One of mine: Bobby himself, third from the right at the start of the first leg of the Edinburgh to Glasgow, 1971
Jack Brown starting in a club race
Jack several minutes into the race
The line-up at the start of the DAAC annual schools race. Dr McPhail giving the instructions
Sandy Sutherland at Nairn
Ian Logie, international pole vaulter on a stretcher at Nairn where he injured himself
Stan Horn leads Colin Martin at Strathallan
Start of the Springburn Cup race when it was a relay for Junior, Senior, Youth and Junior Men Dr IMM Macphail standing at the side.
Mike Ryan, St Modans AAC at Springburn
One of the Dumbarton runners
Above: Another Dumbarton runner
Below: There was a representative match held at Dumbarton at the start of the 1960’s and the picture below is of Pat Moy (Vale of Leven AAC) ducking through a barbed wire fence – a manoeuvre that cost him lots of ground on each lap!
Below: Same meeting – could it be Graham Everett?
… or is this Graham?
Start of Youths Race in the District Championships at Kilbarchan
Just after the start.
Jim McInnes whose athletic career was cut short by injury but who went on to become SAAA President.
And finally, the cover and two pages from the Rome Olympics programme, 1960
The International Cross Country Championship in 1960 was held at Hamilton. It was won by Rhadi of Morocco from Roelants of Belgium and Merryman from Wales. Top Scot was Alastair Wood in seventh place leading the Scottish team to fifth place at the finish.
Rhadi (57) and Roelants (15)
Graham Everett (on the right)
Now some photographs from the University Championships at St Andrews:
DJ Whyte, Dundee Hawkhill and St Andrews University, Scottish and British champion as well as universities champion
Glasgow University Triple Jumper, probably Campbell Stalker
Stan Horn, Garscube Harriers and Glasgow University
John Addo, Ghana and Glasgow University
Bobby Mills of Glasgow University and Dumbarton AAC was a wonderful athlete who starred in the decathlon and also ran over the country and in the Edinburgh to Glasgow for his club. He was one of a few taking photographs at athletic meetings in the 1960’s and early ’70s. Some of them are shown here. First some from Westerlands.
Start of a 3 Mile race: Jim Spence (GGH), Colin Martin (DAAC), Albert Smith (VP), Bert McKay (M’well), Alex Brown (M’well), Lachie Stewart (VoLAAC), Alistair Milroy (DAAC), Ian McCafferty (M’well), Hugh McErlean (VoLAAC), Jim Brennan (Maryhill), and Brian McAusland (Clydesdale),
Lachie leads McCafferty, Brown, Albert Smith with Jim Brennan down the track
Lachie hiding McCafferty, then Alex Brown, Albert Smith, Bert McKay and Jim Brennan.
Alistair Milroy (Dumbarton)
Start of the Invitation Mile: Kenny Ballantyne, Hugh Barrow, Mike Bradley, Craig Douglas, Bobby Greig, Brian Scobie and Albert Smith on the inside
Invitation Mile, Hugh Barrow, Bobby Greig on the inside,Ken Ballantyne on the outside
Invitation Mile finish: Scobie, Ballantyne and Barrow
Mile start: Jim McLatchie on the inside, then Graeme Grant, plus Fraser McPherson (VP)
.Grant leads McLatchie, Colin Martin fourth, Bill Scally 5?
Grant, ?, McLatchie, McPherson, Martin
McLatchie, Grant, ?, Martin, McPherson, Scally
McLatchie wins from Grant
. Leslie Watson, Doreen King and ?
Start of Women’s Mile
Steven Doig (313) finishing third in the Nigel Barge Road Race in 1986
Steven Doig was a very talented middle distance runner from Kinghorn in Fife who represented Scotland on the track and over the country at a time when the standard at all distance events was very high. He is now a very good coach who can be seen at championships, open meetings and BMC races. Quiet and unassuming he doesn’t push himself forward but lets his athletes do the talking on the track. He certainly should be better recognised in the world of athletics. We asked him to reply to the questionnaire and we can start there.
Name: Steve Doig
Date of Birth: 17/11/65
Occupation: Teacher (Additional Support Needs)
Club/s: Fife Southern/Clydesdale/Old Gaytonians/Fife AC
Personal Bests: 800 – 1.51.1; 1500 – 3.44.7; Mile – 4.01.02; 3000 – 8.11.6; 5000 – 14.10.9 5 Miles – 23.34; 10K – 30.20
How did you get into the sport in the first place and were you coached: I first got involved after the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. I remember watching the 10,000m final and being fascinated by the running of Brendan Foster. Following that race I spent weeks asking my dad to take me to an athletics club. At the end of the summer I joined Fife Southern Harriers who were based in Kirkcaldy.
Ironically my dad also got involved as he was asked to help with coaching and he became one of the coaches of the junior group.
I ran for Fife Southern throughout my secondary school period but never considered myself to have a coach. My dad helped with my training and I also ran with Balwearie High School where one of the teachers, Brian Hughes, was a big influence.
When I left school I wrote to the BMC for a list of coaches in Glasgow, as I was going to study at Jordanhill. Two of the top names were Alex Naylor and Brian McAusland. I had met Alex at a Scottish Event squad training day and didn’t really take to him so I contacted Brian and he agreed to let me join his group.
Did any person or group of people significantly affect your performances or your attitude? Brian McAusland had a massive impact on my performance and attitude. He went out of his way to help me and would collect me and drop me back at Jordanhill after training. His advice helped me to quickly become a Scottish Junior internationalist and working with his group which contained guys like Hugh Forgie, Alec Gilmour, Eddie Stewart, Charlie Thomson, Sam Wallace and Jim Orr improved my running enormously.
I had an excellent season in 1986 and ran some fast times and this was made easier by spending two weeks training and racing in London. Brian arranged this for Sam Wallace and I and we were also helped by a stalwart of the BMC, Pat Fitzgerald, who arranged accommodation for us in Acton with his mother. Pat also helped by arranging transport for us to races and training sessions. During this two week spell I ran 3.44.7 and 8.12.2,
I also had the opportunity to participate in a training session led by the legendary Frank Horwill.
What was your best race: A 1500m I ran in July 1990 at Mansfield. I went with the intention of running a very fast time as I’d been training really well. Unfortunately there had been a really high quality entry and I got stuck in the B race. I won this very comfortably in 3.49 but felt I could have run 3.42/3.43 in the much faster and far more competitive, A race.
Your worst? So many poor performances its difficult to pick just one! However the most disappointing, with the value of hindsight, was my mile run at Bromley. I ran 4.01.02, which was the fastest by a Scot in 1990, but the disappointment was that it was a great opportunity to run sub 4. At the time I wasn’t too disappointed as it had been a great race marred only by a dreadful last 100m! I thought that having got my first full season in since 1986 that I would go on to massively improve all of my personal bests in the following season. However, after that season I never managed to race seriously again due to injury problems with my lower leg. So, the missed opportunity at Bromley becomes all the more galling!
What did athletics bring you that you would not want to have missed? When you spend a lot of time training and racing you meet a lot of people who share your passion and you form some great friendships. Most of my closest friends are people I’ve trained with over the years. I also met my wife while training with Bob Parker’s group in London so I’m sure I should include that!
Can you give some idea of your training?
Mon: 5 mile run followed by hills
Tuesday: Club run with Clydesdale
Wednesday: Track Session
Thursday: Club run with Clydesdale
Saturday: Race or grass session
Sunday: 10 – 12 mile run
Total mileage of 40 – 50 miles
Mon: Steady Run
Tuesday: Track Session
Wednesday: Steady Run
Thursday: Track Session
Friday: Easy Run
Saturday: Race/Track session/Grass session
Sunday: 10 – 12 mile run
Total mileage of 50 – 60 miles
Livingston, 1984. Stuart Gibson (HBT), Colin Hume (ESH) and Steven (FSH)
As he says, Steven was only ten years old at the time of the ’76 Olympics and as chance would have it, the East District Cross-Country League was formed that year. A year later, Steven was there as a Junior Boy. The first race he ran in that league was on 10th December 1977 at Tullibody when he was 18th and third counter for the Fife Southern team that was 7th. In the National cross-country championships that year, held on 4th March in Bellahouston Park in Glasgow, Steven was 62nd in the junior boys race, one place behind Steven Marshall of Clyde Valley, another who would go on to Junior and Senior international status.
In the first race of the 1978/79 East District League, Steven was fourth and the team won with Tom Ritchie first. The Fife Southern Harriers junior boys team did well for the rest of the season and in the East District Championships Relay Championships in Tullibody in October the Young Athletes team (made up of a Junior Boy, Senior Boy and Youth) Steven ran the first stage for the club and handed over in fifth place which was where they finished. In the District Championships proper, at Aberdeen in January, they were second with Tom Ritchie third and Steven 15th.
Steven did not race much in season 1979/80 with no appearances in League Matches, or in the District or National cross-country championships, but in the next winter season, Steven ran in two of the District League matches: in Cupar on 11th October he was eighth Senior Boy; and in Dundee on 30th October 15th Senior Boy. He missed the last match on as well as the District or National Championships. The team had several very good young runners such as Tom Ritchie (regularly top club finisher), Lindsay Wilson (sixth and first club runner in the District championships) and Steven but they did not get them all out in the championships that year.
Steven’s racing at this time was irregular as far as League, District and National Championships were concerned – something that is often true of very good senior runners as young men. The sport is littered with tales of talented young runners who leave the sport early because they have been driven too hard by over zealous coaches or parents. However his ability was clear to see. One of his Fife Southern team mates, Lindsay Wilson, who has contributed valuable information to this website, tells us that he first met Steven when they were eleven or twelve year olds. The club had a good senior boys team including Steven, Lindsay, Tom Ritchie and others such as John Ferguson and David Costello. He particularly remembers that in his last year at High School, Steven and himself finished first and second in the Fife Schools Cross-Country Championship. That Fife Southern Harriers young ahletes team was a very good one which twice won the national athletics league and produced some top class athletes – eg when Steven ran in his first senior man’s international at 1500m, one of the two Scots in the 800m was Tom Ritchie.
By winter 1981/82, Steven had moved up to the Youths’ (Under 17) Age Group and in the East District League at the end of November in Livingston, he finished sixth. No Fife Southern athletes in the National in Steven’s age group that year but summer 1982 was when Steven’s career as an athlete took off. The high spot was maybe when he won the East District Youths 3000m in 9:02.5 although his second place in the Scottish Schools was much faster – 8:53.6 – and was three seconds ahead of Bobby Quinn who ran 8:56.3. By the end of summer 1982 he was ranked nationally in no fewer than three events. In the 1500m he was eleventh, one place in front of Tom Hanlon with a best of 4:11.6 on 16th May, at 3000m he was fourth with 8:53.6 and he was fourth in the 2000m steeplechase with a time of 6:32.8 run at Meadowbank late in the season on 5th September.
The winter of 1982/83 saw no appearances in the cross-country league but a first place in the East District Championships on 22nd January at Livingston, and an eighth in the National. They were very good runs by any standard. The National, for instance, had Bobby Quinn, Steven Begen, Steven Marshall and Dave McShane as the first four and behind Steven were such good athletes as Alistair Currie, Scott Reid and Frank Boyne. The following summer Steven had another second in the Scottish Schools championships but this time in the 5000m. On a hot afternoon at Scotstoun he led most of the way before being outkicked by Scott Reid of Dumbarton. Scott was a member of a formidable club U17 team comprised of himself, Alan and Alistair Currie. The winning time was 15:29.1 with Steven close behind.
