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Edinburgh to North Berwick 20 Mile Road Race 2011

Runners congregating at the start, Portobello Promenade
Runners congregating at the start, Portobello Promenade

After the previous night’s thunderstorms, runners woke to a very warm day (it got hotter!), a stiff headwind and the prospect of a 20 mile run to North-Berwick. This is a long established race, particularly favoured by fast longer-distance club runners although it is very welcoming to newcomers as well. The route follows the coast via Musselburgh, Prestonpans, Cockenzie, Port Seton, Aberlady, Gullane, Dirleton and finally finishes on the grassed area beside North Berwick beach. This year Stuart Pirnie and Murdo Macleod took part. Also, many thanks to Aicha for coming out to support and to Mike who took photos.

Place (xxx) Category Cat Pos Time
Stuart Pirnie 74 MSen 33 02:49:32
Murdo Macleod 107 MV50 11 03:14:26

1 = First race over the distance. PB = Personal best time over the distance.

Murdo said: “My third time running this race and by far the hardest! There was a stiff headwind and the weather was very warm at times (particularly when you were out of the wind).

Registration was at the indoor bowling club on Portobello Promenade and was very straight forward. The entrants seemed in the main to be fast club runners, there was a time limit of 3.5 hours, but the atmosphere was relaxed and friendly and newcomers were welcomed. There was a bus laid on to take baggage to North Berwick (and take you back 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.

I entered on the day and included the bus trip back. I met Stuart at the start and we all congregated after about a half a mile walk from registration at the start area which was behind the Cat & Dog Home on the Promenade. I 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 with all junctions marshalled. 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. There aren’t that many supporters around apart from in the villages, and friends and families; the water stops were well stocked and all the marshalls were very friendly and motivating. There was a couple of older ladies in Dirleton who were out with water and jelly babies which was just at the right time as I was flagging a bit by then.

The finish is on the grassed area beside the beach and there wasn’t any medals, goodie bags etc but there was juice and water which never tasted so good! It’s then a wee (well, not that wee) walk to the local Sports Centre (all uphill) where there was a nice spread laid on and you could also use the Centre Cafe. Changing facilities and a great shower were top of the agenda. I stayed for the prize giving before we all caught the event-bus back to Portobello.

Don’t know why I struggled so much this year; due to work commitments I haven’t been able to run during the week and I’m sure that’s caught up with me. Also, it was very hot and windy and I ended up with stomach cramps for the last half of the run. Again not sure if the choice of gels had anything to with it. Couldn’t have been the beer and KFC as I’ve had that plenty of times before races. Anyway, ended up 30 mins slower than 2009 although the conditions then were perfect (tailwind, warm etc).

I like this race and would highly recommend it. It usually sits 4 weeks before the Edinburgh marathon but this year was a week closer which may have had a detrimental effect on entries which were down on the high of 217 last year. It was the perfect test for the marathon as it uses a significant part of the same route.

Best part of all was the brilliant surprise of seeing Aicha out in Aberlady complete with a big box of jelly babies! It made my day and I’m sure a lot of others as well. It was such a lift! Many thanks much appreciated.

Saw Mike Newton taking photos at the start, at mile 3 and at the end. Also saw Michael Joyce and his little ladies at the end. All in all, despite the conditions, an excellent and challenging race, try it, you’ll like it!”

Stuart said: “I found the conditions really tough. It was baking hot from about Musselburgh onwards.

Despite the heat I really enjoyed the run. I especially enjoyed running along the coastal road to Aberlady heading into Gullane. It’s a road I’ve driven along so often so it was nice to experience running along it, it certainly seemed a lot longer than I remember!

The locals were out in force all along the route offering encouragement and jelly beans which really helped.

I was relieved if not slightly breathless when I reached the finish.

No doubt excellent preparation for the big day.


Some photos: (You can see Mike’s brilliant full set on Flickr)

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