I was looking for a race in Edinburgh earlier in this year. I wanted something that would let me see a bit of the city, so EMF half was not ideal for this. The other races that would have fit this requirement landed on awkward dates. I then came across this one and was intrigued by descriptions that told of a race with no fixed route that offered stunning views of the capital city, so promptly entered and convinced Rachel to enter with me.
The plan of the day was to take it fairly easily. The race had no real distance, but was excepted to be around the 14 mile mark. I was using it a step back up to distance running and Rachel was using this run as a taper run (no, really) in preparation for a hilly Marathon next week. We also entered the challenge instead of the race, so neither of us were really clock watching. The main difference between the race and the challenge was the 30 minute head start that we got. The idea of this event also is that you run to the top of all seven hills (shown below) and get a stamp at the top of each. The route you take is entirely up to yourself, so long as you do the hills in the correct order. This led to some interesting running; through a shopping centre, private allotment, golf courses, forests, scrambling up steep embankments and on a mixture of surfaces.
- The Castle (esplanade)
- Corstorphine Hill
- Craiglockhart Hill (East)
- Braid Hill
- Blackford Hill
- Arthur’s Seat
The run started near the monuments on the top of Calton hill, where I met another Blogger Mockjogger for the first time. Heading down the hill, across the road and along the Royal Mile was a brilliant way to start it. Up to the castle and we got our stamps for the first hill. A nice and easy one there. After this, we went down some steps followed by a gentle down hill before running through a shopping centre (that was different).
Corstorphine hill was our first real climb, but it was not too bad. We ran most of the way up it, but chose to strategically walk the steep parts. Here we realised that stinging nettles were going to be a real problem. As was hay fever. And growling dogs (with a daft woman shouting “it’s OK, it’s OK” as her dog looks at me as though I’m dinner. It’s really not OK, get your dog away from me!)
On the way to Craiglockhart hill, I started to notice just how different the routes that people were choosing was. There were runners darting out of different streets and parks from all directions. A run over a railway crossing and a short climb to the top of this one for our third stamps.
Braid hill was the first really tough hill. On reaching the top of this I really thought for a minute that I was going to struggle the rest of the run. The heat was starting to get to me too. The views from here were stunning though and I could practically see the whole of Edinburgh, including a great view of the Forth bridges.
I seem to have blocked Blackford hill out of my head, but I do have the stamps to prove I was there. Hmm… Maybe it was too horrific or maybe I’ve mixed the hill names up and just described it in the previous paragraph and photo. Either way, nothing else to report here…
Now it was time for the big one. Arthur’s seat. It looked big from a distance. It looked bigger from close up. Runners were going up all routes, including vertical rocky faces, or taking the paths to the top. We chose a route that had some steps and a bit of climbing. Clearly the wrong way to go, but never mind. A lot of hard work to get up there and at the top but the view was worth it. My energy levels were shot, I felt hot and sick and did not want to think about the final hill up to the finish line where we started. Still, for now it was a “gentle” run down the tourist path. I say “gentle” only in comparison to the way we went up. It was steep, fast and I had to watch my feet so as not to break an ankle on the way down.
At the bottom of the final hill and back to the start/finish area was a lovely woman with a very large supply of homemade sugary candy. Perfect! Some of that down me and I managed the strength to climb Calton hill again.
A brilliant race, very varied and definitely one to do again. I see a few tweeks to the route that we took which I would like to make next time around.
Position: 159 out of 199 in the Challenge
Miles ran: 14.9
1) 1m – 10:34
2) 1m – 8:35
3) 1m – 9:13
4) 1m – 12:22
5) 1m – 11:27
6) 1m – 10:01
7) 1m – 10:16
8) 1m – 17:30
9) 1m – 13:16
10) 1m – 14:01
11) 1m – 16:27
12) 1m – 11:09
13) 1m – 20:33
14) 1m – 17:11
15) 0.9m – 13:26(14:59/m)