THERE are a host of performance artists in the city telling anyone who’ll listen about their 26-day run at the Festival – but only one has the proper injuries to prove it.
Artist Vikki Weitz, 38, from Essex, has been running a full marathon a day along the Royal Mile for the entire duration of the arts bonanza.
The mum-of-two’s blister-inducing ordeal has made her a fixture of the thoroughfare, with an unlikely support team amassing around her. She is set on her way at 7am each morning by a guard at the Palace of Holyroodhouse and is regularly joined along her route by city commuters, street cleaners and tourists while shopkeepers offer her support, refreshments and, most importantly, calorie-laden fudge from one of the Mile’s many gift shops.
But most incredible of all is the fact battling Vikki isn’t a regular runner – and had barely done any exercise since her school PE lessons. Now – with just two marathons to go before her ordeal ends for good on Monday – she is able to complete one of her 26.2-mile jogging sessions in around five-and-a-half hours.
But the strain is beginning to show and she now needs to attend daily physio sessions to ease both a pulled hamstring and a strained tendon. She said: “It’s starting to catch up with me now and I can’t wait to finish, but it has been amazing. The support I’ve received is incredible. One of the palace guards sets me away each morning and street cleaners and various performers all cheer me on as I pass. Guys in suits on their way to work and tourists have all joined me for a bit.
“Three people have also run with me and completed the full marathon but only one guy actually meant to, the other two just got carried away.”
Performance artist Vikki hopes that by taking something quite ordinary – like a woman going for a run – and magnifying it, people get a glimpse into the true meaning of motivation.
She said: “My husband, Simon, didn’t really believe me when I told him what I had planned. I had considered just doing it over seven or ten days but it had to be for the entire Festival. It’s about endeavour and making the impossible possible. As a mother I’m keen that my kids will learn that if you want to do something and set your mind to it you can surpass your expectations.”
Vikki received £7000 of funding from Arts Council England, which helped pay for her physio, accommodation and three pairs of trainers – two of which are now well worn.
She said: “The only downside is I’ve missed the Festival, despite being in the middle of it. I began my training doing ten-mile runs in a battered pair of Converse trainers and I’m going to finish having completed 26 marathons.”
A day in the life of an athlete
VIKKI’S day begins with a 4am alarm call. She then wolfs down a bowl of porridge before tackling daily performance forms that she completes on behalf of the Human Performance Unit at Essex University – each form lists what’s she’s eaten, how she’s feeling both physically and mentally and how she has slept.
After this she heads back to bed for an hour before making her way to the Palace of Holyroodhouse for 7am, where a friendly guard sends her on her way with “5, 4, 3, 2, good luck, 1, and go!”
Each runs takes on average five-and-a-half hours. She stops at spots along the way for energy bars and sweets and also chats with now well-known faces or inspired passers-by.
Once she has completed her run she heads to her hotel for a cold bath before her daily physio sessions. Vikki then spends time catching up with her husband and her 11- and 13-year-old sons before turning in at 8pm.