With just four days to go 25,000 plus runners are making final preparations for the various events of the 2012 Edinburgh Marathon Festival. Sunday (May 27) is the feature day with the full marathon (and the Hairy Haggis relay) starting at 10.00am on Regents Road near the city centre, the half marathon starting there too at the earlier time of 8.00am.
Race organisers are also putting the final touches to their plans and will be anxiously scanning the long term weather forecasts to gauge conditions on the day. Last year, high winds - always a likelihood on a route which largely runs parallel to the Firth of Forth - meant a challenging final few miles for marathon participants. And in previous years, high temperatures have meant a test for organisers and runners. The theft of 6,800 water bottles meant problems in 2009. A 1,000 strong race crew has to be successfully coordinated over the weekend.
The fun in the Scottish capital starts on Saturday with the 5k, 10k and junior races plus the colourful International Breakfast Run taking place in Holyrood Park. These events have grown in popularity in recent years and over 3,000 runners will be involved in 2012.
Organisers report a huge upturn in entries for the half marathon, nearly 8,500 runners have signed up for the race this year. Many of the participants and their family and friends will line the route for the big 26.2 mile event after the half is finished.
All Sunday runners will enjoy a grandstand finish in Musselburgh and enjoy the congratulations of supporters at the playing fields of Pinkie St Peter's primary school where all the post-race facilities will be located.
The men's race will see a top international field with Zachary Kihara of Kenya hoping that his experience of Edinburgh marathon will hold him in good stead. Kihara won the race in 2005 setting the course record of 2:15:26 although two men in the field have run faster marathons - South African Totsang Maine (2:14:17) and Anatoli Orzhekhovski from Ukraine (2:15:13). Home interest will be focused on Ross Houston (Central AC). In the women's contest Scottish favourite Hayley Haining is fancied for a podium position.
Official charity sponsor Macmillan Cancer Support will have 1,500 people running at Edinburgh Marathon Festival in the charity's prominent green and white colours and hope to raise in excess of £250,000. Overall it is estimated that £4.5m will be raised in total this year for over 400 affiliate charities including Alzheimer Scotland, British Heart Foundation, Breast Cancer Care, Guide Dogs for the Blind and Oxfam.
Tomorrow scottishrunningguide.com looks more closely at the leading men in the 2012 event and on Thursday the focus is on the top women competitors.