It had taken since 1977, but by now it could be said that the first stage in Steven’s apprenticeship in the sport had been completed. He was running with the big boys on pretty well equal terms. In Autumn 1983 Steven started in Jordanhill College, Glasgow.
Some of the Glasgow group that he was joining including Graham Getty (Bellahouston), Hugh Forgie (Law & District), Alex Gilmour, Sam Wallace, Pat Morris (Cambuslang), Douglas MacDonald and James Austin (Clydesdale) and Alex Chalmers (Springburn)
Despite living in Glasgow, Steven travelled through to Falkirk on 15th October, 1983, to represent Fife Southern Harriers in the East District Relay Championships. Running on the fourth stage, he was second fastest club runner with a time of 12:26, eight seconds slower than team mate John Cunningham. There was no Fife Southern team in the District championships but Steven ran in the National at Irvine in February where he was tenth in the Junior Championships, just missing out on a place in the team for the World Cross-Country Championships in New York by nine seconds and one place to Alistair Currie.
1985 1500 3.51.5 2
There was more to any year than ranking times though and now, at last Steven’s talents were being seen in a series of good races. In April he won a 10K on the road at Hatch End in 30:20 to get the season off to a good start. (He had won the 5K there the previous year in 24:06.) He won the Middlesex County 5000m Championship in 14.23. This was followed by eighth place in the Southern Championships in 14.12 (won by Jonathan Richards). And then he was third in UK Inter Counties 5000 in 14.10.9. “Could have been quicker,” he says, ” but I paid the price for a first 3000 in 8.13!” Geoff Turnbull won in 13.53.4. Two Scots were out for Middlesex – the late Andy Beattie ran in the 10,000. The story of the 4:01.2 mile is told in the responses to the questionnaire – it was a time that topped the Scottish rankings for the year.
It was also the year when he won his second Scottish selection. He ran in the 5000m along with Bobby Quinn against Iceland on 1st July in Mossfaellsbaer . Bobby was second in 14:36.61, Steven third in 14: 14:43.68 for the Scottish team which defeated both Iceland and Ireland. A good competitive run was when Steven ran 4.06 to win the Crawley invitation mile, defeating Olympian Tim Hutchings – Steven always had a ferocious kick at the end of races and in this one kicked away with 500m to go. Training with Bob Parker’s group at that time, he remembers “Bob going mad on the sidelines as he’d told me to wait until the last 100! ” Other scalps lifted at that time include GB internationalist Andy Geddes over 1500 in a Middlesex v Civil Service match. The winning time was only around 3.51 but the final 300 was in 39 seconds.. Later in the summer he ran 8.11.6 to win the Middlesex v RAF v Civil Service 3000 beating Mark Flint and Julian Goater.
His best run in summer 1993 was when he finished third in the Perivale 5000m road race in 15min 24sec. The event was won by Ali Mohammed (Thames Valley) in 15-08, with David Rocks (Finn Valley) runner up three seconds ahead of the Scot. He had kept his Scottish connections alive all the time he was in England and, as well as his old Fife friends and team mates had joined Clydesdale Harriers with who he had done some training prior to his move south. He is pictured below after a league match over 5000m in Glasgow. That’s him on the extreme right wearing the shades at the top of the terracing at Crown Point.
Steven had never run in the prestigious Edinburgh to Glasgow relay before so when he was asked to turn out for the club on the difficult second stage of the race in 1995 he took it and travelled up overnight in 1995. After a disappointing tenth place on the first stage by Des Roache, GB Junior 1500m champion indoors and out that same year, Steven picked up one place to hand over to Shane Daly. He returned the following year and this time took over in first place from Allan Adams but dropped several places before passing the baton to Graeme Reid who would go on to win Scottish Junior and Senior cross-country championships in the next few years.
Steven running on the second stage of the Edinburgh – Glasgow, 1995
When he returned to Scotland in 1998 he kept on running but it was not as serious as it had been. For instance he ran in the Beveridge Park 5K races in 2003 where in May he was second with a time of 16:31 and in June set a record for the course of 16:02. Good enough running but not of his previous standards. The problem was of course with his legs – run, start to get fit, get sore legs, stop for a while, repeat.
His next venture in the sport was as a coach. His experiences as an athlete both north and south of the border, his inquisitive nature and intelligence all indicated that he would be a success in this capacity. He had been interested in coaching as far back as 1996 when he was in London and got his club coach award. at that time His actual coaching career started in about 2006 with a small group of 9 and 10 year olds so that his daughter Shona had a group to train with.
Because his runners were progressing and performing successfully others joined his group and he has now reached the stage where he has to divide them into five or six groups with assistance from two other adult club members. The athletes cover three clubs, although the vast majority are Fife members, and cover all age ranges but are mainly U17, U20 and Senior athletes. Steven, like all good coaches, puts in the hours trackside, with sessions most days at either Kirkcaldy or Pitreavie tracks. There is also of course the work put in away from the track in organising the year, organising the individual sessions, liaising with physios, medics and other coaches: when we met for lunch recently the first 20 minutes were taken up trying to arrange a race for an athlete to get a qualifying time via a whole series of texts. The time spent and effort put out is appreciated by the athletes and their parents.
Steven as Coach of the Year in 2013
In 2014 one of his athletes, Adam Scott, won the English Under 15 1500m in the championships at Bedford. The report in the local paper read: “Kirkcaldy athlete Adam Scott finished his season in fine style last Sunday when he won the 1500m title at the England Athletics Under 15 Championships. Adam, who is 14, is a pupil at Balwearie High School and competes for Fife Athletic Club. He is undefeated in his age group over 1500m and prior to his comprehensive victory at Bedford, where he defeated his closest rival by four seconds, he had already won the Scottish Indoor Age Group Championship and the outdoor East District, Scottish Schools and Scottish Age Group Championships. Adam also shattered the Scottish under 15 indoor 1500m record in February taking a whopping 10 seconds off the previous best.
His victory in the England Athletics Championship is, however, his greatest achievement to date and this win effectively crowns him as British champion as all of the main contenders for this title were present at Bedford. Adam, who is ranked first in Scotland in the under 15 age group over 1500m, had one final outing before hanging up his spikes for the season. At the Pitreavie Trophy meeting on Sunday he won the 800m in 2:02.77 to climb to the top of the rankings in that event too. He will now take a short break before setting his sights on the cross country season where he hopes to win the East District and Scottish titles.
Adam has been coached by Steve Doig as part of the Fife Athletic Club group in Kirkcaldy for seven years and his superb performances this summer will undoubtedly inspire his training partners as they strive to match his achievements.”
In 2016, 10 years after he had taken up coaching, he was nominated as Coach of the Year by the Kirkcaldy and Central Fife. The following testimonial was posted on the Fife AC Forum:
Tue May 30, 2016 9:17 am
Adam Scott, U18/U20, has been selected to represent Scotland in the Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas in July this year.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Adam’s coach Steve Doig for his commitment and support to get Adam to this point. No athlete ever stands alone and Steve has stood with Adam guiding and supporting him through the successes and the failures; always there, always ready to help Adam no matter what – in typical Steve style of course. Steve has stood in Beveridge park with snow on the ground and has stood track side with the wind and rain belting down all to support Adam and his athletes. As a parent I think that Adam could not have had a better, more dedicated, or more skilled coach than Steve.
Adam has been supported by many others – Gabby Doig, Adam’s training partners in Haraka Kasi, Mark Pollard and Robert Hawkins of the Scottish Athletics National Academy, and Sports Aid Scotland and the Robertson Trust.
Adam is not Steve’s only Commonwealth Youth Games athlete: Bethany McAndrew of Pitreavie AAC has been selected for the 100m hurdles and is part of Steve’s Haraka Kasi training group.
Steven with Adam Scott when he was selected for the Commonwealth Youth Games
The bold typeface is mine just to emphasise further the appreciation expressed. There is mention of the Haraka Kasi group. You can follow their athletes progress at https://twitter.com/HarakaKasi . They describe themselves as an “Athletics training group based round Pitreavie track. Cross club; focused on camaraderie and results – not vests.” What is it? Like many training squads, his athletes wanted a group identity but Steve resisted one that used his name – ostentation was never his style in any walk of life. Since the Kenyans are noted distance runners. he came up with the two Swahili words that just mean ‘speed’ or ‘fast’. The athletes liked the name and it stuck. They liked it so much that they all clubbed together, and raised several hundreds of pounds, to buy a personalised car registration plate for him which reads KA51 RUN for him.
- International runner on track and cross country;
- Good club man who supported whatever club he ran for to the best of his ability;
- Successful, and respected award winning coach
For several years in the 1980’s, the Strathkelvin Half Marathon was one of the races to be at. Held in Kirkintilloch in East Dunbartonshire, it started and finished at Woodhead Park, Kirkintillloch, right in front of the swimming baths. Well organised, well sponsored, well publicised and with a good hard trail well stewarded and everything that the athletes could possibly need, it deserved all the plaudits. Springburn Harriers had been organising a 12 Mile Road Race from their pavilion at Huntershill since the War which was one of the races counting towards the Scottish Marathon Club Championship but the fields had fallen away and it was felt that the event needed revitalising. Several things fell into place, almost by chance, and following informal conversations involving members of the local authority, athletics clubs and national organisations, the Strathkelvin Half Marathon was born.
The Committee for the first race was as follows: Convenor: Councillor James Hotchkiss; Race Director: Alastair MacFarlane; Assistant Race Director: Alex Johnstone; Race Secretary: Hugh Barrow; Race Advisor: Robert Dalgleish, MBE; Treasurer: James Jarvie Chief Inspector C MacLean Tom Robertson Ron Wood Inspector D MacKenzie Sergeant D Hastie Roy Veitch Forbes Morton John Turpin Maureen Crawford Dorothy Campbell. That was quite a team! The convenor being a fairly senior local councillor supported by Alastair McFarlane of the local Springburn Harriers and the national Scottish Marathon Club; Hugh Barrow Director of Leisure for Strathkelvin District, member of Victoria Park AAC and a founding member of the British Milers Club; Alex Johnston of Strathclyde University who had been runner, team manager and race organiser for many very prestigious mass participation races, Bob Dalgleish of Springburn Harriers but much better known as the man behind the Glasgow Marathon organisation and formerly manager of Scottish cross-country teams any one of whom could have organised a successful race but who together (assisted by a very strong organising committee with Forbes Morton, Roy Veitch, Ron Wood and company) was a race organisation ‘dream team.’ .
Race Director Alastair MacFarlane reported on the 1983 race in the Scottish Marathon Club Magazine. “Despite the late call-offs from Graham Laing (saving himself for the European Cup marathon in Spain two weeks later) and Colin Youngson (not wishing to risk a niggling injury three weeks before the Scottish) the field was of a quality seldom seen in Scotland. The first mile was covered by the leaders in 4:55 and at five miles, just before Milton of Campsie, there was still a big group of Donald Macgregor, Rod Stone, Peter Fleming, Evan Cameron, George Braidwood, Stewart Easton, Jim Martin, Dave Logue and Andy Daly in 25:50. This was obviously a bit slow for Andy Daly however as he stretched them out soon afterwards and took his two clubmates Fleming and Braidwood away from the pack. Andy however couldn’t sustain it and allowed a gap to open at eight miles. Peter Fleming and George Braidwood looked relaxed as they went through 10 miles in 50 minutes dead with Andy running a brave race all on his own and keeping the gap steady. Logue, Easton, Stone and Macgregor showed 50:30 at ten miles as they staged their own private race while Terry Mitchell, Alan Wilson and Evan Cameron were close behind in 50:40. Over the last three miles, past Low Moss Prison to Lenzie and on to the finish at Woodhead Park, Kirkintilloch, the two leaders obviously did some talking and decided to finish together in the very fast time for the accurately measured course of 65:23 although the judges split them on the line. Andy Daly took advantage of some slackening of the pace up front to close a little and got the gap down to 8 seconds at the finish. Dave Logue shrugged off his challengers and looked as strong as ever in fourth place while Stuart Easton had his best run for many a day to get the better of Rod Stone and Donald Macgregor who of course lifted the first veteran’s prize of £40. Janet McColl for once had some opposition in a road race although she made light of it and beat Liz Steele by three minutes.
