Edinburgh Marathon 2020: date, route, entry price and how to train for the UK’s fastest marathon

Edinburgh Marathon Festival returns on 23-24 May 2020, and with an estimated 16,000 runners expected to participate, it’s time to start planning your race.

Picture: Shutterstock

Voted the fastest marathon in the world by Runners World, the Edinburgh Marathon boasts an all-encompassing route which takes in some of Edinburgh’s most iconic landmarks as well as offering picturesque views along the East Lothian coastline.

Alongside the main event, there’s a half marathon, 10k and 5k events, a relay race, and several junior races.

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Here’s everything you need to know about the Edinburgh Marathon Festival.

The Edinburgh Marathon takes in scenic coastline. (Picture: Shutterstock)

When does the race take place?

While the Edinburgh Marathon itself begins at 10am on Sunday 24 May, the weekend also includes a whole host of other events from half-marathons and relays, to a range of junior races tailored to different age ranges.

The Edinburgh Half Marathon follows the same basic course as the main event, and is an ideal first step for runners who don’t feel quite ready for the full 26 miles.

For those who prefer group efforts to solo missions, the Team Relay allows four runners to join forces and take on the full marathon course.

The 5k is ideal for runners just starting out, while the 10k provides a perfect stepping stone before tackling a Half Marathon. Both races start and finish by the EMF Hub at Dynamic Earth.

On the same route, there are also 1k, 1.5k, 2k and 5k races available for juniors.

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When should I enter?

The Edinburgh Marathon has sold out every single year for over a decade, making it the second largest run in the UK behind the London marathon.

It’s a good idea to secure your place well ahead of time and you can enter on the Edinburgh Marathon Festival website now.

How much does it cost to enter?

These are the standard entry prices for each race:

Edinburgh Marathon: £62Half Marathon: £38.50Team Relay: £127.75 (per team)10k: £31.005k: £20.50Junior 5k: £20.50Junior 2k: £13.00Junior 1.5k: £13.00Junior 1k: £13.00

You can find prices for club, charity, group and GFA/ top club entry on the website.

Entrants also have the option of running for charity, either as a runner for the race's official charity partner, MacMillan Cancer Support, or with another charity of your choice.

Entry fees and procedures vary depending on which charity is selected, and full details can be found here.

What's the route?

The marathon starts on Potterrow and takes a scenic route through the heart of Edinburgh.

It passes Greyfriars Bobby, the National Museum of Scotland and the Scottish National Gallery as it moves into Princes Street Gardens.

The route then winds down the Royal Mile, past the Scottish Parliament and the Palace of Holyrood, and then shoots east towards the coast, through Musselburgh and back towards the finish line.

With a descent of almost 90 metres to near sea level, organisers believe this is the fastest marathon route in the world.

The half marathon takes an almost identical route, and so is considered the fastest half marathon in the world.

The 10k and 5k courses (including their junior races) start and finish near the EMF Hub at Dynamic Earth, and take runners around Holyrood Park.

Do I need to train?

By no means do you need to be an elite athlete to complete a marathon, but you might struggle if you haven't shed some sweat ahead of time.

Fortunately, the Edinburgh Marathon website offers a range of training programmes designed to prepare runners for each event.

From beginners looking to get fit enough to complete their first marathon, to seasoned runners aiming to beat their best time, there is a schedule for everyone.

The Scottish Running Guide also provides a variety of training programmes.

Should I bring my own water?

For the 5k and the shorter junior races, bringing your own bottle would definitely be a good idea.

For all the longer races, Hydration Stations will be positioned every 5k along the course, providing 330ml bottles of water with the caps already removed.

High5 Sports Nutrition will also be providing caffeine-free energy gels.

Those concerned about discarded bottles can rest easy – the Edinburgh Marathon has teamed up with Hamilton Waste & Recycling to make sure that none of the waste generated by the event ends up at a landfill.

Where can I buy official merchandise?

From training gear to tartan boxers, the Edinburgh Marathon website offers a wide range of merchandise to help you get kitted out for the big day and beyond.

Once the event rolls around, you can visit the merchandise tent at the EMF Hub by Dynamic Earth, where there will be experts on hand to give you advice on all things shoes and clothing.

What's the transport for Edinburgh Marathon?

To get to the start line, the Edinburgh Marathon Festival operates an event bus service at the following locations: Newcraighall Park & Ride, Sheriffhall Park & Ride & Straiton Park and Ride.

Buses are also available to take participants and spectators back from the finish line. All the info can be found here.

If you are travelling within Edinburgh, both First and Lothian Buses offer bus services on race day. Edinburgh bus station is a 20-minute walk from the EMF Event Hub.

Edinburgh Trams operates services to the city centre every seven minutes from locations such as Edinburgh Airport, Ingliston Park & Ride and Edinburgh Gateway.

St Andrew Square tram stop is a 15-20 minute walk from the EMF Event Hub at Dynamic Earth.

Edinburgh Waverley Station is a 10-minute walk from the EMF Event Hub.

Competitors and spectators are advised to travel by public transport to avoid congestion, but if you must drive then you can park in one of the parking areas identified on the Edinburgh Council Parking website. Charges may apply.

Full details of transport for Edinburgh Marathon can also be found on the website.

Will there be food?

Hungry crowds will be able to grab a bite to eat from a wide variety of food outlets including Well Hung & Tender and Mimi's Bakehouse.

And the Dynamic Earth cafe is available within the EMF Event Hub.

Where can I stay?

Edinburgh is a popular tourist city and has plenty of accommodation, from Airbnbs to self catering apartments, hotels and guest houses.

If you don’t know Edinburgh very well, or have never visited before, OfficialHotels.com, the sister booking company to the Edinburgh Marathon Festival, can assist with making bookings for your stay.

They offer specially negotiated EMF rates across the city, in all types of accommodation from budget youth hostels, to 3, 4 and 5 star hotels convenient for getting to the race start.