Hazel McHaffie

writing novels

Marathon efforts

This weekend was a big occasion in our family. Four of our own were running in the Edinburgh Marathon Festival: son (full marathon ie. 26.2 miles), son-in-law (10k), grandson (5k and 2k) and granddaughter (2k). We were on the sidelines cheering for all the events, (yes, freezing cold wind and showers notwithstanding) watching them complete their courses with excellent timings. Here they are afterwards (in sunshine!) wearing their finishers shirts and medals. Huge congratulations all round.

Three medal winners  Third marathon safely completed









The EMF is a massive event: over 30,000+ folk taking part in total this year, 7,160 of those running the full 26.2 miles. The atmosphere is amazing. In less than an hour, Holyrood Park goes from this …

Holyrood Park before 10k

to this … !

Mass of runners in the 10KOn the day, the multitudes of runners cruise by with practised strides, often making it look effortless. Some even take the trouble to acknowledge our applause and encouragement. Occasionally we get a glimpse of the cost when cramps strike or energy levels plummet or shock/total exhaustion takes over, although the vast majority stay the course and keep the pain hidden. But behind the scenes, unseen, unsung, is weeks, months, years of gruelling training, building up stamina, perfecting techniques, eating carefully, pushing bodies to the limit.

The 2K  competitors

Writing a novel is a marathon of sorts – albeit a pale shadow of the sporting kind. It’s a long haul, the hard graft and persistence rarely recognised or understood. So it feels appropriate that today I should pay tribute to everyone who took part in the EMF – highlight the effort, the agony, the sacrifices, the determination, as well as the triumphs. I am full of admiration. And utterly amazed that you return year after year to repeat the anguish! I shall try to remember this when my courage quails at the thought of starting yet another novel.


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