Of the 1163 finishers, 195 were veterans and 112 were women.
Hugh Barrow, Race Secretary, reported on the October 1984 race in the Scottish Marathon Club Magazine. He wrote: “The race this year was blessed with fine weather and the field of just under 2000 set off from Woodhead Park in ideal conditions. The police had again requested a 9:00 am start and although this does not help in bringing out spectators, it must be conceded that it does assist in avoiding the traffic problems that were encountered during the Milngavie and Bearsden Half Marathon which was run at mid-day on a Saturday some two weeks later.
The quality up front was maintained with George Braidwood this time being undisputed winner leading home Terry Mitchell and Andy Daly in a course record time of 64:44. Martin Craven won the veterans race in 70:05 finishing twelfth overall and Liz Steele took the women’s event with 83:45 in 221st place overall.
From the organisation side the race itself appeared to pass without major problems and the recording was much improved on our previous effort. Despite all the pleadings and warnings, it seems that there will always be a small group of runners who, either through ignorance, selfishness or indifference, endeavour to beat the system. We are aware of male runners competing under female numbers, young athletes running under veteran numbers, and even some running with last Year’s number. This type of action not only gives the organisers headaches, it can also make a mockery of the results.
The organising committee acknowledge the help from Luddon Construction for their most generous sponsorship and also the minor sponsors Nike, Racket Sports and Runsport, the assistance willingly given by a whole range of voluntary organisations and the support of the Police and Roads Authority. Strathkelvin District Council has already agreed in principal to repeat the race next year and the partnership with the Scottish Marathon Club will continue thus retaining a tradition that was started by the Marathon Club in the 1950’s. Results:
1. G Braidwood (Bellahouston Harriers) 64:44; 2. T Mitchell (Fife) 64:57; 3. A Daly (Bella) 65:26; 4. G Laing (Aberdeen AAC) 65:32; 5. P Fleming (Bella) 65:52; 6. A Douglas (VPAAC) 65:58; 7. J Adair (Lin) 68:06; 8. R Stone (Cambuslang) 68:27; 9. J Cooper (Springburn H) 68:37; 10. J Stevenson (VPAAC) 69:07; 1. S Keith (EAC) 69:24; 12. M Craven (ESH) 70:05. Women: 1. E Steele (Glasgow) 83:24; 2. J McColl (Glasgow) 84:32; 3. J Walker (Strathkelvin LAC) 85:26.
The race held in October 1985 was reported on in the Scottish Marathon Club Magazine by Hugh Barrow as follows: “This year’s Luddon Half-Marathon was again blessed with good weather and a record entry of just over 3000. The Organising Committee are again indebted to Luddon Construction for their continued financial support and to the many voluntary organisations who have also contributed over the past years to build up the reputation of this race.
Despite somewhat humid conditions which led to problems for some novice runners, well over 2000 eventually completed the course. The event was won by a most welcome visitor from Hull, Jim Dingwall – Falkirk Victoria Harriers, who defeated last year’s winner George Braidwood by seven seconds with Graham Laing of Aberdeen taking third place. The first lady home was another welcome visitor from down south, Leslie Watson who completed the course in 1:21:46, ahead of Janet McColl and Elizabeth Steele. The first veteran home was John Moore – Victoria Park in 1:12:03, ahead of Tony McCall – Dumbarton AAC, and Fred Bryson – Bellahouston Harriers.
This year for the first time, subventions were paid to the first four men home together with the first lady to finish, and although there is divided opinion on the merit of this type of award it would appear that it is becoming part of the picture in modern road running. Another innovation this year was a trophy presented by Willie Black, a former Scottish Half Mile Internationalist of Grandstand Sports, Milngavie to the athlete considered by a special sub-committee to have achieved the most meritorious performance. This year it was awarded to Aileen Lusk of Strathkelvin Ladies Athletic Club, a long time servant of the sport and former Scottish Ladies 880 yards champion. The WJ Logue Trophy for the first Scottish Marathon Club member to finish went to Jim Dingwall.
Another most welcome visitor at the event was Jock Semple who emigrated from Clydebank to America in the 1930’s and was later responsible for organising the world famous Boston Marathon. Jock surprised us all with presenting yet again another trophy which this time was awarded to the first veteran, John Moore.
This year, the main race was complemented by an Invitation One Mile Race organised by the British Milers Club and sponsored by The Gallery, Lenzie and this event was won by Adrian Callan – Springburn Harriers in three minutes 57.1 seconds, with three other runners getting under four minutes. The course was accurately measured by Alastair MacFarlane and Brian McAusland, and it did favour the runners in as much as it consisted of morw downhill than up. Adrian Callan’s subsequent performance this year points to the course having been of accurate distance.
The Luddon/Strathkelvin Half Marathon has come some way over the past four years from the event that used to take place at Huntershill, and it is hoped through the efforts of the Organising Committee to continue improving the race year by year. It is hoped that next year we may alter the date to take it off the holiday weekend, but full details will be announced in due course. My thanks yet again to be recorded to all the officials who gave up their time so willingly and without whose help these events cannot take place. Result:
1. J Dingwall (FVH) 66:00; 2. G Braidwood (Bellahouston Harriers) 66:07; 3. G Laing (Aberdeen) 66:29: 4. A Daly (Bella) 67:42; 5. E Cameron (ESH) 68:17; 6. J Cooper (Springburn) 68:29; 7. D Logue (ESH) 68:40; 8. I Ross (68:19; 9. J Adair (Bella) 69:25; 10. D Easton (FVH) 69:29; 11. R Ronald (East Kilbride) 69:37; 12. C Martin (Dumbarton AAC) 70:16
The number of new attractions built in to the Luddon noted above – veterans trophy from Jock Semple, meritorious award trophy from Bill Black, and the Street Miles – were all in tune with the times. The street miles came about because Hugh had been a first class competitor over the distance (BMC member number one) and the Scottish Secretary of the BMC, Brian McAusland, lived in Lenzie and Alastair MacFarlane was a course measurement official: meetings were easily arranged. They were successful from the very start -the first women’s race was won By Liz Lynch and the second by Yvonne Murray and Adrian Callan won both first and second. There was also an international aspect to the event with English internationalist Dave Baptiste coming up from London and Irish internationalist Tony McGrath also coming up from London for the races.
Gallery Mile Winners: Yvonne Murray and Adrian Callan
Not only did the event in 1986 avoid the holiday week-end, it avoided the whole month of October and took place on May 18th. With 2189 finishers it was again a huge success with Peter Fleming defeating Graham Crawford (Springburn by less than 40 seconds. An interesting name in sixth place is that of ‘B Scobie, Maryhill-V’ Brian had been a member of Maryhill Harriers and was a stalwart at Glasgow University as an under graduate before going to Leeds where he was coach to one of the very best women’s marathon squads in the country including Veronique Marot, Angie Pain and Sheila Catford among many others. Result:
Men: 1. P Fleming (Bellahouston) 65:66; 2. G Crawford (Springburn) 66:35; 3. A Douglas (VPAAC) 67:01; 4. P Carton (Shettleston) 67:03; 5. R Stone (Cambuslang ) 67:59; 6. B Scobie (Maryhill-V) 68:19; 7. D Macgregor (Fife-V) 68:58; 8. B Carty (Shettleston-V) NTG; 9. R Ronald (EKAAC) 69:22; 10. T Ulliott (Cambuslang) 70:03. Women: 1. L Irving (ESH) 75:57; 2. A Sym (Glasgow) 79:11; 3. A Ridley (Glasgow) 81:39; 4. B Muir 82:36.
In 1987 the race was again in May and it would stay there for the rest of its run. The times were as good as ever with Hammy Cox setting a record that would last and a good number of international runners in both men’s and women’s fields. An interesting feature of the day’s action was the appearance of two previous winners in the half marathon taking second and third places in the Street Mile. Were the position reversed and multi Mile winner Callan to turn out in the half marathon, it is likely that a real surprise would be on the cards. The organising committee had decided to build on the success of the street miles by adding in a race for Under 17 Men and putting them in with the women’s race. This delighted the women because they would be drawn to a faster time then would otherwise be likely – in this case Yvonne Murray was twenty seconds up on the second women but racing against the best Youths gave her a good workout and third overall. The organisers were really good at attracting sponsorship in kind as well as in cash and Glen Stewart won his own weight in mince and potatoes for the race! To be collected as he required them!!! The women’s race was won by that prolific racer, Sandra Branney by only twelve seconds from team mate Audrey Sym. Results:
1. H Cox (Greenock Glenpark) 64:31; 2. G Crawford (Springburn) 65:06; 3. A Gilmour (Cambuslang) 65:24; 4. S Axon Aberdeen) 67:31; 5. L Spence (Spango Valley) 67:36; 6. R Stone (Cambuslang) 68:00; Veteran: 1. C Martin (Dumbarton) 69:06; 2. D Fairweather (Law and District) 69:31; 3. J Moore (VPAAC) 71:50. Ladies: 1. S Branney (McLaren Glasgow) 75:44; 2. A Sym (McLaren Glasgow) 75:56; 3. L Watson (London Olympiades) 77:24. LV 1 L Watson; 2. M Robertson; 3. K O’Sullivan.
BMC Gallery Street Mile. Men: 1. A Callan (Springburn) 3:55.3; 2. P Fleming (Bellahouston) 3:58; 3. G Braidwood (Bellahouston) 3:59.0 Women: 1. Y Murray (EAC) 4:23.9; 2. A Jenkins (ESH) 4:43.3; 3. C Price (DHH) 4:47. Young Athletes: 1. Glen Stewart 4:14.8; 2. A Kinghorn 4:20; 3. F McGowan 4:27
1988 resulted in another victory for Bellahouston Harriers’ Peter Fleming in the excellent time of 64:40, 49 seconds clear of Victoria Park’s Alastair Douglas. The quite outstanding lady marathon runner who is still ninth in the Scottish all-time rankings with a time of 2:34:26, set in October 1988, Heather MacDuff of Edinburgh Athletic Club won the women’s race in 76:43, almost four minutes ahead of second placed Audrey Sym. The race also encompassed the SWCCU and RWA half marathon Individual and Team Championships. Results:
Men: 1. Peter Fleming 64:40; 2. A Douglas 65:29; 3. C Haskett (Dundee Hawkhill) 66:05; 4. A Daly (Bellahouston) 68:50; 5. R Ronald (EKAAC) 70:50; 6. (and first vet) W Scally (Shettleston) 71:04.
Ladies: 1. H MacDuff 76:43; 2. A Sym 80:29; 3. G Robertson 82:23; 4. J Harvey LV1 (and fifth overall) S Rodgers; LV2 L Brown. Teams: 1. Glasgow 15; 2. Dundee RR 30; 3. Giffnock North 89.
