Record number on marks for Edinburgh’s marathon festival

Martin Smith pounds the streets with sons Alfie, left, and Finlay as he limbers up for his marathon bid. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Martin Smith pounds the streets with sons Alfie, left, and Finlay as he limbers up for his marathon bid. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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A RECORD number of runners are set to hit the streets of the Capital for the Edinburgh Marathon Festival.

Around 27,000 people will take part in a series of events next weekend, with the two-day festival second only to the London Marathon in terms of size.

One of those taking part is Martin Smith, 38, from Bilston, Midlothian, who has already raised more than £12,000 for Cancer Research UK.

He lost his mother, Ray Smith, 64, to bowel cancer just two weeks ago but is determined to finish the race.

“It was such a blow to me. The care my mother received from the Western General and Marie Curie was superb and I wanted to give something back.

“Before my mother died, she said to me ‘you be sure and make sure you run this marathon’. She will be with me next Sunday, I know she will.

“The support I have been receiving from people has been absolutely incredible.

“Lots of people are going through this or have gone through something like this, but hopefully one day there will be a cure for cancer.”

Set up in 2003, the Edinburgh Marathon has gone from strength to strength and now includes the 26-mile main event, a team relay, half marathon, 10km and 5km runs, two popular junior races and a mascot race.

The event, which leaves from London Road and Regent Road, will see a new finishing area created in the grounds of Pinkie St Peter’s Primary School in Musselburgh to ensure runners can be cheered in.

There was wide criticism of last year’s race after spectators were funnelled into a family reunion area, hundreds of metres away from the finish line at Linkfield Road, while a big screen broadcasting the finish line broke down.

Among the athletes will be the world’s oldest marathon runner, 101-year-old Fauja Singh, who has completed eight marathons since his 89th birthday.

Fauja says he took up running after losing a son and later his wife, adding the losses left him demoralised and he felt he needed a new focus in his life.

Race director Neil Kilgour said: “It’s hard to believe that a decade has gone by since our first event but we’re delighted that we have developed into one of the UK’s and Scotland’s major running occasions.

“We’re looking forward to a great tenth birthday and welcoming back the thousands of runners who have supported the event over the years plus the thousands who will be joining us for the first time.”

Entries for next year’s Edinburgh Marathon Festival will open on Monday, May 28.

To pre-register go to www.edinburgh-marathon.com.