Edinburgh Marathon Results & Report

Race Date: Sunday 28th May 2023

Race Report by Nicky Rafferty

My First Marathon

I started running in 2006 but it was another two years before I realised that I had started to enjoy running. It had given me time and space and a chance to remember my mum, who had died just before I began running around the streets and hills of Sheffield. It was after much consideration, many conversations and a lack of conviction in my ability to complete the distance, that finally I decided to enter a marathon in 2023. You can see that it can take a while for me to build up courage! The marathon that I chose was in Edinburgh because it gave me the opportunity to visit my daughter and do my marathon in a beautiful city. I began training in January and quickly realised that my marathon was at least a month after most of the other ones that people had entered. Oh dear. This meant that I would be mainly doing my long runs alone. So, I made up my own training schedule, which consisted of two runs in the week of 10- 15km each and one longer run on a Saturday incorporating my essential parkrun. My husband John helped me by planning out increasingly long runs which involved a parkrun at some stage. The days in-between runs I started going to the gym to stave off injuries and improve my core strength. This was now serious stuff for me as I have never really liked gyms. I completed the ‘training’ with a long run of 38.5 km (not quite a marathon, would it be enough though??) before entering the weird ‘tapering’ time.

The day of the marathon dawned warm but overcast. After the breakfast porridge (hey, what else, this was a marathon in Scotland), a short walk brought us to the starting pens and the obligatory toilet queue. Next stop was the bag drop. This was an incredibly efficient operation in stark contrast to the one at the Sheffield Half marathon. No freezing your bottom off in a queue in Edinburgh! I then went to find my starting pen. These involved the usual array of unpredictable colour codes that had been organised on expected finish times.

I stood and waited for the race to begin. I found it hard to believe that I had actually made it to the start line of a marathon, something which I had always considered well beyond my ability to complete. It was an incredible feeling!! Before long the starting horn was heard, and we walked slowly forward to the start line. It took me over five minutes to get there. I now had eight and a bit parkruns to get through. I had the advice of some seasoned marathon runners ringing in my ears and was aware of the need to avoid starting too fast. I stuck to this despite the urge to run quickly. We passed through the crowds in the city centre before heading out towards Holyrood at the base of Arthur’s seat and onward to the coast. It felt fantastic to finally be running a marathon. My family had come to support and they had planned where to be to encourage me along the route.

The weather then became increasingly warm and I was glad that I had used sunscreen but was annoyed that I had left my sunglasses. I had planned on using every water station and this turned out to be essential. I enjoyed the vista of the sea as we ran towards the promenade and on towards Portobello. The spectators were enthusiastic and encouraging but the most enthusiastic of all were my family. Along the route we had brass bands, Samba bands, bagpipes (oh, yes) and saxophone solos all playing lively uplifting music.

In addition to the water stations, members of the public were keen to offer every kind of jelly sweet known and there were places where the pavement was littered with jelly babies, midget gems and tangfastics. Later in the race we were offered quarters of orange and watermelon slices – delicious!! There were also hose pipe fountains playing onto the field of runners as they passed and we definitely needed them.

As the temperature increased, I found I had to stop to ensure I drank enough water, then tip any remaining water over my head to avoid overheating. I knew this would mean that my time would be slower, but I didn’t want to dehydrate. I also had regular refuelling snacks and essential as they were, I don’t now want to see another energy gel for quite a while.

As the race progressed, I found that I was passing more and more people. It seemed that some runners had chosen to ignore the colour coding on their number and start further forward but couldn’t maintain the pace, whilst others were struggling in the heat. In addition to the marathon, there was a relay marathon going on at the same time, so periodically I would be passed by someone running at stratospheric speed. These runners were each completing a quarter of the route and would be directed off the course when they had completed their leg. At one stage whilst contemplating which flavour of energy gel to try next, I started to follow the relay runners and almost found myself off the course completely. As the run progressed, I really missed having any pacers like the lovely ones provided by Striders for the Sheffield half marathon and I was finding it difficult to gauge my speed.

When we came up to the 20-mile mark, I found I was now passing many people walking up the slight incline back towards Musselburgh who were struggling in the heat. I really felt sorry for them as I knew how much training I had done to get there and how disappointed I would feel if I had been unable to continue to run. All that hill climbing in Sheffield was paying off!! Only one and a bit parkuns to go.

I was waiting to hit ‘the wall’ and I was now heartily sick of the taste of energy gels but otherwise felt fine. At 24 miles I had less than a parkrun to go and I started to look out for members of my family. I heard them before I saw them! Despite the tiredness, I still managed that sprint finish. And that was it, done – a whole marathon! I still can’t believe that someone like me – useless at sport all the way through school, who didn’t own any proper running shoes until 2007 – has actually completed a marathon. Now I have the medal to prove it. I had carried a picture of my mum as I ran, proud to have inherited some of her determination.

The Edinburgh crowds cheer home determined Nicky

The men’s marathon was won by Alex Gladley of Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow AC in a time of 02:21:34. Jemima Farley (no club stated) won the women’s marathon in a time of 02:39:39.

Striders Results

P Name Cat Cat P Time
2623 Nicky Rafferty 60F 6 04:00:13

A limited results search is available on the Edinburgh Marathon website.

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