By now, of course, the race was big news and the Glasgow Herald was doing previews of the race and follow up reports. In the paper on Saturday 13th May Doug Gillon reported: In the world of athletics these days it has become fashionable for the stars to avoid each other. So it is refreshing to hear the enthusiasm which Lynn Harding and Sandra Branney, Scotland’s leading marathon women, have for meeting each other. Usually a marathon sends participants into recuperative hiding for months. Yet both are entered for the Luddon Strathkelvin Scottish women’s half marathon championships tomorrow, four weeks after the London Marathon in which both competed with distinction.
Harding, the Milngavie born woman from Sunderland, booked her Commonwealth Games berth by finishing eighth, breaking the Scottish record. Branney, although beating her personal best, fell a frustrating three seconds outside the Auckland qualifying time. Harding intends to race at Kirkintilloch tomorrow, “because I would hate Sandra to think I was avoiding her.” Branney made a particularly quick return to competition, winning the Adidas 5000m in Glasgow just four days after London. And she has won a race every Wednesday since, including this week’s Torsion 10000m. Her appearance tomorrow is conditional on how she recovers from today’s efforts. Displaying a remarkable range of ability, Branney will race over 1500m in teh Access UK League division one women’s match at Meadowbank, “if my legs still feel as if they belong to me, I’ll run the Luddon,” says Mrs Branney.
There is a quality men’s field for Kirkintilloch, and the LB Plastics street miles will keep spectators occupied while the main event is on. Adrian Callan goes for a fifth successive victory in the men’s Mile, while Olympian Lynn MacIntyre is favourite for the women’s. She too is racing on Saturday in the League.”
The report on the race two days later began, unusually with the result:
Men: 1. N Muir (Shettleston) 65:40; 2. H Cox (Greenock Glenpark) 66:43; 3. P Fleming (bellahouston) 67:00; 4. M Gormley (Cambuslang ) 68:40; 5. P Carton (Shettleston) 69:28. Scottish Veteran Harriers Club Championships: 40+ C Youngson (Aberdeen, sixth overall) 69:39; 50+ W McBrinn (Shettleston) 77:36; 60+ S Lawson (Maryhill) 83:46; 70+ D Morrison (Shettleston) 93:16; Local Team Race: Stobhill Hospital.
Women: L Harding (Houghton Harriers, 20th overall) 73:09; 2. S Branney (Glasgow, 22nd overall) 73:27; 3. J Armstrong (Giffnock North) 82:24. Team: 1. Giffnock North 19; 2. Glasgow AC 20.
LB Plastics Street Mile: Men – A Callan (Springburn) 3:57; Women: L MacIntyre 4:32
Harding, 27, and based in Sunderland, rocketed to fifth in the Commonwealth when she broke the national marathon best in London beating Sandra Branney, now tenth in the rankings. Yesterday was their first big domestic head-to-head. Branney, a former Scottish marathon winner had raced just 24 hours earlier over 1500m in the UK Access League, but clearly had plenty left in the bank. Although she lost her two-year-old course record of 75:44 after an epic duel, second place in 73:27 gave Branney the veteran women’s prize.
The pair raced together for nine miles, but Harding’s surge on the long drag up from Torrance drew the last of Branney’s reserves. Harding finished twentieth in a field of almost 1100 – a remarkable performance from a woman whose idea of keeping fit seven years ago was to take a rope into the garage at her parents home in Milngavie where she would skip to taped music. “I was told that if I wanted recognition in Scotland, I would have to race here more often,” she said. Recent performances have finally buried her anonymity. Now, in order to prepare for the Auckland Games, for which her London time qualified her, Harding plans to race the 5000m in the UK Championships next month and to make her 10000m track debut in the SWAAA event at Crownpoint in July. But she also intends to keep in touch with the grass roots of her sport in her adopted home. “I’ll run the Five Pits 10K at Silkworth a week on Wednesday,” she added, “they serve up pie and mushy peas to all finishers just after you cross the line.”
Yesterday’s race was also a triumph for two runners at opposite ends of the field. The men’s winner, in 66:40, was Nat muir, Scotland’s leading 5000m track and cross-country exponent for more than a decade, but forced to abandon these disciplines through injury. Tackling the half marathon for only the second time, he beat the course record holder, Hammy Cox, by more than a minute, with four-time winner Peter Fleming third. And Ajit Singh, a 59 year old Larkhall maths teacher who was paralysed with a spinal fracture eight months ago, completed his first race since in One hour 50 minutes. Struck while cycling by a hit-and-run driver he was in traction for seven weeks and now runs wearing a special brace. “Last year this race took me 85 minutes, but I’m lucky to be running at all, he said.”
A bit longer than the traditional reports by Alastair MacFarlane and Hugh Barrow, but packed with detail and the amount of space given by a newspaper like the ‘Glasgow Herald’ to an athletics event on days on which there was much competition for space on the sports pages speaks volumes for the high regard in which the race was held (and the ability of Doug Gillon to get it in!) Interesting too that the men’s race took up less than a third of the report..
Nat Muir winning in 1989
We go back to Doug for the 1990 race. The preview first. ” A strong field will assemble tomorrow for the eighth running of the Strathkelvin District Council’s Luddon Half Marathon. Defending men’s and women’s champions Nat Muir and Lynn Harding are both side-lined. Muir who set the course record of 65:40 will be out of action until mid-June with a calf problem but there is still a quality men’s race in one of the most popular road events on the calendar. International marathon runners Peter Fleming (Bellahouston) and Fraser Clyne (Aberdeen) and cross-country international trio of Alastair Douglas (Victoria Park), and Hammy Cox and Tom Murray (both Greenock Glenpark) are all entered. Frank Harper, the first Scot to finish behind Allister Hutton in the London Marathon, is also likely to run in the event which has already attracted close to 1000 runners.
Fleming, on course for 2:13 when forced to drop out at 19 miles in the ADT London marathon with a calf injury, still has some lingering problems from that, and will wait until he sees tomorrow’s weather. Entries will be accepted on the day at the rear of the council buildings in Lenzie. The race begins at 10:00 am.”
For all the talk of smaller fields, the figure of 1000 participants is healthy enough in its own right but, even with race organisers totally in tune with the sport and the good of the runners, the acceptance of entries on the day was unusual and perhaps speaks of some anxiety about the turn out. The report on the Monday morning read as follows.
“Fraser Clyne maintained his assault on the Scottish road-race title yesterday when he won the Strathkelvin Half Marathon in 65:29. His victory was the first significant success for the Metro Aberdeen club which he was recently instrumental in founding. He had 41 seconds to spare over Tom Murray with Willie Nelson third in 66:31.
A member of Scotland’s 1986 Commonwealth Games team, but passed over for the marathon in Auckland, Clyne broke clear after three miles (15:00) and over the next two miles opened a gap of some 30 yards. At ten miles (59:15) he was 200 yards clear with only Murray, also runningsolo, offering a challenge. Another marathon internationalist, Pitreavie’s Frank Harper, having run in London just three weeks ago, was picked off by Nelson in the final stages. Clyne began his defence of the national road race title with a second place behind George Braidwood in the Tom Scott 10 mile event, but now goes top. His time was eleven seconds faster than Nat Muir’s winning time last year, but outside the record of 64:31 which stands to Hammy Cox. Ian Elliot (Teviotdale) clinched his third veteran success since turning 40 in January. The Borderer, whose best time is 65:00, recorded his best veteran time to date of 68:12, finishing seventh to clain the Scottish veteran crown, two places ahead of defending Colin Youngson.
Renee Murray of Giffnock North, a housewife and mother of two, who took up the sport less than three years ago to keep fit for racket sports, won her first national title at the age of 37. Just three weeks ago in London she recorded her fastest marathon time of 2:55:12 and this time, with the Scottish women’s half marathon crown at stake, she clocked 80:26, another personal best, which gave her the veteran’s award. But she was even more satisfied at leading her club to a narrow team victory over Glasgow AC. That should have booked Giffnock’s berth in the European women’s club road championships. However Scotland’s right to a place in that event is now under debate – once again the issue of a UK is being pursued by the organisers. Results:
Men: 1. F Clyne 65:29; 2. T Murray 66:10; 3. W Nelson (Ian Skelly Law and District) 66:31; 4. F Harper (Pitreavie) 66:47. 5. M Gormley (Cambuslang) 67:25; 6. J Evans (Shettleston) 68:00. 7 (and first veteran) I Elliot 68:13; 8. D Cameron (Shettleston) 68:41; 9 (and second veteran). C Youngson (Aberdeen) 69:27; 10. B Pitt (Dumbarton) 69:50; 11 (and third veteran) A Adams (Dumbarton (69:59)
Women: 1 (and first veteran) R Murray 80:26; 2. J Harvey (82:30); 3. R Kay (both City of Glasgow) 84:37. Team: Giffnock North (1. Murray, 4 K Hancock, 7 M Blacker)”
1991 saw the race distance drop to the now popular 10K distance. There was a letter under the heading of “Luddon 10K a Great Success” in ‘Scotland’s Runner” of August 1991 from Jim McCreery of Clarkston. But why wouldn’t it be a success given the quality and experience of the organising committee? Why wouldn’t it be with the Luddon reputation to trade on? But the truth is that the event had run its course. To many Scots, the term ‘Strathkelvin Luddon’ still equals ‘half marathon’. After two years at 10K, it dropped even further in distance to 5K. I will simply quote from Doug Gillon’s article in the ‘Glasgow Herald’ of 8th May, 1993. “Strathkelvin District Council, once hosts of Scotland’s biggest half-marathon, will see their race take on a new format this year as a 5000m road race, the final event of the UK-wide Reebok Grand Prix series on Thursday, June 3rd. The two other city centre events are May 23rd in Bath and May 28th in Sheffield. The Kirkintilloch race is also the Scottish national championship and will determine the winners of £16000 in overall prizes. The grand prix winners of the men’s and women’s races will each bank £1500 and the individual winners of the Strathkelvin elite race lifting £750. Strathkelvin’s event was founded in the early 50’s as the Scottish Marathon Club’s 12 mile road race. For eight years, from 1983 it was the Luddon Half Marathon, peaking at 3500 entries in 1983, and for the past two years it has been a 10000m. Besides the elite race, which includes Springburn Harriers Scotland defector Paul Evans, there will be an open race and others for primary and secondary schools.”
.Clydesdale Harriers Junior Club Cross-Country Champion
Hares’n’ Hounds: Scottish Universities Cross-Country Champions
Front Row: left: Calum Laing, Jim Bogan; Second Row: Buster left, Gifford third left, Ray Baillie and Craig Sharpe at the other end; Back Row: left: Allan Faulds
Old University friend Doug Edmunds
.Coming off a big hill in Nepal
.Charlie Fowler on Cerri Torre
Charlie Fowler was an American mountaineer and guide. He gained fame after some excellent climbs, and became a member of the American Mountain Guides Association in 1986, and was a certified guide who taught courses and evaluated other students who wanted to become certified mountain guides. Fowler claimed to have been climbing mountains since 1968, having successfully climbed several 8000 metre peaks including Mount Everest as well as Aconcagua. He guided for Buster for approximately 20 years and In October 2006, Fowler left for China with his climbing partner, Christine Boskoff, for a two-month-long trip to attempt several peaks that had never been climbed. According to a post on Fowler’s website, it was his fifth trip to the region. Fowler and Boskoff were officially declared missing when they were not present on a scheduled return flight to the United States booked for December 4. Search efforts by Chinese authorities and an independent search party retained by friends and mountaineers continued through most of December 2006. Fowler and Boskoff said they planned to climb 6,204-meter (20,354-foot) Mt Genyen. On December 27, searchers found a body, mostly buried in snow, at the 5,300-meter level of Mount Genyen, though darkness prevented them from making an immediate identification. They returned on December 28 and confirmed that the body was Fowler’s.
