Edinburgh Marathon Festival

EMF Race review 2016

Edinburgh Marathon Festival Review

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.

Pre-race

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).

On course

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 IMG_4899real 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!

Edinburgh Marathon Festival goody bag

Edinburgh Marathon goody bag

Post-race

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.

Edinburgh MArathon transport plans on train from Wallyford to Waverly

The steps that I had to tackle to get to the correct platform at Wallyford

Resting at the train station after Edinburgh Marathon

Resting at the train station

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!

Arriving in Edinburgh by train not plane

Edinburgh marathon festival – Travel plans

So today was the day we were travelling to Scotland for the 2016 Edinburgh Marathon Festival.

Everything was planned so that I would finish work and pick up Dani en route before heading to Bedminster to catch the airport bus to get our 8pm flight to arrive in Edinburgh so that I could have a chilled day before the marathon.

The airport bus came on time and I even saw a pupil’s dad on there (who I found out the day before was off to the north of Spain to run a trail race there). As expected for the Friday of a bank holiday weekend, there was traffic but we had plenty of time so all was calm. It also turned out that worse was to come…

Delay at Bristol airport so sat on floor

The delay had just been announced so we took a seat

Arriving at the airport, we had a 30 minute delay (not bad as the dad’s flight to Spain already had a 2 hour delay). After making the most of the free hand cream samples – always a nice airport treat – we settled down for a coke and waited to board. We were called to our gate by 9 and after ten minutes of waiting, an announcement came!

The captain came into the gate to announce the plane had been struck by lightning on its last flight and the men who had been shining torches at the plane for the last ten minutes were in fact inspecting it to find out where the Lightning exited. Fair enough. We all want to fly on a safe plane. We grabbed a seat on the floor to get comfy but soon they said it could be an hour so kindly suggested we return to the departure lounge to be able to access refreshments. Our dinner plans on arrival in Edinburgh were ruined so we decided on airport food. Not great in the build up to a marathon.

Mens Running UK to read whilst waiting for plane at Bristol airport

Something to keep my focused whilst waiting

Then announcement #2 came.

This time it was over the tannoy and informed us the flight had been cancelled! Cancelled! With no advice of what to do at 10pm! (Funnily, just as this announcement came through, the Madrid flight were asked to start boarding 4 hours after their expected departure. Lucky them. Sort of).

Confusion raced around the departure lounge and we made our way to the easy jet desk where it was very tense with some trying to get to the race and some to weddings. Luckily, Dani was great in this situation (I will blog about how great she is in more detail soon) and had already checked to see there was no flight the next day we could swap onto but there was a train leaving at 6:45am. We decided that this was the best and the only real viable option. So we took it. £220 pound for 2 tickets in first class and cheaper than standard class. What a deal for a seven hour train. Not so great as it was an extra £120 than we paid for the flight to Edinburgh. But needs must and we will be appealing for more compensation. So we left the airport at 11pm and headed home to get some sort of sleep frustrated at losing a night of our Edinburgh accommodation but happy we had a plan. The planned night of good sleep and waking up whenever on the day before the race was now going to be spent travelling.

Day 2

First class travel to Edinburgh

We made it onto the train and were en route to Edinburgh

Waking up early we started our journey again and got to the station and took our seats for my first trip in first class. Normally I wouldn’t bother with first class but for a journey this long and before a marathon it was ideal (we checked and found the seats would normally be £330 each so we were very smug!).

Carb loading on the train to Edinburgh Marathon Festival

Carb loading on the train to Edinburgh

We made the most of the free tea which came with a shortbread biscuit every time! Perfect pre race food right? It was also nice to have leg room to stretch out in, although I did feel guilty when I wanted to stand up to stretch my legs when people in other parts of the train were probably being forced to stand!

First class train snacks including tea and shortbread on way to Edinburgh

Shortbread and tea to keep me fuelled

We finally made it to Edinburgh for 2:30 and began our holiday! The flat we found on air bnb was a 25 minute walk from the station and was absolutely brilliant. For £76 a night it came with a kitchen which means we can cook food if we want and a lounge which is great for chilling if the rain comes. It also has a bath which I will be having a nice bath in.. I mean an ice bath! All in all it is much better then a hotel that we would normally choose to stay in for a price close to the cost of this flat.

Edinburgh apartment from Air BnB

Edinburgh apartment from Air BnB