A new Scottish ultra running route that visits the summits of Edinburgh’s 17 city council wards has been devised, with Jonny Muir becoming the first to complete the journey. After running the first six hours at a ‘social pace’ with club mates, Jonny completed the 49-mile route, which climbs a cumulative 1,800 metres, in 11 hours.
The so-called Edinburgh Peaks Run starts at Little Vantage, on the western edge of the Pentland Hills, before climbing to the highest point of the course, 567-metre East Cairn Hill. The route proceeds north-east, crossing Kitchen Moss and skirting Hare Hill, to gain Allermuir.
The runner then drops into Edinburgh, sweeping west across Wester Craiglockhart, Blackford Hill and Braid Hills, before turning north to Arthur’s Seat. Thereafter, the route crests the Edinburgh Castle esplanade and a pair of summits on Corstorphine Hill, before an eight-mile stretch to the final summit, 119-metre Mons Hill, overlooking the Firth of Forth on the Dalmeny Estate. The run finishes under the girders of the Forth Rail Bridge, fittingly outside the Hawes Inn.
While including some of Edinburgh’s most renowned high points, many of which feature in the annual Seven Hills Race, the route visits a range of innocuous ‘summits’: a pot-holed cul-de-sac in Silverknowes, the abandoned site of Edmonstone Castle and a road junction on Easter Road.
The route was devised by Jonny in conjunction with Carnethy Hill Running Club teammate Mark Hartree, who coordinates the club’s annual ultrarunning series.
A dozen runners set out on the route last Saturday (24 March), much of it boggy from melted snow, and reached Juniper Green after four hours and 16 miles. Numbers slowly dwindled until four Carnethy runners – Michelle Hetherington, Mick James, Alan Hogg and Jonny – were left to continue to Arthur’s Seat. The group split again on the Royal Mile, having run for 36 miles, leaving Jonny to run solo for the final half-marathon.
After making good progress to Cramond Brig, he was met by Rachel Normand, Carnethy women’s captain, on a bicycle, who provided moral support and a head torch for the short climb of Mons Hill in the darkness.
Jonny, who also completed Ramsay’s Round last year, said: "The run was largely pointless, but therein lies the attraction. The route not only visits all of Edinburgh’s prominent summits, it also passes numerous landmarks – from Holyrood and the Castle, to the Zoo and the stadiums of Easter Road and Meadowbank.
"This first run was largely experimental, and I have no doubt that the distance could be nudged to around 46 miles with tighter lines, while the time could easily be several hours faster. But it’s a tremendous Edinburgh ultra route, a mix of hill, trail and road, for people to run as fast or slow as they wish.’