Buster knew him well and was actually involved in the search. The initial investigation revealed that Fowler was likely killed in an avalanche.
Buster during the search with the Genyen in the background
With the plaque made to commemorate Charles and his climbing partner, Christine Boskoff, who died with him.
Climbing in Cuba
Frigging in the Rigging
Castleton Tower on the right which he climbed in the early 80’s
.North West Passage
.At Annapurna Base collecting evidence for a hypoxia study
With David Reid and his Mum in Greenland: David is a world expert on polar bears and grew up in Bisphoton
.With Randall Grandstaff on Old Man of Hoy. John was 50 at the time
With Colonel Cross, 96, expert on jungle warfare with Machupuchare in the back ground
.With Papa Butterfly, a maths graduate from Glasgow University
With Tom Hornbein of the Hornbein couloir on Everest
Back home in Old Kilpatrick
End of an expedition
Falling apart – but still getting out
With old pals, Sandy MacNeil and Alistair Finlayson
A young John McCall at a Clydesdale Harriers Presentation in the early 1960’s/
(Round the table – Brian McAusland, Jim Crawford, John, Malcolm Buchanan, Bobby Shields, John Maclachlan, Jim Shields.)
Scottish running, like Scottish society in general, has given a lot to the world in the form of emigrants. One of the best of these was John G McCall – universally known as Buster – whose life after his departure from Scotland has been remarkable.
John G McCall is an excellent example of the successful Scot abroad: a doctor who graduated from Glasgow University, he went to Canada where he set up a very successful practice and after getting involved in winter sports, was a doctor on four Canadian Winter Olympics teams. He has also had a wonderful time climbing and adventuring all round the world. He had started out with Clydesdale Harriers before he went to University and had won the club’s Youth and Junior cross-country championships as well as running in all the championships – Dunbartonshire, District and National. So he had some background in the sport before going to Gilmorehill. As a student at Glasgow he again ran in all that mattered athletically, he ran on all surfaces – road, track and country – as well as in all the confined university and inter-university events.
University Race in Aberdeen in the 1960’s: John is Number 70
His last run in the National Cross-Country Championships for Clydesdale was in season 1959/60 when he was second scoring runner in the Youths team along with Charlie Stimpson and Duncan Stewart. The following year as a first year junior he was in the same Glasgow University team as such luminaries as Douglas Gifford, Jim Bogan and Ray Baillie and running for the university. The following year the team was strengthened by the addition of Allan Faulds and was very strong indeed: they won the junior national in 1961/62. His first race in the Edinburgh to Glasgow was in 1965 when he ran on the exposed five and a half miles of the fifth stage.
John has memories of his University days other than about people: the wonderful, traditional Westerlands venue meant a lot. He says:
“Westerlands for me was an oasis, a green place to escape to. It was a world full of “heroes”, like,Gordon Pirie, Derek Ibbotson, ,Graham Everett, Lachie Stewart …. it was an island of tranquillity and peace separate from the grime and bustle of Glasgow’s west end where I was studying medicine. The ground for Westerlands was apparently purchased with money supplied by Andrew Carnegie and others. When it was sold to build a housing scheme in 1997, there was a celebration held at the clubhouse to mark the closure and we were encouraged to drink the ” free bar” dry that night I still have a piece of the red cinder track which Calum Laing dug up and gave to me. Westerlands was a “hub” for athletes of all types and abilities, the showers were communal, outside you could lap the large green field with anyone who was there. I ran with Pirie and Ibbotson who would both turn up at Westerlands whenever they were in Glasgow. This was a democratic place.it was not just “runners”, also pole vaulters like David Stevenson, shotputters like Doug Edmunds, tennis players like Frances McLennan, javelin throwers like Fraser Riach. Field hockey players, shinty wild men, and of course the groundkeepers. We were a happy lot. Every time I drive or walk by Westerlands I feel very sad for the sterility of what has replaced the former training Valhalla, but I can still see and hear the echoes of the many boys and girls who found great solace in such a special place. “
John has been good enough to reply to our request for information with this account of his career.
University team mates: Cameron Shepherd to Dougie Gifford
At the age of almost 76, I am attempting to give an account of my involvement with athletics and mountaineering within the context of my real job as an Orthopaedic Surgeon. I was born in Bowling, West Dunbartonshire, Scotland. I was my mother Kitty’s first child. Rumour has it that I was born in an Air Raid Shelter, but I think this is apocryphal. Apparently it was a ‘difficult; labour and Dr Anderson the Family Doctor from Old Kilpatrick had a hard time reviving me, which might explain my inability to break four minutes for the mile later in life. My father was in the Army at the time in the Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal Squad. I do not remember seeing much of him as a child and we did live with my grand-parents in Bowling until after the War when the family was relocated to a pre-fab in OIld Kil[atrick and later on to a proper house in Roman Crescent which was a Council House.
I was not at all athletically gifted as a child nor even as a young teenager. I was what you might call “bookish”. I did very well at school and haunted the local lending libraryI did spend a lot of time in the Kilpatrick Hills wandering around, usually on my own. At high school we were required to take part in ‘track and field’ every year. I did manage to win the javelin throw on at least two occasions as I recall. Towards the end of my high school years I was introduced to the Clydesdale Harriers by a good friend, Tony Higgins, and I started to run with the ‘pack’ in Clydebank on a regular basis amd was mentored by such people as Billy Hislop, Johnny Mavlachlan, Pat Younger, Frank Kielty, Brian McAusland and, of course, Cyril O’Boyle. I managed to win the Junior Cross Country Club Championship, although I think there were only two or three other runners in the race. However I did persevere and when I went to Glasgow University in 1960 I went to the gym on my first day there and I was lucky enough bump into Douglas Gifford who was a very good runner at that time. He took me on my first training run in Glasgow and I quickly joined the Glasgow University Hares & Hounds. I spent the bulk of my medical school years running with them. I have to say that I did not distinguish myself to any great degree with the Hares & Hounds but I did run in the Edinburgh to Glasgow relay twice for them and I think on two occasions for Clydesdale Harriers. I was Club Secretary but I lost interest as I got into my clinical years as a medical student.
Doug Gifford leading a Scottish Universities race at St Andrews from Don Macgregor
I qualified in Medicine in 1966. I continued to run but mostly just for fitness purposes. I spent the next three years at Strathclyde University where I did research and obtained my Masters degree in Bio-mechanical Engineering. I was the first Medical Doctor to get a degree in Bio-Mechanical Engineering at Strathclyde. I then transferred to the University of Toronto where I did my Orthopaedic Surgical training and I qualified as an Orthopaedic Surgeon in 1974.
Just prior to going to Canada I was on the Committee for the Organisation of Medical Services for the 1970 Commonwealth and Empire Games in Edinburgh. I had been selected as a team doctor for that event but unfortunately could not attend as I had just started my training programme in Toronto and sadly I missed Lachie Stewart’s great race.
In 1976 I was selected to be one of the Physicians for the Montreal Olympic Games and spent most of my time looking after the equestrian athletes and especially Princess Anne who was a competitor during these Games. The 1976 Olympics occurred four years after Munich where of course the Israeli athletes were murdered by Palestinian terrorists. The organisers in Montreal were very nervous about that and especially with Princess Anne as one of the participants. The security at Bromont where the equestrian events were held was extraordinary. I located my orthopaedic surgical practice in Collingwood, Ontario, in 1974 and, as Collingwood is a centre for alpine skiing in Canada and has produced many top level skiers, I very quickly got involved in looking after ski injuries and worked with the local skiers as well as with the Provincial teams.
In 1980 I went to Nepal for the first time with a group of scientists who were studying high altitude physiology on Everest. As a result of that trip I decided that I would like to explore the possibility of “climbing”. As a youngster, and also at University I made frequent trips to Glencoe and Fort William mostly just to scramble in the hills and particularly to get bevvied at the Kingshouse. I was able to meet some of the famous climbers of the day including Don Whillans, Doug Scott, Tom Patey, Dougal Haston and others. Mostly just sitting in the same room as them when everybody was having a few pints, particularly again at the Kingshouse in Glencoe. In any event, I first went to the hills for learning purposes with Mick Tighe, a very well known climbing guide. I spent some time there with Mick and his fellow guests learning the basics of mountaineering. I carried on with further instruction and guiding in Canada and I spent many weekends in the Canadian Rockies with a guide called Rob Mitchell and did climb many of the classic mountains in Canada during that period. I also went to the Alps a few times and again was able to climb some of the classic routes there. I was about forty years old when I started to climb and became increasingly obsessed with it and hired several world class guides to take me on trips to many places to climb, including China, Tibet, Nepal, Baffin Island, Europe, all over the South Western States, Canada of course and Scotland.
As I got older I became interested in sailing and was able to spend several very happy trips with Sam Brook who was based out of Ardfern and was a former Royal Marine Commando who was well versed in climbing and sailing. I organised one epic trip with Sam when I brought over several elite American climbers for a sailing trip up the West Coast of Scotland with climbs of many classic routes including the Old Man of Stour, the Old Man of Hoy and many others. Prior to this I also brought several American guides over to Scotland, including Randall Grandstaff, Michael Benge, Charlie Fowler and Rob Mitchell. We climbed in Skye, including a winter traverse of the Skye Ridge and also a an ascent of the Old Man of Hoy and many other classic Scottish rock and ice climbs.
John with some of the speed skaters
In 1982 I was selected to be the Orthopaedic Surgeon for Canada in the Winter Olympic Games in Albertville, France. I also returned for two more Winter Olympic Games, including Lillehammer and Nagano as Team Physician with Speed Skating Canada. I spent almost 14 years with Speed Skating Canada as their Physician and travelled very widely during that period to Europe, Asia and North America. This included World Championships, World Cup events and other international competitions. I was responsible for developing safety issues with speed skating including the design of the padding dor the arenas, the design of cut proof clothing and helmets and other safety factors. I am no longer involved with speed skating Canada or the Olympic Association except peripherally through the UIAA, the International Mountaineering Federation and the Alpine Club of Canada, member of the Medical Commission for that organisation.
I have been a member of the Med Com for about ten years now and in that capacity I travel to various countries for meetings as well as teaching. Over the last three years I have become an instructor for DIMM, which is the Diploma of Mountain Medicine in Nepal and in that capacity I travel to the mountains in Nepal and instruct on such topics as the management of fractures in the wilderness, treatment of high altitude sickness, hypothermia, avalanche safety, etc. The last trip I did there was in November, 2018.
John with some of his Nepal training group
I am now, in 2018, no longer able to run or climb and I am rapidly losing my ability to hike because of a chronic bad back as a result of spending too many years standing at an operating table and also I think because I injured myself quite badly on two occasions. One when I was climbing in the Black Canyon of Gunnison in Colorado and I took a “whipper” and fell about sixty feet but bounced back at the end of the rope and .smacked’ off the wall of the canyon suffering multiple abrasions and also a fracture of my sacrum, which I did not know at the time like a ;stupid bone surgeon.’ The other about five years ago when I was on a tallship in Antarctica and I got knocked down and suffered multiple rib fractures as well as bruising of my spleen and kidney. I should note that in the last few years I have taken to going to Antarctica and the Arctic. My first trip to the Antarctic was on a sixty foot sailboat with four other people whom I did not know. This trip turned into a bit of an epic and we were lucky to escape with our lives. I went back down there on one other occasion on a sailboat and then I went there on a tallship. Since then I have returned but this time on a small icebreaker.
