5 Stars!
“At this point, I’m obliged to tell you that I’m here on behalf of visit Scotland, and have been assessing the tour,”

Just a small amount of panic sets in at hearing these words… It’s my second tour of the day, and my brain starts racing. Did I give it my all? Was it as good as all the other tours I’ve delivered? I know that I enjoyed the run, the pace was good, the chat was fun, the stories were fluid, relevant, and entertaining, but was it good enough?

Then the waiting game, that horrid period of time when you’re anticipating the worst, as your brain tells you everything you could have done, should have done, shouldn’t have done, and every possible outcome.

The report comes in.

An overall rating of 92%, giving us a 5 Star rating from visit Scotland, the national tourism board.

92%

5 Star

We are now counted among the best tour companies in the entire country, and not just in our field, in the whole Scottish tourist industry. Words cannot adequately describe how excited I am about this! The excitement comes two-fold as well, because yes, I am super excited that it’s us that have been the first running tour to be recognised by the governing body for tourism in Scotland, but it is also a huge step for getting running tours recognised globally as a concept. Come along and see for yourselves why we’ve earned out 5 star rating! 😉

RTJ

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EMF 2017
EMF 2017

What a fantastic weekend we had; 30,000 runners descended upon the city for the events, and many of them came along for a tour to get a feel of the place they were visiting. We had guest from all over the world come out with us, from Uraguay to Australia, Hong Kong to Toronto, and between the three guides we put in around 50 miles over the weekend!

We saw a lot of new faces, with around 50 keen explorers joining us, and as a nice surprise, we actually had a lovely couple come along who had joined us last year, and had had such a lovely time that they wanted to go again!

With Nick on board to help, I managed to get away with not doing another accidental marathon this year! I did, however, end up running 18 miles on the hottest day of the year… I drank enough water to rehydrate a dying camel, and still felt really, REALLY weird that evening… We’re no built for the heat up here, and having inherited my grandad’s wonderfully pasty Lanarkshire skin, I’m not in the sun more than 5 seconds before I burn to a crisp!

Huge congratulations to everyone who took part in the EMF weekend events, it was a scorcher of a weekend, and everyone did a fantastic job- runners, race crew, and guides alike 😉

RTJ

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Singles Night!
Oh what a night!

14 brave souls came out to play on our very first SINGLES NIGHT, in association with Joseph Pearce’s Bar on Elm Row, and what a night we had! A fantastic mix of runners, ages, ability levels, and interests! Everything from iron man competitors in training to gentle joggers, classics teachers and museum staff to army cadets, 6k of chat and jogging, engaging with like-minded singles!

RTJ, as the dedicated cupid for the evening, did his best to take the pressure off everyone else by making a prat out of himself. Silly warm up games outside JP’s, daft stories and nonsense chat on the way around, proved enough of a distraction so that everyone forgot all about the stress of meeting new people and just enjoyed themselves.

What better finishing point than JP’s, where we all clambered into afterwards for a chat and a “recovery pint” as RTJ called it… Having had such a lovely night, we’re absolutely going to do it again, so why not come join us on the 26th of May, 8pm at Joseph Pearce’s for round two?

See you there 😉

Tickets to the event are limited, and available at https://www.emfrunningtours.com/tours/singles/

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T2 Update

T2 Update

What a rush!

We were totally swept away in February by the media frenzy surrounding T2, and the fantastic interest in the running tours as a result. RTJ was lucky enough to get his magnificent moustache featured in the Edinburgh Evening News, along with an article explaining the concept (link below) and a few other newspapers picked up the story, and that had a huge impact on the number of tours going out. So much so, that we were busier in February, which is usually the quietest month for tourism in Scotland, than we were in August, which is supposed to be peak season!

Possibly the funniest moment was when RTJ got a bit over excited and scrawled “1690” on himself in permanent marker, only to discover that the runners booked on hadn’t actually seen the film, and just thought he was a bit mad as a result! There were quite a few runners joining us on tour who hadn’t actually seen the film, and it was really fun trying to take them to the locations and tell them the stories, all the while avoiding spoilers.

