Great Edinburgh Run, 27 Apr 2014 – Race Report

Posted: 28th April 2014 by mockjogger in Race reports
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RockbandAt risk of sounding like a wannabe Edinburgh tourist spin jockey, this place is righty proud of it’s City Centre. It is small and varied, with historical landmarks dating back centuries, open parkland and contemporary venues. When the chance comes to race here, I’m up near the front of the queue. This year, the Great Edinburgh Run had been extended to 10 Miles, and the organisers had come up with a great course which held to the centre, taking the best elements of the now defunct Rock’nRoll Half Marathon, putting them in reverse, and cutting out the seaside bit.

A dull grey 9 degrees greeted the ~5,000 runners making their way through the City towards the race start at Holyrood Park. The organisers had cunningly settled for a morning race, presumably to help runners resist the lure of all those pubs we would be passing later. The usual efficient BUPA machine was in operation at the start. No queues for the bag drop off and a short walk to the start, but forget queuing for a toilet if you arrive anything less than half an hour before the start.

Sheltering in the bag drop off before heading to the start

Sheltering in the bag drop off before heading to the start

I can’t remember what time I put down in registration, but my orange number put me in the first of three start groups. Not wanting to road-block the genuine speedsters I started right at the very back. An enthusiastic MC took us through a pumping warm up for the 10 minutes leading up to the start, but I spent most of this time trying to make my iphone camera change from video to still mode. A final few words of encouragement over the PA from the starter, who also announced that Sonia O’Sullivan (2K women’s World Record, Edinburgh, 1994) would be taking part, and we were away. What an honour to share the same course with a legend!

The first section took us out of Holyrood Park, left along London Road and back to the edge of the park again before heading up Cannongate. I knew the route was going to be up and down with a few tough little hills in there. After navigating the relatively gentle incline of Cannongate and then down past Waverely Station we met the first of these – The Mound. Cameraderie was in evidence here as folks encouraged each other up the hill, and this was to be a feature of the race. Hitting the top of the Mound I felt great, and congratulated myself for running within myself rather than haring off at the start.

Mile 1 – 8:27
Mile 2 – 8:40
Mile 3 – 8:51

Past the University along Potterrow and on to Chrichton Street we briefly picked up the route of the Meadows Half Marathon along the edge of The Meadows, before turning right and heading to Grassmarket. Here the organisers had set up a run-through spray shower which was attracting the interest of quite a lot of runners. Not me though, I’m getting colder with age. I took a gel as we reached the half way point on Cowgate. A lot of other people seemed to have the same idea, as about half a mile later there was a steady collection of SIS wrappers gathering on the street. I added my High5 isotonic, hoping that the organisers were planning on a sweep up later.

Mile 4 – 8:07
Mile 5 – 8:14

great edinburgh run route

Then, just as memories of The Mound were fading, we were presented with The Pleasance, and another short energy-sapping climb. I had been playing concertinas with two ladies running together – on the downhills they were blazing away and on the uphills I was catching them. I was almost on even terms by the time we plateaued, and turned to enter Holyrood Park again. Here the course had two lanes. We could see the faster runners making their way towards the finish while we headed in the opposite direction. The course got quite congested as we entered the narrow Innocent Railway Path, but I did manage to work my way past 4/5 of the rock-band outfitted guys I met at the warmup. They were still swinging those air guitars nicely. Past the 7 mile marker I was feeling very comfortable and decided to press on a bit and see if I could catch those ladies again.

Mile 6 – 8:25
Mile 7 – 7:54
Mile 8 – 8:16

Heading back into the park, the Mile 8 marker coincided with another sharp, short, steep, hill. I remembered this one from the Rock’n’Roll Half and thanked the elements that this time we did not have to add gale force headwinds to the mix. Half way up, I passed the two ladies; I was still feeling good and pushing harder. In a moment of clarity it occurred to me that this was perhaps the best race that I had ever run. At the summit of that last hill, the Garmin told me I had an average pace of 8:20. A fellow runner was breathing heavily and I told him it was all downhill from here. I kicked on down the hill passing a few folks, only to be overtaken by Mr Breather who seemed to have quickly recovered. I tried to peg him back, but to no avail – he finished about 10s in front of me.

Mile 9 – 8:08
Mile 10 – 7:14

resultAn average pace of 8:15, a new PB and my first time in “8 + teens”. I will take that, particularly on a course that really does merit the term “hilly”, with a total elevation gain of 202m.

The goody bag contained my T-shirt (non-technical), medal, lucozade, water, cereal bar and, uniquely, a worcestershire sauce sample.

Final two comments on the course. Firstly, I wish the organisers of the Edinburgh Marathon could incorporate some of these sections into their race, rather than take us on a tour of East Lothian. Secondly, Bupa – add a loop of Holyrood Park at the end and you have a classic, tough, half marathon right there.

Official result:

Time – 1:22:56
Position – 869 / 2979
Gender – 718 / TBA
Category – 67 / TBA