On Sunday May 29th 2016 I was one of 6000 runners lining up to tackle the Edinburgh marathon.
Earlier that morning, those doing the half had already set off. I will talk about my performance in another blog (here) but I wanted to share my experiences of the event for those who may be considering adding it to their race calendar.
In the build up to the race I received my race information via email with a nice goody bag attached which entitled me to some discounts. They also sent out my race number in advance along with some safety pins which was great if I hadn’t already bought a big pack for my last race.
On the day I was grateful for the pre-race communications as I learned there was two start zones but knew mine was on London Road so headed in that direction and picked up the signs directing me to the start. Here I found the baggage lorries and all that I needed to do was look for my number range hanging off the top of the lorry and head there. I passed them my bag, with my baggage label that had been sent through attached, and that was done.
Going for an early loo break there were very few queues and there was some trough style toilets to ease the queuing at the portaloos. However, as you moved closer to the start line there was less troughs and then a reduced number of portaloos. So make sure you plan your loo breaks.
Nearer the start time people began to ditch the queues in favour of the trees, even though tannoy announcements advised against it. It was good to see some marshalls attempting to move those people on because it is ultimately going to be actions like these that get events cancelled. I did chuckle at the runners’ sheepish faces as they got told off by the marshalls! A few minutes before the start, the queues were empty so I’d suggest leaving it til late and then jumping into the start pen as the runners took time to cross the start (unless you are aiming for a quick time and have been put in the first couple of pens).
The crowds were out in good numbers for most of the course and where they could be found, the atmosphere was fantastic. There was a lovely atmosphere up to mile 11 ish around where the finish line is on the return leg. There were a number of houses playing music with one putting on Killers – Mr Brightside. I let them know it was a tune and it perked me up even more. There were other bands and music throughout the course with lots of drumming groups and there was even a chap playing the sax by a church at one point – justifying my reasons for not wearing headphones.
The miles from about 13/14 were quiet as the large crowds didn’t venture that far – I assume for ease of transport. But on the way back there were good crowds from mile 22 ish. The finishing mile was busy and the approach to the last few bends were also packed which was great for that final push as you chase those personal bests!
Although the course is good for personal bests it is worth bearing in mind that even though there is no real hills on the route – which is a great coup in a city like Edinburgh – the course has to be described as undulating in some parts, which was more noticeable on the lonely miles. The road surface you run on is not perfect either, with much of the road surface being pot holey and on the final return leg you enter Gosford House which has a trail style surface.
The volunteers were brilliant and all those I encountered at water stops or in the finish zone were positive and helpful. They were always ready with water and gels along with some encouraging words. At the end of the race I must give a special mention to the young lads doing the baggage. They were so on it that even before I got to my section and asked for my bag, they had seen me coming and had it ready on arrival. A small thing but I very much appreciated it!
Crossing the finish line you enter the runners zone where you get your medal, bag and have a chance for a finishers photo. I won’t be purchasing them as it isn’t long since I already shelled out a lot of money for my London Marathon photos. I think a digital download of all my Edinburgh photos would be £30, or £9 for one photo.
By the time I exited the runners finishing zone I had received a very prompt text from EMF to inform me of my provisional finishing time. A very easy but quick and effective thing for them to do.
We decided against the shuttle bus that EMF organised as it was really quite expensive, and planned to get a train. We went on a slow 25 minute walk to Wallyford train station – which happened to be right next to the shuttle bus station anyway – and got a train for £3.50 back to Waverley Station in Edinburgh city centre near the start.
They came hourly but the rest was fine and it was a good time to reveal the surprise treat Dani said she would get me. (It was a tasty donut from Baba Budan. Perhaps not the best post race meal, but it was delicious) Dani managed to get a return from Waverley for £3.80 so worked out really well for her spectating! From Waverley it was just a short bus from Princes Street back to our flat. I was lucky to get a seat as I was in no mood for standing.
In summary I would definitely come back and recommend it to anyone looking for a marathon a bit further afield!