The Scottish Half Marathon is a 13.1 mile road race that lets you see some of the great coasts around Scotland. It's track is clear and flat and the pace is fast which will keep your adrenaline up. Veteran runner Rachel Orton recently ran this course and here are her thoughts.
I wanted to do the Scottish half marathon as it uses the beautiful coast roads. I was familair with them as they were used on the Edinburgh marathon that I did and enjoyed in 2014 - this way I got to experience them again without having to do the full marathon distance.
Training and Gear
Training was a a bit of a mixed bag as I have been doing a lot of obstacle course races on the lead up to this race and they are over a similar distance but you get to stop running when you get to an obstacle. I ran for 6 and 8 miles straight per week and added spin, core and circuit classes on top of the runs. I bought a new pair of running trainers, Brooks Ghost 7, but they rubbed so much even after wearing them in that I reverted to my Nike gym trainers. I use a Garmin Forerunner 205 GPS Watch while I run to track my average pace, time and distance. I also use a Camelback for carrying my water, supplemented by High 5 hydration tablets.
You do not have to have a backpack or GPS watch, but you should definitely have a good pair of trainers that suit the needs of your feet. I buy my trainers from Sweatshop and get my gait tested to make sure I look after my feet and prevent injury.
On the day of the race I parked in a local park and ride which was free to park in and a 20 minute walk to the starting venue. As we were walking to the start a lovely couple pulled over and offered us a lift to the start as they were going to the drop off point. This was great for saving our legs and this was typical hospitality from the locals that shone throughout the event and really made the day special. There is also an option to get a coach from the park and ride to the start venue for a small charge.
There was a lot of atmosphere at the athletics track which is where the start venue was. A lot of vocal marshals indicating where the bag drop, as well as where the loos were and crucially the start pens. There were also signs everywhere for people to follow for the different colour start pens. Music was playing throughout the grounds with an MC adding to the good vibes giving information and getting the different colour pens cheering and doing a Mexican wave.
There was a nice clear count down to the start of the race and a big celebration when it started. I also noticed a chap on a hand bike who was started in a pen rather than in the front of all the runners which did cause issues for him trying to make progress as the roads were so crowded at the start of the race for the first couple of miles and for the other runners trying to get out of his way. Luckily the entire road was fully closed to traffic making it safe for everyone and providing a wide track for everyone.
There were medics on push bikes all along the course in case there were any issues as well as plenty of race marshals directing people. The mile markers were nice and clear - as were the water station notifications. The volunteers on the water stations were ace - enthusiastic and efficient. The water stations gave out bottled water with the screw lids removed which means that you can not run with the water as it splashes everywhere. The energy gels were High 5 which I find are the easiest to take and what I personally use for this reason.
The race started at 11:00 and it was a beautifully sunny 17 degrees with some lovely sights to see along the way from the sea on the coast roads to a quaint fishing village to a decommissioned power station and a race course. Plenty of cheering crowds, signs, encouraging words and sweeties for extra energy could be spotted in the crowds along the entire race.
There was an option to share the mileage with a relay partner so some runners finished at the 6 mile mark and this was clearly signed and there were marshals shouting out for the these runners and a finish line for them. For everyone doing the full 13.1 miles the finish line was on Musselburgh race course. This allowed the crowds to gather for an awesome end to the race with a load of atmosphere.
Crossing the Finish Line
There was a big inflatable finish line with a photographer to capture that moment you sprinted to the finish line and a very funny MC keeping everyone entertained. You can tell most people involved in the marathon and marshalling were runners as they knew exactly what to do to get you across the line. Once you passed the finish, the organisation was great as you were filtered round and given two bottles of water. There were people all giving out medals and it was a great touch when the lady that gave me my medal said Congratulation Rachel as your names are on your race number. From here you went to different tables to pick up your goody bag and t-shirt and even better there were different size t-shirts on the different tables so I wasn't taking home something that wouldn't fit!
The race course had all the facilities there for us to use like the bar, burger and ice-cream vans. There was also a shop selling loads of running items too. There was plenty of space to stretch off and meet up with your family and friends. You could easily walk to the grandstands where the finish line was to cheer on your fellow runners.
In the goody bag there was your technical t-shirt, high 5 hydration tablet samples, a bottle of Strathmore water, eat natural bar, bag of crisps, packet of mints, sample packs of cream, Teapigs tea bags and Oceanspray dried fruit, not forgetting an awesome medal.
Overall the Scottish Half Marathon was a great day. Really well organised, plenty of local support and lots of positive atmosphere. I would definitely recommend this race to anyone looking to do a half marathon. If you're looking to get involved, check out our listings for running events here!