Edinburgh Half-Marathon – 29.5.16

Race report by Cathy Keay

I had been considering this race for a long time, and I thought just book it and do it.  Both the full and half marathons have a reputation of being fast and flat, just what I wanted !  The half started early at 8am, with full starting at 9:50am.

I travelled up by train on the Saturday, and wandered to find the start line during the afternoon, there are two starts one in London Road (for those speedy people) and Regent Road (for those slightly slower).  I had the Regent Road start but was in the pink pen with was the first pen, so it felt as if I was an elite with the Start right in front of me.  There were baggage lorries at the end of each road, which would take the bags to the finish at Musselburgh.

The race started bang on time with the London Rd start leading off and us quickly following.  Jackie Schofield had warned me not to get carried away as the first 3 miles were mainly downhill, and to make sure I didn’t fly off to quickly.  There was so much space in the pen and along the first road; I’d never been in such a big race with so much space.

The first mile went past Holyrood Park and the Scottish Parliament Building and along the base of Arthur’s Seat (I was going too quickly !), the second mile went past the Meadowbank Stadium and along the Lochend Road (still going too quickly !), the third mile was heading towards the coast and past Leith Links (even though I was trying I was still going too quickly !).

Then we hit the coast and I could see the sea, there was no head wind, it was lovely, you could see all the other runners in front of you, which meant it was flat, we ran along the Portobello Promenade which was like a little “old fashioned seaside town”, by now I had managed to control my speed and felt good.  The 10k mat whizzed by and I was still plodding along nicely, my mile splits were very consistent and I started to think, maybe I could get my second sub-2 hours!!

The route then went slightly inland and the sparse crowds got bigger and noisier, we were approaching Musselburgh Racecourse at 9 miles, this is where you got to see the speedy runners on their way to the finish, I knew I now had to run to the 11 mile point and start the switch back for the last 2.1 miles.  My pacing was still spot on, I don’t think I’d ever felt this good in a half-marathon before (this was number 31), and I started to believe that sub-2 was on the cards.  It seemed to take a while to get to the 11 mile turnaround point, but then I knew I was on my way back to the finish on the school playing fields.  I dug in and carried on; it was a good feeling knowing I was on my way to the finish while the other runners on the other side of the road still had to get to the 11 mile point.

Suddenly I looked at my watch and I was at 12.6 miles – OMG only .5 to go, a quick calculation and I thought I could now get a PB !!!  EEEEKKKKK keep running, I turned the corner into the school not knowing how far round the corner I had to run, I could see the finish in front of me, head down keep going.  I remembered to do a massive smile for the cameras before turning off my watch – I’d done it – a new PB 01:58:39(ish).  Couldn’t stop smiling.

Runners were then filtered into an enclosed astroturf football pitch, where we got water, medals and goody bags – all the spectators were kept outside of this enclosed area, which was great for getting your breath and collecting yourself.  I then wandered out towards the baggage lorry to collect my bag and to eat the contents of the goody bag.

The logistics of this race had puzzled me, and it does take a bit of planning, especially if you have spectators or other runners to worry about – but because I was on my own everything went fine.  I had pre-paid for a bus to take me back to the city centre, it was at least a mile walk to the park n ride shuttle service, (I could now see the speedier marathon runners going past the 10 mile point), but it was all well organised and it took approx. 45 mins to get back to the centre.

In summary this is a well organised event, it is definitely a fast and flat route, there is a bit of walking and hanging around at the start and finish but a race to add to your to-do list.

Thanks Edinburgh, I think I might be back …………….