I really enjoyed the Great Edinburgh Winter Run back in January (review here), so when my wife said she was doing the 10 mile Great Edinburgh Run I didn't require any convincing to sign up as well.
The Build Up
The Winter 5km run ended up being a heated but fun race between Harriet and I. In the lead up to this race, it was building up to be the same with some friendly banter about who would win. It wasn't clear who the favourite was, as we had been doing completely different training and hadn't run together for quite some time.
I had been focusing on training for obstacle course racing; so trail and hill runs, intervals, and upper body strength. Whereas Harriet had been training specifically for this event, long road runs aimed at the 10 mile distance.
Unfortunately when the day of the race came around, we both weren't in ideal condition. Harriet had been ill in the days leading up to it and was still feeling a bit funny; and my legs were still feeling pretty fatigued after racing hard the previous two weekends.
So instead of the head-to-head rematch, we opted to run the race together and help each other with the pacing for the sub 1hr 15min target Harriet was aiming for.
Great Run always put on a well organised and fun event, and this one was no different. The sign posts and instructions for the start of the race were clear, the group warm-up was fun, and the atmosphere was brilliant.
When the race got under way, everyone seemed to shoot off way faster than I was expecting. As a result it was incredibly difficult not to get carried away and overexcited. We had planned to roughly run negatively splits of 4.45min/km for the first 8km and then 4.30min/km for the second 8km, but when I checked my watch during this first section we were running at 4.05min/km!
With many people shooting past us, It took quite a bit of discipline to ease off and slow down a bit.
First of Many Hills
It wasn't long before the first hill was upon us, a steady climb up the bottom end of the Royal Mile. Many runners were already regretting the early pace they had set off at, and I overheard quite a few people exclaim that they had started way too quickly.
Harriet and I maintained a solid pace up this first hill, and I was feeling pretty good as we passed the second bagpiper, signifying the 2 mile mark.
After a fast section down Jeffrey Street and towards the train station, it was then the steep ascent of Market Street. A punishing early climb that was a real quad burner. Spurred on by the music playing at the top of the hill, and the shouts of encouragement from onlookers, we managed to reach the top without slowing down too much.
I'm maybe a little biased since I live here, but the route of the race was brilliant, right through the heart of the beautiful city of Edinburgh. After Market Street, it was a reasonably flat section along George IV bridge, to the Meadows, then down and through the Grass Market towards Pleasance.
The support from the public was brilliant and very motivating, with most people clapping and cheering as you went past them. Running past the coffee shops and flats you could see people inside watching on, smiling, in awe of the sea of people going past.
At about 5-6 miles, a long steady climb up through Pleasance was next. A lot of runners were suffering at this point, likely due to having set off too quickly. Harriet and I managed to maintain our pace, and we were still going strong.
After a quick downhill section, it was around Duddingston Loch and then a long climb back towards Arthur's Seat. At about the 8 mile mark, Harriet pulled up with cramp in her calf, likely due to not eating a great deal in the previous few days from being ill. We stopped briefly for Harriet to do a quick stretch, but 30s later we were on our way again, picking up pace for the final stretch.
I loved the final mile. It was mostly downhill along Queen's Drive and my legs were feeling great. It felt like I was flying along the road, with very little effort; and indeed my pace shot right down to only 4min/km.
The last time I ran along this road was the winter 5km race. I can remember how hard I had to push during that race; my heart rate close to max at the time. Now a few months later, I was breezing along at a similar pace, with less effort, and after doing 9 miles first! It's crazy what a difference a few months of structured and intelligent training can make.
The atmosphere for the finishing stretch was awesome, with lines of people cheering everyone on and the announcer congratulating everyone crossing the line. I accidentally started my sprint finish a little early as I thought the start line was the finish line. Though this seemed to be a common mistake that a lot of people were making; with the finish line actually being another 100 metres further.
Out of breath from the sprint, but otherwise still feeling good, we both crossed the line in just over 1hr 15mins. Harriet was a bit annoyed at herself for having to stop briefly with cramp, and as a result just missing out on her target.
However, considering we were not in peak condition before the race, and it was a challenging course which featured several hills; I think we can both be pretty proud of our times. (Harriet actually came 37th female, which is a particularly impressive achievement considering she was ill in the days leading up to the race).
My summary of the event is pretty simple: If you're looking for a professionally run, good value for money, road race with a brilliant atmosphere in an amazing city, then sign up for next year's Great Edinburgh Run.