Report by Stuart Smith
Background – Before the 16th September 2012 I had only ever ran a slow 9 miles, 25th May 2014 and here I was about to run my second marathon. Joining the Bounders has given me a passion for running leading to the healthiest addiction. So many miles in such a short time, I can’t really believe it. The goal was to break four hours.
The Route – The course is mostly flat and given the right conditions can be fast, perfect for a half marathon PB which follows the marathon route and for a good marathon time. This however, brings its own challenges, running for 26.2 miles on the same muscle set and the unpredictability of the Scottish weather.
There are two starts one from Regent Road which is at the bottom of Princess Street and the other is from London Road. The course leaves the city and follows the firth of forth and heads towards Musselburgh, through the town then on to Prestonpans and then at around 17 miles loops back on itself, through the grounds of Gosland House then back along to the finish in Musselburgh. After being spoilt by the beauty of a couple of Hardmoors races it’s not the most exciting route in the world but very enjoyable all the same.
The route is lined with supporting spectators which gives you a huge lift, and there is a sprinkling of live music and sounds systems along the way, I even managed to sing along to the Killers at around 23 miles!!!
The Race – As I headed down towards the start line I knew the participating Bounders were spread across different starting pens and wasn’t sure who I would bump into. I was in the salmon pen (or pink to you girls) which was the second wave. I saw Mark and Sarah Berry we said our good lucks and off I went, it was time.
The start of the race is all down hill for around 1.5-2miles, I resisted the temptation to join the clatter down of the other runners as I knew this would come back to bite me later on in the run, the first target was to get to the half way point at 1:50. I passed Chris Boyd at around five miles, poor Chris has been struggling lately and I recall him saying “I’ll be fine I’m loaded up with pain killers”, I did chuckle, Chris you’re a Legend !
Once I was on the sea front promenade the wind was seriously irritating coming in from the side and into your face, I thought it would help on the way back but it wasn’t there !!, at the 10k point I got a massive shout from someone from Elswick Harriers, there was a lot of north east accents out that day supporting the local clubs, one glance at the Garmin told me I was on track.
Passing the eight mile mark brought back memories of 12 months ago when I did the half marathon, it was at this point that Amanda Phillips went flying past me with shouts of encouragement, no encouragement needed this year at this point the only thing that was bugging me was the increasing heat and what to do with my Cap (the one that had been recently washed for those that gave me pelters on my FB feed) At nine miles Aidan and Jillian Hughes offered me a cup of tea to which I freezbeed the Cap towards them many thanks you two J a little further on my friend Brian ‘Bill’ Ford from the Striders shouted encouragement, no way was I going to miss my goal toady I thought. Passed half way at 1:51 was well chuffed, not long after Ant Williamson and James McElrue went flying passed, I was tempted to keep up but no ! Stick to running 8:30 minute miles for as long as possible and see what happens was the plan.
At 18 miles the heat was becoming like a sauna, I had seen one or two people pass out on the side of the road and there were lots of people walking, not this Blackhill Bounder, he was feeling strong. At around 20 miles I caught Ant Williamson he was still going, words of encouragement were given by both then at around 21 miles I caught Nicola Gloyne, she had started in the first pen and never did I expect to catch her, she was struggling with blisters god love her – those Adidas Boosts, not all there cracked up to be ;-) #Nike
23 miles and the heavens opened the rain was a relief and by this time I had slowed and as with Kielder the last 3 miles were one long slog and a case of mind over matter, the sight of all the Bounders at 25 miles was a sight to behold and one I’ll never forget, it defo got me through the last mile so thanks everyone!!!!!
I crossed the line in 3hrs 52 mins and 10 seconds I had achieved my target!!!!!! J Massive thanks the Ant Williamson, Kevin Lee, James McElrue, Mark Berry and all the Sunday morning Matalan crew, you were a core part of my training plan.
Also big thanks to Julie and Ellie as once again I lost 16 weeks of my life dedicated to marathon training and they supported and put up with me and it was great to see them both at the end.
Conclusion – Two EMF weekends completed and I have to say they are brilliantly organised, I thoroughly recommend all events across the festival weekend. Well done to all the Bounders running this year.
Will I run marathon number 3?? Well I hope number 4 is the VLM 2015 J
Is there enough in the legs to run another 7 miles? Probably. I’m sure you will hear about it in my first Ultra Report.
And finally on the 16th September 2012 I did the GNR in 2hrs 11mins, I did the second half of this marathon in around 2 hrs, just goes to show what joining the Bounders has done to my running cheers everyone!
And another by first time marathoner, Bianca McElrue…
Sunday 25th 2014 and my d-day had finally arrived. Having decided 7 months previously that Edinburgh would be my first marathon, the months of waiting, training and worrying had finally come to an end.
Overall – it definitely lives up to its tag of “flat & fast”, well, I can at least vouch for the flat, making it a great choice for a first attempt at a marathon. Edinburgh makes a great setting (although only the first 3/4 miles are in the centre itself) for both the race and a break-away if you want to make a weekend of it. Overall the event is well-organised and I would have little to complain about other than the odd situation with results not being made automatically public and therefore not available for use by other sites such as Power of 10 or Run Britain. The organizers have now made it possible for you to choose if you want your results to be made public and there is also an online petition for this not to be an issue at future events.
The Route – the first 3/4 miles are mostly downhill from the city centre around the bottom of Arthur’s Seat and then out to the coast at Portobello. From Portobello and through Musselburgh, you stick closely to the coast which makes for a good view and a nice breeze, before going past the more industrial Port Seton. Miles 14-17 see you follow the aptly named Links Road before reaching the turning point of the course and a short section through the grounds of the lovely Gosford House. Except for the slight detour to see Gosford House, miles 18-26.2 are then back the way you came, all the way back to Musselburgh.
The Goodies – A big deal is made of the e-goodies available pre-race although the only thing that was of any interest to me was a free copy of Women’s Running. Of a better standard are the post-race goodies which include the usual cereal bars, energy gels/products, a weighty medal and a good quality t-shirt which unexpectedly was available in an x-small size at the finish meaning that for once I have a race t-shirt that actually fits!! Hurray!
The Social and The Support – Support from the locals is great in sections but you should expect to run large sections without many spectators. When there is local support expect music blasting out of speakers, unofficial water stations and massive bowls of jelly babies, all of which were a great help on the day. Although many don’t like an out and back route, I enjoyed this element of the race because it meant that not only did I see many of the elite athletes almost at the end of their race (rather dishearteningly I was only about half-way) but I also got to do some of my own “Bounder-spotting” seeing Nicki, James, Stu and Ant going in the opposite direction which gave me a great boost.
What was more impressive was the Bounders cheering brigade at mile 25. Even though I knew they were going to be there, their response was amazing and turned me into an emotional wreck. I literally had to fight back the tears for the final mile but their wall of sound helped me onto a strong finish. Thank you so much everyone that was there!!!!!
Naturally there was a gathering post-race with one or two drinks consumed but all in the name of rehydration.
Final thoughts – Would I do it again? Yes. Would I recommend it to somebody looking to do a first marathon or get a PB? Yes. Has it put me off running another marathon? No :)
James McElrue – 3:40:38
Stuart Smith – 3:52:10
Mark Berry – 3:52:48
Anthony Williamson – 3:54:40
Nicola Gloyne – 3:59:12
Bianca McElrue – 4:11:26
Kevin Lee – 4:20:13
Chris Boyd – 4:49:08