In the rigging on the tallship
The Clydesdale Harriers gave me the foundation for a life of adventure and fitness and an understanding of the value of comradeship. I think back on all those guys that I ran with with great affection. Not only were they runners, they were philosophers, they were gentlemen, they were poets and they were dreamers. They did not have sponsorship, they did not have trust funds and some of them did not even have teeth. There was no Facebook, there was no internet and it was a helluva lot of fun.
May 24th, 2018.
Climbing in Cuba
It is an interesting account of a fascinating life. John was a good solid club runner who served his time with club and University before emigrating. He mentions Doug Gifford – Doug was John’s best man and recited a poem which he had written about him. Were he to do so now, the poem would be an epic, I think. Always an outdoors man, the range of John’s activities has been vast – hill walking, running, mountaineering, sailing in addition to his work as an orthopaedic surgeon. And he still found time to work with athletes in winter sports at all levels up to Olympic standard.
It is fair to ask about how all the activities affected John’s work as an orthopaedic surgeon. All we can do in that regard is look at what his patients say and I append some quotes from a website rating doctors 1 – 5 on four scales.
“Dr McCall performed a tibial osteotomy on my Right knee in ’95 just prior to my retirement from the CF. After 3 prior surgeries to try and repair a ” Wonky” knee. This was his solution in an attempt to provide me with a functional and pain free joint. He was incredible thorough throughout the process. Explanations were clear, concise and delivered with his Scottish humour. That surgery allowed me to go back to my sports and fitness activities that I had feared were ended at age 41 year’s of age. I would highly recommend him to everyone to everybody who’s needing the best. Thanks again for your help with that situation.”
“Too bad there’s only a 5 for knowledge. He blows other Dr’s away…. As for his knowledge, well… you don’t get called to be an Olympic Team surgeon three (3) times and win an award for a fourth if you don’t know your stuff. He found a broken Talus bone in my foot when two other Dr’s said there was nothing wrong. He will tell you straight about what he thinks about your case, tell you what he thinks you should do but he won’t hold your hand through it. If you want to get better… do what you’re told. It’s your choice.”
I read a dozen reviews of treatment received and all bar one gave him 5/5 for knowledge, most gave him 5’s across the board. His knowledge of his subject, his helpfulness and quality of his staff were almost uniformly given the highest marks possible, his humour was commented on several times. All in all, he is a credit to his universities and to his country.
Click here for more of John’s photographs
The great Edinburgh University team of the 1970’s: Ian Young third from right
The Edinburgh University team of the late 60’s/1970’s is generally recognised as the best ever University squad to come out of Scotland, and indeed they were a superb team by any standards. One of the regular members of team alongside Fergus Murray, the Wight brothers, Chris Elson, Dave Logue, Gareth Bryan-Jones and the rest was Ian Young. Ian had been a member of Springburn Harriers at Kirkintilloch in Dunbartonshire who already had a good pedigree in the sport before he went to Edinburgh from Lenzie Academy.
His coach was Eddie Sinclair who went on to coach many British as well as Scottish international runners and his Springburn club teams became legendary. Ian’s contemporaries included such as Eddie Knox and Duncan Middleton – the former became world junior cross country champion and the latter GB indoor 880 yards champion as well as Scottish record breaker for 880 yards. Ian’s first season in the sport was 1960/61 when,as a runner in the Under 15 Boys age group he was tenth in the Midland District Championship – one place behind team mate Middleton – and then one place lower down in the National where Middleton was sixth. The team difference was that they were fourth in the District championships but third in the National. Ian was in the Youths (Under 17) age group in 1961/62 and finished twelfth in a race where the first three were AP Brown, Ian McCafferty and Hugh Barrow. His second year as a Youth saw him third in the District championships leading his team into first place with Duncan Middleton and David Tees the other runners. In the National that season he was second, with Middleton sixth, for the team that finished second. Note that he was only beaten by Ian McCafferty who had eleven seconds on him at the finish. In 1963/64 he was up an age group and racing against the Under 20’s in the Junior Man age group. He finished seventeenth in the National and the team was fourth and just out of the medals.
It was clear Ian’s ability, together with family support and Eddie’s training, was producing some remarkable results. The high points of his career so far can be summarised as follows:
- Second in the Youths national behind Ian McCafferty in 1963;
- First winner of the Scottish Schools Cross-Country Championships, and
- Winner of the One Mile at the Scottish Schools Championships in 4:27 (both in 1963;
- Selection for the Scottish Junior team in the International in Dublin in 1964
He moved to Edinburgh later in 1964 and the next year he was wearing the green of the Hare & Hounds instead of the dark blue of Springburn. What had he learned at Springburn? Coach Eddie Sinclair was a hard taskmaster who inculcated values of train hard, race hard. Not for Eddie’s charges the habits of that era where the Under 17’s started the race at speed, had a wee sleep for the middle half of the race and fought out the last quarter. Ian and his club mates worked from pistol to tape; there were no hiding places. If you want more information on his early development, go to
where Ian looks back on this period with some information on specific work done with Eddie.
Ian Young to Eddie Knox, Lanarkshire Relays, c. 1966
One of clubmates at the time was the redoubtable Eddie Knox who comments:
“My abiding memory of Ian was watching him run for the final time at Lenzie Academy sports. Ian was a sixth year pupil, the event was the 880 yards (the longest event available) and Ian was favourite to win. BUT he was worried – what if some young pretender hung on and out kicked him. The answer: take off like an absolute rocket so nobody could hang on.
I do not remember the time for that first lap but it looked like 50 second pace. It’s the only time I remember seeing Ian in absolutely full flight, and it was pretty damned impressive. No it was extremely impressive. He was hanging on for dear life on the second lap but he made it. He was a gutsy beggar as a competitor, willing to dig deep into his resources.”
When Ian read the above, the memory of that race came back immediately. He says:
“I was intrigued by Eddie Knox’s account of the 880 yards championship at Lenzie Academy in 1964. You may like to know about the background. It was for the most prestigious trophy in the school, the Campbell Cup, named for a former pupil who died in the Second World War. I had won it for 4 years fairly easily and was heading for a record 5th, but a year below me was a promising middle distance runner called Jim McEwan who belonged to Victoria Park AAC and was coached by Johnny Stirling, a local man who had also coached Hugh Barrow. Not only did he run for a rival club, but Jim was also representing a rival school ‘House’ and I was House Captain of Cawder and meant to lead them to victory at the annual sports. The school was pretty evenly split in support, but there was no way anyone was going to stop me getting my record victory. As Eddie recalls, I went off like a bat out of hell because I did not have a sprint finish and Jim McEwan was better 440 yard runner than I was, so I had to run it out of him. I remember him getting on my shoulder at the start of the home straight on the last lap and the crowd going wild and that was enough, I don’t know where it came from but I was up on my toes and finished like I was a 100 yard sprinter. Wild acclaim and a never surpassed 5 in a row victories. I think my time was around 2:04, which was not bad on a rough grass track on the school rugby pitch. Two weeks later I won the 1 mile at Dunbartonshire County Sports”. Ian then put the race into the wider context of Scottish Schools races.
Ian (38) leading the field, probably at Kilwinning, 1963
Alistair Blamire wrote a first class book about the Edinburgh University Hare and Hounds exploits between 1960 and 1970 called ‘The Green Machine’ from which the following extract is taken.
“Ian’s decision to study at Edinburgh was based almost entirely on his desire to develop his distance running career through training with Fergus Murray and company. He went straight into the EUHH first team in season 1964/65 and after finishing sixth in the Scottish National Junior Cross-Country Championships gained a second international junior vest in the International Championships in Ostend, finishing 17th. By regular training at 100 miles per week, often in company with Gareth Bryan-Jones and occasionally with me, Ian was leading EUHH runner in season 1966/67.”
We’ll come back to Alistair’s comments later but a look at that first season of 1964/65 at Edinburgh in a wee bit more detail would be interesting – after all it was a big change in lifestyle moving from the family home, friends, school where the pupils were to some extent spoonfed information to the free-er University environment with responsibility for arranging his own activities and learning. In Scottish athletics the motto is that east is east and west is west and seldom the two shall meet. eg there is an East District League but no West District League, in the West there are County championships in Dunbartonshire, Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, etc but none in the east. So it was that there was no Edinburgh University team in the traditional pipe-opener for the winter of the McAndrew Relay. It was November before he was noted by runners in the west. On 21st November the first of the winter’s big races took place – the Edinburgh to Glasgow eight man relay and Ian, who had already run in the race for Springburn a year earlier, ran the last stage into Glasgow where he was fastest on the day, a full 55 seconds quicker than the second fastest man, for the second placed Edinburgh University team. He was back in Glasgow on the 28th of the month for the triangular match between Strathclyde, Glasgow and Edinburgh Universities match. Ian was third behind Walter Eadie (S) and Brian Scobie (G) leading the Edinburgh team to first place in the competition. A week later and the Edinburgh University team won the Edinburgh and District League Match at Newcraighall with Ian in eighth place their third counter behind Roger Young (second) and Fergus Murray (sixth). Seven days later and the headline in the Glasgow Herald read, “Edinburgh students not extended”. This was over a report on the five sided contest between Aberdeen, Glasgow, Strathclyde, St Andrews Universities with their scoring six runners in the first ten. These were AF Murray 1st, Roger Young 2nd, F Gamwell 4th, Ian Young 6th, Jim Wight 9th and Gareth Evans 10th.
The District Championships on 16th January , held at Newcraighall, might have posed the University team a big challenge given that Edinburgh Southern Harriers and Edinburgh AC were both running well with large numbers of runners but the students team won by a margin of 67 points from Teviotdale, with a team of Murray (1st), R Young (2nd), F Gamwell (13th), G Evans (14th), I Young (15th) and J Wight (16th). The Scottish Universities championship at the end of January 1965, held at Cambuslang, Glasgow, were similarly won by Edinburgh with Fergus Murray first and Chris Elson third. Unfortunately they could not win the British Universities race as easily, in fact they couldn’t win it at all and finished fifth team – Aberdeen were 9th, Glasgow 13th, Strathclyde 15th and St Andrews 19th. The National Championships were held at Hamilton Park on February 27th and although the Senior team from the University did not win, the strength of the team was evident from their third place in the senior race and first place in the junior race for the third year in succession. Roger Young was second to Ian McCafferty but in front of Alex Brown and Dick Wedlock while Ian Young was sixth. Ian and Roger were both chosen for the junior international team to compete in Ostend where the Scottish team finished a close up fourth, a mere 10 points behind the third placed Morocco. Ian himself was five places further up the field than in the previous year – 17th compared to 22nd twelve months earlier.
Fergus Murray leading, Alex Wight, Chris Elson and Ian fourth in EU Sports 1965
Despite this excellent start to University athletics, Ian missed most of the summer in 1965. He was asked about it and replied, “In the missing year of 1965, after the close of the 64-65 x-country season I can only suggest that I focussed on my studies and was not at my fittest. However I do have a medal to show for that track season, returning to the dark blue vest as a member of the Springburn Harriers 2 Mile Team Race at Kinlochleven Highland Games (possibly in July?) where we took 2nd place medals – so not a wasted season after all!” Kinlochleven – once run, never fforgotten. A very good meeting in a lovely setting where the day’s proceedings used to start with some of the athletes parading on to the arena to the strains of “March of the Gladiators” over the loudspeakers!
