My Top Ten Races are a little like my top ten anything, they will change depending on the last one I entered, the day you ask me, the weather, what I had for dinner and whether the month has an R in it. This is being posted over two posts. I have not finished the second half yet and I am nervous I will change my mind before I post the second part. Here is what I have so far:
10. Great Edinburgh Run – 10 Mile Road Race
The Great Edinburgh Run went through a few different guises, with route and distance changes before I ran it. It started as a 10k but the one I ran a couple of times was a 10 miler. 10 miles is one of my favourite distances to run but it doesn’t seem to be as popular a distance for races.
The run itself took you round the side of Arthur’s Seat, past Greyfriar’s Bobby, Edinburgh Castle, The Scott Monument, Scottish Parliament and Holyrood Palace – to name but a few landmarks. If one run in the Great Run series deserves the title Great it was this one. Unfortunately it is now the Late Edinburgh Run as the last one took place in 2017. Probably a victim of the success of the Edinburgh Marathon Festival and race congestion. If it ever comes back I will definitely be running it.
9. EMF Half – Half Marathon Road
The Edinburgh Marathon Festival (EMF) is probably the premier running event in Scotland. The marathon itself became an annual event in 2003 but the Half Marathon was not introduced until 2010. I didn’t run it until 2019.
Why do I like this one? I started running again in late 2018. The EMF Half was around the point I began to realise that I was better than I had been when I ran before – I might have been older but I was fitter and faster.
The route itself is not massively inspiring. It starts in the city and then it is downhill to the coast, where you run out to East Lothian and back with little to look at. The weather was horrendous when I ran it so the crowds were sparse – but brilliant. I lost it mentally at 11 miles when the weather closed in and I was on the out and back section. BUT I got a PB more than 8 years after I set my half marathon PB, and I ran hard in long race for the first time in years. This run will always have a place in my heart – and a place somewhere in my Top Ten Races.
8. North Berwick Law Race – 4.5k Hill Run
The North Berwick Law Race is my first – and only to date – experience of a hill race. The logistics of the race are brilliant. You turn up, pay a few quid, gather at the harbour and run. It seems like the whole town turn up to cheer you on.
You run from the Harbour in North Berwick, through the town and then up to the top of North Berwick Law, grab a coloured band, and then straight back down. When you get back into the town you are greeted by a pipe band and are cheered enthusiastically to the harbour. At the end there is no medal but you do get a free ice cream. This is a special event.
When I was driving there there was thunder, lightning and torrential rain which magically stopped about 15 minutes before the race itself. The ground on North Berwick Law was saturated and I lost my bottle on the run down the hill after seeing a few people take a tumble. I finished top quarter but I have a score to settle with this race.
7. Kilomathon – 13.1k Road/Cyclepath
Kilomathon started as a 26.2k race with an option of a half distance race of 13.1k. Now the 13.1k distance is the longer race and there is a 6k option too. When I ran it the longer race was 13.1k. The route takes you from Ocean Terminal in Leith along the old railway lines and ending up running along the track in Murrayfield Stadium.
As you are on cyclepaths that run along old railway lines there are no nasty hills, just a steady incline throughout the course. There are points on the course you forget you are in the middle of the city when all you can see are trees and runners. But the best bit by far is sprinting into Murrayfield and past a stand of cheering spectators.
Not sure why I liked this one so much. I run the routes frequently without paying for the privilege after all. That said, the distance is a test, longer than a flat out 10k but you do not need to hold back as much as you do when you get up to 10 miles. I think when a race finishes in your national rugby stadium it has to feature in your Top Ten Races.
6. Ormesby Hall Trust 10 – 10k Trail
As much as I love the Ormesby Hall Trust 10, I am not sure if this is a race or not. I think it is as you have a number pinned to you. So I am counting it in my top ten races, mainly because it is the only race where I have ever finished top ten. The Trust 10 runs are a brilliant thing as it is – a free 10k trail run round some of the National Trust’s sites in England.
The Ormesby Hall 10k is something else. It has a section on farm track, a cross country section, a road section and a woodland trail section – not to miss some of the greatest amounts of mud this side of an obstacle course run. Then there is a nasty hill that you think has ended and then it starts again. All this over a 10k run.
I have run it three times and each time I have ended covered in mud and with the biggest smile on my face. The course is spectacular and the volunteers amazing.