Why pounding the pavements is good for business

by Scott Douglas

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

Running in EdinburghElite athletes, lifelong joggers, club runners, hard-training charity fundraisers, chubby fun runners and pavement pounders of every stripe, we salute you.

Irrespective of age, fitness levels or times clocked, every single person who crossed the finishing line at Sunday’s Great Edinburgh Run is due congratulations.

With very little huffing and puffing, the event has established itself as a popular and well-known annual fixture in Edinburgh’s calendar.

When the weather holds it provides a great day out of for families to pack a picnic and soak up the atmosphere around Arthur’s Seat, whether or not they are there to support a specific runner or just to cheer at a great occasion.

It’s an inclusive event too, with a series of different races serving everyone from serious, competitive athletes from around the world, through to a fun run for children.


And to top it all off, the 8500 or so people who take part also raise millions of pounds for charities and good causes. Phew, makes its worth all the pain, sweat and hard months of training.

Yet there’s still more. It’s also an event which contributed to the Scottish capital being named one of the best cities to run in, according to influential Runner’s World magazine.

In 2012, when the last survey of readers of the world’s best-selling running publication was carried out, they voted Auld Reekie as the second best venue for runners, just behind Newcastle.

Hardly surprising, since last year was also notable for running milestones as another major racing fixture, the two day Edinburgh Marathon Festival, reached its 10th anniversary and was named one of the top 75 most prestigious road race events in the world.

That accolade came courtesy of the International Association of Athletics Federations, which granted the event a coveted Bronze status and puts it firmly on the radar of every serious athlete on the planet.


This year’s Edinburgh Marathon Festival more than lived up to the billing with 30,000 people from 100 countries descending on Edinburgh for two days in May. Dubai-based Scot kenny Heney, 37, took the headlines by completing all four races over two days – 5k 10k, half marathon and full marathon.

Running is now so prevalent in Edinburgh, it has even had a place in the annual arts extravaganza that is the annual Festival-Fringe.

In August 2012 runners of all abilities came together for the nightly Speed of Light event, which lit up Arthur’s Seat in spectacular and moving fashion, turning the extinct volcano into a multi-coloured living art installation.

Yet Edinburgh didn’t wake up one morning to suddenly find itself a runners’ Mecca, any more than I’m going to get out of bed tomorrow and instantly be able to pound out a 3hr 45min marathon.

Years of unsung work have been put in behind the scenes by the likes of Edinburgh Council and the local police, ensuring the mundane and unglamorous aspects- public policy, infrastructure, road closures and traffic diversion – are in place to make these events not just a reality, but a smooth and seamless success story.

Then there’s JogScotland, the country’s recreational running network. Since 2002 it has encouraged at least 25,000 Scots to take up walking and running based exercise, with the aim of tackling cancer, strokes, diabetes, heart disease, obesity and osteoporosis


Theres plenty for business to cheer in all of this. All of the major race events urge visitors to make a stay in Edinburgh when participating, with the knock on benefits that brings for transport providers, pubs, restaurants, hotels, B&Bs, attractions and retailers.

But the real gold is in the days and months between the major fixtures. Part of the success enjoyed by JogScotland is down the 100-plus workplace schemes it is involved with where colleagues are in training for the long haul.

Likewise, Sunday’s Great Edinburgh Run also featured a Business Challenge, with prizes for workplace-based teams competiing in various categories, while entries are already open for the 2014 Edinburgh Marathon Festival’s Hairy Haggis Team Relay, which is ideal for teams of work colleagues.

What’s not to love about motivated staff, working as a team to vigorously and enthusiastically pursue clear goals while boosting their health and energy levels? Oh aye – and let’s not forget this is ‘recreational running’ so it should be fun as well.

So dust down your trainers. You might already know all about the hard work of running a business, but how about running for a business? That’s the kind of blood, sweat and tears that are really worth it.


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