Abernethy Hill Race History

The Abernethy Hill Race is regarded as something of a right of passage for village youngsters but also the not so young. First held in 1979, each year it attracts a field of between eighty and ninety local runners ranging from pre-school to well beyond retirement age. Over the years we have seen runners with babies, dogs and cuddly toys, fancy dress runners too as ballerinas or nuns.

Some basic facts and figures first of all: accurately measured at 2.39 miles with an ascent of 663 feet (3.85km, 202m) the gradient of the latter part of the course averages 30%. The course has changed very slightly over the years as nature has changed the shape of the Castlelaw hillside. The ascent has remains exactly the same since that first race: departing Abernethy Square a quick sprint along Main Street up the comparatively gentle Rough Glen, then a steep ascent to the summit. Before the advent of the Countryside Ranger who now regularly maintains our paths, runners heading upwards first had to run a gauntlet of nettles and brambles before negotiating the tunnel of gorse and brambles on the upper reaches of the hillside.

The descent from Castlelaw has had to change in that path erosion, fallen trees and a hillside pock-marked with rabbit holes has required minor rerouting to ensure runners remain safe, however the change will have had no effect on either the race distance or runner times. Having rounded the cairn and the remains of the Roman Fort, runners now descend a short, steep path to rejoin the main track before the frantic rush back down the hillside, Rough Glen and for weary legs a surprisingly punishing haul up Main Street to the Square.

Over the years the children’s times have steadily improved, a quick look at the tables will confirm that virtually every year one or two of the children’s records will fall. This seems to contradict the widely held notion that today’s children are more sedentary, maybe it is just that Abernethy children are more active!

The Men’s record but particularly that of the Ladies has held for quite some time, both are impressive records but not beyond today’s runners. For a record breaking attempt, the ladies would have to reach the Castlelaw turn point in just over twelve minutes, the men sub eleven minutes but then “fairly lowp doon the hill” as a former runner remembers the men’s record holder.  
Ranking Name Time Year
1 William Law 16:25 2002
2 George Illingworth 16:56 2013
3 Ben Giles 16:58 2011
4 Jium Aiken 17:01 1998
5 Martin Laing 17:09 2007
Ranking Name Time Year
1 Val Edwards 19:57 1990
2 Val Edwards 20:04 1991
3 Anne McElnea 20:53 2008
4 Val Edwards 20:58 1993
5 Fiona Manson 21:03 2013
Boys under 16
Ranking Name Time Year
1 George Illingworth 17.39 2011
2 Tommy Henson 18.06 2013
3 William Herd 18.32 2007
4 Archie Stewart 18.46 2008
5 George Illingworth 18,46 2008
Girls under 16
Ranking Name Time Year
1 Nicola Henson 22.56 2013
2 Anna Taylor 26.33 2008
3 Alice Illingworth 26.36 2010
4 Claire McGhie 26.48 2011
5 Beth Gordon 31.57 2009
Boys under 12
Ranking Name Time Year
1 Tommy Henson 19.54 2009
2 William Hughes 20.03 2007
3 Alexander Kinnear 20.46 2011
4 Alexander Kinnear 21.21 2012
5 Chris Stewart 21.52 2008
Girls under 12
Ranking Name Time Year
1 Nicola Henson 23.28 2011
2 Nicola Henson 23.32 2012
3 Hannah Morrison 25.05 2013
4 Claire McGhie 25.53 2008
5 Claire McGhie 27.35 2007