My run began at the Robert Burns Monument on Regent Road. Behind the monument I could see Arthur’s Seat in the distance. Mercifully the torrential rain we had been warned about had not materialised but it was still very windy and I worried a little at the thought of it battering the coast line that I would be heading for! The sky was thick with cloud and I was grateful for dull weather.
I set off downhill and within minutes was passing the Palace of Holyrood House, the Queen’s official residence in Scotland, and opposite that, the ‘new’ Scottish Parliament building where the first of my supporters stood waving from up on a plinth. I entered Holyrood Park and found some more friends positioned there and knew that I wouldn’t see them again for some considerable time! After passing St Margaret’s Loch I left the park and paid homage to Meadowbank Sports Stadium, where in 1986 Scotland’s Liz McColgan had won Commonwealth Gold in the 10,000m.
I passed through the district of Lochend and in the corner of my left eye, spied the roof of Easter Road Stadium, home to Hibernian FC. Coming from a Heart of Midlothian background myself, I quickly disregarded it! It was downhill again to Leith Links and then east to Seafield. Leaving the main road the run took in the length of Portobello Promenade, all the way from the barking of the cats and dogs home at one end, to Joppa, 2 miles away at the other. Feeling happy to be on home ground I had to resist the urge to shout, ‘Good morning Portobello!’ in the style of Robin Williams, to all the folks who had turned out to watch the race.
Joppa was quickly followed by The Honest Toun of Musselburgh. Past the harbour and then across the River Esk the run went and a bevy of swans could be seen where the Esk meets the Firth of Forth. Musselburgh Race Course was the next landmark. It encircles the world’s oldest golf course which dates back to at least 1672. Local hero Yvonne Murray hails from Musselburgh. She won Commonwealth Bronze in Edinburgh in 1986 at 3000m, Olympic Bronze in Seoul in 1988 at 3000m and Commonwealth Gold in Canada in 1994 at 10,000m. With Yvonne and me being a certain age and coming from neighbouring places, our paths did cross! More of that later.
Port Seton Harbour Gosford House
Onward next to the small coastal towns of Prestonpans, Cockenzie and Port Seton. Residents were out en masse, showing great support. With the wind behind, the going was good and the front runners came into view running in the opposite direction. The sun came out and stayed out, and the little harbours and fishermen’s cottages looked pretty. The sky and the sea were an unfamiliar blue! My friend Janis lives in Port Seton and was out to cheer me on and it was great to see her at about 15 miles. Janis and I met at secondary school and we shared an early interest in running. She however, was a sprinter of note, representing GB at the Seoul Olympics in 1988. When we were 14 she suggested we join Edinburgh Athletic Club and it was there at Meadowbank we trained twice a week in the late 1970s/early 1980s with Yvonne Murray. On Wednesdays we would run cross-country for our respective high schools. Janis and I for Portobello, Yvonne for Musselburgh. Yvonne always came first, by a mile; Janis, despite never wanting to run further than 100m, but being gifted, would come second; and then there was the rest of us!
Onward then along the coast the run went, bypassing Longniddry, and at last the furthest point of the route came into view. Off the road now and onto a footpath within the grounds of the opulent stately home, Gosford House. The path took the run past a field of llamas and a large number of free range hens! Back out onto the coast road we went, in a westerly direction back towards Musselburgh. I could see Arthur’s Seat again in the far distance. Now the wind was against and it was a battle to get back. Eventually the two enormous chimneys of Cockenzie Power Station loomed above me and I felt reassured that I was nearly home. Turning right at Levenhall with Musselburgh Race Course then on my right there were only a few hundred yards to go. The sky darkened and for a few seconds we were showered with unseasonal hail but it had all been worth it as I crossed the finish line and the sun came out once more.
Race report by Jackie Schofield