Alastair Shaw’s Pictures

There are pages of Alastair’s photographs on www.anentscottishrunning.com but we have recently received some more from the 1970’s and 80’s which are reproduced here with some of his comments where they are appropriate.   The first three are from the Dundee BA Games in 1984,

Carol Sharp and Yvonne Murray

Sandra Whittaker

Eddie Taylor and Iain Robertson

Next up are several from Scotstoun with Moira Walls in the high jump –

Note the landing area …  

Alastair says:  The slide is marked as being Moira. I seem to recall she started out using the Western Roll before the Fosbury Flop came into fashion. A good example of how basic high jump landing areas used to be. From the clipboard in the hand of the man to the left I guess it was a competition, possibly a pentathlon as there is another photo of the shot which, whilst not marked as Moira Walls, is someone of her build in the same Western colours.

 

Still Scotstoun – maybe Moira putting the shot.

July 1984, HFC Trust Games: John Robson and Steve Ovett

Same Meeting: Fatima Whitbread and Diane Royale

My beautiful picture

1977  Scotstoun: Alastair says:   This  one features Evelyn Smith, Connie Methven, Christine McMeekin and Alan Rough. Behind Evelyn in Tom Dunkeld.   

I took this one but I can’t recall the specific event which may have been a fundraiser. However you may remember Connie Methven put forward a proposal in the late 1970’s for Glasgow to host the Olympic/ Commonwealth Games and I think it may be related to that. This would square with Christine wearing the GB tracksuit as she ran at the Montreal Games. Alan would have been at the peak of his career at the time if we’re talking 1976/77

 

 

Inter-University Sports: 1871 – 73

The Glasgow University grounds at Gilmorehill

The Inter-University Sports began in March, 1871.   The Scotsman of 25th March which tells us that the event took place on Saturday, 18th March, 1871.  The report in the Scotsman of two days later, read as follows (under the heading of ‘Gymnastics’).

The first annual Scottish Inter-University Sports came off on Saturday with gratifying success at the Academical Club’s grounds at Raeburn Place.   An Inter-University gathering for Scotland similar to that which is annually held for the students of Oxford and Cambridge was attempted to be got up last year but owing to some misunderstanding on the part of the Aberdeen students committee, the arrangements fell through.   Early in the present year, overtures were made by representatives from Edinburgh, Glasgow and St Andrews for a trial of athletic supremacy, and the result of the negotiations was the highly satisfactory celebration of sport on Saturday, which, it may now be anticipated, will be an annual affair.   The weather, tat most important element in the success of outdoor sports, was fair and mild, and the cricket ground was visited by several thousand ladies and gentlemen.   The scene was gay and animated and the pleasure of the visitors was enhanced by the performance of the band of the 13th Hussars.   The programme was similar to that carried out at the anniversary of the great English Universities – the chief items being a 100 yards, quarter mile, mile and two miles races, jumping, putting the cannon-ball and throwing the hammer.   The members of each university were easily distinguished by the coloured badges.  The arrangements were  however, but indifferent and the sports were protracted beyond measure.   Edinburgh University at the close showed well in front  –  the lion’s share of the prizes falling to the students of the metropolitan college.”

 “The first event was throwing the cricket ball, and Le Mesurier, Edinburgh, distanced his opponents – winning the prize with a throw of 100 yards 2 inches.   Then came the sprint race.   In the first heat, Rayner (E) took the lead of Guerard (St A) and Sands (St A) and  retaining it to the tape, won by a yard.   Cathcart jumped off from score with an advantage in the second heat, and secured victory after a capital struggle from Hill (St A) and McCausland (G) by a yard and a half.   Butler (St A) walked over for the third heat – his two opponents not putting in an appearance.   In the final, Rayner, who started next to the ropes, pressed his two opponents to the left in a manner which would have been decided a foul in any running track, came in first a foot in front of Cathcart, but so far had all three run out of their lines that they were without the tape, and the judges ordered the race to be run over again as neither of the competitors had breasted the tape!  On another attempt Rayner and Cathcart ran a dead heat and the judges awarded a medal to each.   The Mile race, for which there were nine competitors excited considerable interest.   Mapleton, the winner at the trial sports, was favourite.   At the pistol shot, Towers Clark (G) made the running at a tremendous pace the third of a mile and led by 30 yards, when Hunter (St A) went up to the front and held a lead of 10 yards, Mapleton and Kinloch being in the ruck.  The two last named shot out and joined Hunter in running up the back stretch.   In the last lap, Mapleton, Kinloch and Hunter ran a tremendous race to the south path where Kinloch gave Hunter the go-by – Mapleton who had been too late in putting the steam on and had therefore a deal of ground to make up, struggling after them.   Entering the straight, Kinloch had a lead of five yards and he won by three and a half yards.   A splendid struggle for second honours went on between Hunter and Mapleton – the latter being beaten by only 18 inches. Hitherto all the honours had gone to Edinburgh but in putting the weight, St Andrews got a turn, the victor being Lundie who putted the cannon ball 41 feet.   For the quarter Mile there was a very good struggle although the event was never really in doubt for Rayner who led all the way and won by 20 yards.   Macfarlane (E) won the wide jump very easily – neither of his opponents reaching his first jump.   The hurdle race was an exciting event.   Marshall walked over for the first heat, and in the second Macfarlane got beat contrary to expectations by Bairnsfather (St A) by a foot.   R McFarlane (G) fell.   We believe Macfarlane was put back a foot for a false start.   Spence (E) fell in the third heat and Greathead won.   The final after a great race proved a dead heat between Marshall and Bairnsfather.   The two mile race was another turnup – Hunter (St A) being looked upon as the best at that distance.   Fisher (St A) , AI McCrae and Richardson (in the order named) ran the first lap when Richardson went to the front. Hunter last of all.   All of them dropped out by the fifth round except Richardson, McCrae and Hunter and the former won by 40 yards, Hunter 6 yards behind McCrae.   

