More than 30,000 runners from Scotland, England, Ireland, Wales and from over 100 countries are counting down the final days until the much awaited 2014 Edinburgh Marathon Festival. The UK’s leading festival of running gets underway on Saturday 24th May, 2014 at 9am with the 10k, first of the seven races, from Holyrood Park in the centre of Edinburgh.
One woman who is gearing up for race weekend is mum Sam Robson, 40, who is taking part in the Marathon to raise money for the EMF Official Charity, Macmillan Cancer Support. Borders-born Sam is taking on the challenge to thank Macmillan for the help it gave her two-years ago when her 11-year-old son Ben was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. She said: “Now Ben is fit and healthy I thought I would give something back to the fantastic people who helped us. It’s a goal that I would like to achieve and also something in which I can help others. Already I feel really emotional just thinking about being on the starting line. It feels kind of strange but it will bring a lot back. Thinking of what Ben has been through will keep me going through the race.”
Sam will line up alongside some of the world’s fastest marathon runners as well as some of the members of Team Scotland who are taking part in races as part of their pre Commonwealth Games race build up.
David Toniok, 30, from Kenya starts as favourite to win the 2014 Edinburgh Marathon with the fastest PB among the confirmed elite runners recording a time of 2:10:39. This is almost five minutes ahead of the current course record set in 2005 by Zachary Kihara of Kenya with 2:15:26. Another Kenyan, Linus Maiyo, 31, took bronze last year in the Barcelona Marathon with a personal best of 2:11:34 and will also be in contention in the lead pack. The pack should also feature Ebisa Merga from Ethiopia who is the reigning champion of the Bournemouth Marathon (2:16:41), as well as Sufa Chala from Ethiopia who recorded an impressive finish time of 2:12:44 at the Dubai Marathon earlier this year.
The women’s contest is equally as strong with some of the brightest female marathon stars. Risper Kimaiyo, from Kenya is back to defend her 2013 Edinburgh marathon female champion win which saw her set a time of 2:35:57.
The ever young Scottish running star Hayley Haining takes part in the half Marathon as part of her preparation for the Marathon at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Commenting on her place in the race Hayley said: “The Edinburgh Half Marathon is an ideal race for my build up to the Glasgow 2014 Marathon. It has a fast international field and is an ideal opportunity to race on home soil before Glasgow." Fellow Scottish runner, Derek Hawkins, who is also selected for the Glasgow 2014 Marathon, takes part in the EMF 10K race on Saturday 24th May as part of his preparation for Glasgow alongside Harry Summers, 23, reigning Australian road 10k championship who said:" I am delighted to be taking part in the EMF 10k. I’ll be celebrating my 24th birthday while in Scotland and thought a trip over before the Commonwealth Games would be the ideal way to get a feel for the atmosphere and taking part in Edinburgh is a huge bonus."
The Edinburgh Marathon on Sunday 25th May is set to run from the city centre of Edinburgh through East lothian, beginning both at London and Regent Road in Edinburgh; passing Arthurs Seat in Holyrood Park beside the Scottish Parliament and Palace of Holyrood, the Queen’s official residence in Scotland; heading east along the Portobello Promenade fronting on to white sand beaches with views of the Firth of Forth; passing the picturesque Musselburgh Racecourse and the pretty coastal village of Longniddry as well as the elegant neo-classical mansion of Gosford House before reaching Prestonpans and Musselburgh Links, officially recognised by the Guiness Book of Records as having the oldest golf course in the world. The Marathon ends in playing fields by Pinkie St Peter’s Primary school, Musselburgh. The school was opened by the late Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, in 1956. It was named after the Battle of Pinkie which took place nearby in 1544.
A full weekend of activities for the whole family is scheduled including the 10k, 5k and two junior races on Saturday 24th May and team relay, half Marathon, and of course the full Marathon on Sunday 25th May. One of the oldest marathon runners is Graham Brooks, 82, from Turnbridge Wells Harriers said: “I like the course very much – it’s nice and flat – ideal for me. The city of Edinburgh is fascinating too – well worth a visit.”
Runners are taking part for a variety of reasons – as a goal for fitness, fundraising or as part of a fun weekend with the family. Amber and Craig Bullingham, from Gloucester, are both running the Edinburgh Marathon as part of their honeymoon. This is their first Marathon and they plan to cross the finish line at the same time! Amber said: “We picked Edinburgh because of its reputation, recommendations from friends and family that the city is a beautiful place to visit, and it was perfectly positioned 10 weeks after our wedding. This did, however, mean we had to juggle Marathon training with wedding planning – often running was a welcome relief from wedding stress!”
Neil Kilgour, Edinburgh Marathon Festival director, said: “Scotland is preparing to welcome the world and we look forward to delivering another outstanding Edinburgh Marathon Festival that the nation will be proud of.
The Edinburgh Marathon Festival is an ideal way to showcase the capital at its very best and complement Scotland’s £3 million programme of “Homecoming” events that tourism bosses believe will help create the industry’s biggest ever year in 2014.”
Gordon Dewar, Chief Executive of Edinburgh Airport, said: “We’re delighted to support the Edinburgh Marathon Festival and are looking forward to welcoming thousands of runners into Edinburgh Airport over the coming days.
“It’s an exciting time for Edinburgh Airport with three of the world’s biggest airlines launching brand new services to America and the Middle East this week. These new routes will no doubt offer runners from all over the world the opportunity to visit Edinburgh and take part in the Edinburgh Marathon Festival in the future.This event is always popular and marks the start of a phenomenal summer of sporting events.“
The Edinburgh Marathon Festival has attracted more than 30,000 competitors and is expected to have over 200,000 spectators with over 100,000 runners and spectators going through the Sunday finish area alone. An estimated 1,700 race crew deliver the weekend in 2014 for over 30,000 athletes.
Neil Kilgour, Edinburgh Marathon Festival director, continued: “There’s so much more to the Edinburgh Marathon Festival. People use the EMF weekend to change their lives for the better: fact. We have 30,000 elites as everyone pushes themselves to deliver their own goal and target. I am as proud of the 4.30 Marathon runner as I am of a 2.10 elite athlete and in some ways more. The mother of two children who has found time to train over the winter in a frantic life deserves and gets a medal for life. The runner who pushes through pain in remembrance of a loved one. Everyone is a hero.”
“It’s not all about running though, people are doing a huge number of jobs as 1,700 race crew deliver the weekend. An event of this scale brings out community spirit and gives residents a sense of pride and coming together. We encourage as many to come out and support the runners. This is Scotland active ..at its best”.
With its fast and flat route, the Edinburgh Marathon Festival is one of the fastest in the world and a perfect choice for runners chasing a personal best. The Edinburgh Marathon joined the world’s elite road races in 2012 by becoming the first race in Scotland to be officially recognised by the IAAF, the athletics governing body. The IAAF bronze label puts the race among the top 75 in the world making it a pivotal part of the sporting calendar for runners.
The Edinburgh Marathon Festival has had an economic impact of more than £25 million for Scotland’s capital and helped raise more than £30 million for hundreds of charities. Together with the Edinburgh Marathon Festival’s Official Charity, Macmillan Cancer Support, organisers are hoping to break all previous records and raise even more in 2014.
Course information, vantage points for spectators, and details of the entire weekend of activities are available at the Edinburgh Marathon Festival website at www.edinburgh-marathon.com