People certainly make Tiree.
“I’ve never seen so many cycles at one time!” was the remark someone made over the weekend. It certainly felt like that on Saturday when the cyclists made their way up the length of the pier but that was nothing compared to the cycles at An Talla on Sunday. Participants in the Tiree Ultramarathon and their supporters made their way to the island by ferry and plane. When the MV Clansman berthed there were foot passengers, cars, cars with cycles and cyclists many coming to the island to take part in the Tiree Ultramarathon. They were joining those already here, some who live on the island and those who had come earlier in the week.
Registration took place at An Talla at 4.00pm on the Saturday followed by a welcome and briefing from the event organiser Will right of Tiree Fitness – including a brief word from sponsors Cohesion Medical. After the participants left to fuel up for the following day, the event marshals were given a final briefing.
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At 7:00am on Sunday An Talla opened for business with runners and walkers making their final preparations. Those marshals at the initial stages of the run took up their position, ready to point the way and give encouragement. The Cafe, organised by Becky Wright of Chocolates and Charms, began their work in earnest.
Perhaps thinking the race was not long enough someone had moved the start position. Around 200 people gathered on the start line, most to take part in the full ultra, others to run in teams – twos and fours. With a piper on hand the race got underway just after 8:00am – from the official starting point. Taking after his dad, one of the Wright children (who has just started school) joined the runners as they set out across Soroby beach. His mum had to sprint after him in an attempt to catch him before they got to the end of the beach.
As the race continued, the Baptist Church met in An Talla for an All-Age Service, before some of the regulars took up their marshalling responsibilities at the Milton Check Point and filling station.
It is said that “People Make Glasgow”. It is certainly true of Tiree – People Make Tiree. Whether organising the event, serving in the cafe, running in the race, marshalling or encouraging the runners – people gave our visitors a real Tiree welcome.
Everyone taking part was a winner. Almost everyone was a medal winner. There was a podium with a first, second a third. some got a special mention such as Duncan from Ceabhar who in addition to running the ultra marathon ran an extra 23 miles the previous day – a combined total of 58 miles.There was also a special mention and award for the lady who was six months pregnant and completed the race just as the ceilidh was about to begin. She was piped home and given a rapturous welcome as she crossed the finishing line to receive her medal.
Somehow tired feet that had pounded for 35 miles found strength to give everything as they danced the evening away at the ceilidh. When Eabhal’s pier stood up to play the feet moved even faster. Such was the impression that the whole event made some have even booked their accommodation for next year’s ultra.