It may be mentioned that the winner of the mile, Kinloch, has secured good honours at Cambridge on the ash and ran for Hutchinson, who won the right to contest the Mile in the trial sports a fortnight ago.   He thought before the race that his chance was so hopeless that we believe he offered to make the pace for the favourite Mapleton.   Rayner, the winner of the quarter mile and of the victors in the 100 yards, is the best amateur that the University has produced since Dr C Bauchope’s day.   Hunter and Guerard who made such a good appearance for St Andrews in the mile and quarter mile respectively, would have given a much better account of themselves had they run in spiked shoes and got such a training as the Edinburgh men received.   Mr T Callaghan, manager of Powderhall grounds,  acted as starter with the pistol.   The judges were Professor Cowan, Glasgow, and Professor Heddle, St Andrews.”

It was a good detailed report which has been reprinted in its entirety (apart from the list of results which can be consulted at the newspaper) for two reasons.   First it was the ‘first annual’ meeting and should be available; and second, for what the detail of the report tells us about the sport of the day and the roots of modern athletics.

The very successful Edinburgh team had clearly taken the event very seriously and had held a full on trial on 4th March in the Merchiston School grounds where “Those capable of judging considered the performances no proper criterion of the merits of the competitors, who were placed at a great disadvantage in contending on so unsuitable ground and it really is a pity that this, the most important club in Scotland, does not celebrate their sports on a proper enclosed ground.”   The lamentations continued, but the events produced most of those who won the competition twp weeks later: Le Mesurier won the cricket ball, Mapleton the Mile, McFarlane the Long Leap (called the wide jump in the inter universities), Cathcart and Urquhart equal in the 100 yards, Urquhart the quarter mile, McFarlane the hurdle race, Mapleton and Richardson were 1-2 in the two miles, and Sievewright the high leap.   

The Glasgow Herald report of the same date was quite critical of the home team.   Note the following extract.

“Edinburgh carried off eight prizes, St Andrews three; but unfortunately Glasgow did not secure one.   The Glasgow competitors showed a great want of training, but, no doubt, their ill-luck on this occasion will incite them to great efforts so that they may be better prepared for the Sports of 1872.   The prizes, which consisted of handsome medals, were presented to the successful men by the judges.”

University of Glasgow

A pre-script, as opposed to a post-script, of the championships appeared in the form of this item in the ‘Scotsman’ of 18th March, 1872.   

“ATHLETICS

Glasgow University Trial Sports.   These preliminary trials in connection with the Inter-University Sports, came off on the University field at Gilmorehill on Saturday, but they were considered private, and therefore do not call for particular comment.”

They must have had an inch of space on the page that day, but the message was clear: Glasgow University was taking this year’s championships more seriously than last year’s.   It was after all a home fixture, and they had been roundly criticised for their performance.   The sports were held the following Saturday and the report read:

The Scottish Inter-University Sports took place on Saturday at Burnbank Cricket Ground, Glasgow.   With the rising popularity of athletics in schools and colleges, an annual competition between the members of the Scottish Universities , similar to that yearly held between the two great Universities of England, was desiderated, both on account of the good fellowship and feelings such meetings would promote between the students of the four national Universities, and the spirit of friendly emulation which they would excite.   Accordingly three years ago an effort was made to arrange an inter-University gala at Perth, but owing to some misunderstanding with the Aberdeen representatives, the meeting did not take place.   Aberdeen still held back last year, but Edinburgh, Glasgow and St Andrews went heartily into the proposal and a highly satisfactory meeting took place in Edinburgh in March last.   This year the Aberdonians joined issue with the Southern Universities and the meeting on Saturday was thoroughly representative and national.   The cricket ground at Burnbank is scarcely a suitable place for an athletics gathering , the turf being indifferent and the “going” bad.  This drawback to the entire success of the sports was increased by the inauspicious nature of the weather Snow hail and sleet fell at short intervals throughout the day, and a piercingly cold wind prevailed.   The spectators, as might be supposed, were few in number and although the band of the 90th Regiment did all that they could by their excellent performances to enliven the proceedings, enthusiasm did not run high nor was the assemblage ever particularly gay.   Last year Edinburgh came in for the lion’s share of the honours and the Glasgow men were unable to gain even one prize; but the students in St Mungo seem to have made good use of the gymnasium at the new University at Gilmorehill, which, by the way, is said to be the best appointed north of Liverpool, as they carried off on Saturday a fair share of the awards.    

The sports commenced with throwing the cricket ball and JM Cotterill. Edinburgh, secured the medal for a throw of 110 ½ yards, Le Mesurier being second with a throw of 108 yards 10 inches.   The last named gentleman was first last year with a throw of 100 yards 2 inches, so that the work of Saturday showed a considerable improvement.  The sprint race was run in two Heats – the first of which was won by Johnston, Glasgow, who made all the running and won by a yard from Williamson, Aberdeen, and Calverly, Edinburgh, who ran for Macfarlane who wished to reserve himself for the quarter mile.   In the second Heat, J Neill, Edinburgh, won rather easily from R Thomson, Glasgow; but in the final Thomson reversed positions and beat Neill.   Thomson got a yard the best of the start and he and Neill soon drew out from the other pair.   Neill at half distance soon drew alongside Thomson and seemed to have the race in hand, but the latter stuck to his work like a game-cock, would not be shaken off, and making a good spurt at the finish, landed the best event of the day by six inches.    After the first round of putting the ball it was easily observable that only Lundie, St Andrews, and Forsyth, Edinburgh, were in it, and the former eventually won easily, the distance being 32 feet 6 ½  inches to Forsyth’s 32 feet 1 inch, although Lundie could easily have thrown another 9 feet: last year he won the medal by a throw of 41 feet. The quarter mile was a somewhat hollow affair as Macfarlane, Edinburgh, had the race in hand from end to end.   The wide jump was secured by D McKinnon, Glasgow, the distance covered being 17 feet 2 ½ inches.   This performance of the Edinburgh representative was disappointing, and he must have been out of practice as at the Inter-Universities Sports last year he carried off the medal with a jump of 19 feet 9 inches and he has more than once cleared 21 feet.   The Mile was another rather indifferent event and possessed none of the interest as that of last year.   Mapleton who broke down in this event in 1871 when favourite and only finished third, drew out from the start, attended by Dick, St Andrews, and Richardson, Edinburgh.   The latter gentleman had evidently not been in training, and he cut it, and the favourite came in as winner, Dick second, Richardson third.   Brown Edinburgh, and Brownlow, Glasgow, tied for the high jump at 5 feet ½ inch, but the rising ground was bad or the result might have been different, as the former secured the medal in 1871 with a jump 7 inches higher.   Macfarlane won the hurdles race with great ease.  Lundie and Forsyth out distanced their opponents at throwing the hammer at the outset, but Lundie had not such an easy victory over the Edinburgh representative as in putting the ball, for after an exciting contest he only beat Forsyth by 11 inches – the distance being – Lundie 73 feet 11 inches, Forsyth 73 feet.   The Mile Walk created some fun and Councell, Aberdeen, – a very smart walker – would have won but, thinking he had completed the Mile, he stopped short a lap and Forsyth won.   The judges were Professor MacLeod and Mr JJ Reid, Glasgow, and the start was Captain Glascott, 32nd Regiment.”

