Islay Half Marathon 2022

Race Date  – Saturday 6th August 2022

Report by Laura Rangely

“We’re running a half marathon tomorrow!” I tipsily exclaimed to a warehouse full of strangers, who hadn’t asked. The warehouse in question was of the dunnage variety, full of barrels of Bruichladdich whisky and a heady aroma, where myself and Jim had just thoroughly enjoyed a very generous tasting session. What fantastic race prep. We spent our honeymoon on Islay, a beautiful island off the west coast of Scotland, in 2012. It had been a plan of ours for a while to revisit it during our tenth anniversary year, and including something that 2012 Jim-and-Laura would never have considered, namely, a run, seemed the perfect excuse to book our holiday.

We’d been recommended the race by fellow Strider and whisky fan John Liddle, who also made the (long but oh so worth it) trip over, and it was great to meet up 400 miles away from home on the start line in Bowmore, Islay’s main town. What a magnificent club we have! We were really lucky with the weather, cooler than back in Sheffield making it altogether more pleasant for running but with the grey clouds of the morning clearing to beautiful blue skies by the time we set off, allowing unforgettable views over the entirety of the route – the coast on one side and glorious rolling hills on the other. Plenty of birdwatching opportunities too, and I even saw a hare (running much faster than me). Absolutely stunning.
The course began with the most obvious hill up Bowmore’s High Street towards their famous round church before taking the High Road south to the airport, and yep, you guessed it, the Low Road back to town. High or low, it was all very undulating, and felt much more uppy than downy! The roads were still open too, which usually really puts me off, but on Islay is less of an issue as the motorists are notoriously considerate. Practically every vehicle gave us a wave, with many passengers going so far as to wind down the windows and clap and cheer.
As well as the aforementioned booze, Jim was also nursing a calf injury, so neither of us felt particularly like aiming for a PB was wise. I’d also describe myself as a lazy half marathon runner – I don’t really like the distance, and can’t quite bring myself to push the whole way round, which I definitely need to get over at some point but on a route like Islay’s this attitude was a joy. I walked plenty, I stopped to take photos (sorry coach ZV), I paused for water breaks, which were plentiful and cheerfully staffed by thoroughly lovely volunteers, and chats with fellow runners (including a chap from Falkirk who’s parents met in the Budgens on London Road back when it was a ballroom, his dad played trombone in their house band) and all in all I just had an absolutely lovely time.
The last couple of miles felt like they went on forever, though (possibly as I’d made the ridiculous mistake of trying a new brand of energy gel for the first time, which I should have known would prove to be a poop decision), but eventually I saw the top of the round church come back into view and enjoyed the downhill finish. Support over the last section was immense, it felt like the whole town was out cheering on the runners! Once crossing the line we were presented with a medal, a t-shirt (neither of which I was expecting), water and a Mars Bar, then onto the prize-giving ceremony in the nearby community centre where a large spread of sandwiches, cans of Tennents and drams of Ardbeg, who generously sponsored the race, were available to all runners. One of the best entry fees I’ve ever spent (£18). Massive thanks to John for the race recommendation, and for sharing the experience with us.
We spent the rest of the day visiting a few more of Islay’s excellent distilleries, and upon walking down the main street of Port Ellen, Islay’s other town, we heard a shout of “hi guys! How was the half marathon?” from a woman from New Jersey who’d been at the tasting with us the day before. Seems those warehouse strangers had already become friends – that’s Islay in a nutshell.
98 runners finished, including 3 Striders.  The race was won by Colin Whitby (MV) of Ardrossan in 1:14:19 and by Holly Smith (FSen) of Glasgow in 1:41:48
Pos Cat Time
59 John Liddle FMV50 1:55:05
70 Jim Rangeley Msen 1:59:43
83 Laura Rangeley Fsen 2:11:59


scroll to top