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Norwegian Wins Islay’s Inaugural Marathon

by Editor
Monday 21st April 2014

Race report: Islay Single Malt Marathon - April 13, 2014

Islay Single Malt Marathon - April 13, 2014

At 7:30 on Sunday morning, April 13, 19 brave souls began running in Islay’s first marathon, aptly named  The Single Malt Marathon. 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.

The weather may have been 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. 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 Scandinavian for the first 14 miles. As the route turned hilly on Islay’s “high road,” the experience of Thomsen 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.

Scot Karen Wallace of Balloch won the women’s division, 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 aptly named William Wallace, joined in the post-marathon celebration inside the warm Ramsay Hall, adjacent to the finish line.

Ivan Fields from East Kilbride, running in his 294th marathon, said it was one of the most beautiful marathons he had run. Race director Bob Kroeger, himself a veteran of over 60 marathons, called the Single Malt Marathon every bit as scenic as Maine’s Mount Desert Island Marathon, rated as America’s most scenic by ESPN magazine. How often must runners share the road with sheep and cattle?

Islay’s own Stephen Harrison, the assistant race director, running in his first marathon, finished third in 3:23:39. Frenchwoman Karine Saline finished second in the women’s division in 3:55:38 and Australian Suzanna Richards, also a first-timer, finished as third lady in 4:10:45.

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.

The Lord of the Isles Challenge, the dual event combining a golf tournament and the marathon, appeared to fall on deaf ears, signaling that golfers prefer to stick to their golf and marathoners their running. The challenge drew only two contestants – both from the USA. And two senior citizens at that, proving that both sports can be combined. Bob Kroeger took first place and Les Lubitz took second. Without a doubt the conflict with Sunday’s London marathon and Augusta’s Masters kept the elites from joining us.

But it was all in good fun and for a worthy cause. The weekend raised £1000 for the high school students’ expedition to Peru and provided an estimated £4000 for Islay’s economy, which may benefit later this year from the extensive publicity generated in marketing the challenge and the marathon. We thank our many generous sponsors as well as the volunteers for their assistance. Without them the marathon would not have been so successful.

Men's results

1 Jan Thomsen Norway 2:55:56
2 Adam McLean Scotland 2:58:04
3 Stephen Harrison Scotland 3:23:39


Women's results

1 Karen Wallace Scotland 3:42:17
2 Karine Saline France 3:55:38
3 Suzanna Richards Australia 4:10:45


Click here for full results in due course


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Post A Comment


Islay - Land of Whisky and marathon

by alfflasymphonyx
18:37, Wednesday 30th April 2014
Beautiful scenery all the way. Great start and finish. Fantastic volunteers. Can't wait to go back.

Islay -very good marathon

by Jt
21:37, Tuesday 29th April 2014
I really enjoyed running this marathon near the seaside with the birds flying around in the beautiful scottish nature. There was good support and plenty of depots along the route and good food at the end. I hope I can come back one day to run this marathon again.


by Jt
21:31, Tuesday 29th April 2014
This maraton was fantastic. I enjoyed running along the seaside close to the birds in the beautiful scottish nature. I hope I can come back one day to run this marathon again.

Islay - winner for running & whisky!

by SteveD
21:47, Tuesday 22nd April 2014
Running a marathon can be a challenge but with outstanding scenery, great hospitality and several distilleries - the attraction of the Islay marathon is higher than most others. Being piped out and back in at the finish was unique and much appreciated at the finish. I'll be back for this gem.

Brilliant marathon!

by Islay Marathon
17:30, Monday 21st April 2014
Although Islay is remote and hard to reach, it showed its beauty in this marathon: running along the shores of Loch Indaal, through whitewashed villages, and up above the moors with views of rugged hills and beaches. The volunteers were terrific, along with the pasta dinner and the post-marathon ceilidh. Also liked the marathon medal, one of the most unique ... and the surprise finisher's gift. Can't wait till next year!
TereréJordan Blood