University of St Andrews

On 15th April, 1873 it was the turn of St Andrews to host the championship and ‘the sports took place in a field close to the town, and being of a sandy soil. was well adapted for the purpose.‘   The difference this time round was that the University of Aberdeen took part in the event.   Well, one athlete represented the northernmost university but we can come back to that.   There were eleven events and the result was another victory for Edinburgh.   They had six first and five second prizes, St Andrews had two firsts and two seconds, Glasgow had two firsts and two seconds and Aberdeen had one first and one  second.   There was the repeated assertion that the meeting was not well run: “No one seemed to know how to manage a meeting of this kind except perhaps Professor Heddle, who acted as Judge and worked most zealously to keep things moving.”   

There was however a  genuine organisational matter which arose early in the afternoon:  “Aberdeen was only represented by Mr G Cran, her most favourable entrant, J McCombie Smith, although attending the College daily, having been objected to on the ground that he had at one time or another taken part in public or professional meetings.   Rather a hard law, certainly, and one that will doubtless cause a deal of discussion in athletic circles.”   

Many of the winners were recognisable from the previous meetings: Cotterill (E) won the cricket ball, Thomson (G) the 100 yards, Dick (St A) won the half mile, Cran (A) the High Leap, Montgomery (E) won putting the 22lb stone and the hammer, Cathcart (E) the quarter mile, Brunton (G) the Long Jump, McFarlane (E) the hurdles, Mile Lord (E) and vaulting with the pole was a tie between TC Hope (G) and P Anton (St A).   There was one strangely named new event.   It was the  “Hop, Step (or Two Hops) and Jump” and was won by HL Dick of St Andrews.   

The Glasgow University facility at Gilmorehill

On the Tuesday after the Sports, the following letter appeared in The Scotsman.

Scottish Inter University sports

Aberdeen, March 17th, 1873

Sir – In connection with the so-called “Scottish Inter-University Sports” at St Andrews on Saturday last, I hope you will allow me to make a few remarks as to the justness of the acting committee’s decision in debarring me from competing.  

Until Saturday last these sports were believed by most students, and by the public at large in Scotland, to be open to all regularly matriculated students of the Scottish Universities.   Being a regularly matriculated student of Aberdeen University, I was therefore considerably surprised when a member of the Edinburgh University Athletic Club told me that if I had ever run with a professional I could not be allowed to compete.   Now if this decision had come b y a majority of the students attending the Scottish Universities, I would have let the matter rest, but having good reason to that I was disqualified by a number of interested individuals, intrusted with power to disqualify whom they pleased, I protest against their decision, and I hope that in future these sports will be open to all regularly matriculated students of the Scottish Universities, and that next year, when the Edinburgh men come to Aberdeen, they will not have it in their power to disqualify anyone whom they are afraid to meet in straightforward, honourable trial.

In conclusion, lest the Edinburgh University athletes should be too elated with their victories of Saturday last, I have great pleasure in acquainting them with the following facts:- 1st, that I am a regularly matriculated student of a Scottish University; 2d That I am prepared to prove my ability to win 6 out of the 11 events forming the programme of the “Scottish Inter-University Sports”  from any student of the four Scottish Universities, and am therefore, the Champion University Athlete of Scotland.

William McCombie Smith.

On the Wednesday came the reply:

Edinburgh, March 19th, 1873

Sir –

In reply to Mr McCombie Smith’s letter in today’s Scotsman, as the member of the Edinburgh University Athletic Club alluded to by him, and as Hon. Sec. of the EUAC, I hope you will allow me to place the true state of the case before the Public.   Although the Scottish Inter-University Sports are open to members of the four Scottish Universities, they are only open to such members as are amateurs, and anyone acquainted with Athletic matters will know that if Amateur should compete in any race open to Professionals he is thereby liable to be disqualified from competing in any future Amateur competition.   Now on the ground on Saturday I asked Mr McCombie Smith not merely if he had competed with Professionals, but if he had competed in any races open to Professionals, and I distinctly understood him to say that he had done so.   I did this, not on my responsibility, but as one of the Inter-University Committee appointed at Perth at the preliminary meeting in February, “with full power to disqualify if necessary.”   Notice of this meeting was sent to members of Aberdeen University, but they did not think it necessary to send any representatives, so they had no representative on the Inter-University Committee.   

None of the Inter-University Committee had any interested motive, as Mr McCombie Smith seems to think, but merely fulfilled the function they were appointed for; and it was not only the members of Edinburgh University, but those of Glasgow and St Andrews who objected to Mr McCombie Smithy taking part in the sports on Saturday.

