The weather was chilly and windy but a warm fire burned in the heart of 36-year-old Jan Thomsen as he outlasted 25-year-old Adam McLean of Scotland in Islay’s Single Malt Marathon on Sunday 13 April. The victory was the first marathon win for Thomsen and it came at the expense of a young runner’s admitted 'tactical error'.
McLean confessed that he went out too fast, leading the older Norwegian for the first 14 miles. As the route turned hilly on Islay’s 'high road', Thomsen's experience paid off: he overtook the Scot at mile 24, finishing in 2:55:56, only two minutes ahead of McLean’s 2:58:04. Both runners were pleased that they broke the three-hour barrier.
Karen Wallace of Balloch won the women’s race, finishing in fifth place overall with a fine 3:42:17. Ecstatic with her first marathon win, she shared her joy with her husband Cameron, who grew up on Islay. Her two sons, one patriotically named William Wallace, joined in the post-marathon celebration inside the warm Ramsay Hall, adjacent to the finish line.
Runners started at Portnahaven village hall and hugged the coastline road, affording brilliant views of Loch Indaal, moved through whitewashed seaside villages, and proceeded through moorland with glimpses of Islay’s mountains and its sea.
Mother Nature cooperated. Sort of. The force four wind came mostly on runners’ backs and the rain, infrequent as it was, failed to dampen anyone’s spirits. No one complained about the temperatures never climbing out of the 40s, ideal for running the 26.2 mile test. In fact, runners couldn’t say enough good things about the support: volunteers handing out water, gels, and sport drink. A hearty pasta dinner and plenty of good food at the finish. Many said that it was the best supported marathon they had been in.
Athletes from Sweden, Norway, England, Latvia, Australia, France and the USA joined many Scots to make this truly an international competition. The Islay high school students and their parents provided a fantastic pre-race pasta dinner and an equally wonderful post-marathon ceilidh. Gaelic singers, bagpipers, and highland dancers entertained, displaying their heritage proudly. Runners will cherish memories for a lifetime – all promised to share the experience with their running clubs back home.
For full results, visit our race listings page.