A talented choir will add a festive feel to the Great Edinburgh Winter Run when they sing on the start line before taking on the 5km course to raise funds for local charities.
The hills were alive with the sound of music on the first day of December as 10 runners from Sing in the City choir laced up their trainers and took to the scenic Holyrood Park in Edinburgh to warm up ahead of the Great Edinburgh Winter Run.
Sing in the City, which currently has 500 members across Edinburgh and Fife between the ages of 18 and 82, is the brainchild of vocal coach Kirsty Baird, who set up the group to allow others to sing, socialise and perform together.
The choir has raised over £55,000 for charities around the city and members of the professional face of the choir, named the Awe Blacks, have signed up for the Great Edinburgh Winter Run as their next fundraising challenge.
They will take on the event on Saturday 7 January, which starts and finishes in Holyrood Park and takes participants up Queen’s Drive and around the iconic Arthur’s Seat, offering spectacular views in the process.
Sing in the City will be raising funds for their ‘Dreampot’, their community project which goes towards helping charities across the region. Their aim is to get to a grand total of £60,000 raised by the turn of the New Year.
Each charity to benefit is chosen by a member of the choir with past ones including the Edinburgh Foodbank, Simpsons Neonatal and Waverley Care.
Among the group is Lisa Ward, from Corstorphine in Edinburgh, who joined Sing in the City three years ago to provide her with a hobby outside of work.
Lisa said: “Having joined Sing in the City looking for some mid-week work stress relief I never imagined I'd get so much more from that.
“I honestly can't imagine my life now without it. I’ve had so many doors opened to me through the group and the friendships made with people I would have never had the chance to meet.
“It's through Sing in the City that I started running. I have NEVER been a runner, in fact I couldn't even run the length of myself.
“Then a group from the choir started a weekend running group and I went along as something else to do, a bit like how I started Sing in the City in the first place.
“It soon grew arms and legs and we became a training team entering different events. I now proudly own a number of medals and although I'll never be the fastest, I'm proud that I started and finished in the first place and I couldn't ask for a more wonderful group of folks to run along with.
“Thanks to Sing in the City I’m now a singer and a runner!”
The choir will also provide entertainment for the runners tackling the Great Edinburgh Winter Run by singing some of their favourite winter songs before the starting gun fires.
Kirsty Baird, who started Sing in the City back in 2010 with only 40 members, said: “We always hear from our members about how Sing in the City has changed their lives, their confidence grows and they gain a huge circle of friends.
“Our fundraising usually begins by one of our members suggesting an idea during our tea break, which is how the group for the Great Edinburgh Winter Run was formed.
“Joining Sing in the City means that your friendships grow and this continues outside of choir practice. Members take part in events like this one as a group and try and make a difference in the community.
“There are a lot of keen runners taking part and also some who are taking on their first running event. It doesn’t matter about your ability; it’s about coming together as a group and doing something fun.
“All the money we raise will go into our Dreampot and is given to a charity of one member of the group’s choice. It’s always a charity that is close to our hearts which also helps with motivation.”
The day is also perfect for the family with the Junior Great Edinburgh Winter Run taking place in Holyrood Park after the main event. The shorter 2.5km course is perfect for children between the ages of 7 and 14 years old.
Participants can then watch some of the world’s best athletes take on the hills and mud at the Great Edinburgh XCountry, which is televised live on BBC and free to spectate.