Freeze Your Arse Off at the Great Winter Run

Gorgeous medal with the seat outline and snowflakes
At the weekend I headed to the Great Winter Run  in Edinburgh. with some friends to do the 5Km race. 

Well, two of us did the 5Km. The rest had 'forgotten to sign up'. Sure ladies, sure.

Our beautiful cheer squad.

After an early train to the burgh', we wandered to the beautiful Arthur's Seat in plenty of time. However, we were then misdirected several times before we found registration to pick up E's race packet. At some point we even ended up in the inter-districts changing room. Sorry boys... (we weren't that sorry). By the time we had peed, de-jacketed, fitted my HR monitor, and walked to the start, we were LATE. Panic stations!

Luckily we ducked into a green pen just in time. The race takes runners up and around Arthur’s Seat on the road, "with fantastic views over Edinburgh Castle, the River Forth and Holyrood Palace". Ahem, we will get to analysing that piece of advertising. Firstly, in cold clear light we shuffled over the start line and started working our way through runners. We climbed approximately 1.2 miles up and up and up onto the seat. This finally thinned into a flat 0.3 miles along past the reservoir.

On the way up the only thing I could do was keep breathing, look just beyond my feet, and mutter 'just keep going' in my head over and over. I was also distracted by accidentally stepping on the same man's shoes twice. Sir, if you are reading I am truly sorry. Good news is, next time I think I will find this section easier knowing where the hill ends.

Front runners in rather okay weather.
When I said I would discuss the beautiful views at the top... Well... They are there sometimes. On Saturday, although it was clear and mildly sunny when we arrived at Arthur's Seat, by the time we hit the route high point it was driving hail and horizontal snowstorms. My face was in pain from the constant pellets and the wind was raging around my ears. This got much worse when we circled the seat onto the downhill, facing straight into the maelstrom. It was quite a shame as this is a GREAT downhill. I hit a 7.20 average pace on that half mile from the glorious run-able slope. Without the wind I suspect many would have done better.

Our speedy pal M

Myself in pink (behind orange man)

This is snow. It was THAT bad.
Finally, the course flattens again and you must battle your way to the start. This can feel tough after a luxury downhill like that and i suffer mentally on these stretches- always makes me want to walk after lovely downhill. I really did like the course- it requires just stubbornness on the way up then you are rewarded beautifully.  Then I was surprised by the finish line. I finished in an uninspired but passable 29.40. Meh. E finished in 25.49 and M (the fast guy in the pictures above) in 18.01, neatly escaping the worst weather. 


  • The course really is great. If I lived in Edinburgh I would want to run it always. 
  • The goodie bag was really good- tons of quality food, some running supplements, a wonderful medal and cool long sleeve tee shirt only let down by not being a tech one. 
  • Really interesting environment to be at a fun run wrapped up in serious competition (with the international cross country immediately afterwards). 

  • Its the great WINTER run. And god dang did the weather deliver. Freezing, lashing, unpredictable snow that switched on and off in an extremely bipolar way; howling wind and rain. This seriously dampened (pun!) our interest in watching the rest of the races. 
  • Its quite expensive to be honest. 20 quid for a five k, and because of the course there seems to be MINIMAL marshaling and such required. No water stations or anything. Suspect all the money is location, road closing, and goody bag.
  • Not clearly marked finish line. I would have pushed faster, earlier if I had realized how near to me the finish line was. It had only one obvious marker (the timer) and that was floor level so hard to see until you were actually there. 

Overall we had a great time. We headed for coffee after to warm up and spent an hour laughing uproariously and scaring fellow customers then I took a train over to my dad's house back in Glasgow. Whilst it was wild, I did have fun, and will absolutely run there again.

Wet, cold, and loving it. 
Of course by the time we got back to the station the weather was great. Bloody Scotland.


Whats the worst weather you have ever raced in?

Did you race last weekend?


  1. I seem to remember some snow at the Craneligh 20 miler I did a couple of years back and then truly awful painful hail at Tough Mudder a few months later. As if it wasn't horrific enough already!
    Sounds like a fun event you did :)

    1. It was :)! And a 20 miler in tough weather sounds MUCH worse. You must have been so cold!

  2. Seem to remember the weather was pretty cold at the 2013 event too. Either that or the fierce winds at the Percy Pud 10k would be the worst weather I've competed in!

    1. It seems to have been uniformly brutal! Thanks for commenting Chris :)



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