The early arrival of summer was a mixed blessing for today's Edinburgh Marathon festival. For spectators along the route and at the Musselburgh race course finish, and for post-race relaxation the warm weather was ideal. However the high temperatures made further demands of runners already facing the challenge of the classic 26.2 mile distance.
One runner affected by the weather was Phil Hinch, taking part in his first competitive marathon. In the closing stages of the race Tipton Harrier Hinch held a commanding lead and went through the 23 mile mark on 2:06 minutes on target for a 2:23 time however he soon fell victim to cramp and had to stop to recover. The last few miles were torture for the Grimsby man as his lead dwindled, and on the home stretch he was caught by Steve Littler (Wesham Road Runners). Littler finished in a time of 2:26:31, just 16 seconds ahead of Hinch.
Bristol's Dave Bird took third place in 2:31:06 and fellow veteran Sarah Gee (2:38:16) won the woman's prize just four weeks after a big show at the Virgin London Marathon. Julie Briscoe (2:41:33) and Nicola Duncan (3:00:40) were the other podium places.
Perth Road Runners won the Hairy Haggis Relay event ahead of Tricky Mix. Scott Bradley (2:35:18) was first Scottish male runner while Jenny Bosman (3:01:27), who had finished fourth in the inaugural English Kilomathon in March, was first Scottish woman.
Carnegie Road Runner Bradley told scottishrunningguide.com: "Overall I coped with the conditions reasonably well although it was hot towards the end of the race. I was pleased that it wasn't windy and I was delighted to achieve a time comparable to my London Marathon time last month - just two seconds slower. I'm now looking forward to running in a 100k event next month and hope that my marathon runs will set me up for a good showing then."
Karen Dobbie was another home-based runner pleased with her performance. The marathon first timer came home in 3:33; would she do it again? "The race just whizzed by so maybe; 3:30 is a tantalising target, especially as it was tough out there today. I was really grateful to my club-mates at Edinburgh AC who gave me great support along the way. Another Edinburgh-based runner Ken Taylor also enjoyed his first marathon completing the course in 3:14 and for him the buzz at the start was a highlight.
23,000 plus took part in the full marathon, the Scottish Half Marathon and the Hairy Haggis Relay Race. 5,000 runners contested the first-ever Scottish Half Marathon and the 8.00am start time meant slightly cooler conditions. 298 charities benefitted from the fund-raising efforts of Marathon festival runners to the tune of approximately £3.5m and there was a huge turn-out for good causes like Alzheimer Scotland, British Heart Foundation, MS Society and Macmillan.
For race organisers GSI Events, marathon day is a huge logistical challenge involving a race crew team of 1,000. Roads are closed; runners are directed through towns along the East Lothian coast; regular drinks stations have to be stocked and manned; and there is a major operation at the Musselburgh race course finish. It is estimated that 150,000 bottles of Stathmore water and 70,000 bottles of Lucozade Sport are consumed during the event.
There was a great turn-out of Scottish club runners with the vests of Portobello Road Runners, Lothian Running Club and Garioch Road Runners all prominent although the biggest contingent must have come from Carnegie Harriers - around 25/30 runners looking to pick up Grand Prix points.
And 'super-hero' of the year? Has to be Batman - your reporter spotted half a dozen all doing considerable justice to the Cape Crusader.
If you were running in today's race and would like to comment on the event please add them at the end of this post.