As any keen parkrunner knows, Christmas is a time for running, with a chance to clock-up four parkruns over Christmas and new year. There are also a good variety of club runners over the festive season, which is why over Christmas 2022 I managed 4 organised trail runs in 10 days.

Christmas Pudding Race

The festive season started with the Christmas Pudding Race from Melrose, organised by the team from St Boswells Wobbly Trail Race. Kudos must be given to the team for going ahead with it following the snow and freezing conditions of the previous week. It was a bit icy in parts, but perfectly safe and there were plenty of marshalls out there to warn us of the worst bits of ice.

There were so many things to love about this event:

  • race base at Melrose Rugby Club meaning excellent warm facilities
  • encouragement of fancy dress
  • brilliant course and marshalls
  • spot prizes (our team "Bah" won a jar of honey)
  • handwritten message on all numbers

But, best of all was the briefing note that came round the day before - "Course record is currently 52:36 and the more leisurely runners are likely to take about 2 hours." This message of fun and inclusiveness was what made it so popular and it was the first race I have ever done where female competitors considerably outnumbered the men.

Most of the runners were in fancy dress - we looked very Scrooge-like as the nearest we had to a Christmas outfit was our Bah Humbug t-shirts. Luckily our friends, Liz-Anne and Hairul, were better prepared, winning the best fancy dress prize and the best bling of the day!

Starting from Melrose Station, the half mile or so was a nice gentle start along the railway followed by a 2 mile slog up the road west of the Eildons. The route then followed trails across farmland and through woodland taking us right around the back of the Eildon Hills and then back down towards Newstead, picking up a short part of the Borders Abbey Way before finishing close to Melrose Abbey.

Verdict: well worth travelling for and we will be back next year!

Palacerigg Country parkrun

The 23rd December saw us heading north to stay with our daughter near Falkirk, which meant we could take in the Christmas Eve parkrun. This parkrun at Cumbernauld only started in 2022, so I was really looking forward to what was advertised as a single loop around this lovely park. There was a very Christmassy feel when we arrived, with decorations, fancy dress and Christmas music. Sadly, due to works on the course, we were running an alternative route, with two out and backs. It was still a very pleasant route around the park, with a few undulations a bit of mud and plenty of enthusiastic volunteers. The route is on trails, but well made-up ones, which would be suitable for road shoes most of the year. Toilets, car parking and refreshments are all available at this event, so a good one for visitors.

Falkirk parkrun - Christmas Day

After opening our stockings we donned the running gear again, this time for Falkirk parkrun held at Callendar Park, the very extensive park and woodland adjacent to Callendar House. This was our fourth visit to this event so we knew to expect that a big field  would be running a single loop on well made tracks with a very steep pull in the middle. This is the sort of course I love - with a long steady uphill followed by a fast descent, another (steeper) hill and then a nice fast finish around the lake and towards the house. It was a mild day and I ran slowly enough to hear the birds, including nuthatch (newish arrivals to the area) and great tits. The facilities were closed for Christmas, but you can normally get a very good breakfast in the house and there are good toilets and easy car parking. Another goodie for the parkrun tourists.

Tour De Humbleton

After our fabulous and hectic Christmas we headed back to the Borders for another of the Cheviot Trail Events on the 28th December. This was a very similar route to that of the Cheviot Three Peaks back in April, the difference being that we ran around Humbleton Hill rather than over it and once on the St Cuthberts Way we headed back towards Wooler rather than taking a detour to the two other trig points, making the route shorter and reducing the total ascent.

This did not mean it was an easy route, there was still a steady two miles of climbing up from the start, where I was pleased to be accompanied by the sweeper. I love going downhill, so once we reached the highest point I set off down a lovely grassy track to start the fast descent back to the finish. This series of races are a brilliant introduction to hill running - they are all on good tracks and well waymarked and marshalled, but they are wilder than many trail runs - a sort of fell/trail hybrid without the need for full kit and navigation skills.

As always well organised, friendly, with no pressure for us more leisurely runners, good facilities and soup and roll at the end.

This has been a fabulous few days of running. I am writing this having just finished the New Years Eve parkrun at York (muddier than any of the trail runs reported above) and meeting up with a load of my running buddies. Now to decide where to go for New Years Day..........

With thanks to Michael Philp Photos.

Christmas fancy dress winners
Fancy dress winners, Liz-Anne and Hairul
The Christmas Pudding Run, Melrose
It's all downhill - Peter on the way back to Melrose. Photo by Michael Philp
Route of Christmas Pudding run
At the start of Palacerigg parkrun
Very festive with a bauble earring and borrowed antlers - start of Palacerigg parkrun
Christmas Day at Falkirk parkrun
Christmas Day at Falkirk parkrun
Running downhill at Tour De Humbleton
Enjoying the downhill back to Wooler