Half marathon gets a touch of glamour

BEAUTY queens are swapping their high heels for trainers, as they run a half marathon in aid of a children's charity.

Finalists from the Miss Universe Edinburgh competition will be taking to the road on Sunday for the Chris Hoy Half Marathon. They hope to raise thousands of pounds for the Make A Wish Foundation, which helps seriously ill children.

They will join more than 4,300 runners for the event, which has seen entries soar by more than 40 per cent this year. They will set off from Meadowbank Stadium and run along the coast, finishing at Musselburgh Racecourse.

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The race is named after the Olympic triple-gold cycling champion, who is supporting it for the second year. Organisers hope the event will raise around half a million pounds for charities.

Goi Wilkinson, 26, and Michelle MacDonald, 20, who both work as models in Edinburgh, decided to support the charity after reaching the local Miss Universe final earlier this year.

They have teamed up with Hayley Brown, director of Mannequin Model Agency, which supported the competition.

The trio have never run a half marathon before, but they have been putting in hours of training several times a week. And they are confident they will look stylish, after race sponsors New Balance provided outfits for the event.

Miss Brown, 26, said: "We learned about the Make A Wish Foundation while taking part in Miss Universe, and thought it was a great cause to support. I've done some running before, but not for a few years. It was a bit difficult at first, as I've got asthma, but I think we'll be fine on the day."

Alastair Brookes, fundraising manager for the charity, said: "We're absolutely thrilled that not just the girls, but 30 runners will be taking part in aid of Make A Wish. This will help us make even more dreams come true for children who are seriously ill."

Race organisers are making the final preparations for the half marathon, which starts at 9am on Sunday. Around 300 people will be helping on the day, while they have more than 16,000 bottles of water and 1,200 bottles of Lucozade to hand out to thirsty runners.

They have also written to 9,000 households along the route, advising them of the race and apologising for any disruption.

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Organiser Mike James, of GB Event Management, said they hoped to raise around 500,000 for various charities.

He said: "This is the fifth anniversary of the event, and we're delighted we've managed to increase the entry by 40 per cent. This is a great platform to ensure it continues in future years.

"I think perhaps because of the recession, more people are taking up running instead of paying to join gyms. There seem to be a lot more people running on the streets, and it's great to have a goal such as a half marathon to work towards.

"The route is extremely attractive, and probably the flattest half marathon in the country. By moving the event to April, instead of March, we hope there's more chance of having a nice day for it."