On Sunday, the annual Islay marathon took place for the fourth time, in spite of horrendous weather. Created to help raise funds for Islay High School’s Sixth year expedition, the marshall posts and water stations are manned by the current students from the school, where winner and warehouseman Josh Wood, and most of Bruichladdich’s workforce, were educated. Headteacher Steven Harrison said that “unassuming, lovely lad” Josh, who left in 2014 as Islay High School Dux (top academic student in his year) was really strong all the way through the challenging course, never dropping his pace. Half of the entrants this year were Ileachs.
The route goes from Portnahaven at the tip of the Rhinns, past the distillery gates and up to the head of Loch Indaal, then over the High Road past Alistair Torrance’s Islay barley field at Gartloist, and on to the finish in Port Ellen. Having set off at 07:30 “to miss the Islay traffic” the runners met head winds of over 30 miles an hour and heavy squalls as they mounted the High Road.
Josh Wood has been seen training around the island a lot recently, following his marathon debut on the mainland in May. It is said that his day job in the warehouses, where he has worked for since he left school, is akin to an 8 hour day in the gym too. He completed the course 9 minutes clear of the rest of the field, including much more experienced marathon runners in second and third place, in a time of 3 hours 26 minutes. “I felt I was a lot more ready for this marathon than my first one, more mentally than physically,” says Josh. “I think that because I knew that my body could handle it, I didn’t have the same pre-race nerves. The weather was very very challenging but it acted as a motivator for me – I kept thinking, the sooner I finish, the sooner I can put some dry clothes on!”
“I’ve got another half marathon in Glasgow on the 1st October, then I’m hoping to do a lot more halfs and full marathons across Scotland next year.”
Having turned 21 earlier this summer, Josh would seem to have the world at his trainer-clad feet.