The winter cross-country and road racing season was on them from the start of the short relays in October 1965. Although the Edinburgh Southern and AC teams were out in the McAndrew Relays, there was no sign of the EU H&H squad that early. They did turn out two teams in the Dundee Kingsway Relay on 16th October which finished second and fifth, on October 23rd they won the inter-university contest at Newcastle with Edinburgh’s six counters in the first seven finishers. Then in the East District Relay Championships on the last Saturday of the month, the students teams finished first and second but Ian was not in eight runners. They also won the Eastern District League Races on 6th November but without Ian being in the team. When he missed the Edinburgh to Glasgow Relay on 20th November, it was clear that there was something wrong. In fact Ian did not compete at all that winter and it was summer 1966 before he was seen in action again and winter 1966/67 before he was running at his best as a regular member of the Hare and Hounds teams.
On the 8th October, 1966, there was a rare sighting of Ian Young in a Springburn Harriers vest. Not required by the University that weekend, he was part of the club team that won the Lanarkshire relays along with David Tees, Duncan Middleton and Eddie Knox. Then when the University won the East District Relay on 29th October, 1966, the team consisted of Blamire, Logue, Young and Bryan-Jones, Teviotdale was second and the University B team third. In the Edinburgh and District League match at the start of November, the University had the lowest possible total (21 pts) with Ian filling fourth position. The big test however came on 19th November in the form of the Edinburgh to Glasgow relay which Edinburgh Hare & Hounds won again. Ron Marshall in the Glasgow Herald remarked “a kind of zealous professionalism seems to permeate Edinburgh University. They run as if they know they will win, they never look round – their sole aim is the next change over point.” Taking first place on the first stage courtesy of Alistair Blamire, the students stayed there until the finishing line. Ian Young ran on the fifth stage and ran the second fastest time on the stage a mere one second behind Alastair Johnstone’s fastest time of the day. Ian was running so well that he was chosen for the Scottish Universities team against the Cross-Country Union at King’s Buildings on 10th December. He was unplaced, but with the first five places filled by Union runners that was hardly surprising. The main point though was that Ian was back running well again. Just how far back he had come was shown in the weekend of 7th and 8th January 1967. On the Saturday he ran in the Nigel Barge Road race which was a big race with almost all of the top men running and he finished sixth with Edinburgh University being second team. He had been in the leading bunch from the very start in a race won by Ian McCafferty. The very next day he was running for Springburn Harriers at Grangemouth in a five and a half mile road race where he finished third, one place behind team mate Eddie Knox, in the winning team. Sixth on Saturday, third on Sunday in teams that were second and first.
Then came a real test – on 21st January the University took part in the European Cup competition of national cross-country champions in Arlon in Belgium. The team finished fifth with Ian in fifteenth place leading home the Scottish representatives, followed by Alistair Blamire in seventeenth and Gareth Bryan-Jones in eighteenth. Jim Wight had a bad fall on the last lap which pushed him back to twenty first The team might have been fourth but they nevertheless defeated the national champions of West Germany, Ireland, Switzerland and Luxemburg. Lifted by this excellent performance they went out in the Scottish Universities Championships on their own trail at King’s Buildings and produced the first eight finishers. The individual winner was Ian Young who was never any lower than second for the duration of the race. All of the first eight were chosen to represent Scottish Universities in the BUSF Championships at Parliament Hill Fields in London. These were held on 4th February and for the first time ever a Scottish team won the event. First Scottish runner was again Ian Young in eighth with the others placed 11th, 13th, 14th and 21st=.
There was no let up: the next week it was the Edinburgh and District League Match and Ian was fifth Hare and Hounds man to finish – Blamire, Logue, Hathorn and Wight were ahead of him – but he was part of the winning team. In the National Championships, 1967, the race was distorted by the presence of the New Zealand International Cross-Country team that was having a run-out before the International. Ian finished 24th, third EUHH man behind the two Wight brothers, in a race where he was disappointed to finish only fifteenth Scot. The team won from Edinburgh Southern – 109 points to 253!
How to account for this remarkable season? Alistair Blamire says, “By regularly training up to 100 miles per week, often in the company of Gareth Bryan-Jones and occasionally with me, Ian was the leading EU runner in season 1966/67 when the club was at its most successful as a team.” Alistair himself had had a very good winter and as a Junior he had great race in the national against Ian’s Springburn team mate, Eddie Knox. The Glasgow Herald said “The battle in the junior race between E Knox and A Blamire was the feature of the afternoon. Over all but the last 100 yards of the five miles they were inseparable, but over the last vital stretch Knox got his head in front and managed to repulse Blamire’s dying effort.” Bear in mind that the best New Zealand runners were contestin the races that afternoon and that the cream of Scottish talent was there. To be part of the ‘feature of the afternoon’ is no small compliment to the men involved.
In the Rowland Shield Match in Durham on 6th May, a contest between Leeds, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Strathclyde, Durham, Carnegie and Sheffield Universities, he was second in the Two miles in 9:20.0 for the EU team that was second to Leeds. Later that month, on 25th May at New Meadowbank, he was second in the Three Miles behind Gareth Bryan-Jones in 14:01.6 Summer was going well for him, The Scottish Universities Championships were held at Westerlands in Glasgow, on a windy 3rd June and Ian won the Three Miles in 14:16 from Alistair Blamire and John Myatt (Strathclyde). In the biggest championship in Scotland in the summer, Ian was second in the Three Miles behind Lachie Stewart in 14:07.6 with Springburn’s Eddie Knox third in 14:14.
That was a superb cross-country season followed by an outstanding summer – a difficult feat unless the athlete gets the transition right. How does Ian account for it?
“My good 3 mile performances in 1967 started with winning the Edinburgh University 3 mile championship (which I repeated in 1968), the race where Gareth beat me was the East District 3 mile champs, but then I won the Scottish Univ as you say, before finishing 2nd to Lachie in the SAAA Champs at Meadowbank. In April that year I also ran my best ever Tom Scott 10 mile road race in EU colours finishing in a time of 48min 01sec and that bloody second has annoyed me ever since!”
Ian running in the Tom Scott in Springburn colours in 1963
After the successful summer, Ian was back in action in the relays that autumn. It is difficult at this distance to realise just how good EUHH teams at that point were. Universities with fairly rapid turnover of personnel usually have performances that vary, sometimes wildly, from year to year but this Edinburgh team went for over a decade with pretty well every runner an internationalist. You could pretty well pick any four from ten and they would win the team event. Similarly a runner could be the sixth or seventh of those representing the team and still have done an excellent day’s racing. In 1967/68 the University teams won the District relay comfortably and then they won the Edinburgh and District League with six men in the first eight and also won the second team competition. The auguries for the Edinburgh to Glasgow were good and on the day the team was good enough to win for the third year in succession. It was a harder fought race than had been the case the previous year – eighth on the first stage, fifth after the second, fourth after the third before Dave Logue on the fourth gave them a lead of four seconds over Shettleston. Ian ran next and extended the lead to 34 seconds and thereafter the team was never headed. Again, Ian was only a single second behind the day’s fastest time – 23:04 to 23:03 by Aberdeen’s J Taylor. If Ian had been the University’s top man the previous winter, it was Alistair Blamire in 1967/68 who led the way in ’68/’69 and this was shown in another epic tussle for the Scottish Universities against the SCCU against old rival Eddie Knox, the Glasgow Herald remarking that “they ran like machines stuck in top gear” with Knox winning by only two seconds, and the SCCU defeating the Universities. Although Ian ran in the Nigel Barge Road Race at the start of 1968, he was ultimately unplaced in what was a very good field indeed. Gareth Bryan-Jones and Alistair Blamire were first and second with Pat Maclagan of Victoria Park third.
Ian did not run in either the District Championships or the National that season but he did run the following summer before retiring much too early in 1970 because of continuing serious Achilles tendon injuries. As has been said, there is more about Ian’s time in Edinburgh in Alistair’s book but another whose name has already been mentioned, Fergus Murray, can have the final words about him:
“Ian came to Edinburgh late on in my time there and had his greatest achievements after I had left. However, like so many of that era, we have never lost contact and to this day meet from time to time for a meal or some social event.
Characterised with Ian’s approach to business, which cannot be half-hearted, he usually left soon after the Saturday’s race to attend to the music club he ran but not entirely to the exclusion of team-mates. I remember coming back to Edinburgh after the BUSF championships in February 1965 where he treated us to a meal on the way home………….much appreciated by impecunious students ! His 21st party too, was a celebrated evening and he never forgot his student-days landladies, the Camerons of Mayfield Terrace.”
Stephen leading Rob Carey in the SCCU Junior Men’s Championships, 1986
Stephen Begen was one of a very talented group of young endurance runners that included Alistair Currie, Alaister Russell, Adrian Callan and Tom Hanlon. They were possibly a bit overshadowed by the previous generation of John Robson, Graham Williamson, Nat Muir, Allister Hutton and Neil Tennant, at a time when Scottish athletics was almost a conveyor belt of talent. Muir and Hutton were not too far behind Lachie Stewart, Ian Stewart and Ian McCafferty generation either. Among the runners of his own generation Steven earned every international honour that came his way and it is worth looking at his career in some detail.
Steven came from a rough area of Glasgow but was spotted as a promising runner by his PE teacher, John Cairney of Shettleston Harriers, and encouraged to take up the sport. He went along to Springburn Harriers and Eddie Sinclair and a whole new world opened up for him. Eddie demanded commitment and Steven was prepared to give him that commitment – and the results were clear for all to see.
Young Stephen ran in the Scottish schools championships three times in all. He is pictured above running for All Saints Secondary School in the Scottish Schools Championships at Heriot Watt University in 1980/81 when he finished third behind David Russell and David McShane. This earned him selection for the British schools international held at Havant in a team completed by the addition of Scott Holden and Tom Hanlon. He also ran in the Glasgow schools championships which was quite a big race and won his age group twice. He was 15 when his father died and he had to leave school. At that point he was working in a bakery before and after school. His schools athletics over, he continued with Springburn Harriers and the only coach he would ever work with – Eddie Sinclair.
At Springburn as a junior boy (Under 13) his first medal had come his way on 6 October 1979 in the Young Athletes Relay, known as the Living Fire relay after the company which sponsored the event. Each team contained three junior boys, three senior boys and three Youths with the objective to test and nurture strength and depth in the clubs. Springburn was the first team home, three minutes up on second placed Falkirk Victoria Harriers and Stephen had his medal. This was followed by the Lanarkshire County Relays on 13th October where Springburn was again first team, Steven was of course still a novice at that point and the club’s top runner in the age group at that point was M Kerr who was quickest on the day. Later that month, on 20th October in the West District Young Athletes Relay at Johnstone, Springburn was first team although on this occasion Stephen did not make the A team – the runners were M Kerr, J Kyle, A Callan who were all more experienced and faster than he was. In the National Relays on 27th October, Falkirk Victoria Harriers were first team, Springburn was second but the fastest time was by a runner who would be one of Steven’s real rivals for several years, Scott Holden of Falkirk. The two main championships of the winter season take place after New Year and in the West District Championships on 19th January, 1980, in Clydebank, he was 20th Junior Boy, second Springburn runner and the team finished fifth. The National came round on 9th February, and Steven was 18th in his age group.
