The wait is almost over for this year's Edinburgh Marathon Festival with the first set of events starting tomorrow morning in Holyrood Park. Around 30,000 participants are expected in the Scottish capital throughout the weekend, competing in the full marathon, half marathon, 10k, 5k, two junior races, an international breakfast run, mascot race and the popular 'Hairy Haggis' team relay marathon.
International runners can pick up race packs at the EMF Hub both today (12.00 - 8:00pm) and tomorrow (7:00am - 9:00pm), where staff will be on hand to deal with any enquiries participants may have.
There were worries one international runner wouldn't be at the event after Kenyan, Japhet Koech, missed two flights. Koech is due to compete in the marathon on Sunday after Adharanand Finn, author of award winning Running with the Kenyans, helped raise the £1, 500 required to bring him to Edinburgh. Despite being a full-time athlete, Japhet hasn't earned any money from running and is supported by his uncle who works at the local petrol station in the town of Iten
Adharanand told scottishrunningguide.com: "Japhet has always said his dream is to travel, so he is very excited about coming here to the UK to race. Unfortunately his journey has been a nightmare so far - including two missed flights and a night sleeping on the floor in Nairobi airport. But hopefully when he lands things will be easier. As an official elite runner in Edinburgh, the organisers will put him up in a nice hotel - so that will be great for him.
"I wanted to give Japhet the chance to prove himself. In Kenya every race is either at altitude or in sweltering heat, so it's difficult to run a time your talent warrants without leaving the country, but of course, the competition is so tough it is hard to get a race abroad unless you are one of the very best Kenyans."
Adharanand also spoke realistically about Japhet's chances: "Japhet really isn't one of the top Kenyans. In Kenya, only 2:07 or 2:08 and under is considered decent for the marathon. Japhet's best time is 2:21. But if he isn't too tired from the journey, I think he can run 2:15, which should put him in the first few positions in the race. But one thing is for sure, whatever happens, afterwards I know he will tell me: "I am very happy." That's just how he is."
One man who has no illusions about getting such a fast time is army veteran Jay Watt. The 36-year-old's biggest challenge will be completing the marathon. Jay is planning to be the first person to finish the race wearing a suit of armour to raise money for Action Group which provides support to people with learning disabilities and has helped Mr Watt's nine-year-old son cope with attention deficit disorder. Last year, Jay completed the course in little over six hours wearing a giant bear costume.
He explained the reason behind this year's unique running attire: "I know the marathon is going to hurt but that will lead people to giving you a couple of pounds. You have to stand out to get some attention and raise more money. This will definitely be the toughest marathon so far. I did about 25 laps of Ibrox in the knight's suit - about six miles - and there was a lot of sore bits in my legs and hips."
Neil Kilgour, Edinburgh Marathon Festival director, said: "We wish Jay well and hope he will be able to complete the race. We're looking forward to welcoming back the thousands of runners who've supported the event over the years plus the thousands who will be joining us for the first time. Nothing beats the feeling of achieving a goal and you can achieve in Edinburgh. Grab the moment and make it happen."
For more information visit the Edinburgh Marathon Festival website.