The tours, taking in the sights and stories around some of the filming locations, as well as recreating classic scenes from the film, were a great success, and as a result we’ll be keeping them going through the summer as well, so there’s still a chance to get on one if you haven’t made it up to Edinburgh yet!

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Niall’s Adventures Abroad: Part one

Niall’s Adventures Abroad: Part one

Following the end of high season, intrepid explorer RTJ wasn’t the only one of the EMF Guides to set a course for the four corners of the wide world. For the first part of eight months of life away from the UK I was destined for India.

I am half Indian but had never actually been to the country from which one whole side of my family originated. So working with the British council in an Indian school was an opportunity too good to be passed up. So off. I went for five months and in those five months I experienced things like none other and genuinely feel like I have been to another planet.

It is hard to put into words all the things I experienced and how wonderful they were, but to name a few: I went hiking in the Himalayas and watched the sun rise and set over those same stunning mountains, white water rafting on the Ganges, I told Scottish stories in Hampi, taught ten year old Indian children some Rabbie Burns and watched England play India at cricket in Mumbai. All of which may well have been topped by the day I met a wonderful elephant called Radah who is now my best friend.

India is a magical country, full of colour, vibrancy and diversity. Indeed, following my return to the UK I feel like I lived a dream for five months. Fortunately it wasn’t long before I got to set off into the world again and I currently write in a café in South Africa. I shall update you all on that very soon. But until then I bid you all adieu.

Niall

India
Taj Mahal
Cricket
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Tour Guides on Tour Part 3: Life and Death in the Desert

Tour Guides on Tour Part 3: Life and Death in the Desert

We last heard from RTJ after his running tour of Cape Town, so where did he end up next?

The day after the running tour of Cape Town, I loaded my bag into an old converted Mercedes truck and headed north to the Namib desert, with the intention of camping out under the stars, finding some wildlife, and surviving in conditions of up to 40 degrees.

I never thought I’d get to see a desert, and it was an experience I’m not going to forget in a hurry. Those who know me know that I’m built for winter. That guy who’s always in shorts, regardless of conditions? Yeah, that’s me. Cold, wet, I understand, these things I can deal with, but the brutal, cloudless skies of the desert? A mystery. To me, the heat, the dryness, the seemingly endless dirt, sand, and the sheer vastness meant death.

In amongst the dust and the sand dunes, however, there were still signs of life- specially adapted and accustomed to its environment, the creatures of the desert have made the most out of their harsh abode. By trees that had stood dead for almost a millennium, I found scurrying bugs, lizards, there were birds soaring above and signs of the roaming herds of animals.

I learnt about the Bushman, the humans who lived in this wasteland long before colonists arrived and all but wiped them out. I learnt about the techniques developed to live in this environment, about the special adaptations that the animals had evolved for gathering and storing water, about just how well life has adapted out there.

It’s a fascinating place, and if you haven’t been to the desert I highly recommend experiencing it.

I get the feeling I’ll be back someday, for now though, onwards….

Life and death in the desert
Life and death in the desert
Life and death in the desert
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Tour Guides on Tour Part 2: Run Cape Town

Tour Guides on Tour Part 2: Run Cape Town

SO, mere hours after wandering through the frozen forests and mountains of Norway, our intrepid RTJ finds himself in an entirely different climate….

Now, if you know or have met me, you’ll know I’m built for winter. Anyone who’s been out on one of the tours in the past few weeks, for example, may well have been wrapped up in as many layers as they can get on, in order to deal with the bitter Scottish weather. Not me though, I’m still in shorts and short sleeved t-shirt (although I have to confess, I do wear a hat if it gets below about 2 degrees!).

Imagine how I felt then, getting off a plane in Cape Town just as summer is kicking off! Yep, after an entire days worth of travelling, I went from -22 degrees to +25, and what’s the first thing I do? A running tour, of course!

