Glasgow to Edinburgh Double Marathon Report

Saturday 10th April was the date of this years GEDM, it had changed from last years earlier date which meant for a hot day and it also being closer to the Highland Fling, which takes place on April 30th.

Having said that, the weather did make the run more challenging but also more enjoyable.

I arrived at Glasgow on the morning of the race having been given a lift by Ferelith, upon arriving, I registered and took in my final fluids. Ruchill Park was where the race began and it allowed for everyone taking part to get to know one another. I had been looking forward to meeting a couple of people at the start of the race and was happy to see Mark Barrow and Mimi Anderson there.

Mark had popped up to say hello ahead of his VLM challenge and Mimi was up from her home in England to take part.

We were told to follow the canal and we wouldnt go wrong, fairly straight forward then! There was a short detour at the Falkirk tunner due to a landslide but we were told it would be well marked. I was pleased to avoid the Falkirk tunnel as I dislike the feeling inside it but the shade would have been nice.

The gun went off and off we went, I set out with a time in mind but after going out too fast at the d33 in March I decided to take it easy. My 305 read 7 minute 40 second mile pace and I was happy with that.

Before long (roughly 3 miles) I was in 2nd place, I was surprised by this as I hadnt given any thoughts to challenging for a position, it worried me that again I had perhaps went out too fast. I felt good as I went along and I slowed it to 8 minute mile pace to be safe.

The Falkirk Wheel

Upon arriving at checkpoint 1 (Achinstarry Bridge – I think?) Ferelith was there to meet me, I took a new drink from her carried on, I completed the first 13 miles in 1hr 40 minutes and felt good. I was surprised to still be in 2nd place but kept the focus purely on my own race. I arrived at checkpoint 2 which was the Falkirk Wheel, this is where we would leave the Forth/Clyde canal and join the Union Canal.

I had been overtaken at the checkpoint by one runner. I quickly followed him up the hill to the Union canal, keen not to be overtaken because I had taken too long at the CP. As I arrived at the Union canal I started running with a guy named Colin, I think his name was Colin Hodge or Montgomery, I cant be sure because two Colin’s finished a few places behind me. I discovered that this was his first ultramarathon, with it being my 2nd official event I was pleased to hear that he was giving it a go as well. I had run several 40/50 milers and one 100 miler but never any official events until this year.

I noticed that my pace had slowed to 9 minute miles and I was keen to keep motoring on so I said good luck and went back up to 8 minute miles.

The heat by this point was starting to tell, my face was dry and layered with salt from the evaporated sweat, it felt good though.

I reached checkpoint 3 at Linlithgow which meant I was at 33 miles and still in 2nd place. I was told that the 3rd place was only 5 minutes behind me, which sounds a lot but it isnt in an ultra. I had completed the 33 miles in 4hrs 30 minutes which was just 6 minutes slower than my race in Aberdeen of the same distance, had I done it again? Went away way too fast?

As I started away from Linlithgow I knew I had less than 23 miles to go, lets than a marathon, the back of the race hadn’t quite been broken yet but nearly. I bumped into another runner named Richard, he wasn’t taking park in the race but was running form Linlithgow to Edinburgh for Marathon training. We chatted and stayed close to one another all the way to Edinburgh.

By checkpoint 4 I had started to lose pace, I was down to 10 minute miles and fluctuated between 9 and 10 minute miles for a good distance. This meant that I was now in 4th place, I wasnt at all bothered because I had not set a target and now my main goal was to finish. The repetative nature of the course was really getting to me and it did make me wonder how I was going to run on a treadmill for 24 hours, I am still wondering actually. I was craving a hill or some kind of variation on the flat route.

