In case you hadn't noticed there's some sort of athletics tournament gracing the shores of Blighty this year, and while this corner of Northern Britain may seem a fair hop, skip 'n jump away from the Olympic Village, we're never that far from the heart of the action. Indeed Cool Places' very own Sophie Dawson is running the Edinburgh Marathon this Sunday, raising funds for both Pancreatic Cancer UK and the Brittle Bone Society. The Edinburgh Marathon is reputedly the fastest and flattest in Europe (or so Sophie keeps telling herself) and it's a pleasant coastal route to boot, so we decided to join her along the route. No runner worth her bath salts would attempt the course without suitable refreshment, so we're pleased to present for Sophie the following choice of hostelries along the way.
A mere four miles into the route we weave our way out of the suburbs and onto the coastal stretch, stopping off for a quick one at the King's Wark, a cosy boozer on Leith's trendy Shore. that's perfect for both a pint and (if you're not running a marathon) some of the best, unpretentious pub grub the city has to offer. Sophie will have scarcely had chance to break into a wholesome sweat before reaching our next watering-hole two miles along, the Espy – a snug little establishment slap bang on Portobello beach. With its enclave of floral sofas, posh nosh and buzzy feel, thronged with laidback, fashionable types, she may struggle to get back on her feet, but that chilly 'Harr' will probably put paid to that.
There follows a good five miles of scenic slog before alighting at our next staging post in the seaside town of Musselburgh. The Ship Inn, Gold winner of East Lothian's Best Bar None Award this year, is a traditional, no-nonsense sort of place on the corner of Musselburgh High Street, with benches outside and a friendly, relaxed atmosphere inside. It's also the home of Poker League and a solid bet to rest Sophie's weary legs.
Some distance past the halfway point, Sophie will find herself at the sandy shore of Prestonpans, where the Prestoungrange Gothernburg will welcome her in with a hearty flagon of the frothy stuff. The CAMRA approved 'Goth' is much more than just a regular pub – it's a proper community hub with a strong sense of its own history, hosting regular art exhibitions, music nights, a Jug Bar, for those who cherish their real ales so much they need to carry them home, and its own microbrewery. It's even twinned with the tartanised Tuscany town of Barga, now commemorated with a tapestry telling the story of the Scottish Diaspora there.
After the Goth we figured we'd better let Sophie concentrate on running, and with only a few miles to go and our help in keeping her hydrated, it will be no time at all before she hits the finish line. Come on Soph!