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Thousands take part in the Great Edinburgh Winter run

The runners set off from Holyrood Park, cheered on by running legend Liz McColgan.

Run: Thousands of athletes took part.
Run: Thousands of athletes took part. Warren Media

Around 3000 people took to the streets of the Scottish capital for the Simplyhealth Great Edinburgh Winter Run and International XCountry run on Saturday.

The runners set off from the start line at Holyrood Park, cheered on by Scottish running legend Liz McColgan.

The 5k route took in a scenic tour of the Royal Park, travelling up and around Arthur's Seat before crossing the finish line near the Palace of Holyrood House.

The event was followed by the Simplyhealth Junior Great Edinburgh Winter Run, where children from seven to 13-years-old got the opportunity to take on a 2.5k course in the park.

Among the runners in attendance was Lesley Forrest, from Newington in Edinburgh, who took part in the 5k with her son Mark and daughter Amy for the first time.

The family are running to raise awareness about organ donation, after Lesley received a life saving kidney transplant.

She had her operation after suffering from kidney failure but has since taken up exercise with her son and daughter following a new lease of life.

Joining the Forrest family were paramedics Donna Hendry and Alan Stewart, who are both based in Kirkcaldy.

Donna and Alan are running for Healthy Working Lives, an initiative that they support in the workforce to promote positive mental and physical health in their jobs as paramedics.

Event: The 5k route took runners on a scenic route.
Event: The 5k route took runners on a scenic route. Warren Media

The Stewart International Cup sees home support in the form of Laura Muir, who will spearhead the Great Britain team.

Muir, who narrowly finished fourth in the 2017 World Championships 1500m, goes up against two Scotland teams featuring Mhairi Hendry, Steph Twell and Jake Wightman.

Romana Abdin, CEO of Simplyhealth said: "It is truly inspiring that Lesley is focusing on activity to help make the most of life and support her everyday health following her kidney transplant.

"We already help 3.5 million people live healthier lives and our ambition is to get #millionsmoving because we believe that movement is the cornerstone to better everyday health.

"On Saturday we will see people of every age and ability, from novice to elite athlete, enjoying the benefits of running. This truly brings our purpose to life." 

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Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland's Director of Events, said: "The Simplyhealth Great Edinburgh Winter Run and International XCountry will kick off what's going to be a big year of international sports events for Scotland in 2018.

"EventScotland is delighted to once again be supporting the event that uses the iconic backdrop of Arthur's Seat and Holyrood Park to show runners, spectators and the TV audience tuning in to the BBC's coverage why Scotland is the perfect stage for events."

Councillor Donald Wilson, Culture and Communities Convener for the City of Edinburgh Council, said: "The Simplyhealth Great Edinburgh Winter Run and International XCountry return this weekend, with Scottish running legend Liz McColgan ready to wave participants off!

"The events bring the very bravest runners to the fore, with Edinburgh's infamous winter weather providing an added challenge! Good luck and well done to everyone taking part."

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