Monday, June 30, 2014

Edinburgh Marathon 2014

Edinburgh Marathon
 A fine Scottish Morning

Awesome photobomb by Elizabeth's sister in the start corral
       I had heard a lot about the Edinburgh Marathon and none of it was good, but when a long time running friend of mine asked me to train and pace her for her first marathon I could not resist her request. The training would be via email as she lives in Greece and I am in England, but we would meet for race day in Edinburgh while she was home visiting family in Glasgow.
       Her training went great! I was so proud of how she stuck to her schedule, got past minor aches and pains, and only missed a couple of short runs. Her heart was absolutely in it from day one and never flagged.

Happy, excited runners at the start
Off to a good start
       By the time we met, the Edinburgh Marathon Festival was in full swing. All over town were people wearing their 5K and 10K medals and shirts from the Saturday races and the happy parade of runners with their expo purchases were streaming away from the Hub. My trainee, Elizabeth, was very excited to see her first expo. Unfortunately, it was comprised of one tent with a weak assortment of items pulled from a local running store. She was able to pick up a couple of items though and we were having fun taking pictures and chatting about our plans for race day.

                Race morning went fine. We met to walk to the start with what seemed like the usual butterflies in our tummies. Despite dozens of races, I still get butterflies at the start line, especially with a big crowd and this one had about 8,000 runners in 4 corrals. It was a bit grey, but the low hung sky and mist was beginning to break up with the promise of a nice day.

Elizabeth blending in with all the runners

Along the coast

Lots of cool waterfront houses

Running strong!
                Then the trouble started. As we approached the half way mark, Elizabeth was beginning to flag. I thought this was odd since her training should have carried her much farther at her planned pace. It turned out that the fluttering stomach that morning was not only nerves, but also either a virus or food poisoning taking hold. She kept plugging away though, not wanting to stop. I stopped at a porta potty at one point and was horrified to find 2 out of the 4 over flowing to the point where waste was piled higher than the seat! This became a consistent theme on the course, much to our dismay.
Threatening skies

Gosford House
    The course itself was better than I expected. Pretty ocean views and the loop past Gosford House were lovely, but the wind off the North Sea was stiff and this was a good day. I would not want to run this course on a bad day! The volunteers were wonderful, as was the crowd support.
                I won’t go into detail about the events on the course, but suffice it to say Elizabeth was amazing. She became more ill and distressed (but not in danger of dehydration, I would have made her stop if that had been the case,) but refused to give up. She told me to go ahead and leave her, but there was no way I was going to abandon a sick runner on the course. We passed many aid stations, but she pressed forward. Thankfully, I was in contact with her sister, via cell phone, who was waiting at the finish line. She was worried sick, but ready and waiting with everything her sister could need.
Elizabeth perked up for a picture with the 20 mile sign
                We were down to a walk as we approached the 20 mile marker. So close, and yet so far to go. My heart was breaking for my friend. She had worked so hard and was ready to meet her finish time goals, but it just was not going to happen. She had worried and fretted about so many things, but this had never even occurred to her!

I love sections of out and back where you get to see the lead runners! 

The course definitely had its moments
               We counted down the final miles with Elizabeth breaking into a running stride as often as she dared. Despite her awful circumstances, she remained more cheerful than I would ever have been. Sadly, though, the race finish was terribly anticlimactic. We managed to finish well under 6 hours and with more than 40 minutes left before the course closed, yet they were already out of all but XS shirts and goody bags, and did not so much as hand us a bottle of water. I was shocked, but more worried about Elizabeth. When we went to get our bags, we discovered they had been unloaded from the transport trucks and left in a field, in the pouring rain. My bag was totally soaked through. Thankfully, Elizabeth’s sister had brought her clothes and she was able to shower and get cleaned up.
Elizabeth really didn't want to post for this picture, but I pulled her
 into it anyway, knowing she would want it someday :-)
              The race is a point to point with shuttle buses that bring you back to Edinburgh. I had prepaid for the shuttle tickets, but it was a waste of money since there were not charging anyone for the shuttles or even looking at tickets. The walk from the finish to the shuttles took about 30 minutes, which was ridiculous! Then, when the rain started, water was pouring in from holes in the roof. The drive back to the city was something like 45 minutes, and we were dropped off way at the edge of town and had to walk a considerable way to get back to the center.
                The race is clearly being managed by non-runners that do not even bother to look at other races to see how they are run. The most shocking announcement being that they had decided not to publish race results. The uproar this caused was unbelievable and there were calls by top runners to boycott the race in the future. A few days later, they give runners the choice of signing in and opting to have their results made public. So many people did so that they ended up publishing all the results. They also say they are sending out appropriately sized race shirts to those that did not get one, (not holding my breath on that as it has been a month and no shirt has shown up.)
       All in all, I do not recommend this race. There are so many wonderful places to run in the UK and so many races that are properly managed that I would skip this one and just enjoy visiting Edinburgh on a non-race day. 


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