ONE of the greatest distance runners in history Liz McColgan today launched the first Scottish Half Marathon.
The former world champion at the 13.1 mile distance officially marked the opening of entries for the event which is set to become an exciting new part of the running calendar.
Thousands are expected to sign up for the inaugural Scottish Half Marathon which will take place on Saturday September 6, 2014, and prove a spectacular addition to an unforgettable year of sport for Scotland.
Liz, who also held the world record for the half marathon, said the Scottish Half Marathon promises to offer one of the fastest races in the UK and showcase the stunning scenery of East Lothian along the golf coast which offers some of the finest courses in the country.
Runners are expected to raise thousands for charity at the event which has Cancer Research UK as its Official Charity.
Liz, 49, said: “I’m proud to launch the first Scottish Half Marathon.
“I love the half marathon distance. It’s entirely different from the full marathon. The half marathon is a really challenging event that you have to train for – but at the same time it’s achievable for most people. It allows you to set a goal but it’s within most people’s capabilities to go out and run a half marathon.
“The half marathon is a chance for you to enjoy a personal achievement and raise thousands of pounds for charity. It’s a great opportunity for people to participate in something they can feel really proud of.”
Liz, who was joined at the launch by two of her children, Orla, eight, and Kieran, 11, also shared her secrets to success for running a half marathon (see below for tips).
She was joined at Musselburgh Racecourse, which will be the finish line of the Scottish Half Marathon, by 25-year-old Sophie Nixon from Edinburgh who is backing the Scottish Half Marathon to raise money for Cancer Research UK.
The charity has proved a lifeline for her family. Sophie’s mum Sue, 59, is fighting breast cancer for the second time and Sophie’s half sister, Cara was diagnosed with liver cancer only months after she was born but overcame it and recently celebrated her 18th birthday.
Sophie said: “Cara spent the first year of her life in and out of hospital and wasn’t expected to survive but I’m pleased to say that she’s just celebrated her 18th birthday.
“Survival rates for cancer have doubled over the last 40 years which is really good news but there is still so much to be done. The odds are that one in three of us will be diagnosed at some stage in our lives and so beating cancer is something we should all care about.
“I think it is brilliant news that Cancer Research UK will be the Official Charity for the Scottish Half Marathon.
“I hope lots of people will sign up for what is a challenging but fun event and raise as much money as possible to help the charity’s scientists beat cancer sooner.”
Gary Bansor, Cancer Research UK sports team manager said “We are delighted to be the Official Charity for the inaugural Scottish Half Marathon.
“If you take part in what promises to a spectacular event, we would love you to join the Cancer Research UK team. Every step we make towards beating cancer relies on every pound, every hour and every runner, so please join our team and help us beat cancer sooner.”
Entries open at noon on Monday September 9, 2013, for the Scottish Half Marathon which is on Saturday September 6, 2014, at 11am. An early bird discounted entry offer is valid until midnight on September 30, 2013.
The half marathon is today growing faster in popularity than any other race distance, with newer runners considering it a friendlier challenge than the marathon. It’s also a great option for experienced runners who have already won marathon glory but are determined to keep a passion for running going.
Neil Kilgour, Scottish Half Marathon Race Director, said: “It’s not just the stunning scenery of East Lothian’s golf coast that’ll take your breath away.
“If you want to train hard and set a personal best for the half marathon distance then this is the race for you. We have developed a route that is predominantly downhill and consequently is seriously rapid given the right training. By starting conveniently at 11am just outside Edinburgh, you can take part and run along the magnificent golf coast before finishing in front of the grandstand of Scotland’s oldest racecourse. Come and be a part of it and deliver your personal best. This race will deliver perfect running conditions that will reward runners for all their efforts in training and on race day.”
Liz who won the 10,000m gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh in 1986 believes the Scottish Half Marathon will make a fabulous addition to an extraordinary year of sport across the country with a line-up that includes the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in July and golf’s 40th Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in September.
Liz retained her Commonwealth title in Auckland in 1990 and then became world 10,000m champion in 1991 in Tokyo. And she has magical memories of the moment she stormed to victory at the first IAAF World Half Marathon championships in 1992 – setting a new world record of 67 minutes and 11 seconds.
Liz, 49, said: “The biggest moment of my career as a half marathon runner was that world record.“I still run for an hour every day. Running is in my blood and pulling on my trainers and getting out there is part of who I am. Running clears my head. I do most of my problem solving when I run.”
And excellence runs in the family. Liz is now a coach for her daughter, Eilish McColgan, 22, who finished tenth in the world championships this summer and has set her sights on the Commonwealth Games next summer and the Olympic games at Rio 2016.
Liz said: “I’m so proud to be Eilish’s mum.
“It’s a unique experience working with Eilish. I think she’s a very talented athlete and even if she wasn’t my daughter I’d be really excited about working with her. It’s a great partnership. In the next couple of years Eilish is going to be capable of running pretty amazing times. She’s seeing that now herself so it’s exciting times for her and it’s an exciting time for Scotland.”
To sign up for the Scottish Half Marathon go to www.scottishhalfmarathon.com