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The gate at Edinburgh Castle Esplanade

Participants running through the gate at Edinburgh Castle Esplanade.

History of the Event

The Concept: Back in the 1970s, there were two fit young guys who went running together in Edinburgh, David Salmond and Alan Lawson. One day DS came across a guide-book to Edinburgh which used the phrase 'seven hills', so they investigated the possibility of creating a route which included them all. After some adjustments, the current route was fixed upon.

The Beginning: The event was first staged in 1980, as part of a political/cultural festival on Calton Hill, in support of the Scottish self-government movement; the Seven Hills race was included as a sporting adjunct to the other activities. About 75 people took part in that first year.

Expanding: It was soon recognised that the route was something a bit special compared to other athletic events, as well as being a considerable challenge to complete for anyone who was not a regular runner. So, as the great 1980s upsurge of distance running got under way, The Seven Hills became an annual (stand-alone) event, with an increasing number of participants each year.

The Challenge: Although the leading runners always took the race seriously and ran to win, the ethos of the event included a challenge to more modest performers to just get round the course (and tell the story for the next ten years!). Understanding the wide ability-range of the various entrants, the organisers soon divided the event into two — The Race (for the serious runners), and The Challenge (for those of more limited ambitions)... the Challenge event starting half-an-hour before The Race, ensuring that the 'challengers' didn't get tailed off. This formula seemed to work pretty well, and has been retained ever since. (One of its benefits is that ageing runners can 'drop down' from the Race to the Challenge in their later years.)

Regulars: Quite a number of runners have participated on many occasions; a handful have an almost complete record.

Website Sponsorship: We are grateful to Learntech, a Scottish e-commerce and e-learning specialist company, who created the basics of this website in 2003.

Mementoes: Initially, each finisher got a simple certificate to mark their completion of the event, but since 1991 the memento has been a drinks-coaster; some 'regulars' in the event now have quite a collection. Good-quality T-shirts are also produced each year, available for sale on the day. [see Prizes page]

Race Personnel: Of the race's originators, David Salmond died of leukemia in 1994; Alan Lawson continues as the main organiser, helped by many friends and relations who have both run and assisted over the years.




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