Race Report: Edinburgh Marathon

Reports

Edinburgh actually offers a festival of running over the weekend with 5km & 10km races on the Saturday along with some junior events and then Sunday makes way for the half marathon and the full marathon along with a team relay event over the full distance. I would personally recommend it, it’s my favourite city in the UK.

So what do you get when you mix a bunch of enthusiastic runners, unpredictable Scottish weather, and a coastal route that promises more ups and downs than a Loch Ness Monster sighting? (Disclaimer: it’s not hilly but I wanted to reference some Scottish folk law) You get the Edinburgh Marathon, a race that turned out to be as much about surviving the elements as it was about clocking a decent time…

Two and a half Tunbridge Wells Harriers (I’ll refer to myself as a half a harrier on the basis that I didn’t exactly stick to my game plan.) braved the long journey north of the border for this late spring marathon. Yes, it was the long-awaited reunion with my Scottish roots and visiting family at the same time. As soon as I crossed into Scotland, I could almost hear the bagpipes welcoming me to a land of kilts, haggis, neeps and tatties and, as I soon discovered, some rather fickle weather.

The race started in Edinburgh, with the kind of drizzle that makes you question why you ever left the comfort of the beautiful Kent countryside. But hey, that’s what makes us runners tough, right? The rain was practically horizontal at times, but we powered on, weaving through the historic streets and trying to avoid stepping in puddles the size of small lochs, or just potholes that the council clearly don’t care about.

As we made our way down the coast towards Longniddry in the East Lothian, the weather decided it was time for a change. The rain cleared up, giving way to a surprise appearance from the sun. Before we knew it, we were dealing with a different beast altogether: humidity. Suddenly, the challenge was less about keeping dry and more about staying hydrated and not turning into a human puddle. Being my first marathon I wasn’t expecting to see numerous people collapsed on the side of the road, in my head I put it down to the possibility they weren’t hardy harriers like we were.

The course itself was scenic, with stunning views of the coastline and charming towns/villages, Around Longniddry, the route took a bit of a change as we turned back towards the finish line in Musselburgh and the gravel surface underfoot wasn’t really welcomed. As once again it became more about avoiding potholes and lochs than pushing forward to the finish line.

As we approached the final stretch, Mother Nature decided to give us one last surprise – another downpour. It was like being in a weather sandwich: wet at the start, sweaty in the middle, and drenched again at the end. But by this point, we were practically amphibious and powered through the finish line with soggy but triumphant smiles.

Finishing times:

Steve Austin: 03:34:43
Duncan Ralph: 03:55:41
Yours truly the half harrier: 04:10:03
Men’s winning time – Moray Pryde: 02:23:12
Women’s winning time – Johanna Oregan: 02:48:15
Worth noting that my legs had well and truly fallen apart at mile 22 and putting a bit of a walk on thinking that I could walk it home from this point a lady from crowborough recognised the famous deckchair on my back and she along with her friend pulled me along to the finish line where I just about managed to run/jog through to the end. The running community really is a bloody decent group of people.

All in all, the Edinburgh Marathon was a memorable adventure. Despite the weather’s best attempts to derail us, we Harriers proved once again that neither rain, nor sun, nor more rain can stop us from chasing that runner’s high. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go dry off and find out what exactly haggis is made of and to eat ‘square sausage’ washed down with Irn Bru.

Samuel Bridger