Portobello Promathon

A report on the Portobello Promathon from James Ruskin.

And now for something completely different. 
 It was with that thought in mind that I joined the queue to enter this year’s Portobello Promathon on Saturday morning. A race over 4 miles isn’t everyone’s idea of fun on the first morning of the new year, but I hadn’t done this one before and it’s one of the few to survive the recent weather.
The short queue for registration didn’t lead to a sports hall, a school, or even the nearby cat and dog home, but to the back of a strategically parked black cab. It really was like something out of Monty Python – if John Cleese had popped his head out of the window I wouldn’t have been at all surprised. Any tourists walking past might have wondered if they’d stumbled across a secret society. This part of Seafield is a bit bleak at the best of times, and the wind off the Forth was pretty cold, so I guess it wasn’t really the day for registration al fresco. After a few minutes I reached the front of the queue, gave my name and club, and handed £3 through the window and into the half-darkness.
Head of operations, who was occupying the rear-facing seat, handed me my number. A quick check that I hadn’t just joined the local lodge of the Freemasons and I was on my way back to the car.

The start, after a brief warm-up, was predictably quick, with a group of about a dozen or so runners (including EAC juniors Rory Miller and Tom Ryan) soon pulling clear. I was a few places further back, not far from Martin (Ferguson) and Adam (Chmielowski), who I slowly caught and passed. After about a mile and a half I found myself running alongside Laura Dunn, who seemed pretty comfortable while cruising along at 5:30 min/mile. A couple of minutes later came the turn at halfway, not around a bollard but around a man doing a very good impression of one, with the aid of a fluorescent jacket.
The return leg back up the prom had a bit of a headwind but it wasn’t particularly strong. There also seemed to be a few more stray toddlers/prams/dogs to contend with than on the way down – all part of the New Year’s Day experience. I went through 3 miles in 16:20, ie ten seconds up on 5:30 min/mile pace, so I was reasonably sure I’d achieve the goal of finishing just inside 22 minutes. Shortly after I found myself in a group of four, including Adam, who’d caught up with me again. As usual in a group situation where no-one wants to make the first move, we started slowing down. With a couple of hundred yards to the finish I made my move, stayed ahead, and crossed the line in 22:11; with Adam doing 22:16. Our game of cat and mouse in the final half mile probably cost me a sub 22 minute time, but I was pleased with how the race had gone.
As they each finished, all the other EAC runners including Jo, Vik and Dermot seemed to agree it was a good event and one they were glad they’d done. As Garry says below, 23 EAC athletes taking part at this time of year is a great turnout, possibly even a PB?! The crowd support was a bit patchy, but I guess that’s no surprise given the date and the weather.

Well done to juniors Rory and Tom, first and second among the EAC runners, well clear of the rest of us, and who should both have a lot of success this season and beyond. Likewise to Brian Howie who started 2011 by doing the Parkrun at 9:30, and then this race at 11:30!  
(James Ruskin)

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