The new cross-country season started on 11 Oct 1980 with Stephen now up an age group running in the Senior Boys relay at the Lanarkshire Championship in relay at Coatbridge where the team won the title. On 28th November, in the Lanarkshire Championships, Springburn won all the titles except the Youths team. He was rapidly progressing and on 17th January, 1981 in the West Districts Bellahouston Steven was eighth Senior Boy, and the team was fourth. On 28th February in the National championships, he was thirteenth finisher – one place ahead of Alistair Currie. There were 182 finishers, Springburn won the team race with I Davidson (4), K Sinclair (8), Stephen and A Day (46)
So far most of his successes had been as part of a team but in September 1981 he won the Livingston road race – it was run the same weekend that his father died and all the more significant for that. He followed that on 5th December 1981 the popular East Kilbride Road Races were held and Stephen Begen was first in the senior boys one and a half miles race. Two weeks later on 19th December in the Inter Counties at Houston in the snow, the first three Senior Boys were Robert Hawkins of Kilbarchan, Brian Scally of Shettleston and Stephen Begen who led the Lanarkshire county team to victor. On 2nd January 1982 in the classic New Year’s races at Beith, Springburn won the Senior Boys race. Events were coming thick and fast at this point and Stephen was i on the action. At the end of the month, on 23rd January, in the West District Champs, Stephen was 7th and the first three in the race were Skilling of Ayr, G Walker of Clydesdale, and B Scally of Shettleston. Springburn had the third team with Begen leading scoring runners M Kerr and D Donnet home. Before the National on 27th February, Stephen won the Glasgow Schools Cross-Country Championship.
The National was at Irvine on 27th February, and Stephen was second in the Senior Boys race behind Scott Holden of Falkirk Victoria Harriers. He was only two seconds down – 17:18 to 17:20. Brian Scally who had beaten Stephen in several races, was fourth. There were 172 finishers.
Stephen was never known as a track runner but in the Scottish Senior Boys track championship on 27th June at Meadowbank, he was seventh in the 1500m as with a time of 4:25.83. That was his only track ranking as a young athlete despite all his cross-country and road race successes.
Into the 1982/83 season and on the 9th October, the team was second in the Lanarkshire road relays at Coatbridge. In the West District Cross-Country on 22nd January 1983 he was second behind David Russell, Law & District, the very good runner who won every age group championship at District and National level from Under 13 to Under 20 levels. The main race of the cross-country season was the national in February 1983 where Stephen, up an age group to Youths level (Under 17) was second to Bobby Quinn of Kilbarchan, and in front of Steven Marshall and David McShane who were third and fourth. They were a very impressive quartet who would have held their own in any cross-country tournament at any time. Into summer 1983 and although not known as a track runners, Steven showed what he could do when in the SAAA age group championships at Scotstoun on June 11th he had an amazing distance running double. In the Under 17’s age group he won the 1500m in 4:08.33, which was a good performance in its own right, and went on to take the 3000m title in 8:54.32.
Stephen’s biggest moment of his career so far came on 25 February, 1984 in the National Youth Championship Cross-Country at Beach Park, Irvine when he won from Pat Morris of Cambuslang Harriers (22:19 to 22:35) and Tom Hanlon of Edinburgh. The reward was selection for the international cross-country team for the world championships in New York. This was the first time, other than once in the very north of Africa, that the championships had been held outside Europe. They were on the fast running Meadowside Race course in New Jersey with 15 complete teams in the Junior race. Withe four runners to count, Stephen was the last scoring runner for the Scottish team when he finished in 66th place. David McShane was 76th and Alistair Currie 90th.
Stephen on the right, behind David McShane, in New York, 1984
As a junior in season 1984/85 Stephen was eligible for many more races and, although he was only a first year junior, he had to face the much larger fields of seniors of all ages in almost every race. This was evident in the first race of the winter, the McAndrew Relay at Scotstoun, where there were 135 teams and 540 runners in action. Springburn finished out of the medals but not without a fight – they were leading at the end of the second stage. Stephen missed the District and National Relays but on Sunday 18th November he ran his first Edinburgh to Glasgow relay, running on the third stage, he ran well to hold his position and hand over the baton in third place.
In the West District Championships on 26th January 1985 Stephen was second in the Junior behind Bobby Quinn of Kilbarchan but ahead of McShane, Wight and Carey. On 23rd February the National Championships were held at the Jack Kane Sports Centre in Edinburgh and in his first year as a Junior Man, Steven finished ninth. There were two English runners in front of him – Paul Dugdale and Richard Archer and there were also runners who, while they were junior men within Scotland, were seniors internationally. In addition Stephen’s run in the District Championships had been a very good one, and he was selected for the international race in Lisbon at the end of March.
Stephen had been no less successful on the roads in 1984 either – the best race being his victory in the Grangemouth ‘Round the Houses’.
Kodak 10K Road Race, Glasgow, 1986: Stephen can be seen behind number 17, Bobby Quinn’s left shoulder
Springburn had several good runners coming together at the same time and after the George Cummings relay at the end of September, and the McAndrew at the start of October, the top three of Graham Crawford, Adrian Callan and Stephen Begen all ran in the same four man team with the reliable Jim Cooper in the West District relay championship at Kilmarnock on 19th October where they finished second with Stephen on the anchor leg. Unfortunately, when it came to the National Relays at St Andrews only one of that four was able to turn out and the club finished 10th. They were all in the eight man team for the Edinburgh to Glasgow Relay on 17th November 1985 with Stephen running on the fourth stage; the team finished eighth. The two big championships in 1986 were the District and the National Championships. Stephen won the West District championship at Rouken Glen from Stephen Connaghan of Spango Valley AAC and the tough Rob Carey of Annan & District AAC. Top junior in the west, and it was on to the national championships. After a very tough race at Irvine with Rob Carey of Annan & District AC, he came out on top to take the title. Stephen admits that it was a hard one and as was often the case, he gives credit to his coach Eddie Sinclair. As they came to the top of the Dragon Hill, there was Eddie calling to him to go for it; hearing that Carey seemed to drop back and Stephen went on to victory, leading the Springburn team to third place medals. This won him his first Senior World Championship vest for the event held at Neuchatel in Switzerland.
Clubmate Tom Gillespie has a nice story about Stephen’s second Scottish Junior Championship. He says –
My own best memory is of him winning the National junior XC at Irvine. He’d been away from the club for the previous few months, and was even assumed to have packed in like a lot of others that age. Saw him walking with Eddie Sinclair for most of the time of his warmup, and he then goes out and wins. When I asked him about it, he replied that “Yes, Eddie was very motivational…”
There was more high quality running to come from Stephen yet. On 9th March, 1986, the Kodak 10K was held in Glasgow, starting and finishing at Crown Point Track. The field was one of the best assembled in the country for a 10K. Nat Muir, Allister Hutton, John Robson, Lawrie Spence, Fraser Clyne, Bobby Quinn were the top Scots on the line; there were Colin Reitz, Paul Davies-Hale and Bernie Ford from England as well as Paul O’Callaghan, John McLaughlin and Gerry Craig from Ireland. They can all be seen in Graham MacIndoe’s photograph above And Steven was in the mix too. It was a hard, hard race – it was also very fast with the first 15 being inside 30 minutes, 16th was 30:01 and 17th was 30:07. Steven finished 12th in 29:44, and not surprisingly, was the first Under 20 runner. Behind him there were a whole host of quality distance running talent – Lawrie Spence, Adrian Weatherhead, Fraser Clyne, Peter Fleming, Graham Crawford and many others. It was a top class event and a fitting run from Steven. The photograph below shows Stephen working really hard in front of Peter Fleming and Graham Crawford on the run-in to the track: all three were sub-30 minutes.
Running 29:44 for 10K was good – but Stephen did it twice. Later that year he was invited to the Battersea Park 10K in London and again ran 29:44. To be so close to a personal best for the distance must have been disappointing to say the least but it did confirm the great shape he was in.,
At the end of the month – Sunday, 30th March – he was in the Springburn Harriers team that finished an agonising fourth in the National six-stage relays. Running on the fourth stage he pulled the team from fourth to third and in the process setting the fastest time of the day for his lap.
Kodak 10K, Glasgow, 1986. Stephen finishing ahead of Peter Fleming and Graham Crawford
In season 1986/87, although he did not run often, Stephen did help his club to more medals – they were second team in the National Cross-Country relay held on 24th October, 1987 at Galashiels. He ran on the fourth stage in a team of Adrian Callan, David Donnet and Graham Crawford. Adrian ran the fastest time of the day and Stephen was eleventh in a race where 108 complete teams finished.
Among Stephen’s honours in a wonderful career, which was really too short, were the three races in World Cross-Country teams in 1984, 1985 and 1986. It is worth noting that he twice moved up an age group for international duty: in 1984 he had won the SCCU Youths title and competed in the Junior race, and in 1986 he won the Junior Scottish championship and competed as a Senior Man.
All Scottish champions are talented and fast runners on whatever surface they find themselves. That’s a given. Not all courses are alike despite the trend towards flat fast grass running, and runners have preferences. When the West District championships were held on a frozen, hilly course at East Kilbride in the 70’s, many Scottish and even British runners turned up but refused to run. Similarly when the national was held on a muddy, hard, hilly trail at Livingston, several of the top men did not race. When you ask Stephen about his favourite country venues he mentions Stewarton in Ayrshire and the Braidfield Farm course in Clydebank. Both hard unforgiving venues for the event. That tells you what else the man brought to his sport – a sense of balance, yes, but also courage. To run fast down a rock strewn hill, or leap an Ayrshire burn demands both. Hard work, speed and courage were the secrets of his success. His achievements were recognised by his club and in 1987 he was made an Honorary Life Member of Springburn Harriers.
The last words come from Stephen himself. He was asked a few questions about his time as a runner,
- the first being what he regarded as his best race. “I think my best race was the Kodak 10K when I managed to run sub 30 minutes and test myself against some top senior athletes. Equally my second Scottish championship at Beach Park was probably my toughest test where Rob Carey pushed me to my limits on the day.”
- What athletes all want to know, he was asked to give some information about his training: “A typical week would look like this: Monday: 15 x 150 at full pace; Tuesday: 6-8 mile bunch run at 90% race pace with all-out assault on the last 1k; Wednesday: 8 x 400, all sub 60 seconds with 1 minute recovery; Thursday: Steady bunch run, about 8 miles; Friday: Easy jog or walk; Saturday: Race; Sunday: 20 mile easy run plus a fast 3-4 mile leg opener in the evening,”
- When and why did he stop running, after all he had just run in his first senior international. “Although it seems I did run some of the 1987 season, I really had made my mind up after the 1986 world cross-country. I was already running twice a day, four times a week. I really couldn’t see myself punish as hard while working full time on a building site. I, rightly or wrongly, though that if I can’t reach the standards of top athletes with the effort I was putting in thenI couldn’t see the point. “
- Looking back at his running career, what did he get from it? “Discipline, commitment, friendship and a sense of belonging. I firmly believe that the traits Eddie instilled in the young athletes paved the way for our futures. I personally took those traits into my working life and have continued to keep them close. Running gave me an escape from what I saw as a limited future, it opened my world to new horizons and the ability to reach my goals.”
- I have fond memories of track meetings at Coatbridge – running the 200m and doing the high jump in league meetings. I also met many fantastic people: Aidy Callan was a true gent, Eddie Sinclair a real inspiration, Steven Murphy is still my best mate and Nat Muir was an idol but very down to earth.
That is quite a testament to Eddie Sinclair, his coach, but when Stephen compares himself to the top athletes in the mid 1980’s, he is not comparing like with like. He was doing a strenuous day job and training twice a day on top of that while the top men were full time professionals, with unlimited sponsorship and back-up facilities. Regardless of that, Stephen was a genuine credit to the sport, to the club and to himself.