Yesterday I left the house in the dark just before 4am, picked up Phil from the top of his driveway, and headed for the 7am ferry from Kennacraig to Port Ellen in Islay. We were doing a day trip to the Ardbeg Islay Half Marathon, an event I had never done before but had always had a notion to do.
It was a great day out - a very friendly, well organised event and a pleasant (although tough) route. The race starts from Bowmore in the centre of the island, heads out for 6 miles or so along the back road to Port Ellen, cuts across towards the airport, then heads back into Bowmore along the main road. There was a fierce wind into our faces on the way out which, as is often the case, didn't seem so strong when it was behind us on the way back in. The route was reasonably undulating in places, so I was pleased to finish in 11th place in a time of 1.28.25. Phil finished close behind in 1.29.54, in 14th place.
The prizegiving was just amazing. The room appeared to be full of bottles, half bottles and miniatures of the sponsor's first class products. There was a huge spread of sandwiches, cakes and crisps, and bottle after bottle of Ardbeg were opened to satisfy the thirst of all the competitors. Prizes were awarded to the first 6 men and women, the first 6 veteran men and women, the first 6 supervet men and women, the first 3 locals, and the first 2 teams. I was lucky enough to finish second vet 40 and picked up a very nice trophy and half bottle of Glenmorangie. Phil finished 4th vet in the same category.
We headed back on the 3.30pm boat from Port Askaig, arriving in Kennacraig just before 6pm. A fine day was made even better by our excellent fish and chips in Tyndrum. I finally arrived home just after 9pm, more than 17 hours after setting out. Despite the long journey I hope more people from the club will be keen to do it next year and we can make it an overnight stay - the post race ceilidh in Bowmore Hall sounds like an event not to be missed!
Since I last blogged, I've also taken part in the Comrie Fun Run. This low key event took place on Thursday night on the hills behind Comrie, and was part of our club championship, as well as being one of the 'Comrie Fortnight' events. The term 'fun run' definitely understates the difficulty of this race - there is a lot of climbing in the first 2 miles, and almost all of the route is on trails or through fields. A few runners took the wrong route and were disqualified, but I finished in 3rd place, just losing out in a sprint finish with Phil. Still, it's helped consolidate my lead in the Strathearn Harriers club championship, on which more details can be found here:
Final thing to report (at least on the running front) is the fact that I returned to the West Highland Way a week back on Friday for a long training running. I had planned to get the bus from Fort William down to Kingshouse, then run the 23 miles back along the WHW to Fort William. However the bus timetable seemed to have changed (and Citylink's website had not been updated, which was most annoying) so I had to make a last minute change to my plans. As an alternative I ran from Fort William to Kinlochleven, had some soup in Kinlochleven, and ran back the same way. I covered 30 miles in total, which was a bit further than I had originally planned, but I really enjoyed getting back out onto the route and managed the extra distance without any great problem.
The Edinburgh Festival has now started, so running in the centre of the city will be a bit of a nightmare for the next 3 weeks. I'll try and find some new, quieter routes, and if I manage to find any I'll let you know.