By Alasdair Wilson Craw
Visiting Edinburgh for Hogmanay and with some spare time to fill between catching up with rellies I did a search for races on New Year’s Day. Discounting the triathlon taking in Arthur’s Seat and missing the deadline for the 145th New Year Sprints at Musselburgh Racecourse by a couple of months I came upon a race called Promathon. Initially thinking it might be related directly to the Edinburgh Marathon ie Pro(logue Mar)athon
I eventually found the actual website and it turns out to be a race along Portobello’s promenade – dead flat and a modest 400runner limit, now in its 27th year. Luckily I managed to enter at no 365 so next step was to manage my 2day build-up. The carbo-loading (sic) was easy, the hydration less so but equally enjoyable. The mini workout to sharpen the leg muscles exploited the climb up Blackford hill for a grandstand view of the fireworks, not only from Princes Street Gardens but from as faraway as Musselburgh stealing a march on the big guys a few minutes before the bells.
Next morning the day dawned bright and dry. The assembling runners down at Portobello seaside were in good spirits and there were clearly some who were taking it seriously doing a long warmup either along the prom or on the sandy beach.
A few minutes before the 10.30 start a loose gathering of runners began to form near the start-line and it was easy to move to a sensible position. A no-fuss start and we were away heading NW towards Leith. I must have got my positioning right as I settled in with several runners who I stayed with most of the race. It seemed easy to the turn but then we hit a strong breeze turning back on ourselves. Luckily I managed to tuck behind a bigger guy and kept with him until we ran through the start/finish at about 13/4 miles.
As the prom widened again the view of the Firth of Forth opened up with North Berwick Law and even the Bass Rock 20miles away in the distance visible on the horizon. This was a small distraction of the pain as my breathing started to tighten and my niggling achilles began to complain insistently. The trick of blowing through pursed lips eased my breathing a little and I caught up a couple of places but the turn at 2 3/4 m couldn’t come soon enough. By this time the front runners had an impressive lead as they ran back towards the finish. A helpful marshall was shouting out position as we passed making me feel better that I was in 59th place. Remembering what it felt like to run a good 2k interval I began the home straight and observed all the people still running towards me. The wind now behind helped but being passed by 3 or 4 runners I’d overtaken early on was testing to my morale. “Relax and go faster” was the mantra I tried to recall, a bit tricky as my achilles got sorer as I began to identify buildings close to the finish to aim for. However it did work to some extent as pace was maintained and I kept my overtakers in sight over the last half mile. Cheering spectators urged us to the finish and the effort was over and orange juice and box of raisins thrust in my hand.
So a race to remember and one to do again some time. People were very friendly and some of us had come from a long way away. Nicely low key but well-organised with prizegiving just as the stragglers were finishing. An excellent standard of times at the front end, the top two men just shy of breaking 19minutes for the 4 miles and the women’s winner finishing in 21.29, plus the first 41 bettering 24 mins. So a good chance of a PB -in fact I was surprised that I got close to my age-graded best despite being less that fully fit. “Haste ye back” as they say.
(62nd overall, 25-09 and 9th M50)