Alongside this week’s (Monday 27 March) announcement of the island footballers who will make up the squads heading to Guernsey for the NatWest Island Games comes news of a speedy challenge to get there.
The Western Isles Island Games Association has selected their men’s and women’s teams, with both set to face the host island in the initial group stages of the tournament.
WIIGA’s men’s team squeaked their place at this summer’s event, after initially being placed on the reserve list at the random draw for the 16 competing teams.
But in October the team were delighted to learn that they would, after all, be in Guernsey, after the withdrawal of one of the competition's confirmed sides.
The WIIGA men’s football team are now working flat out to raise the costs of competition, running a 60km Ultramarathon on the Smith Avenue track in Stornoway on Saturday 15 April.
Players and coaches will run 5km shuttles to complete the 60km (37.3 miles), setting out at 1pm and estimated to take around five hours to complete.
And as if that wasn’t enough, the squad will set themselves the extra challenge of an attempt to break the Scottish mile record time of 3:50.30, as part of the overall run. Around 3pm, the fastest members of the team will run 100m each in relay style, to try and get under athletics world champion Jake Wightman’s time, set in Oslo last year.
Spectators are very welcome to come along and support the ultra-effort, with tea, coffee and home baking served at the track throughout the run.
Among those selected for the squad to travel to Guernsey are players from island clubs Point (6), Aths (2), Carloway (2), Ness (2), West Side (3), Back (1), Eriskay (1) and Stornoway United (1).
Some players also represent mainland teams including Glasgow Island, St Andrews FC, Johnstone Burgh FC and Inverness Athletic.
Under management of Eric Macleod, with assistants Graeme Miller and Domnhall Mackay, the full list of selected players is: Jack Maclennan (Stornoway United, Glasgow Island), Euan Macdonald (Point), DI Maclennan (Carloway), Josh Smith (Point), Elliott Rudall (Point), Harry Bray (Stornoway Athletic), James Mackay (West Side), Calum Maclennan (Back), Eachainn Miller (Carloway, Johnstone Burgh), Micheil Russell-Smith (Ness, St Andrews), Rob Jones (Point, Heriot Watt), Luke Morrison (Stornoway Athletic), Mickey Jones (Point, Newtongrange Star), Sam Mackay (West Side, Yoker), Luke Mackay (West Side, Inverness Athletic), Angus Macdonald (Point), James Morrison (Ness) and Dominic Macaulay (Eriskay, Inverness Athletic).
If you would like to sponsor the squad, there will be sponsor sheets for the ultramarathon at various local outlets or you can contact any of the players or assistant manager Graeme Miller (Mobile 07754 166833).
Guernsey 2023 will be the first island games with football since 2017, after Gibraltar dropped the sport in 2019 due to a lack of facilities. The Western Isles were one of 10 islands that played in an unofficial tournament in Ynys Mon that year.
Picture shows Western Isles team members celebrating a goal from Luke Mackay against the hosts in the unofficial Ynys Mon tournament in 2019 (WIIGA Men’s football team).