The Reverend Andrew Macleod has faced a few hurdles in his mission to run his first ever marathon.
Sunday sermons rule out his attendance at many events – and the pandemic has further curtailed the opportunities.
So now the Free Church minister based in Tain is holding his own “virtual marathon” to raise money for two charities close to his heart.
Rev Macleod, 28, from Lewis, took up running during lockdown with the aim of running a decent 5km.
But he quickly progressed and, after building up the miles, joined with a group of friends to create the Seaboard Half marathon.
On May 1, he will run from the manse in Hilton, one of the Seaboard villages, to Deephaven, where the charity Blythswood Care’s superstore and recycle hub is based.
He will be raising funds for Blythswood – whose charity shops and other efforts raise money to send aid to poverty-stricken countries – and the Free Church’s Moldova Support Group.
Moldova, bordered by Romania and Ukraine, is one of Europe’s poorest countries.
Rev Macleod said: “The past year has been challenging for all of us in various ways, but I must say that running has been one major positive for me.
“A year ago, in my mind, I could not have run past 5km, but I cannot express how much I’ve enjoyed running.
“Being able to get out in the fresh air and get the benefits, both physically and mentally, has been fantastic.”
Hopes lockdown easily will allow friends to join run
“Blythswood is roughly 26 miles away from the manse. I’m hoping some of the regulations will be lifted and some folk I know may join me near the end of the route.
“It isn’t exactly 26 miles, so I will have to add a few loops into the route.
“I’m hoping Rev Alasdair MacAulay will preach on the Sunday after the marathon because I’m sure I won’t be able to stand up.”
Rev Macleod played amateur football on Lewis and later with Tain Thistle and last year became the chaplain of Brora Rangers.
“With the gyms closed and football training cancelled, I just took up running,” he said.
“This is my first marathon. I’m in training and every Saturday is my long run.
“Last week it was 18 miles, this week 20 miles. I go out at 6.30am or 7am and get back about 10am. I
“t’s nice to know I’ve already run half a marathon and I get on with the rest of the day.”
Speaking about the charities, he said: “The Blythswood shoebox appeal has played a big part in most people’s upbringing.
“They do their own work in Moldova and I am a board member of a group which has been going there to support a congregation in a town called Nisporeni.
“This is another way of supporting the work we do there.”
To donate, visit the Moldova Marathon page on the Virgin Money Giving website.