By this time the usual things started to happen, the mind games, thoughts like “why am I doing this, its too hard.” “if i just stopped at the next checkpoint I would be happy with my decision because I dont have anything left to give.” “just stop, this is a waste of time, its a nice day you could be in a beer garden relaxing with Friends” this happens to me in every race, no matter the distance, its my alter egos way of telling me im not good enough to do it, I have to push that voice down and own it and thats exactly what I did. I clung on to anything that would let me, at checkpoint 4 I wanted to stop but i clung onto the fact that my drop bag would be waiting at the end of the course and I would need to go and get it, I wouldnt want to see people finishing if I hadn’t manged to. This spurred me on! Its strange the things that motivate you. Thats the trick with Ultras I think, having the mental strength to push it all away and have confidence in your ability and belief in your own mind.

It really helped having the runner Richard at parts, great to ease the silence, althought I tend to go inwards during races so I usually just listen.

I got to the final checkpoint at Ratho knowing the finish line was in site, a few more miles to Edinburgh and familiar turf. Strangely with 5 miles to go I felt great and had managed to climb out of the mental hole in time for a sprint finish. With about 2 miles to go, a competitor, I dont know who, went to overtake me, which would have put me into 7th place. I was determined not to let that happen, I had worked hard all day to get here and I wasn’t about to let someone past me with a mile to go.

I picked up the pace and ran the final mile in 6 minutes 14 seconds fending off the late challenge, strangely he backed down after a couple of 100 metres but I kept going at the fast pace, making me wonder why I couldnt have run like that for a few of the last miles, again strange what motivates you!

At the end i arrived at Cargo in 6th place in a time of 8 hours 38 minues, a time I was delighted with, the race was won by Grant Jeans in 7 hours 14 minutes, showing me that I have still a long way to go but I will get there, watch this space!

I waited at the end for Richard to end his run, I owed him a lot for the banter through some tough parts of the course. I also waited for Colin who I had been with at Falkirk and was pleased to see him cross the line in 9th or 10th place (whichever Colin he was)

Special congratulations to Mimi Anderson who took 1st female and 11th overall with a time of 9hrs 7mins.

The Fling is at the end of the month but before that the Strongman run in Germany this Saturday.

About Mark Cooper

My name is Mark Cooper, I am an ultra runner, motivational speaker, expedition consultant and public relations rookie. I help people achieve greatness in their lives. For bookings or more information you can email
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13 Responses to Glasgow to Edinburgh Double Marathon Report

  1. I didn’t know this was only your second Ultra event! I thought you’d been doing them for years 🙂 Great re-cap – I enjoyed reading about it, especially your battle with your alter ego. I empathise with battling with that voice so much – it’s good to know that it’s still there inside even the most accomplished of runners!

  2. Mark Cooper says:

    Hey! Yeah only my second official event, Ive run 40 or 50 miles in training and one 100 mile run in Hadrians Wall but as far as official goes thats it.

    Believe it or not Ive run over 102 marathon in training but never an official event!

    Edinburgh on 22nd May this year will be my first so im mega excited!

    Thanks for commenting

    • That’s awesome. I am super excited for my 1st marathon at Loch Ness this year but I haven’t got the 102 distances in experience behind me…yet 😉

      How does it compare running such extensive distances in training vs in race situe? I know when I’m racing I can find secret extra reserves of energy hidden away that training never produces! I will be interested to see how a race vs. training marathon works out for you – have you got a goal time for Edinburgh yet? The course is supposed to be super fast.

  3. Gary Bruce says:

    Well done on your race finish and great job on toughing it out when the going got tough.

    Looking forward to your race report on the Highland Fling at the end of the month.

    I’ve got a feeling we are going to see you even closer to the sharp end of the SUMS events in the years to come.

  4. Jules_perox says:

    Enjoyed reading your report, thanks. Got to be pleased with that ‘official’ result, well done again.
    In a moment of supreme anorakness (it’s a word!) any chance you could fill us in on the eating n drinking you did during the race? I found it useful the last time you made a post about it

  5. Mark Cooper says:

    Hey Jules, thanks!

