Celebs Support

13 May 2010

Celebrity spotting will add to the fun for both participants and spectators at this year's Edinburgh Marathon Festival.

Gregor Townsend, the former Scotland and British Lions international rugby player who is now an assistant coach with the national side will be taking part in the popular Hairy Haggis Team Relay Marathon.

Townsend, who won 82 caps for Scotland and was part of the last Lions team to win a Test series in South Africa in 1997, has taken part in the event before helping to raise money for one of the 298 charitable causes set to benefit from the event.

He said, “I am running for Macmillan Cancer Support as they are a fantastic organisation who do so much for those affected by cancer. I hope that our celebrity relay team can give the charity a boost on marathon day. I really enjoyed last year's event and it was amazing to see so many green t-shirt wearers who were running in aid of Macmillan.

“Entering an endurance race gives you a goal to work on your fitness leading up to the event, which is something I need to do since, having retired as a professional rugby player, it is no longer my job to run around every day. I'm looking forward to the sense of fun and achievement that abounds during Edinburgh Marathon day.”

His ‘Celebrity Team’ which includes BBC News and Sports Presenter Sue Thearle  will be up against ‘Team Hamilton’ in which his former Scotland midfield partner Jamie Mayer is running along with wife Hannah and friend Jo, as well as television presenter Amanda Hamilton.

Hamilton's relay leg will form part of her preparations for the Blenheim Triathlon in which she is competing alongside former BBC ‘Something for the Weekend’ co-host Tim Lovejoy.

Having given up presenting the popular Sunday morning London-based show to spend more time with her young family, the nutritionist and health expert is concentrating on developing her spa retreats business both in the UK and abroad but will be back on the BBC in Autumn.

“Jamie and I have 5 year old daughters who are best friends so that is how our team came about! We will have very cute cheerleaders encouraging us all along," she said.

“It feels great to be fit again after having my son. I had planned on the full marathon but a hamstring injury put paid to that idea - I think the Hairy Haggis will be more fun anyway!”

Hamilton added that she is delighted to be able to be part of such a popular event so close to home. “I'm not in the least bit surprised that Edinburgh is one of the fastest growing marathons - what views we have! I think we also have an "up for it" attitude up north.”

Another whose participation should demonstrate the benefits of good living is celebrity chef Alan Murchison who could be making a bid to become the new Galloping Gourmet as he runs to raise funds for Alzheimer Scotland.

Born in Inverness, Murchison is the only British chef outside London who has two Michelin-starred restaurants, L'ortolan in Shinfield, Berkshire and La Becasse in Ludlow, Shropshire. The Scottish Champion of the BBC’s 2010 Great British Menu has just opened a third restaurant, Paris House in Bedfordshire.

Murchison said, “”Running for me is a great escape from the pressures of a busy kitchen. I am really looking forward to my marathon debut in my favourite city, Edinburgh, whilst raising much needed funds for Alzheimer Scotland.”

For starters, Murchison will run legs one and two of Gregor Townsend’s relay team, but he will continue to complete the main course and run the full marathon.

Fellow star of reality TV James McQuillan, who took part in series five of The Apprentice is hoping to go the full distance in the 8th Edinburgh Marathon.

The 33-year-old is running to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support in memory of his mother who died last year aged only 53.

"She fought bravely against cervical cancer on and off for 20 years. Unfortunately the disease showed its ugly head one time too many and, sadly, its most recent appearance proved to be too strong," he explained.

"About six years ago mum was introduced to Macmillan and we were very grateful for the warmth of care we received.

"The people that work for Macmillan are angels. For that reason, having never run more than about 20 yards for a bus, I decided I wanted to raise funds for them and that this would be a good challenge."