This race was traditionally a 22 mile event but for the last two years has been shortened to 20 miles. A very good lead-in event to those running marathons in late May (Edinburgh etc), it also fits perfectly into the Hal Higdon training programme. However, it is also an excellent event in its own right and is a favourite with the local faster long-distance club runners but also friendly to any new-comers. The administration was straight-forward and the weather this year was cool and overcast with a stiff headwind. A good, long-established run with six ERNs taking the opportunity to stretch their legs and see how their training was going!
Murdo said: “My second time for this race having taken part last year and really enjoying it. The race also fitted perfectly into the Hal Hidgon marathon training programme for Edinburgh so, apart from a few on Holiday, six of us turned up at the start. Registration was at the indoor bowling club on Portobello Promenade and was very straight forward. Entries were also being taken on the day. The entrants seemed in the main to be club runners, there was a time limit of 3.5 hours, but the atmosphere was relaxed and friendly. There was a bus laid on to take baggage to North Berwick (and take you back for if you’d booked it) and you could also leave personalised drinks that would be taken to a couple of the drinks stations on route.
Unlike last year (sunny with a tail-wind), the weather this year was cool (cold if you stood still), overcast and there was an ominous stiff headwind. You had to walk about half a mile from registration to the start behind the Cat & Dog Home on the Promenade. The six of us started near the back and after leaving dead on time followed the coast from Portobello to North Berwick via Joppa, Musselburgh, Prestonpans, Cockenzie, Seton Sands, Aberlady, Gullane and Dirleton. Roads aren’t closed so you run on the pavements in the main, junctions were marshalled with one noticeable exception when entering North Berwick. Apart from the villages, the route is open and you’re exposed to the wind.
The route itself is flat apart from a shallow climb for a few miles from before Gullane (mile 14) to Dirleton (17.5 miles). Nothing steep at all but with the headwind and the accumulated miles, you still felt it.
I ended up running most of the way with Hayley who put up with my inane ramblings with good grace. We finished just over the 3 hours but in good shape shortly followed by Eirwen (looking remarkably fresh) and Mike – this was the longest race to date for the three of them. Laurie and Val paced themselves perfectly and finished comfortably shortly thereafter with a few minutes to spare.
The race finish has been moved this year onto the grassed area beside the beach and was better for it. There wasn’t any medals, goodie bags etc but there was juice and Mars-bars which have never tasted so good. A cup of something hot (tea) would, however, not go amiss at the finish but there was prize-giving later at a nearby sports centre (with food and hot drinks I understand) although I didn’t make it as we were meeting fast-Neil and family.
All in all, a good runners-race, very enjoyable although the nagging headwind this year was a drag – at least it was dry! Not many spectators apart from friends and family but everyone that saw you was very supportive. There were some young boys giving out cans of coke in Gullane, spectators gave out jelly-babies in Dirleton and the water points were well stocked and friendly. If you’re doing the Edinburgh Marathon, this is a must and a great taster as it is bang on for training and follows a lot of the same route. A good traditional race – recommended.”
Val Said: “Organised ‘check in’ for Edinburgh to North Berwick – very windy and wet at the start but improved as the day went on. The time limit and goals for 5 and 10 miles made it quite nerve racking but put in place some of Aicha’s talk thinking “if I end up in the ‘dumpster’ it would be a new experience!”
I stuck with Laurie most of the race and last 6ish miles met Mike too so we all kept one another going. We stuck at the back – first 10 miles were average 9.5 mins miles (oh get me getting all technical!!) then when pressure off and tiredness set in got a tad slower. Ran through some lovely villages and scenery. Even seen a wedding! Really windy on exposed parts which was a struggle. Running into Gullane was a steady hard incline – Steve was there so I drank some water he brought and nice to see him there. Tired at Dirleton but got some of my mojo back as we came in to finish.
We got in 2 minutes before the 3hours 30mins deadline so whoop whoop! Good to have ERN’s, Steve and Nicola cheering us in. Juice and Mars bars at end then up to North Berwick sports centre for more food!!! Sarnies etc and most welcome hot drinks to have over the prize giving. Over all good race but very fast – cracking for giving me confidence for the Marathon!”
Mike said: “On a normal spring day, the 20 mile route from Portobello Promenade to the new, scenic finish on Beach Road, North Berwick, would have been a thoroughly pleasant experience, but weather reminiscent of a February day and a distinct lack of energy from 8 miles on, made this something of a trial by wind, with the exposed climb up to Gullane being particularly tough.
The event was well organised and marshalled, with four drinks stations, plus a couple of householders in Dirleton offering water and Jelly Babies. The occasional spectator support was very welcome too. Drinks and Mars Bars were available at the finish and the tea, sausage rolls and other goodies at North Berwick Sports Centre, where the prizes were presented, were very welcome. This is an event I would recommend, particularly as part of marathon training, but keep your fingers crossed for better weather. If I decide to try again next year, I’ll be doing the same!”