Chris carries off Carnwath’s historic Red Hose

Triumphant...Red Hose winner Chris Huntley (Pic Sarah Peters)
Triumphant...Red Hose winner Chris Huntley (Pic Sarah Peters)

The winner of Carnwath’s famous red hose this year was Chris Huntley, the first local runner to complete the 4.5km route in the world’s oldest foot-race.

There was a large field of 27 runners, but, although those from outwith the area can win prize money, the actual red hose can be awarded only to a runner from the parishes of Auchengray, Braehead, Carnwath, Carstairs, Covington, Dunsyre, Dolphinton, Elsrickle, Forth, Libberton, Quothquan, Thankerton or Walston.

Setting out on Red Hose Race.  (Picture Sarah Peters).

Setting out on Red Hose Race. (Picture Sarah Peters).

Only five of those running this year were eligible for the traditional prize, including Chris, of Carnwath.

The race dates back to 1508, when James IV granted the lands of Carnwath to the third John Somerville on condition that he should pay each year “one pair of hose containing half an all of English cloth” at midsummer to the man “running most quickly from the east end of Carnwath to the cross”.

That probably ensured that the laird’s retainers were fit enough to run to Edinburgh to warn of any invasion from the south.

Nowadays, it is open to women too, and in 2012 the first female claimed her socks.

The race nearly ended in 2011. Initially it was cancelled because of a lack of interest, but that announcement prompted others to get involved, and it went ahead under the auspices of Carnwath Agricultural Show.

The show continues to host it, with the runners leaving the showfield at noon to head for Greenaton Farm and back, plus a shorter route for children.

Show president Mark Graham was delighted with the field of runners this time round.

“I think that is the largest number that has run the race since it was moved to Carnwath Show,” he said.

“Some people don’t want to run because they think they won’t win, but outsiders cannot win the red socks.”

The first man to finish was Jonathan Kennedy, of Stirling, and Sarah Inglis, of Falkirk, was the first woman home.

The junior winners were Rachel Donnelly and James Gillon.