Brokeback Mountain: Ardbeg runners show the love for Saddle [sic] whose back hampered progresss over Islay's hills
Alan would have laughed the loudest. For 13.1 miles Marcin Miller had run the brave race. In the last few meters, before a baying crowd, he was ruthlessly chased down and defeated. Sandrae Lawrence is a Cocktail Lover; she is also a power-sprinting PR slayer. After two hours twenty four minutes of pain, only one second separated the two athletes, in 154th and 155th places.
Headband heavy with perspiration, Miller (below) shrugged off the disappointment. “Whatcha gonna do?” he said in his New-Jersey-Royal-farmer accent. His achievement, like the rest of his crew of desperados was to drag their boozy caracaras across Islay’s hills – sticking out the distance for the beloved and departed Alan Lodge and the National Brain Appeal.
Of the 165 runners, the drinks industry supplied some of the worst. Virtually all of Ardbeg’s guests were beaten by a man called Ronald MacDonald, most finished in the bottom half of race times and the party even served up five of the last 10 finishers. Though Imbibe’s Chris Losh should be ring-fenced for special praise and perhaps medical testing. A PB of 1hr37 makes him drinks journalism’s prize whippet.
That rosette might have been pinned to the ample mane of Just-Drinks’ Olly Wehring, a wisp of a specimen himself and one of the bookie’s early favourites. Ignoring his new-found and independently determined veteran running status, Wehring (V) had his sights on a sub 2hr time too.
You couldn’t fault his strategy - steady 9-minute miles for the first 12, picking up the pace for a flourish at the end. Alas, when that last mile came, Wehring had nothing left. “I’m toast” he told Drinks International’s Hamish Smith (right), his very much unplanned and unwanted, itch of a running partner.
Smith had been all over Wehring like ivy, stalking him for near two hours. When Wehring didn’t kick, Smith did. Drunk on adrenaline, he took Wehring’s strategy and splay-legged it for the hills. The record books show a time of 2hrs flat, which Smith has since disputed.
By that time, Richard Woodard (1hr 51) and Alan’s best mate Stephen Smith (1hr 55) were home and hosed. The likes of Laura Foster broke the 2hr 15 barrier, while Joel Harrison’s numbers-OCD seems to be worsening - he finished with a time of 2hs 22 minutes and 2 seconds. Lucy Britner hated every minute of the run and loved every minute of the cèilidh that followed but still finished in a respectable sub-2hr30 time, only just behind the Miller-Lawrence muscle tussle.
Scouring the official times sheet, Harpers’ Richard Siddle was nowhere to be seen. A man named Richard Saddle (right), however, finished second last, according to the official document, narrowly beating one Arty McSnail.
Saddle floated down the final stretch on a cocktail of tranquilisers taken for his troublesome back. He said many things after the race that could be mostly paraphrased by the word ”Chief”.
Saddle‘s fellow elite athletes reran the last 100 meters in support, helping to bear his load.
Later it was agreed that super-human as Saddle’s effort was, there was little glory in finishing second last - A McSnail must take those plaudits. Nor is there glory in being pipped by one second on the finish line, nor letting your dreams of a sub-2hr half-marathon slip through your fingers into someone else’s. But those were Just-Details.
A special mention goes to Spirits Business’ Becky Paskin (right), who having pulled out before the race with shin splints, took to the role of Jelly Baby dispenser with aplomb. Having taken into account her training times, the pools panel placed her around the 2hr mark, just ahead of Olly Wehring.
Sian Deegan and Rachel Ramanathan (below right), who pushed a wheelbarrow of peat around the course, and the rest of the LVMH and Ardbeg team deserve massive praise. Not least Serena Kaye (above) whose logistical manoeuvring and impeccable facilitation skills were critical to the weekend and all that it entailed. Congratulations too to everyone else that took part that weren’t mentioned above.
At the time this account was published, £6,172.51 had been raised for the National Brain Appeal. But the second round of sponsorship starts now – call it prize giving. The runners all dug deep, so if you haven’t so far, it’s your turn now.