Race Date: Sunday 28th May 2017
Edinburgh Marathon Race Report
In the few days running up to the Edinburgh marathon I was working in Durham, and the temperatures were hitting the mid to high 20s. I tried not to panic, Edinburgh is a long way North, the route goes along the cool Firth of Forth, and a thunderstorm was forecast. I tried to keep the memory of my ‘worst race ever’ (Dig Deep 12.12 about 4 years ago) in 30 degree heat out of my mind. There was no way that kind of weather could happen in Scotland, and scupper my months of training, surely ?
Race day dawned, blue skies, wall to wall sunshine. Oh well, at least the crowds would be out in force to cheer us on. The start was well organised, two separate start points, easy bag drop, plenty of portaloos, spacious starting pens. I was with Heather and Steve, we hadn’t seen Sharon but knew she was as apprehensive as us at the other start point.
We spotted another Strider, Daniel Cubitt in the yellow pen and wished him well. It was his first marathon, he looked cool and race ready. I on the other hand was regretting applying all of that body lotion to pass the time between breakfast and leaving the house. I was glossy, my whole body was clammy, but at least I was covered in rejuvenating antioxidants.
We set off, there was no music, and after a few hundred metres there were no spectators. The downhill we had been promised didn’t materialise, and by mile two, Heather commented it was the hilliest marathon she had ever done.
As we ran past Arthur’s Seat I could feel salt crystals forming on my face and tingling as the sun turned them into little burning dots.
At the 6 mile point I was looking forward to a refreshing electrolyte beverage, but no, however much I bit and sucked on my high tech soft bottle, no drink would come out. I took the lid right off, inhaled two full nostrils worth, then let that drip back out and down my vest.
By about mile 8 I accepted that the noisy supporters and hardcore oompa bands I had loved so much at the Budapest marathon were not going to show up. Heather was ahead of me. I was on my own, having settled into a pace that I knew was just a bit too slow. I was doing the maths, if I could stick at this new pace and run no more than 26.2 miles, I could possibly still get a pb, but unless a miracle happened I would not get a GFA London place. Around mile 10 I caught up with Heather. I asked if she was alright, she said ‘no’.
When I started to see the leaders coming back the other way, I took comfort from the fact they looked rough. Maybe it wasn’t just me, maybe the conditions were tough.
Around this point I noticed Firth of Forth was not cool. The breeze coming off the sea felt like the air when you step off the plane in Greece in July. It was airless air. It was like the air that comes out the back of your hair dryer just before it blows up. Then I saw Daniel Cubitt coming the other way. He was waving, he looked fresh, he looked good in his vest. I told myself that I too could look like that, if only I had youth, and minimal body fat on my side.
The out and back section went on for a long time, eventually I spotted Clarkey coming the other way. He was meant to be miles ahead of me. I worried that the turning point was still a long way off. Steve looked ok, running in a fairly straight line, we wished each other well. I was then surprised to get to the turning point shortly after. The route went off into some sort of super heated parkland. I saw Steve up ahead with his head down, hands on his knees, complaining to a bagpiper. He told me he didn’t feel good, the heat and lack of enthusiastic training were taking their toll. We ran for a mile or so together until we got to a drink station. In an act of self sacrifice worthy of Captain Oates, he told me he may be there some time. He didn’t want to tell me that he was pulling out, because he knew I would try to persuade him to carry on. He gave me an emergency salt tablet, and wished me luck for the last 7 miles.
There was a great section a couple of miles from the end where lots of people had turned out and a local radio station van was blasting out music. This really lifted me and I felt a surge of energy. I tried to keep this feeling, focusing on how good the finish would feel, regardless of the time. When I eventually saw the finish line and realised that my gun time was still going to be under 4 hours, I couldn’t hold back the tears.
In the end, miraculously, I was only a minute outside my pb. Heather finished, through sheer grit ( and because she couldn’t get in touch with anyone on the phone to let them know she was pulling out). Sharon also finished like an absolute trooper. One of her toe nails had come off the week before, and during our post-race dinner, we all spent time admiring the colour and swelling of the alien thing her toe had turned into. Steve pulled out at 20 miles. He ended up almost blacking out on a side road whilst waiting for Amy to pick him up. I think Daniel was probably back in Sheffield by the time the rest of us had walked the mile and a half uphill to get to the marathon bus stops. That boy has got talent.
The marathon was won by Julius Korir in 2.17.13. The first woman home was Eddah Jepkosgei in 2.37.46.
|126||Dan Cubitt||M Sen||3.05.07|
|1511||Jo Carnie||FV 45||3.55.23|
|2264||Heather Wallis||FV 35||4.10.41|
|4492||Sharon Renshaw||FV 40||4.57.06|
Full Results: https://www.edinburghmarathon.com/results/