Mr McCombie Smith was informed by the Secretary of St Andrews University Athletic Club two or three days previous to the Sports, that if he had ever competed in professional races, he would not be allowed to compete.   Of course, any University might matriculate a professional, and thus have a “regularly matriculated student” to compete for them.

It is not probable that any athlete of any of the four Scottish Universities will condescend to dispute Mr McCombie Smith’s ‘modest’ assertion and claim  contained in the last paragraph of his letter; but if he can satisfactorily prove that he has not competed in any open professional races, he will have an opportunity next year of  “proving his ability” as an amateur athlete “in a straightforward, honourable trial” at the Scottish Inter-University Sports.

I am, yours, etc,

Charles W Cathcart, Hon. Sec., EUAC

At this point it would be interesting to see the appropriate Club and Committee Minutes to see where the dispute went.   However, whatever the subsequent comings and goings, this was to be the last Inter-University Sports until 1899 when they would be revived with a match at King’s College Aberdeen.

Incidentally, as a footnote, there were several books published in the 1890’s by a William McCombie Smith (“The Romance of Poaching in the Highlands” was one).   Given the timescale (eg the book mentioned was dated 1893) It could have been the same chap.)   Since writing the above, Jack Davidson told us that McCombie Smith was Donald Dinnie’s brother-in-law and wrote a book on the highland games.   He was indeed a good all-rounder who became a headmaster.

Craiglockhart

Craiglockhart Pavilion

Craiglockhart has been synonymous with Edinburgh University track and field athletics from before the start of the 20th century right up to 1969 and has seen many wonderful performances from athletes in all disciplines, not just from the home club but universities and club teams too.

However like the Universities of Glasgow and Aberdeen, Edinburgh University did not start out with the venue that was to become its permanent home.   I quote from the Edinburgh University Athletic Club history in the chapter on Origins and Growth: “A University Athletic Club without a sports field and pavilion is a contradiction in terms and strenuous efforts were made by the University Athletic Club to obtain a field in Edinburgh.   These efforts were unsuccessful, but an important step forward was taken in 1873 when Dr CW Cathcart, one of the most devoted members the Athletic Club has ever had, with TM Burn-Murdoch and some other Committee Members secured the lease of a level field at Corstorphine, near the railway station.   Money was raised with the aid of a Bazaar at which the exhibition and performance of a phonograph was a great novelty.   For the next 20 years Corstorphine was to be the hub of the Athletic Club activities.   The field was acquired by the University in 1876.”  

The opening of the Clock Tower at Craiglockhart

Alistair Blamire has this to say of the fields in his excellent book ‘The Green Machine, the story of EU H&H 1960-1970″:  The Edinburgh University playing fields at Craiglockhart were on land owned by the Edinburgh Merchant Company, who administer the nearby George Watson’s College and several other fee paying schools in the country.   The walled and tree-lined grounds had the benefit of an iconic Victorian timber pavilion consisting of changing rooms and spectator facilities and a clock tower which added significantly to the atmosphere for athletics meetings and rugby matches. ” 

There had been some controversy at the sports of 1873, held at St Andrews, when Aberdeen’s top runner was not allowed to compete because he had been running with professionals.   This may have had nothing at all to do with the fact that they were in abeyance from then until 1899 when they were held again at King’s College Grounds in Aberdeen. and came to Craiglockhart the following year on 16th June, 1900.   The report on the meeting in the ‘Scotsman’ the following Monday began:  

“At Craiglockhart on Saturday, in magnificent weather, and before a large and fashionable attendance, the representatives of the three great Scottish Universities – Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen – met to decide which University was entitled to claim for the present season the Scottish championship.   Last year these sports, which had then been revived and having been in abeyance for a long period, were held at Aberdeen, and Edinburgh on that occasion won with 11 points to Glasgow’s 8 1/2 and Aberdeen’s 7 1/2.   On Saturday it was anticipated that with an athlete of the calibre of WH Welsh among her representatives the Metropolitan University would have little difficulty in retaining the championship, and this anticipation was fully borne out by the result.   The items for competition were throwing the hammer, putting the weight, long leap, high jump, mile, quarter-mile, 220 yards, 100 yards, 120 yards hurdles.   Two Entrants from each university to compete.”

Its first major competition proved a success in terms of the standard of competition, smooth running organisation, spectator interest, and the weather helped too.    

The event was held at the same venue in 1903 but the 1906 version was special in that it marked the return to the championships of St Andrews University who had not been involved since the restart in 1899.   There was no mention of this in the short coverage in the Scotsman of 18th June, 1906 which simply said “The annual encounter between the athletes of the  Scottish Universities took place at Craiglockhart, Edinburgh, on Saturday under miserable weather conditions.   Rain fell all the time and the attendance in consequence was small,   Judged by times and distances the performances were poor, but the sodden track, a stiff head wind in some of the races, and the bad take-off in the jumps were all adverse factors.”   There were two Scottish champions in attendance who did not compete in all the events in which they were entered – JP Stark and WH Welsh.   The result was an overwhelming win for the Edinburgh team with 40 points to Aberdeen’s 14 1/2 pts, Glasgow’s 13 and St Andrews 2 1/2 pts.   They were held there again in 1910 before the 1914/18 war started in 1914.

After the War there was no doubt about the University’s top athlete – Eric H Liddell is one of Scotland’s best athletes ever.   Known for the exploits publicised through the film ‘Chariots of Fire’ he set records and won titles all over the British Isles as well as winning two Olympic medals.   Several of his best races were at Craiglockhart and he even set Scottish records there.   He ran his first 440 yards at Craiglockhart on 5th May, 1922, in the University Sports and won in 52.6 seconds.   A year later at the EUAC Sports he won the 220 yards on a straight grass track in 21.8 seconds.      Later that year in the Inter-University championships at Craiglockhart, he won the 100, the 220 and the 440 yards in 10.1, 21.6 and 50.2 seconds.   They were all meeting records and the 220, on the straight track, was a Scottish record which stood until 1960.    At this point it might be appropriate to comment on the track on which so many talented athletes trained and raced.  The  quarter mile track at Craiglockhart was not completely level. From the start one ran up a slight incline for around 100 yards.  There was the compensation of being able to run down a slight incline for 100 yards or so round the second bend of the track. 

