And a little race history…
We’re not sure when the first race was held. It started life as a walking event held on the Gala Day for workers at Balerno Mill. As the villages of Currie and Balerno grew, and dependancy on the Mill for employment declined, the two villages decided to hold separate Gala Days, which in turn grew into a week of activities for Balerno Residents.
The route of the course has also changed many times, and for several years was run in the reverse direction to todays race. The race was a walking event until 1963. The first winner of the “running” race was John Fairgrieve, who went on to become the SAF convener for Track & Field in Scotland. John won the race three times in the sixties as part of a successful athletics career before moving into a succesful career in athletics administration and international team management. The race grew in popularity, attracting increasing numbers of club athletes, however a disagreement between the Gala committee and SAF in the early nineties resulted in the race being non-permitted, and restricted to local residents. In 1998 the organisers, Balerno Childrens Gala and Harmeny AC, decided it should be opened up as a fundraiser for the Gala and so it became an SAF permitted event, attracting 130 entries. The first winner of the newly “open” race was evergreen veteran Brian Kirkwood, who had won the race nearly twenty years previously.
The current course starts in Malleny Park, home of Currie RFC, and runners head up through the village and up towards the Pentland hills, past the ruins of the Marchbank Hotel. Turning right at the Red Moss, a protected site of scientific interest, runners head along East Rigg with breathtaking views of the Pentland hills on their left. At the end of this long gently climbing straight the course turns right, and following a last small incline the first down hill is reached (and cramp may kick in). Another tree-lined straight leads back to Balerno and the relief of a long gentle descent towards the village centre and back to Malleny Park. The distance is approximately six miles – visit http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=7018263 for a route map.