• Pete Simpson

Edinburgh AC Dawn to Dusk Relay: 16 hours of Fund Raising Fun

Wake Up Call

The clock had just struck 5am on the Northern hemisphere’s longest day.

Outside the sun was rising and a gentle breeze was blowing through the air, peacefully blending the aroma of flowers and freshly cut grass to the quiet world as it gracefully woke from it's sleep.

Inside my alarm was loudly buzzing, jolting me from my sleep and leading my tired mind to wander why I was getting up at 5am on a Saturday. A tired fumble through my phone quickly reminded me why...

Today I would be joining 65 of my clubmates in running for 30 minutes, passing on a “virtual baton” from one athlete to the next one until the sun would finally set at around 9:30pm.

Opening up Facebook showed a smiley photo of my running pal Nikki, already decked out in her Edinburgh AC vest.

The event was already underway and it was time for me to get up and fuel my body in time for my own shift, which would shortly be starting...

Pre Session

The schedule had worked out well for me. As an early bird the 8am start was well received and the chance to catch up with my pal Chloe, was doing the leg immediately after mine, gave a nice excuse to do two runs for the price of one.

Chloe had already planned a progression run (a session where you gradually increase the pace) for the 8:30 to 9:00 slot, so I just had to figure out what to do for mine.

There are probably a host of scientific and statistical methods I could have used to derive a perfect session to optimise time in different heart rate zones, cadence efficiency, pace judgement and aerobic vs anaerobic fitness levels…

…but it was 6am and I couldn’t be bothered.

Instead I picked up 5 dice, chucked them on the table and decided I’d run at a tempo pace (tough, but not “eyeballs out”) for whichever numbers appeared face up.

Rumbling along the table they settled on a mixture of 4, 5 and 6 – meaning I would run steady for the first 3 kilometres, up it to a tempo for the next 3 and then jog around for however long was left before the passing the baton on to Chloe.

Not too bad and one thing less for my brain to worry about as I pulled on my own vest and got myself ready to go

Session 1 (8:00 to 8:30)

The 3 hours leading up to my start time went by typically quickly and I was underway before I knew it, quickly going through the usual running mental thought process;

1st km: I wish I was still in bed.

2nd km: This feels ace, I could run all day.

3rd km: Aw man, I have to run at tempo soon.

4th km: Is this the right pace?? Am I going too slow?? Too fast??.

5th km: This feels pretty good, what an awesome strong runner I am!

6th km: Ugh, when is this going to be over.

Bit at the End: Boom - session done!! Now where do I meet Chloe?

Unfortunately the answer to that question was at the top of a hill near to where’d I’d just finished. A feeling of disgust popped in my head as I wondered what on earth was I thinking agreeing to meet her all the way up there!?

Thankfully Chloe spotted me as I was tiredly trudging up towards her and came running down in my direction - relieved this gave me the perfect excuse to stop my watch, grab a bit of air and get ready for the second session of the day.

Session 2 (8:30 to 9:00)

Unlike my random rolling of the dice, Chloe had planned out her session well in advance – texting it over to me a couple of days beforehand so I knew what to expect.

We would be doing a 30 minute progression run, starting at 7:00 minute mile pace and increasing it by 10 seconds every 5 minutes until the half hour was up. The route would see us finish at Portobello beach, where we could catch up properly over a second breakfast at a local café open for takeaway.

The session sounded fun, with the prospect of a mid morning feed even more appealing, so I didn’t need much persuasion. The only snag was the old school pacing, which didn’t immediately mean a lot to a maverick metric runner like me.

It shouldn’t have been difficult to work out given my numerical background, but I couldn’t really be bothered with even simple conversion during these early hours so decided to just go with the approach of ‘Follow Chloe and don’t really think about it’.

The strategy worked fine as we chatted through the first few miles without much effort, enjoying running with some company for the first time in months.

The only interruptions seemed to come whenever Chloe would look at her watch and realise we were going too fast – a good sign that the natural enthusiasm brought about by some face to face human contact was helping give the legs a bit of extra energy.

Before long we made it to Portobello promenade and blasted through the last 5 minutes at the quickest pace of the day. Hard work done that much earned second breakfast was just a cool down jog away.

Post Session

You can make a case for the cool down being the best part of any run – a nice chance to jog about, slowly bring the heart rate down and ease the muscular trauma ever so slightly as you look back with satisfaction over the improvement you’ve just made.

Great minds were thinking alike that morning as we spotted another club vest along the promenade, proudly worn by another clubmate Malc who had just finished his own session at the beachfront.

The next hour or so was great as we sat there discussing running tales, making it feel a bit like the old times before Lockdown where the experience of finishing a local race would be shared with others runners who’d put the body through it’s paces for nothing but love of the sport.

The post race food is always an added bonus too – if you’re struggling to choose between getting egg, cream cheese or salmon in a roll the handy excuse of just completing a tough run gives enough justification to go for all of them lumped in together.

Time felt of little importance the rest of the day. A similar family catch up over lunch at another park followed before I returned home to see how the rest of the crew were getting on - a quick check of the club Facebook page gave the answer, with post after post of smiling faces showing how much fun everyone was having that day.

The pattern continued all the way through to 930pm, at which point we were all glued to our screens to watch Emma (the head organiser of the day) climb Arthur’s seat to reach the summit of the city and bring things to a perfect conclusion.

We had done it – 66 runners doing what we most enjoy in unison and bagging a total of 250 miles while the city was awake on it’s longest day.

I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who went to bed feeling chuffed that night, proud that I’d played my part in what was undoubtedly a special day for everyone attached to the event.

The Scran Academy

Part of what made the day so special was knowing that it would help the local community, with all proceeds and donations from the day going to a local charity – The Scran Academy.

During the Covid-19 pandemic they have been working hard to make sure vulnerable citizens of Edinburgh can access safe, free meals without fear from the safety of their own home.

The event has raised over £700 so far, helping make a big difference to the lives of many people around the city who are struggling most at such a difficult time.

The hard work is still going on and every penny can help put food on a plate of those most in need - if you’d like to make a donation please follow the link below and give whatever you can.


An event like this takes a lot of careful planning and all praise for the event should be directed to the awesome organising committee – Emma Laverie, Karen Dobbie, Elaine Davies, Nikki Gibson and Hannah Waugh.

Well done ladies, I’m sure I’m not the only one whose watched the highlights video below a few times, already looking forward to part 2!

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