A GROUP of runners put in a marathon effort after swapping the streets of London for the streets of Musselburgh on Sunday, October 4.

Nine members of Musselburgh & District Athletic Club (MADAC) enjoyed taking part in the virtual 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon – the 40th race – on their home turf amidst the Covid-19 crisis.

The athletic club organised: a half marathon from Fisherrow Harbour, out to Portobello, then Leith and back; a loop of 10 kilometres from the harbour up the River Esk and then on to Queen Margaret University before heading back to the harbour via Newhailes; and a loop of just over 10 kilometres from the harbour, around the lagoons to Prestonpans before heading back to the harbour via Musselburgh Racecourse.

Virtual marathon runners Lindsay Anderson, Sarah Burrell, Sharon MacLeay, Steph Dodds, Steph Knox, Suzanne Beattie, Danielle MacDermid, Malcolm Cunningham and Andy Duncan were supported by fellow club members who joined in to complete shorter sections of the local route.

Throughout the year, the club has adapted to the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic to continue to offer sessions for runners of all abilities.

At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the club, in common with many other local sports clubs, had to shut down its activities. As restrictions were lifted, the activities of the club started to resume, initially through virtual training runs, then small group activities. The club is now back to offering a full training programme for all ages and abilities and sessions are now offered six days a week.

Chairperson Suzanne Beattie said: “It has been great to see the enthusiasm of club members of all ages and abilities continue throughout the challenges thrown up by the pandemic. We pride ourselves as a community club catering for all levels and ages.”

She added: “Throughout the pandemic, we have seen an increase in the number of people running in the town. Running is an inexpensive way to improve your fitness and boost your mental health, and new members are very welcome to come and try running with us.”

Founded in 1956 as Lewisvale Spartans, before becoming Lothian AC in 1975 after merging with East Coast Track Club and East Lothian AC, the club became Musselburgh AC in 1990.

There has been a huge drive to increase the junior section in recent years and recruit parents to join the volunteers as coaches. It has been so successful that there is often a waiting list for juniors to join and there are now 23 coaches across the junior and senior programme.

The most talented junior athletes from the club advance to Team East Lothian, where many have produced “outstanding results”.

With the junior section thriving, the senior section is catching up fast. Having started a jogscotland programme four years ago and, within the last couple of years, Couch to 5k groups, senior membership has more than doubled and the club is usually well represented at regional and national races.

Anyone interested in learning more about the club should visit musselburghac.com or email the club – madacmembership@gmail.com