I had no idea how hard it would be. Absolutely no idea. And this is where I would want to be a great writer. I would love to tell you in saturated technicolor how the race went; how my body performed and what went on in my head as the mile marks passed.
I finished the race in 4 hours 29 minutes and 29 second.
I started of with the pace of about 9 minutes per mile* which, if you can keep it up, gives you just under 4 hours as the final time. First 2 miles in Edinburgh are downhill, which is great. Nice easy Sunday jog down Regents Park, fantastic scenery, wide roads to accommodate 14000 people flowing down in unison. 4 mile mark was the first where I thought: ‘What a nice distance to comprehend, one sixth done’. Little did I know.
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Anyhow. It’s funny how quickly the first 5 miles went past but soon we arrived at the beach. It was becoming clear that the weather report wasn’t wrong this time. It was going to be the hottest day I’ve ever spent in Scotland. Marathon or not. Sun was blazing from a clear blue sky, directly ahead of us down Portobello promenade. I knew Darina and her family would be somewhere there so I was looking forward to that but still.. it was about 20c hotter than I had hoped for.
By this time I really had to wee. There was the relay change over spot but no loos right next to it to conveniently use. I waited until right after 10 mile mark – while on the phone to my brother who was helping me do Twitter updates – I saw an open gate that led to a field where it’d be easy to relieve yourself. And I did.
Timing for big events like these are done with little RFID chips you wear on your shoe or – like now – around your ankle. All you do is run over this mat and it knows your there. It’s a pretty cool application for simple technology that could be more widely used. I really wonder how they did runner times for large scale races before RFID. Sounds impossible.
At 2:03:25 I stepped my foot on the half way timing point. Pretty steady speed I had kept up from the beginning.
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Darina had just phoned me so I knew to expect them somewhere after 15 miles. This stretch after 14 miles was annoying if anything else. We saw the soon-to-be-winners of the race. They had a big Mercedes SUV in front of them with the time 2:03. (Winner of the race, Martin Williams, came in at 2:18:24.) Strangely and very unlikely for Scotland, the weather wasn’t turning for worse. Or it was, not just in the way you’d expect when saying it was getting worse. It was getting hotter and hotter and the last turning place wasn’t even close.
Probably one of my favorite bits of the race was before Gosford House on a field that led to a forest, one of the only places that had shadows. I think it was the variation that this field gave to the endlessly long, almost straight roads.
I wonder if they allow visitors at Gosford House, it looked pretty nice.
After the forest, we got back to the road leading back into Musselburgh. About 7.5 miles to go. I can’t remember if it was just before or right after the 19 mile mark but it was by far the most de-moralising part of the day. The water point that was supposed to have water, energy drink and gels was dry. No water, no nothing. We had already done a good couple of miles in the fields since the last water point and people were pretty angry to not get anything. What made it worse was that we had no idea if there’d be any more water before the finishing line. It was pretty bad.
I’m pretty sure we passed another one or two dry water points, guessing from the clusters of empty bottles we passed. Luckily there was a ten-year-old girl spraying water on us from the curb. I stopped to get some refreshment from the ice cold water. That was pretty sweet.
It must have been around 22 miles when we got more water and energy drinks, not too late but it took a while to get recharged.
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Last miles went by really slowly, I had to walk for 50 meters three or four times, just to get motivated to continue. It wasn’t that my leg were hurting; joints were fine and I had no chafing, just really, almost completely, exhausted. Mad feeling.
But, like many things, it finally came to an end. Darina and Eilish were there just after 26 mile mark and I could see the finishing line. I crossed it and I cried like a little girl.
It was absolutely amazing.
*as big of a metric fan as I am….
It was a massive mistake and a failure the organiser did with the water stations. Not only was it annoying, it was literally putting runners lives in danger. 5000 out of the 13000 runners who started pulled out. 10 treated in hospital and 160 by medical staff by the route. There was also other issues that the organisers will have to improve upon for next year. More toilets along the course and better signage all around the event. I was quite disappointed to find in my goody bag a t-shirt meant for ‘the Hairy Haggis’ – relay team. It wasn’t a problem getting a new one sent out after I called them today.
With all the problems they had, I’m definite that I’ll run it again one year. They will listen to the criticism and make it a better event. It’s a beautiful and a fast route and I’d recommend it to anyone.
Few more photos from Edinburgh Marathon: