Sam with Billy at the end of the race

Abbotsford Trail Race – Race review

We have had a bit of a break from races as the Earlston Black Hill race in July nearly finished us off and the recent hot weather hasn’t been conducive to running. However, a perusal of the weather forecast a couple of weeks back gave me a certain amount of confidence that the temperatures were dropping and there might even be some rain. On the day it was warm and dry with a cooling breeze, so perfect for running.

Abbotsford House

Gala Harriers have organized a number of races this summer. The promise of a trail race starting from Abbotsford House, the home of Sir Walter Scott, and going along the River Tweed seemed too good to miss. We arrived at the car park,  luckily there were a couple of runners gathered around the parking meter, otherwise there was no indication of an event going on. This didn’t change as we wondered past the visitor centre and down through the woods, thanks to one of the marshalls  we eventually found the very large marquee that was race HQ for the day. The marquee was set up for weddings through the year, which also meant there were some very posh loos!

As we arrived the junior race was just finishing and there seemed to be a distinct lack of runners for the 5 mile trail run. As a runner who is always going to be at the back of the field this is always worrying and when we started I was already well at that back by the time we had done a loop around the “grassy triangle” in the first kilometre. It was going to be a long run on my own.

Running with the sweeper

We ran along a lovely path beside the river and kept going along the river until we came to the burn (sadly lacking water) and a stile. It was nice to see a friendly face in the form Denny Calder, one of the parkrun run directors, to guide us over the stile. By this time I had been joined by the sweeper and I realized that being last might be better than be second to last as I enjoyed his company for the rest of the route.

After the stile we went up through a meadow and then through a garden ( the new incumbents had apparently been happy to continue to allow the run to go through their plot) and then turned back down a track to the river for a very pleasant out and back. On the return stretch we remained by the river back to the burn and then started on a track up through the woodland. This was enough of a hill for me to need a walk and also to get a really nice downhill bit. Just when your mind thought you were headed back to the finish, the route turned left taking you back to the river (nice to see some grey wagtails) before going past the finish to repeat the “grassy triangle” and a final push to the finish.

I finished a handful of seconds outside the hour, which is where I thought I would be – so not too bad a performance. It was a lovely course, well marked and well marshalled and I would really like to thank Billy for his encouragement and chat all the way round.


This was a really friendly event, had a great medal and lots of prizes – Peter was third in his age group. At just £8 each it was a bargain and all the money raised was for Evie's Journey fund. It was just a shame that the field was so small, the vast majority of competitors coming from the Gala running club.

I do hope that small and informal races like these don’t get pushed out by those run by events companies, which tend to be expensive and nowhere near as friendly. These races may not have the advertising budget, but Facebook groups for local runners and talking to people at parkrun are a great way to find out about these smaller races.

Roll on the next one.

Back of Abbotsford Start
Back of Abbotsford House from race HQ
Sam with Billy at the end of the race
With Billy who kept me company all the way round the route
Prizewinners at Abbotsford Trail race
Prizewinners at Abbotsford Trail race
map of Abbotsford Trail Race