MEMBERS of the Borders Search and Rescue Unit were called into action during the early hours of Saturday - to save an exhausted runner.

The ultra marathon competitor had already completed over 250 miles of Britain’s toughest challenge - the Spine Race - when he became exhausted high up in the Pennines above the Bowmont Valley.

A dozen members of the local rescue team were scrambled in an effort to find the 49-year-old after a helicopter search had to be called off.

Damon Rodwell from Borders Search and Rescue Unit told us: “One of the tail-enders activated the SOS function on the GPS tracker that all participants carry.

“This automatically pinpointed his location at Windy Gyle, high on the border Ridge at the head of the Bowmont Valley.

“Bearing in mind that the runner had covered more than 250 miles over rough country in the past week, his position at 619 metres above sea-level in an exposed spot and the damp, chilly weather, it was clear that speed would be an important factor in rescuing the casualty before he succumbed to hypothermia.” The helicopter which was scrambled from RAF Boulmer in Northumberland, was prevented from landing on the high summit by low cloud and poor visibility.

Almost four hours later two members of the team located the runner.

Mr Rodwell added: “The advance pair found him without difficulty, lying in a slight dip about 150 metres south of the summit.

“An experienced ultra-runner and a veteran of several severe endurance tests, he had done everything he could have to stave off the chill. He was on a foam mattress inside a waterproof bivvy bag, a sleeping bag and all his clothing.

“Nonetheless, he was pretty cold, completely exhausted and a little disorientated.” The athlete was eventually taken off the hill by Landrover to race finish at Kirk Yetholm.

The Spine Race is run over a week and covers the 268-mile Pennine Way.