Saturday 1st August saw the 23rd running of the Ardbeg Isle of Islay Half Marathon. Most of the purple posse started their journey from Chez Glendinning (Danielle, Greig, Nick and I) on the Friday afternoon in the Bella Bus (aka Glendinning Jeep) with an advance party already scoping the island (Alasdair McLeod & family). On the boat over to the island stomachs were churning, there was more chop in the sea than a Kung Fu movie. Fine dining Cal Mac style let us down with a severe lack of Mac Cheese which we were all looking forward to as our pre race meal.
Once safely on dry land the Bella battalion made their way to base camp at the camp site. To my horror as a first time camper gale force winds were battering the island, and attempts at pitching tents was more like flying kites. The wind was so strong it cut through Team Glendinnings tent like a hot knife through butter. This gave us an issue with the sleeping arrangements but before we could start the discussion of who was sleeping where, Glendinnings were headlights in the distance, off to find a B&B somewhere on the island, securing the very last one! Not planned, honestly! Captain Nick and I decided we would tough it out and settle in for the night. The only mildly scary event of the night was me jumping out my skin when a hedgehog decided to try out my tent and the only casualty was Nicks flapjacks which the local seagulls lapped up after Nick thought it a good idea to leave outside his tent.
Onto the race and first pit stop was to pick up 5th Bella Brendan from the boat. He had left Glasgow at 4:00am (!) to make his way here. With 4 members on the team this could have been a little tricky. Nick, Greig and Alasdair were assured their place but that last place was up for discussion until I stepped up to fill in the team sheet, decision made. The race started in Bowmore on a cool but windy day. The first 7 miles were into a strong headwind and six of those were uphill supplying negative splits all round. We had a job to do, being defending champions of the team prize. Team Bella faired well with Alasdair finishing 2nd, Nick 3rd, Greig 5th, myself 8th, with Brendan the only one securing a PB, which was quite a performance given the conditions. The team prize was ours for the second year.
The prize giving was one to remember and I wish I could. There was plentiful supply of whisky, sandwiches and lots of crumpet! The organiser was encouraging us to drink as much as we could. Prizes were extensive, with a prize given for 1st couple, and a prize given for the guy who decided to propose to his girl half way round.
Before we headed back we stopped off in Ardbeg distillery to sample yet more free whisky before Team Bella set sail for home with the Bella bus stuffed full of pot.
Even this far from home we are well supported with Danielle and Alasdair’s family doing a great job, which is always appreciated.
Official results to follow.