel surface. The last hill (Eildon Wester Hill) was a little easier and after climbing to the summit it was all downhill through forest tracks to the next checkpoint in Bowden. On entering the checkpoint a couple of runners and myself were pounced on by a Man sized Bat and a Kangaroo! Who decided it would be good fun to scare runners after running twenty two miles. We were then sent on an obstacle course (young children’s play equipment with a slide)before we could continue.

playground

After leaving the checkpoint the route made its way back over towards the last checkpoint following the river and woodlands back to Jedburgh. After about five miles the route gets back onto St Cuthberts way which we had earlier used. The last Checkpoint at Maxton which was earlier used as checkpoint one was a full of left overs for picking over before the final leg back to Jedburgh.

After eight or so hours I finally made it back to the edge of Jedburgh to begin the final shuffle through the town to the Finish. This was helped by numerous cars beeping their horns and drivers shouting encouragement. I rounded the last bend and was greeted by an inflatable Rainbow Arch, a Unicorn, a Kangaroo and Marshals cheering me on. Once over the finish line and the medal was placed about my neck I shuffled back the Rugby club where hot soup and rolls were waiting.

unicorn

The Jedburgh Three Peaks Ultra was one of the friendliest events I have attended. The organisers and marshals were excellent, very happy and good natured. The amount of signage on the route was the best I have encountered and even though it was a grueling boggy, windy and hilly race I would definitely run it again.

 

 

 

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