THE slopes of Arthur’s Seat will come alive tonight as a first tranche of runners takes part in the NVA Speed of Light spectacular, with an expected 4000 gearing up to join in.
Dubbed a “fusion of public art and sporting endeavour”, the event will see Edinburgh’s famous landmark illuminated in a dazzling display as runners in special light suits and walkers with portable elements make their way round the hillside.
Around £3 million is being spent on the project, which will run every night throughout August as part of the Cultural Olympiad, and also includes large-scale works in the East Midlands, the south-east of England and Northern Ireland.
Organisers say rehearsals for the mass choreographed act have been “challenging but successful”, while the event is expected to provide a new eye-catching element to Edinburgh’s festival programme.
Sue Gyford, a digital communications officer from Newhaven, is one of those taking part and signed up to run on August 16 – her 38th birthday.
“There is a group of six of us going along and for three of us it’ll be our birthday,” she said. “We all do quite a bit of running and it seemed like a really special way to celebrate it.
“I’ve been to a couple of the rehearsals and I think it’s going to be so spectacular. I can’t wait. The light suits look amazing and everyone was really enjoying themselves during rehearsals. We’ve been training for months.”
Each night 200 runners will run for around two hours and it’s anticipated that several hundred people will buy tickets to walk the two-mile route.
Organisers have stressed that runners who failed to make the earlier deadline can be placed on a reserve list to substitute for injuries or late call-offs.
Jane Connarty, associate director of Speed of Light, said: “Over the course of the whole event there will be 4000 runners taking part, with several hundred walkers carrying light elements with the runners in light suits.
“Runners have committed to a training schedule while walkers can buy tickets to come along. Anyone who wants to take part can come and buy a ticket from Edinburgh International Festival box office.
“It’s going to look amazing. We have had technical rehearsals on a clear Tuesday night and it looked so stunning. We also had fantastic rehearsals when the haar came in last weekend.
“The weather brings its own magic which means it could look different every night.”
The show will take place each night until September 1 from around 9.15pm to 1am. Tickets cost £24 or £18 for concessions.