The first weekend in January is often a pretty miserable time of year with the post-Christmas comedown. Having a running event pencilled in the diary is a great way to get the New Year off to fantastic start, particularly if it is a destination race.
I had the opportunity to combine a trip to Edinburgh with a 5k run to kickstart my 2017. The Great Edinburgh Winter Run is part of the Great Run series, which offers mass-participation events across the UK in a range of distances for all abilities. Simplyhealth have recently become the new title sponsor of Great Run series and this event in Edinburgh would be their first as a partnership.
I was joined in Edinburgh by Jayne and Bibi from Veggie Runners, Helen from Too Fat to Run, plus journalists Hannah and Dominique. We listened to a presentation from Simplyhealth on their ethos of helping people to make the most of life through better every day health. The new partnership with Great Run allows them to help even more people to get active by running, jogging or walking together.
On the morning of the race, we arrived at Holyrood Park and saw Arthur’s Seat rising up above the city and knew we were in for a hilly run. Despite only being a 5k, it was still set to be a challenging course with a steep elevation and descent. The circular route travels up Queen’s Drive around Arthur’s Seat, passes by Dunsapie Loch before returning to Holyrood Park.
After a few pre-race photos, we slotted into our starting pen ready for the warm-up. It was pretty crowded so there wasn’t a great deal of space to move, but the atmosphere was fantastic with 3000 people gearing up to run.
We were set off and before long the climb began, getting gradually steeper and steeper. I kept plodding away, focusing on keeping my body upright and eyes straight ahead. Around me I could hear the laboured breathing of the runners and the encouraging cheers of supporters. Each kilometre was marked by a bagpiper to give that authentic Scottish experience.
The climb was worth it for the panoramic views. Although misty, we could see across the city and out to the Firth of Forth. It’s quite unique to be able to climb a mountain (actually a dormant volcano) in the middle of a city.
The course seemed to level out around the shoulder of Arthur’s Seat allowing for some recovery. Around halfway, I saw Jayne and Bibi who had stopped to take selfies in typical blogger style! Of course, I ran straight over to get involved in the photo.
What goes up, must come down! Around 3km the steep descent back to Holyrood Park began, making for a fast final section of the race. I tried to shorten my stride and quicken my cadence as I went charging down the hill letting gravity do the work.
We were welcomed across the finish line by the uplifting voices of the ‘Sing in the City’ choir. I finished in 30:41, not too bad for a far-from-flat course! We cheered in the final runners from the Simplyhealth team as they each crossed the finish line to receive their medals.
Later that morning, Holyrood Park hosted the Great Edinburgh XCountry race which saw elite athletes competing in four separate events. I stayed to watch the action as teams from Great Britain, the United States and Europe battled it out. Coverage from the race was broadcast on the BBC, so I tried to get myself in front of the camera but unfortunately they were more interested in the elite athletes. Mo Farrah actually walked right past me as he arrived for the race- very exciting!
The Winter Run really whet my appetite to take part in more events from the Great Run (or even Great Swim) series. They have loads to chose from but the Great North Run in particular has been added to my bucket list, being the world’s largest half-marathon.
I visited Edinburgh and took part in the event as a guest of Simplyhealth and Great Run, but all opinions are my own.
Have you ever visited Edinburgh? Have you taken part in any of the Great Run series?