    From what I can remember I drank 500 mls of Energy Drink every hour during the race, 2 gels every hour (go gels) although I ran out before the end so had to make do with SIS sports drink from aid stations.

    • Jules_perox says:

      Thanks mark. I feel I don’t drink half as much as I should, and never ‘energy’ based drink only water. Certainly not 500ml. Gels I can handle and I do feel the benefit of those. Was wondering if you’d tried some ‘proper’ food aka the jam sandwich from last race!?

  6. Janine Lewis aka The Rambling Duck says:

    Brilliant re-cap. I know I will never run an ultra, but will waddle them! One thing i have learned is to ignore the voices in my head, realx, smile and enjoy the comraderie with other runners – they aren’t the enemy! Just people to chat with and learn from and help you move your own goal posts

  7. RobFrodsham says:

    Superb achievement Mark and such an interesting and well written report. You obviously have a very creative mind with an ability to put it to work in so many ways. Your report is a fantastic demonstration showing how even when the body has had enough, the mind has the power to push through, take the lead and get you to where you need to be. Keep up the great blogs and thanks for the inspiration!!

  8. Chris Lucas says:

    Great result, well told.
    I was two and a half hours behind you in 53rd.
    But what a great day, the weather, the people. See you next year.

  9. Jessica says:

    I stumbled across your post and was thrilled to see that you wrote about the GEDM. I am an American making plans to travel to the British Isles for a spring 2012 race. Previously, my max run was 11 miles but had shoulder surgery, was out for 2.5 months and am picking up running again from the beginning. I know that a year will be plenty of time to plan and I will be doing two halves then two full marathons before the end of this year as part of training. I have never run a 50 before but doing one abroad is the ultimate in motivation, plus it’s on my bucket list. All rambling set aside, what can you say about traveling abroad for a race in terms of jet-lag, physical preparation, nutrition after a long flight, etc. You don’t know what you don’t know so I can’t ask specific questions. My second question is the most important. How do you feel about this 50 for a beginner? I am specifically choosing the British Isle region because I live in DC, at sea level. I’d love to run Norway or Spain but the altitude will kill me (having lived in the high mountains for years I know the impact it has on your body!) I don’t want to get myself in over my head and find I’m staggering up cliffs. From what I read, GEDM sounds reasonable but I’ve never been to Scotland so know nothing about the landscape. Any other races you can suggest? Is doing my first 50 abroad an insanely terrible idea? Please guide me! Thank you so very much. I love your site. – Jessica

    • Mark Cooper says:

      Hi Jessica!

      Thanks for getting in touch, glad you liked the race report.

      I would suggest the GEDM as a perfect race if your looking for something flat, easy to navigate and easy to enter as well. There are no hills at all, in fact there is no incline at all!

      I would love to take on some of the events in the US, badwater, western states 100 etc. One day!

      In my limited experience, I recently travelled to Germany for a race and found no effects from the journey (3 flights) but they were not long haul like one from Amercia would be so i would def suggest getting here two days before at least to adjust to the time, climate changes.

      Everyone is different but when I ran my first 100 miler I had never run more than a marathon, check out my video if you like…….

      Keep in touch and good luck with training etc. If you get booked up let me know, be more than happy to show you around my beautiful City.

      Feel free to email for more info


      • Jessica says:

        Thank you for responding! You are a great resource for information and I’m reading just about everything you’ve posted. I’m definitely more excited about setting GEDM as my goal since it’s flat. I was terrified I’d get there and hills would lay before me like a sea of waves. I do have another inquiry though. I can’t find ANYTHING (too my surprise) on “the reality of running a 50K/50miler/endurance race.” I want the nitty gritty. I’ve heard of toe nails falling off, bleeding blisters, running shorts waistline burns and such. What kind of pain am I getting myself into? What should I expect beyond the obvious exhaustion and need for extreme mental endurance? Would you be able to make a full posting about this? I feel like such information is as (if not more) important than the overwhelming amount of “you’ll be tired” comments. Duh.

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