Drinks journalists and whisky retailers dig deep to complete Ardbeg Islay Half Marathon

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A team of more than 20 drinks writers and whisky retailers have helped raise over £6,000 for the National Brain Appeal in memory of drinks journalist, Alan Lodge, who died last year of a brain haemorrhage aged just 29, by taking part in last weekend’s Ardbeg Islay Half Marathon.

The Ardbeg team represented a sizable proportion of the overall entry of 165 runners who battled through driving wind and rain across the demanding 13.1 mile course. Special praise must go to Imbibe editor, Chris Losh, who was the first drinks journalist and Ardbeg runner to finish (in 31st place overall) taking six minutes off his personal best with a blistering time of 1 hour 36 minutes. Freelance writer, Richard Woodard, finished in 1 hour 51 minutes beating his own PB set 30 years ago.

Hamish Smith of Drinks Internatonal finished a few seconds over two hours, but ahead of just-drinks.com editor, Olly Wehring, who missed out on his two hour target. After an engrossing five miles of cat and mouse Sandrae Sharpen of the Cocktail Lovers pounced on the line to beat whisky guru, Marcin Miller, of Quercus Communications, to the tape.

Harpers editor, Richard Siddle, had to rely on a combination of painkilling pills of tramadol and a Kylie playlist to get over his back pain, and be the last Ardbeg runner over the line, helped by his colleagues in a “sprint” finish in a time of two hours, 51 minutes and 30 very long seconds. Harpers contributor, Lucy Britner, finished a good 20 minutes earlier. Ardbeg’s Sian Deegan and Rachel Ramanathan completed the course with a self-imposed handicap of running pushing a wheelbarrow full of peat.

The shin splints-afflicted Becky Paskin of Spirits Business and Ardbeg’s Serena Kaye were on hand to offer invaluable support in the form of encouragement and jelly babies dispensed from the team’s support bicycles. For many of the runners this was their first half marathon and a memorable first trip to Islay.

You can see more pictures of the team’s efforts here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151761349284461.1073741827.288630004460&type=1

The fund-raising target of £3,000 has been smashed, it is still possible to donate money for the National Brain Appeal by visting the Virgin Money Fundraising page at: www.virginmoneygiving.com/team/TheArdbegHalfMarathon_AlanLodge

Alan Lodge’s sister, Hannah Grace, said of the team’s efforts: “My family has been overwhelmed by the support we have received from the drinks industry folk since my brother Alan passed away last year.  It is evident how much Alan was loved by all in the industry; Ardbeg’s sponsorship of the half marathon and for all of these wonderful people to run and raise money in Alan’s memory is such a testament to him.  He always joked about being a legend… turns out, he kind of was one.  Thank you so much to all who have been involved in supporting The National Brain Appeal in Alan’s name, he would be honoured.”

Sian Deegan, senior brand manager, Ardbeg, added: “On behalf of everyone at Ardbeg I’d like to congratulate all the runners who raised money for the National Brain Appeal this weekend. We are delighted to have extended some proper Islay hospitality to all the participants and proud to have raised a glass of Ardbeg to the memory of our late friend and colleague Alan Lodge.”

The Ardbeg runners included: Neil Aitken, Ardbeg; Ashish Basnet, The Whisky Exchange; Alison Birch, The Whisky Exchange; Lucy Britner, freelance drinks writer; Sian Deegan, Ardbeg; Laura Foster, Imbibe; Joel Harrison, caskstrength.net; George Keeble, Soho Whisky Club;  Chris Losh, Imbibe; Marcin Miller, Quercus Communications; Arthur Motley, Royal Mile Whiskies;  Becky Paskin, The Spirits Business; Rachel Ramanathan, Ardbeg; Vincent Rose, The Whisky Exchange; Sandrae Sharpen, The Cocktail Lovers; Richard Siddle, Harpers;  Hamish Smith, Drinks International; Stephen Smith, WGSN; Eduardo Vivas, Ardbeg; Olly Wehring, just-drinks.com; Richard Woodard, freelance writer.

NB: Photography by Phil Williams

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