Race report By Conor McCarthy
Running a race abroad has been on my to-do list for quite some time now and when I scrolled through the list of UK races on the 2016 calendar, Edinburgh jumped out at me for a number of reasons. The main reason is how scenic a city it is and I knew it would be hilly and challenging over a ten mile route. I didn’t realise just how hilly it was going to be!!
I lined up at 9.30am on Sunday at the start line with fellow club athletes (not as many as you’d get at, say, Ballycotton but a sizeable number nonetheless) at a bright but slightly breezy Holyrood park and set off at a decent pace for the first mile around the park and then, alas, the first hill was encountered at 1.68 miles into the race. For anyone who’s familiar with Edinburgh, they had us run up the mile for what I thought was half of it and I breathed a sigh of relief when we levelled off with a right-hand turn at 2.03 miles. “Sound!” I thought. Not so fast…about 500 meters later, I set eyes on the leaders charging up the rest of the Royal Mile up ahead and drew a sharp intake of breath and battled my way upwards.
The course was littered with hills here and there throughout the course and in a town famed for its ghosts of the past, I encountered my own ghostly visions in my mind of Dave Clarke and Miles on the cross-country advising me to lean into the hills. The technique was necessary for the sheer steepness (no exaggeration!) and volume of hills faced on the day. My mind was constantly fixated on whether or not I was going to break 60 minutes for the very first time on a ten mile course and when I hit mile 9, I was borderline when the race had lulled me into a false sense of security. Mile 9 was simply brutal. Steep, a sharp headwind and fatigue created a perfect storm but luckily the last mile was all downhill and my mile 9 and 10 splits of 6.37 and 5.15 tell their own story. I knew when I checked my watch as it bleeped 9 miles that the sub-60 would definitely be in reach so I let loose and gave everything for the last mile.
Running up the home straight into Holyrood Park again was exhilarating and crossing the finish line in 59.29 left me delighted! It was a fantastic route and the hills and sights combined, make it what it is. I thoroughly enjoyed it and given how challenging it was, coupled with the fact that there were no groups to sit in behind when facing the headwinds, made it more pleasing to obtain a PB. I was disappointed with my performance in the national 10K the week before but was glad I used the race benefits from that particular race to good advantage in this one.
Finally, the novelty of running a race in a different country was a factor in the enjoyment. I was amused by the shouts of encouragement by spectators at my fellow runners lining out for local clubs, such as “go on Edinbugh”. “Go on Portobello”. Then looking quizzically at my club jersey…”Go on…mate!”
New Zealand’s Daniel Wallis won the race with a time of 51.11 with Canada’s Rob Watson finishing second in 52.35.