Runners reign supreme in drizzle

A RECORD field turned out for the 2006 Bupa Great Edinburgh Run yesterday, taking part in one of the largest races ever held in the Capital.

A cold rainy morning didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of competitors or spectators, who cheered the runners on as they wound their way around the city centre.

Organisers were delighted with the size of the event, as 8000 runners came along to take part, and they are now hoping the run can continue to grow to rival more established events.

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Health Minister Andy Kerr, rugby legend Scott Hastings and Royle Family actress Sharon Duce were among the celebrities taking part, alongside amateur and professional runners from around the world.

More than 40 charities will have benefited from the race, with hundreds of runners raising thousands of pounds for good causes.

And after the race runners praised the good organisation of the event, which passed off without any serious problems. Race director Colin Hill admitted he was delighted with the success of the event, which had around 1000 more runners than last year, and said he now wanted to see it grow even more.

He said: “I really hope the event can continue to grow and people here have really taken to it, because it is something anyone can do, with a bit of training. “The weather was a bit of a disappointment, as we would have preferred it to be dry, but certainly I think the runners were happy with it.

“This is a great city and a great venue, with plenty of iconic points on the route like Arthur’s Seat and the Scottish Parliament, so there is no reason why this can’t grow to rival races like the Great Manchester Run, which gets around 25,000 runners every year. “That is certainly the way I want to see it progress and we have a great team of organisers who have done a really good job with this race, so lets hope it continues to get bigger and better.”

Health minister Andy Kerr, one of around 500 people running to raise money for the event’s nominated charity, Marie Curie Cancer Care, was also delighted at the record number of competitors.

He said: “It is fantastic to see so many people taking part and that is what it is all about, encouraging more people to get out there and get exercise. “I run 10km every Sunday so this is fairly normal for me, although there will be a few more people around me today.”

At the start of the race the competitors were given a rousing sendoff by the Lothian and Borders Police Pipe Band.

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And Scotland scrum-half Chris Cusiter ensured the local runners got an extra boost at the starting line by holding aloft the Calcutta Cup won by Scotland when they beat England at Murrayfield in February.

And right around the 10km course there were spectators and organisers on hand to give encouragement and refreshment to all the runners.

With Edinburgh enjoying stunning sunshine throughout the week and warm weather expected, organisers had laid on more than 25,000 bottles of water for runners.

But the city was shrouded in mist and runners had to try and keep warm in the drizzling rain. Most were quite happy with the conditions, preferring a cool day to stop them overheating on the long and challenging course.

But the torrential rain which began to fall as the runners started their mass warm-up was something of a shock to the system and meant most competitors were soaked through before they had even gone past the start line.

Fortunately the heavy rain didn’t last and most agreed the conditions were acceptable. Just over half an hour after starting the professional runners were pounding down Middle Meadow Walk to the finish.

The women’s race was won by Boston Marathon runner-up Latvian Jelena Prokopcuka, who easily defended the title she won last year, finishing with a time of 32 minutes 25 seconds.

And world half-marathon champion Fabiano Joseph won the men’s race in 28.38, the 20-year old Tanzanian powering clear of Kenyas Simon Arusei, who recovered from a fall after 3000m and inished in 28.44.

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Scott Hastings, taking part for he second year, said: “It is a great istance to do, because anyone can chieve it with just a little bit of raining. The weather is a little disappointing imply because Edinburgh ooks so attractive in the unshine. But it is the people, not he place, that make the race, and there is a really good atmosphere here today.”

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