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Edinburgh Marathon Festival (26 - 27 May 2012)

Not every festival in Edinburgh revolves around parties, bars and late nights. The Edinburgh Marathon has grown over the past ten years to become a mini-festival in its own right, with 26,000 runners turning up for a total of eight races.

Edinburgh Marathon runners - Rebecca Lee Photography

© Rebecca Lee Photography

The marathon itself is the main event: 26.2 miles running eastwards from the city centre to the finish in Musselburgh, dropping 40 metres in altitude on the way. 40 metres may not sound like much, but it's part of the reason that a recent study by Runner's World found this to be the fastest marathon in the UK.

The fast course attracts competitive runners but it's also a little kinder to everyone else. Many of the runners will undergo this ordeal to raise money for good causes: so far it has raised £30 million for hundreds of charities.

It's not just about the marathon, though: there's a half marathon, 10k, 5k, junior races and even a mascot race. Edinburgh has a compact city centre, so the sudden arrival of thousands of runners means there's a real sense of being part of a major event.

Here are some tips which might help as the big day approaches:

  • If you've fallen behind your training schedule, don't try to catch up by cramming in extra mileage near the end of your training. You want to get to the start line carrying no injuries. It's tempting, but it's not worth the risk and won't gain you much anyway.
  • Make sure you'll be running in kit you know you'll be comfortable in. Don't make any rash last minute changes of footwear or clothing if you can help it.
  • A related tip: if you know where to expect blisters and chaffing, do something about it. Consider (and try in advance) vaseline on your feet, plasters over your nipples or even pre-applying blister plasters over likely hotspots. It can make all the difference to your enjoyment of the race!
  • Pack sun block! Even on a mediocre day you will be exposed for a long time. On a sunny day it will be essential. Recent years in Edinburgh have seen some very hot days - consider a hat!
  • Find out what the drinks stations on the course will offer. If it doesn't work for you, you'll need to carry an alternative. It's also worth memorizing where to expect them.
  • The first section is a long, steady, gentle, descent - but don't be tempted to go off too fast or you'll pay for it later.
  • Don't panic! Let the atmosphere carry you along - you'll be amazed what a difference it can make.

The marathon expo is a great source of last minute nutrition, hydration and kit bargains. However, if you can't make it, Edinburgh has several excellent running shops with really knowledgable and enthusiastic staff:

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