Edinburgh Marathon Relay

Facebook has had a lot of bad press recently – so here is a happy story to balance it out a bit.  All about four runners who got together – via the connecting power of Facebook to run the Edinburgh Marathon Relay – had a great day out – and who knows about the future…………………..  Readers of this blog are familiar with Gill and I and our running antics – but this particular blog comes with special thanks to Sharon and Cathy who have so generously shared their stories………………………..

It was around this time last year (2017) that Gill began to make noises about wanting to run the Edinburgh Marathon relay.  She had done it before  – with a team of Heathfield ladies – they had had a great time and Gill was keen to do it again.  A year in advance I was not sure about committing to the race – and anyway there was no space as her previous team mates were all up for the challenge and the Heathfield Belles entered their team.  All was quiet for a while and the year wore on – I briefly considered entering the marathon myself when I failed to get a place in the London Marathon Ballot – but that seemed like a lot of running – so I let the idea drift away.  And then the Heathfield Belles began to fall away – with injuries (well if you will pay netball…..) and childcare and life in general getting in the way of the trip to Scotland.  So Gill was down to one other runner by the time I joined the team.  We worked out that this this was possible with one of us running the two shorter legs – and then we lost our final member of the original gang.  Leaving Gill and I.  We weren’t too daunted.  We can both run a half marathon – so we would just do that………. there is a changeover point just short of 14 miles so we could swap there………………… There was nothing in the FAQs about running with fewer team members so Gill emailed the organisers – only to be told that we couldn’t do this.  I’m still not really sure why not – but sure enough – within a few days of Gill’s enquiry – this appeared in the FAQ page.

So what to do?  We had flights booked and paid for, and an Air B&B – booked and paid for – and no race to run.  We were discussing this at one of our Monday evening club runs – there were people who would be keen to join us – but by this point the cost of flights was prohibitive (bank holiday weekend and the start of half term); and then somebody suggested posting on “Run Mummy Run” (a Facebook page for Mummies who run – would you believe).  The page has regional groups – so the next day I posted our dilemma on the Scottish page – hoping that we might find someone (or some-two) to join us.  The response was quick – within the hour we had Sharon and Cathy signed up and Yvonne as first reserve (sorry we never got to meet you Yvonne).  We set up a little messenger group and began to plan.  It all seemed a little hard to believe it would actually happen – but there we were – just a few weeks later meeting up in the centre of Edinburgh – ready to go!

No we didn’t arrive in a police car – but it did make a good way of meeting up!

The weather forecast had been for a heatwave – indeed Cathy assured us that where she lived (only 40 mins away?) they were wearing shorts and she almost hadn’t brought a sweatshirt.  But in Edinburgh it was truly chilly! Two sweatshirt chilly!

Gill was to run the first leg and headed off to the start – she had run this leg before and enjoyed it and was keen to do it again.  It took in the sights of Edinburgh before heading out to the coast (a little over 8 miles) to handover point 1.  Sharon would take over at that point to run the 5.5 miles out to Port Seaton – so Cathy and I saw her onto the bus before heading off to a nearby Starbucks for coffee and a chance to get some blood flowing back into our hands (why hadn’t I brought a pair of gloves?).  After a “reviver” that did work wonders – we took the next round of relay buses out to Port Seaton – the changeover for legs 3 and 4 – a lovely setting on the coast – but still very chilly.  Fortunately there was tea – and a bacon bap for Cathy (who still had a long wait for her leg).  By then it was getting a bit close to my time so I refrained although I was not sure I’d got the fuelling right.  A message came in from Gill – she had finished and was pleased with her run – so we knew there was less than an hour until I would take over.  Time for a toilet stop and to get out of my warm clothes and into my running vest………………….

So this is Sharon – and her run in her own words:

“I have been running since March, 2016. I decided that because I was now in my 40’s fat, unfit and a smoker that I would give the C25K plan a go!! I started in March and completed it in May, 2016. I did my first 10k in July, 2016 raising money for one of my friends who was very poorly. I caught the running bug. I have now completed 4 half marathons and several 10k’s. I’m hoping to do a marathon in the near future! The relay run was amazing. I seriously thought that it was going to be an easy run given that it was with marathon runners who would need to be a bit slower but NO my leg came in quickly meaning that I was up with the fast marathon runners!! Not wanting to be outdone by them I kept going and got my fastest time that I have run for at least a year…..”

So another good time from Sharon – I was literally shaking (with cold and maybe a bit of excitement) by the time she arrived – smiling looking like she had enjoyed herself!  My run was an “out and back” 8 miles – lots of marathon runners flagging by now so a chance to do a bit of overtaking before returning to Port Seaton to hand over to Cathy for the Glory Leg – the last 4.5 miles to the finish line.  Cathy’s story is extraordinary.  We were all moved to tears when we learned about it.  Here it is – in her own words…………

Cathy“I was a self-confessed couch potato who hid in bushes at my school cross country races! I always wanted to run a marathon but given how much I hated exercise and how unfit I was I just assumed it was something I’d never achieve. And I was ok with that. In 2009 we lost our firstborn son in labour, 8 days overdue. But in 2010 we had a bouncing baby boy. Life was an emotional blur for some years. My health was of no importance to me. In 2015 I was at a regular appointment at the health centre when they checked my blood pressure, “seeing as I was there” It was hideous! There and then I knew I was at serious risk of a stroke. I was morbidly obese with a catastrophic blood pressure. As a nurse I knew only too well the risks. I was a mother who had lost a child and now her child could lose their mother. I went into complete panic denial! Then on 1st January 2016 I started my journey! I swore not to let my weight hold me back anymore and to start living for my son, my husband and for Me! After losing 3 stone I decided to try c25k. And I have never looked back!!! I completed it on plan, even if I am slower than a sloth running in treacle! I then started entering virtual races as I was too self conscious to run where people might see Me!! I then entered Race for Life – pretty muddy – with my amazing friend Jo who is always there to support my crazy antics! And I was hooked. I entered a few fun runs, all 5k. Then one day I saw a post on RMR site asking for relay runners and I leapt at it. I volunteered before I could chicken out!! I was very lucky to run the glory leg. As an exclusive fun runner, I was terrified and arrived at this serious event on about 3 hours sleep. The ladies in our team were amazing. So lovely and supportive, I felt no shame in being slower as they were so kind (she was actually very speedy!! Gwyn). As I ran my leg I kept thinking that I was only doing a short bit, these other people are amazing. But then I realised it’s all relative. I have lost over 6 stone and have gone from a couch potato to a marathon relay runner. From being a mother without a baby to a mother who can keep up with her amazing son who supports my running. As I came up to the finishing line there were hundreds, maybe more, lining the path and cheering. My husband and son surprised me by being there. At that point I felt I could achieve anything!!!!! I have signed up for my first half marathon in September and I will do that marathon one day!!!!”

What an amazing story – and what a day we had.  I was right about my fuelling – I arrived at the finish (last 4 miles by bus) to find Gill and Sharon – and I unceremoniously demolished Sharon’s left over pizza which was possibly the best thing I have ever tasted!  It was not long before Cathy arrived – we’d run the whole marathon in 4 hours and 19 mins between us – not bad going!  and good to meet up with Mike and Matthew – however briefly!

I hope we can keep in touch – and maybe run together again one day.  On these experiences friendships are made.

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