  A former member of the Edinburgh University Athletic Club said:    ”  There was a straight 220 yards at Craiglockhart.   I remember it clearly but cannot be certain that it was ever used on any of the occasions when I was competing at the ground.   The start was near the pavilion.   Sitting on the seats at the front of the pavilion, the straight headed off to the right somewhat.  There was not the slightest possibility, in my opinion, that there was a slope which gave the runners any advantage.   There would be, however, the possibility of competitors being aided by a following wind.”   And Alistair Blamire in his book ‘The Green Machine’ makes a reference to the track when he says that Fergus Murray ran a 4:21.4 mile on the undulating grass track laid out on the playing fields at Craiglockhart.”  Final verdict from a former runnerI do not believe, however, that the lack of a completely level track slowed us down significantly.

A British international middle and long distance runner said that if he could find a good grass track he would never train anywhere else.   The track and grounds of Craiglockhart might have had no little part in the making of the many top quality international athletes who trained there.    

Other Edinburgh athletes in the late ‘teens and twenties were Hugh Maingay (middle distance runner),and Willie Hunter (long and high jumper).  Maingay was one of the founders of the Atalanta Club which represented the four ‘ancient’ universities and continued as a competitive unit until the mid 1960’s.    Although the SAAA championships alternated between Glasgow and Edinburgh at this time, it was only held at Craiglockhart once, in 1928, when Maingay won from Donald McLean of Maryhill in 2:01.4.

We can’t cover all of the Edinburgh University athletes of the Inter War years but one who must be singled out was Morris Carstairs – a top class endurance runner in the 1930’s whose running career terminated with the War and who became a highly respected psychiatrist and President of the World Mental Health Association after the hostilities ceased.   He was the Scottish 3 miles champion in 1937, 1938 and 1939. He represented Scotland at the 1937 International University Games, winning a silver medal in the 5000 metres in a time of 15:24.2. He also represented Scotland at the 1939 International University Games, winning a gold medal in the 5000 metres in a time of 15:20.2.   He represented Great Britain at the 1938 European Athletics Championships, coming sixth in the 5000 metres with a time of 14:51.3.

The first Inter-Universities Championship after the War was at Craiglockhart and was on 2nd June, 1950.   Edinburgh, having won the championship in the previous eight years were defending champions.   The main part of the report in The Scotsman the following Monday read:   “Not only were previous best performances for this meeting surpassed, but Scottish all-comers records went by the board as well in the hop, step and jump, which was won by WM Laing (St Andrews) and the long jump by SO Williams (Glasgow).   Both are from the Gold Coast.   Laing, who is hardly as well built as his Glasgow compatriot, had the magnificent jump of 48′ 5 3/4″.   He twice jumped clean out of the pit which had to be extended  for his benefit.   In his special event, Williams  who gets in a fine kick to give him extra distance in the air , did 24′ 1 1/2″ in an effort which entitles him to inclusion among the great experts in the art.   He also won the high jump which JL Hunter (Edinburgh) did not get as high as 6′ which he did when opposed by Williams in Glasgow the other week.   The other five inter-universities records which were beaten were in the half mile, in which not only T Begg improved his best but his Glasgow second string,  H Hatrick, also beat the record; the 440 yards hurdles in which DA Stewart (Edinburgh) ran splendidly to defeat the Scottish champion, RA Boyd; and the discus and the hammer and the relay, in which Glasgow again beta Edinburgh in a thrilling contest.   Another fine performance was that of DK Gracie (Glasgow) who just failed to break the late Eric Liddell’s quarter mile record of 50.2 seconds though he had the well-earned distinction of equalling it.”

JL Hunter, Edinburgh University

The 50’s was a great time for the Edinburgh University Athletic Club with many outstanding athletes,  Craiglockhart was the home of these champions.  The period will be looked at slightly more closely because of that.  Among the athletes of the time were JV Paterson over 440 and 880 yards, the wonderful Adrian Jackson and his distance running friend Hunter Watson in the Mile and Three who were an almost unbeatable combination with Watson taking the pace out in the Mile for the first three laps before Jackson edged past to win; CAR Dennis in the sprints and hurdles; the women produced a series of good athletes such as C Clephane sprinter, and W Bowden.   The University Championships were held annually at Craiglockhart and usually at the end of May, there were other annual fixtures such as the match with Glasgow University for the Appleton Trophy which was at Craiglockhart every second year, and the Inter-Universities was held there every four years (at this point it was 1950, 1954, 1958, 1962 etc).   The grass track there was always kept in good condition.   Unfortunately because there was no track of cinder or blaes it was not used for championships at District or National level.   It was good enough however for the athletics training of the Edinburgh students to win the Universities championship for the 25th time in 1952 at St Andrews.   