I hooked up with the lovely Philippa from Run Cape Town who took me out on a wonderful run through the historical part of the town, filling my head with stories of pipe smoking pirates, key figures in the colonisation of Cape Town, and the history of life in South Africa. It was so much fun being a tourist for a change, and letting someone else take care of the chat, although I have to say I did find it a little hard to not tell stories as we ran along 😉

The city is beautiful, surrounded by a horseshoe of a mountain, with a really interesting (if somewhat troubled) history, and it was really great to see it from an insiders point of view. Next time I’ll be back for the run up table mountain, but the time is fleeting and I had to leave for the next part of the adventure….

RTJ

Cape Town
Cape Town
Run Cape Town
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Tour Guides on Tour, Part 1: James goes to Norway

Tour Guides on Tour Part 1: James goes to Norway

“November 1st? Sure, why not…” Well, I can actually think of one MAJOR reason why not, but the flights are almost £100 cheaper, so yeah, that sounds fine. The reason? Samhuinn. A fire festival in Edinburgh (at which two of our guides are volunteer performers) that finishes at about 5am, giving me approximately 4 hours to wash off all the body paint, pack, and get myself to the airport for the 10am flight to Oslo. But still, £100 is £100, and with Norway being famously expensive to foreign travellers, I book the cheaper flights, and use the saved £100 buy enough dehydrated camping food and whisky to last a week, and off I go.

As with every trip I take, I did a little research into where I was going, and learnt the importance of leaving a small pile of ammunition for the local trolls. If you leave them supplies, they will leave you alone; if you get chased by them, you have to run or hide until sunlight, when they will either flee the brightness or risk turning to stone in its glare, so when I found myself at the base of the highest waterfall in the country (Vettifossen), I thought it best to leave a little offering to the guardians of the pathways, just in case.

The searing beauty of the west of the country is hard to describe- using Laerdal as a base we explored the Sogneford as much as we were able to, seeing 12th century Viking churches, seemingly endless torrents of frozen water and snowy mountaintops, icicles forming structures that resembled magnificent church organs, and some of the most remarkable night skies imaginable.

I would love to claim that I went out running every day, but with temperatures dropping to -22 degrees at one point, I decided that a week off was alright. I supplemented the running regime with a healthy dose of walks in the fjords, scrambling through frozen mountain passages to get to forgotten areas in the snow, the only company the wolves who’s pawprints I had spent the past few hours tracking…

After a week in the wilderness, I pack up my things, head to the airport, and get on the plane home. You would think that after a week in the winter wilderness I would be prepped and ready for the Winter Warmer running tour to get underway, but 18 hours after landing I’m on another plane, bound for a very different climate; that story you’ll have to wait to hear about in part 2…

RTJ

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Cultural Tour Operator of the Year
Cultural Tour Operator of the Year

Cultural Tour Operator of the Year

Excited to be able to announce that we’ve just won the “cultural tour operator of the year” for Edinburgh by the Luxury Travel Guide! Big thanks to the guides and everyone at EMF for a great year so far, looking forward to what comes next!
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James' Accidental Marathon
My Accidental Marathon

My Accidental Marathon

We had a fantastic weekend over the Edinburgh Marathon Festival, and welcomed loads of folk onto the running tours. It was amazing to get the opportunity to share our beautiful city with so many people, and I had a bit of a funny accident…

I’ve never really been a fan of long distance running. My preferred distance is somewhere between 10-20K, and I’d never really had a desire to go further than that. On the Friday of the EMF weekend, we had four tours go out back to back, and at the end of the day, I looked at my watch to discover that I had done 22 miles. “22 miles?” I thought, “well, what’s another 4.2?”

So, despite never having the urge to do so, I ran a marathon that weekend! Whilst my pace was very gentle, and I stopped for lunch half way, I’m still really pleased that I made the distance, and have a new found respect for those who run 26.2 at race pace!”

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