On your marks!

Carnethy Five Hill Race 2012
Carnethy Five Hill Race 2012

ENTRIES are pouring in for one of Scotland’s most popular and gruelling hill races.

The 43rd Carnethy Five Hill Race, sponsored by Tiso, takes place on Saturday, February 16, when hundreds of runners will tackle the daunting six-mile course around the scenic Pentland Hills.

Such is the popularity of the event, the race committee of the Carnethy Hill Running Club has to select the 610 runners that will make it to the start line.

Online entries were taken from Monday and the organisers will close the application process on Sunday.

Whatever the selection, the race’s popularity with hill runners from around the UK will ensure a high-quality field.

Angela Mudge (Carnethy Hill Running Club) has won the women’s race for the past two years and will be among the favourites to take the title again.

She also led the Carnethy women’s team to victory in 2012.

The home men’s team took runners-up spot last year and will be hoping to improve that placing this time.

As an added incentive, a £250 prize awaits the runner who can break the respective race records set by Gavin Bland 46:56 (1999) and Angela Mudge 54:20 (2002).

The race starts near Silverburn village and the senior course has 2500 feet of ascent, covering five Pentland peaks: Scald Law (1899 feet), South Black Hill (1840), East Kip (1750), West Kip (1806) and Carnethy (1890).

Apart from the rugged terrain, runners will have to cope with the unpredictability of the winter weather. Although the course will be partially marked, all competitors must have the necessary skills to cope with any navigational problems that may be encountered.

The idea for the race came from Jimmy Jardine, an ex-member of the Octavians Athletic Club.

It was introduced to commemorate the Battle of Roslin (1302) during the month of February.

This year’s staging will have special significance because the site has recently been added to Scotland’s Inventory of Battlefields, which enhances protection.

The first race started and finished in the public park in Penicuik and climbed only Carnethy, a return distance of about nine miles.

From 1972 to 1980, the route was changed to climb Carnethy and Scald Law from the public park.

But, in 1980, due to thick fog, the road crossing onto the Pentlands was deemed too dangerous, so the race was changed to a cross-country race round Penicuik.

However, many hill runners decided to ignore this and have an unofficial race up the hills.

Positions were recorded, but no times taken.

From 1981, the course was changed to the current one, which avoids roads to make a true hill race.