It was difficult to read of any Edinburgh University competition at this time without the name of CAR Dennis leaping out at the reader.   In 1953 he won both hurdles races in the Universities championships, and took the sprint hurdles the following year. Clive Dennis was an Edinburgh University Student who was SAAA champion for the 120 yards hurdles for three consecutive years – 1953, ’54 and ’55 and SAAA  champion for the 440 yards hurdles in 1955.   Hunter Watson adds that for the subsequent eight years the 440 yards title was won by athletes who were or had been Edinburgh students, namely Alex Hannah and Bob Hay.   The 1954 championships were held at Craiglockhart  on 5th June 1954 and  Dennis, club captain that year,  set a new championship record of 15.5 seconds for the 120 yards hurdles.   D.W.R. (Ross) Mackenzie went one better by setting a new native record for the javelin: 198 ft 1 in.   Hunter adds that “ Clive had considerable talent at throwing the discus as well as for hurdling. At the Edinburgh University trials on 23 April 1955 he not only won the 120 yards hurdles in 16.8 secs and the 440 yards hurdles in 61 secs, but also won the discus with a throw of 110 ft 10 1/2 ins. One week later, on 30 April 1955 in a match against St Andrews University, Clive won the 120 yards hurdles (16.1 sec), the 440 yards hurdles (56.7 sec) and the discus (120 ft 10 3/4 ins). A useful person to have in a team. Edinburgh won 15 of the 17 events. At that time Dennis was captain of the Edinburgh University Athletic Club and almost certainly remained in the position until at least 1957, in which year he phoned me at home in an unsuccessful attempt to persuade me to travel to Aberdeen in order to represent Edinburgh in the Scottish Universities Championships: unsuccessful because my Finals took precedence.    At the Scottish Universities Championships held at Westerlands on 4 June 1955, Clive again did the treble: 120 yards hurdles (a record equalling 15.5 sec), 440 yard hurdles (59.5 sec) and discus (109 ft 1 1/2 ins). Edinburgh again came out top.”

The 1955 Universities season began with the annual  match against Glasgow University at Craiglockhart which Edinburgh won by 68 to 50 (their second team also won at Westerlands by 48 to 40, just emphasising the strength of the EUAC team.   The report in the Glasgow Herald read: “CAR Dennis (Edinburgh) won three events in an athletics match between Edinburgh and Glasgow Universities at Craiglockhart on Saturday.  Dennis won the 120 yards hurdles, the 440 yards hurdles and the discus. I Stuart (Glasgow) an inter-universities champion, clocked 1 min 55.4 sec in winning the half-mile – probably the fastest time for the distance recorded at the ground.   HM Murray (Edinburgh ) established a University record for the hop, step and jump with 45′ 4 1/2″.   Miss W Bowden (Edinburgh) won four of the women’s events – 100 yards, 220 yards, 550 yards and 80 metres hurdles.”

There were several other good performances from both teams – for Edinburgh JV Paterson won the 440 yards in 50.3,   Adrian Jackson won the Mile in 4:22 and DWR MacKenzie won the javelin; while for Glasgow G Robertson won the 100 yards and the 220 yards, J Finlayson won the Three Miles, W Little won the high jump, R Akpatu won the long jump C Orr won the pole vault.   On the women’s side, Bowden was the outstanding athlete with R Charters, also Edinburgh, winning discus and shot.   A few short weeks later at their own championships,, top man was DWR McKenzie who set a new Scottish native record for the javelin of 204′ 11″ .   On the track JV Paterson set a record in the half-mile of 1:57.8.   CAR Dennis had four wins this time – 220 yards, both hurdles races and the discus andAdrian Jackson won the Three Miles in 14:58.9.   

In the Inter Universities in June, Edinburgh won the team contest with 87 points to Glasgow’s 70 with Dennis winning three events (both hurdles races and the discus), JV Paterson won the 440 yards and Adrian Jackson the Mile and Three Miles.  

CAR Dennis, JV Paterson, A Hannah and WH Watson

(Taken after winning a medley relay at Berwick upon Tweed where Watson was required to run one of the 220 yard stretches)

After defeating Glasgow at the start of 1956 for the Appleton Trophy, Edinburgh took on the might of Victoria Park, at that time riding high all athletic departments, at  Craiglockhart.    The close contest was won by Edinburgh with 60 points to Victoria Park’s 58 over 17 events.   The Empire Games champion Ken Wilmshurst from England won three events (long jump, hop, step and jump, 120y hurdles) for Victoria Park while he was in Scotland for five weeks for business.   Otherwise doubles were scored by JV Paterson (quarter and half miles), W McNeish of VPAAC won shot and discus.   There were very good performances all round by some excellent athletes,  eg. Ronnie Whitelock (V) won the 100y, WH Watson (E) won the mile, Ian Binnie had a brilliant run in the Three Miles which he won in 13:58.9, the third fastest of his career, and W Piper (V) won the high jump with 6′ 1″.   It had been a good contest between Scotland’s two strongest track and field teams.   

In the Scottish Universities championships at St Andrews on 2nd June, three Edinburgh students had double victories – JV Paterson won the 440 in 51.1 from CAR Dennis,  and 880 in 1:58.7′;  WH Watson won the Mile in 4:34.3 and Three Miles in 16:04.3; and A Hannah won both hurdles races in 15.3 and 58.2.   

In 1956 JV Paterson defeated Adrian Jackson in the Half Mile in 1:57.3

Incidentally, a look at the above picture shows just how popular athletics, including university athletics, was as a sport in the 1950’s.   

The EUAC championships on 19th May, 1956, featured all three of the club’s top middle distance runners.   JV Paterson won the quarter mile before taking on Adrian Jackson in the half mile.   Hunter Watson tells us that as far as he knew Jackson had never run a half mile before that date, nor did he win one thereafter.   However that may be, he pushed JV Paterson to a new meeting record of 1:57.3.   Watson himself won the Mile in 4:19.0 which was also a meeting record.   This time beat the existing record set by Morris Carstairs in 1939 by no less than 3.3 seconds.   A very close call but the trophy for the best performance of the meeting went to Paterson.

On 4th May 1957 it was Appleton Trophy time in Edinburgh again and the report was that the best double of the match was JV Paterson’s 440 in 50.4 and 880 in 1:55.8.   Hannah won the 440 yards hurdles and Watson the Mile in 4:23.4.   

On 1st June at King’s College, Aberdeen, Edinburgh won the inter-universities title with 77 points to Glasgow’s 72, St Andrews 25 and Aberdeen’s 9.   The women’s contest was also won by Edinburgh with 40 points from St Andrews 39, Glasgow 29 and Aberdeen 8.   JV Paterson set new records for the quarter and half mile events of 48.8 sec and 1:52.8.    Paterson’s record took 1.4 seconds from The championship record set by Eric Liddell in 1923.

