Iain’s Quest to Becoming an Abbott WMM 6-Star Finisher

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The Servus Calgary Marathon is a proud Abbott World Marathon Major qualifying event for the Wanda Age Group World Rankings. In our on-going series chasing down Calgary Marathon legends and learning of their pursuit of becoming an Abbott World Marathon Majors 6-star finisher, we recently chatted with 16-time marathon finisher Iain Morrish on the heels of the Tokyo Marathon. 

In 2013, a few months after completing his first marathon in Disney World, Iain Morrish started a business called Morrish Guitars.  As a professional luthier, Iain specializes in building and repairing classical guitars, a job that he does from home that gives him a lot of flexibility for scheduling his runs. While the hobby and his work would seemingly not be complimentary, that’s not Iain’s experience. Running has helped Iain build focus, endurance, and discipline, very beneficial in all aspects of his life and particularly helpful in his workshop activities.

Iain pictured in his Morrish Guitars workshop.

How the Quest to 6 Starts Began

It was another 5 years before Iain started his 6-star quest, beginning with the Boston Marathon in 2018 and completing his quest a short 4 years later in New York. “I lucked out on my first try with the Berlin and Tokyo lotteries, and was able to beat the qualifying times for Boston, Chicago and New York,” says Iain about the speed at which he was able to complete all 6 races. Some majors are known for being notoriously hard to get into, Iain added “I lost the London lottery a few times, then bought my London bib through Marathon Tours.”

The Benefit of Local Races

While Iain and his wife both use running to keep them fit to enjoy a lot of hiking on active vacations, it’s not just about the travel for the 3:10 marathoner. “Run Calgary races motivate us to keep active throughout the year,” explains Iain, “by having the marathon weekend at the end of May, we’re at least doing some maintenance running throughout the winter, and ramping up our mileage starting every February. Having local, certified races has been invaluable for getting qualifying times.” Shorter runs like Beat Beethoven and the Gorilla Run (now The Wild Run) are a blast too and remind Iain that it’s not always about how far you run or how fast you go (although sometimes it is).

Iain finishing the Berlin Marathon in 2019

Crediting a Calgary Marathon Legend

Iain credits his 3:10:06 personal best to being inspired by another local legend and fellow 6-star runner, 87-year-old Gerry Miller, who was beside him on the flight down to Chicago where he ran faster than he ever had before, or since! “It gave me such a psychological boost and I’m sure I couldn’t have achieved my PR otherwise,” says Iain. There’s so many moments to reflect back on during a running career or even training block so it’s no wonder Iain has many to pull from during his 6-star journey. “With all the marathons I’ve run, the crowd and volunteer support are the best memories. 

Spectators Make All the Difference

Whether it’s the famous Wellesley Scream Tunnel in Boston, or the guy in Calgary who let me pet his Bernese Mountain Dog (the sign said “Feel the Bern!”), thousands of people voluntarily get up early in all kinds of weather to cheer on and support a bunch of sweaty strangers.  They don’t care if you’re slow, fast, big or small – they’re there to lend you their energy and help you on your way.  But my favorite moment of all was in my toughest race – New York – when I ran past my wife at the 23k mark.  She’d recruited a whole bunch of complete strangers to cheer me on, and they put everything they had into it.  It really caught me by surprise,” shares Iain.

After the 2023 Servus Calgary Marathon, Iain took some time off from running .  Now, he has begun training for what will be his 17th and final full marathon, again in Disney World.  Along the way, the 2024 Centaur Subaru Half Marathon at the Servus Calgary Marathon will be an important tune-up race and reality check to help determine what the rest of his training program should be.  So what’s next, after his final marathon? “I will be joining races as a volunteer rather than as a participant,” Iain says matter-of-factly.

Join Iain Morrish and thousands of runners on their own journey at this year’s 60th Calgary Marathon and register today!

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