Edinburgh Marathon 2024 Review by Mark Fagg - B2R Sittingbourne

Edinburgh Marathon 2024 Review by Mark Fagg - B2R Sittingbourne

On May 26th this year, along with my wife and fellow B2R Sittingbourne team leader Sam, I did something I never thought I would want to do, let alone be able to. That was to run a marathon! 

When I first started running, a 5k was more than enough for me. I was happy doing this distance and improving my times. But I then decided to increase to 10k. This is where it all started to go wrong (or right depending how this story ends!).  Because not only did I start running 10k’s regularly, including a race or two, but I started going further and before I knew it, in 2022 I was doing my first half marathon (Royal Parks in London). This was followed a few months later with the Queen Elizabeth half around the Olympic Park.

I was adamant though (despite similar statements previously) that this was plenty far enough for me. I didn’t want to do a marathon. However…  In 2023 whilst attending a London Marathon fundraiser quiz for our B2R friends Trevor and Petrina I made the somewhat inevitable decision to sign up for a marathon. Sure enough one evening in December last year, Sam and I put our names down for the Edinburgh Marathon.  It was exciting, but then I did have 5 months to worry about it!


In February, the 16 week training plan started.  It was tough, especially when the days were still cold and short, but I really did enjoy training with a purpose.  I set myself a target of 4 hours. I had done a half in under 2 and I felt it was achievable.  My weeks were made up of two club runs, two workout runs (intervals, hill sprints or tempo runs) and the all important long run. Each Saturday I would be out building up the distance at the crack of dawn to get it done to then enjoy my weekend.

Long runs aren’t easy, they are tough on the body and mind as well as practicing fuelling and pacing.  But they tended to be my favourite run of the week. A couple of hours, just me and a podcast. I also explored countryside I’d never seen before. Thanks to my Garmin watch, I always found my way back.

I enjoyed training for a goal. Each week had a structure but I did try not to keep it too rigid. I also made a concerted effort to improve nutrition, cut back (and towards the end) cut out alcohol.

With a week or two to go, the nerves started to kick in. Paranoia (or Maranoia to give it the “technical” term) kicked in. Was my plan the right plan? Will I be able to get near my target time? There was a lot of second guessing. This was then followed by a hip/hamstring niggle. But race day was looming and I stuck with it and tapered my training and ignored the urge to make last minute changes. 

Kit all laid out

Race Weekend

All too quick, marathon weekend came around.  Five am Saturday morning, we are on the road to Stansted for our flight to Edinburgh.  Once we landed, it was then a tram ride and bags dropped at the hotel. We then had the afternoon to explore.  Although the start line is in the centre of the city, the finish is in the outskirts in a place called Musselburgh.  So we took a train trip and walk to check it out. Our daughter, Kara, wanted to be at the finish line to cheer us home, so this was a chance to make sure she knew where to go.

Saturday night was an early one and the alarm got us up for an 8am breakfast.  Gear sorted it was a 15 minute walk to the start area.

It was wet. We found some shelter till a few minutes before the start. Then Sam and I said our goodbyes and headed to our start pens.  At 10am it was go!!

 In the Start Pen, waiting to go!

The Race

The first mile or two are through the city streets. Not sure how much I appreciated the scenery but the crowd support was brilliant. This part of the route is quite hilly and it was tough to get into a good rhythm as we all tried to find space.

It was a boost to see Kara as we ran through the city before she headed down to the finish line.

By around the 3 mile mark I was out of the city and heading towards the coast.  At around mile 9, the route passes near the finish line, and then takes you on a very, very long out and back. Following the coast, the route turns back through the grounds of a stately home. This is at mile 18. It was mentally tough running out so far, seeing the faster runners come back towards you and seeing in the distance how far was still to go before the turn - especially as the sun had come out (I missed the rain!). 

Mid race snap – along the coast/at the turn (courtesy of Sam)

Once on the way back, the miles got really hard. Up to that point I had been up on my target splits. But my legs were really starting to struggle and my pace dropped. Thankfully the weather had become overcast, but my calves were tightening up and I was wishing the miles away. With a mile or so to go, the finish felt figuratively in sight. I dug deep and picked up the pace. The last mile was amongst my fastest. The finish line took an age to appear. Well meaning spectators shouting “its just around the corner” gave some false hope, but the “corner” took a while to come. But eventually….it did.  I had finished my first marathon. What a feeling!

The time? 4 hours, 5 minutes and 57 seconds. So close to my target! 

My legs were shattered. I hobbled to collect the all important medal and goody box and then on to collect our bag. Via the coffee van, I eventually was able to get myself back towards the finish line in time to cheer Sam home.  Sam smashed her target by 15 minutes.

Amazing and I’m so proud.


Reunited at the finish


For me, the marathon was one of the toughest but most amazing things I have done. The Edinburgh event was generally well organised. The marshals and volunteers on route were amazing. The start area worked well considering the bad weather. The finish area could have been better. The rain turned what was field into a muddy bog (my trainers are no longer white….) and overcrowded. It was sad to hear finishers towards the end did not get their medal. This shouldn’t have happened and must have been such a disappointment. Hopefully they will turn up in the post soon.

The race was so well supported. Almost the whole route was lined with enthusiastic spectators. The homemade signs on show gave me such a chuckle and they really did keep me going.

Would I do another marathon?  Absolutely, yes!  The challenge of the training and the race is immense but that just added to the sense of achievement.  I loved and hated running the marathon itself sometimes in equal measure but that is a lot like running in general.  It’s tough but we feel proud that we test ourselves and persevere. 

I’m not sure I would do Edinburgh again, but maybe one day. Once out of the city it isn’t the most exciting of routes.  Edinburgh itself is amazing. It’s not our first trip here, and won’t be our last. I will look at other marathons first though and keep my fingers crossed for the London ballot.

I have that 4 hour target to beat!


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