They won the Scottish Universities championship again at Craiglockhart on 7th June 1958.   The Glasgow Herald report of 9th June, 1958 began:  Edinburgh won the Rosebery Bowl at the Scottish Universities championship on Saturday at Craiglockhart for the ninth time in succession.   The men scored 95 points and the women 27.   Glasgow men had 58 points and their women 34. … AS Jackson (Edinburgh University broke the Mile record by 4.6 seconds with a time of 4:16.2.   He was challenged by WJ More (Glasgow) for most of the race but broke into a sprint in the final straight and won comfortably.   Jackson later won the Three Miles with ease.   A Hannah (Edinburgh), the Scottish hurdles champion, who is to go to Stockholm later in the year, won the 440 yards hurdles in 56.1.   …  DWR MacKenzie (Edinburgh) who has been off with an injured shoulder for a considerable time, won the javelin with a throw of 184′ 1″.    …   A surprise in the meeting was the defeat of JV Paterson (Edinburgh) the Scottish half mile champion.   Paterson has not been in training because of an injured leg.”     Jackson’s Mile record was a meeting record since the EUAC record was 4:14.6 set by Hunter Watson in 1956.   

Hunter Watson, The reigning Scottish Universities Champion did not run in those 1957 championships even though he had been put under some pressure to turn out for Edinburgh. It is understandable why he had been put under such pressure because, one week before the championships he had won the Mile at the Edinburgh University championships in a respectable 4:25.9.   Hr had also turned out for Edinburgh at each of the three previous university championships, finishing second to Adrian Jackson in the Mile in 1954 and 1955, and first in both one and three miles in 1956 when Jackson’s priority was competing in an invitation 5000m race in Helsinki.   Normally Hunter Watson would have been delighted to represent Edinburgh University on the track, but this time his final examinations took precedence.   These were held during the fortnight following the Inter-Universities Championships.

Edinburgh also won the 220 yards (J Sutherland with Paterson second), 880 yards (AG Mowat with Paterson second), long jump (R Cameron),  Hop. step and jump (HM Murray from A Davidson), hammer ( M McDonald), and discus (S Nealey).    The women only had two victories – M Affleck in the 440 yards and the 440 yards relay.   

David Stevenson

1959 started with another match against Victoria Park in Edinburgh where the University defeated Victoria Park by the unusually wide margin of 71 – 52.   RL Hay for the University won the 220 and 440 hurdles in 23.4 and 52 seconds respectively.   Top man in the field events was Hunter Mabon who won the discus and set a ground record for the shot putt of 45′ 8 1/2″.   Back on the track the closest race was the 440 yards in which R Birrell (VP) ‘lunged over the line and just beat MEL Weir of the University.   The season progressed from there with most of the outstanding performances being outwith University competition and away from Craiglockhart.   

1959’s championships were held at Westerlands on 6th June and Edinburgh won the title to make it ten-in-a-row from Glasgow (74 1/2 to 65) with Glasgow winning the women’s title 46 to 35.   Edinburgh had four track victories in the half mile (Mowat), Mile and Three Miles (both Jackson) and 440 yards hurdles (RL Hay), and one field event, the hammer (N MacDonald).   The women won the 100, 220 yards (E Hoggarth), and the 4 x 110 yards relay.   

Adrian Jackson, the eventual winner, in second place behind Calderwood VPAAC)

The Appleton Trophy was contested at Westerlands on 30th April 1960 and although EUAC won again, the margin was less than it had been and although Edinburgh had some new talent such as David Stevenson in the Pole Vault, there were many new faces in the Glasgow team (Campbell, Miller, Horn, Addo Ladido, etc).   At Craiglockhart, in the Univerity’s own championships,  there were many notable results – David Stevenson ‘a freshman from Dumfries’ attempted a ground record for the pole vault but had to be content with equalling the existing record, RL Hay won 220y and 440y, AG Mowat , the cross-country captain, won the half mile in 1:57.9, Adrian Jackson, the university’s long distance runner’ was defeated in the Mile by RA Clark from Paisley but did retain his Three Miles title.   Weir won the 220 and 440 yards hurdles, HM Mabon won the shot putt (47′ 4 1/2″) and discus (140 11 1/2″), the shot with a university record by 1′ 7″.      The season progressed but there was a changing of the guard in the Inter-Universities in June.      

The headline in the Glasgow Herald in June 1960 read  “GLASGOW STUDENTS WIN AFTER TEN YEARS” and the results column showed that the Edinburgh team was changing.   Adrian Jackson was still there, but he was second to another Edinburgh student.   Adrian Jackson was second to Robert Clark, in the Mile and did not run in the Three Miles.   Glasgow had sprinters of quality in WM Campbell and A Miller, jumpers like Addo and Ladigo, and St Andrews had the excellent DJ Whyte.   However was still producing individual winners – Mowat won the 880, Clark won the Mile, Hay won the 440 yards hurdles, Mabon won the Shot and Discus and MacDonald won the hammer.   The overall score however was Glasgow 66 points and Edinburgh 55 points.   

The achievements of the 50’s have been gone into in some detail simply because the club was so outstandingly good in every department: sprinters, throwers, jumpers, hurdlers, distance runners.  They produced men who were universities, national and British champions, as well as record holders.   There were a good number of quite outstanding track and field athletes in the 1960’s too, such as RL Hay in the 440 yards hurdles (5 consecutive national championships), DD Stevenson in the pole vault (5 consecutive national championships)  and Laurie Bryce in the Hammer (5 consecutive national championships).   Stevenson broke the Scottish record no fewer than eight times and Bryce did so on four occasions.   Craiglockhart was used right up to 1969 – the year before the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh – and in the 1960’s the country saw the Hares & Hounds as the best team in the country on the road and over the country.   The names are well enough known: Fergus Murray, Gareth Bryan-Jones, Alistair Blamire, Roger Young, Ian Young and others come readily to mind.   Just click on their name to read of their exploits.   They were also very good track runners who represented the University with distinction.   Their careers can’t be covered here but some of the outstanding performances at Craiglockhart will be. 

