With just 24 hours until the 8th Edinburgh Marathon excitement mounts as Scotland is drenched in late spring sunshine. 20,000 plus runners taking part in the feature 26.2 mile event, the new Scottish Half Marathon and the Hairy Haggis Relay will be hoping that temperatures don't climb any further.
Spectators eager for a Scottish victory will be looking to a man who has hadn't run a marathon yet. Paul Raistrick is better known as a hill runner and wiil be taking part in his first marathon after a tough winter's training. Paul described his unusual preparation: "During March my best training was done on the firmer snow above 3000 feet around the Northern Corries of the Cairngorm Plateau, rather than in the knee deep snow of the forest tracks at low level. Three months of continuous snow cover in Kincraig, where I live and train, has made marathon preparations challenging. Cross country skiing and digging snow were enforced cross training activities."
The Scot will have to pull out a very special performance if he is to finish ahead of a strong English contingent including race favourite English internationalist Matthew Pierson, the fastest man in the field. Holmfirth Harrier Pierson is hoping to make amends for a poor performance at the London Marathon. The 23 year old said: "After training in Kenya for three months ahead of London and having a disappointing run there I hope to put things right in Edinburgh."
Pierson will be looking for a time closer to 2:20, on a fast course, to finish ahead of a field that includes Yorkshireman Jonathan Frost, the Kingston upon Hull runner, who set a personal best of 2:25:03 in London last year; and Ian Grime, the 2007 Edinburgh winner, who returned to marathon running just last month at the inaugural Brighton event where he finished a creditable fifth in 2:31:47.
Last year's champion Martin Williams returns, this time however, opting to take part in the Half Marathon which launches the Edinburgh Marathon Festival. Race day fun also includes the popular Hairy Haggis Team Relay. Tipton Harrier Williams faces a huge task to pick up another winner's medal, as he finds himself up against David Webb of Leeds City AC, who has been selected to represent GB at the European Championships in Barcelona in August.
Another who has swapped events is local runner Jenny McLean, of Edinburgh AC, who finished third in the women's Marathon last year but is taking part in the Half Marathon this time around. Jenny said: "Having had a fantastic cross country season and running a half marathon PB on an undulating course the weekend after a cross country/Kilomathon double, I'm looking forward to running a half on a fast, flat course with some proper distance training in my legs. The opportunity to do this on home turf adds to the excitement. I'm also looking forward to enjoying the marathon atmosphere and hopefully seeing some Edinburgh sunshine."
Gill Laithwaite of Wigan Phoenix, St Helens Sutton and Border, finished third in the Marathon two years ago and is back to compete in that event where she is again expected to be among the contenders along with local runner Issy Menzies of Edinburgh AC and Sarah Gee of Reading Roadrunners.