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The Drop – Edinburgh by Sue Walker

I ran a different type of race on 1st April but it wasn’t an April Fool!  I signed up to the 10 mile version of The Drop race.  Runners sign up at registration (Up and Running shop in Edinburgh’s West End), put all phones, watches, GPS etc in a sealed bag, carry a race GPS tracker, put on a blindfold, and are then bussed to an unknown start point.  The start point is 10 miles as the crow flies back to Up and Running (there is also a 15 mile option available) and the challenge is to find the most efficient and fastest way back to Up and Running.

As the bus was driving, everyone was blethering away, and trying to guess in which direction we were driving.  As we approached the drop off point, the bus was clearly driving slowly up a steep hill, and then we could feel ourselves descending again, before the bus parked up and we were asked to get off.

We were dropped off some time around 10am in the hamlet of Edgehead on the outskirts of Dalkeith.  We could see signs telling us we were in Edgehead but personally, I had no idea of where it was!  I had a better idea of where it wasn’t!  I was quite sure we were not in Fife, and I was fairly sure that we weren’t in West Lothian, so Midlothian seemed a good possibility.
It was now up to runners to choose their own way back!  About 20 of us got off the bus and immediately scattered in all directions.  While on the bus, I had been chatting with another runner from the Fairmilehead area and we decided to start together at least until we got our bearings.  While she didn’t know Edgehead, and hadn’t run there before, she had a fairly good sense of which way to go.  We climbed up the hill the bus had just descended and after what felt like a mile, we had a view over the city.  This confirmed to us that we were heading in the right direction.
We then trotted along comfortably, chatting about races we had done and our running plans for the year ahead.  After the first two or three miles (just an estimate as we had no sense of distance beyond feel) we were on our own with other runners choosing different routes.  Seeing a steady stream of no 3 Lothian buses going past us after Dalkeith gave us reassurance that we were heading in the right direction especially as my fellow runner was a regular no 3 user!
Once past Dobbies and the butterfly farm, we crossed the city bypass and headed up to Gilmerton, Cameron Toll, then across the Meadows before getting back to Up and Running just before noon.  We were both delighted to have found a fairly efficient route back, and we were well ahead of the 1:30pm cut-off.  When we trimmed our Strava route to remove the bus journey, we found we had covered 11.5 miles in 1:59.
First finishers got back in 1:32 for men and 1:48 for women with first male finisher in the 15 mile event taking 1:53 and first woman 3:07.  Runners were given a mug as a race memento.  15 mile runners were dropped off at East Saltoun, East Lothian, not too far from the Glenkinchie Distillery and 10 milers at Edgehead, Midlothian.
I would definitely recommend this race as something a bit different.  It helped to have some local knowledge but if you’re up for a challenge and adventure, The Drop put on events like this around the UK.  More info can be found on their website
Full results as well as tracking information showing the routes runners used will be uploaded over the next day or two.  For the record, I was number 44.