At the University championships in 1962, the top man, and Donovan Cup winner, was David Stevenson for his pole vault of 12′ 11 1/2″ which beat his previous sports record by 10″. Fergus Murray ran a 4:21.1 mile;   AJ Patrick equalled the record when he won the 100 yards and also won the 220 yards.   P Brown won the women’s  220 yards and 440 yards.   She equalled the record (26.8) in the  former and set a new record of 60.4 seconds in the latter.   Among the performers not mentioned above, RL Hay won the 440 yards and the 220 yards hurdles, F Dick won the half-mile, Fergus Murray won the Mile in 4:21.4,  Martin Craven won the three miles in 15:17.2, and Lawrie Bryce won the shot and the hammer.   Some famous names there and the Inter Universities was to be held at Craiglockhart too.   Edinburgh was still producing very good athletes but not in the numbers required to win the Scottish Universities as they had done all through the previous decade.  By 1962/63 the University Hare & Hounds was becoming the top team in Scotland and the runners were making good use of  Craiglockhart,   For distance runners, grass is their  friend.

For instance, Alistaitr Blamire tells us of steeplechaser Gareth Bryan-Jones running intervals over hurdles at the venue – certainly the take off and landing would be easier for a steeplechaser than a hard surfaced all-weather track;  most of Roger Young’s track training was done on the grass at Craiglockhart in April and May each year and the distance runners also used Craiglockhart for track training after the rugby season was over and the track was marked out on the grass.   The “kindness” of the grass track compared to any/many of the artificial surfaces has been referred to already but it also had a therapeutic effect.   Note Alistair Blamire’s comments in this context: 

“I did a lot of training at Craiglockhart but not much in the way of interval running on the grass track. In first year at Uni I experienced shin soreness, as a result of training in yachting pumps and spending too much time on the roads. It was difficult to understand and shake off (the medics couldn’t help) but through experience I found that at least ten days of complete rest was required, followed by a slow return to full training. This was extremely frustrating and I was often tempted, even against better judgement in later years, to start up again too quickly, or revert to the roads, resulting in further delays to recovery. As a consequence I often trained at Craiglockhart, doing laps of the playing fields (18 laps for ten miles). There was an extra loop of about half a mile in the adjacent grounds of the Craiglockhart Hospital, which you could access through a door in the boundary wall. The ground was soft so running in bare feet was possible, without risking injury. Intervals and fartleks along a straight of 300m next to the boundary wall also played a part as the track was only marked up at the end of the rugby season.”   He goes on to add that Others did train at Craiglockhart  on occasion but it was time-consuming to travel there, and not used much, especially in the winter.

There was more to Craiglockhart than just the grass track: the whole area was of use and just as the perimeter at many training areas (Westerlands in Glasgow, Pitreavie in Dunfermline, etc) was used for training with approximate distances around the grounds known, so, as Alistair says, Craiglockhart had a perimeter of just over a half mile of good grass to run on. 

Unfortunately for many,when part of the land at Craiglockhart was released for housing, the Edinburgh University Athletic Club, now the Edinburgh University Sports Union, relocated its facilities in 1969 to its own grounds at Peffermill where a new cinder track was laid.   However, as in Glasgow when Westerlands was turned into a housing development, the new Peffermill development came in for some criticism as, not only did it lack the atmosphere of Craiglockhart,  but it was on a much more exposed site.  More importantly perhaps all-weather tracks in tartan and similar materials were beginning to be developed at this time, and it was felt that with their anachronistic approach, an opportunity was being missed by EUAC despite the possible additional costs involved.   

The inaugural meeting at Peffermill was in May 1969, and Craiglockhart disappeared from the roster of University tracks.   What is there now at the venue?   

Part of the hospital grounds was sold off for housing in the 1980s and there is a small development called ‘Meadowspot’ there now. There are football pitches used by Primary Schools on the undeveloped area of the grounds. A section of the Craiglockhart playing fields was also sold for housing in the 1980s but the bulk is still in use by George Watson’s College, and the old pavilion has been upgraded and still remains in use.

Craiglockhart, its facilities and its contribution to the development of sport, is undoubtedly part of Scottish history.     

 

 

 

 

 

 

PAUL THOMPSON

2016 WORLD MASTERS ATHLETICS CHAMPIONSHIPS, PERTH, AUSTRALIA

There was a medal rush from the Scots in the final day of the Championships in Perth with the stars of the show being (unrelated) Gold Medallists Claire Thompson (Victoria Park Glasgow) and Paul Thompson (Cambuslang).

Claire, following her PB in yesterdays “warm-up” 1500m, claimed her first World Title, winning the W40 2,000m Steeplechase with a time of 7mins 25.49secs to beat the top Australians by a massive 24secs. Perth proved to be an excellent hunting ground for Claire, leaving with a Gold and Silver medal.

Paul added the title of M60 World Half Marathon Champion to the 5,000m which he won earlier in the week. He also led his team to Gold medals in the team race, taking his tally of medals to four for the championships. Paul finished the half with a time of 83 mins 00secs.

Moving back to the track, Julie Wilson (Inverness), running in her first chase over the distance, also picked up her first World medal, running a very courageous race in the W45 2,000m Steeplechase, finishing 3rd with a time of 8mins 10.23secs.

Summary of Medallists
Gold – Paul Thompson M60 5000m
Gold – Paul Thompson M60 Half Marathon
Gold – Paul Thompson M60 Half Marathon Team
Gold – Claire Thompson W40 2,000m Steeplechase
Gold – Sue Ridley W50 Cross Country Team
Gold – Alex Sutherland M65 Cross Country Team
Gold – Janette Stevenson W65 Cross Country Team
Gold – Jan Fellowes W60 Half Marathon Team

Silver – Janette Stevenson W65 Cross Country Individual
Silver – Janette Stevenson W65 4x400m Relay
Silver – Ian Williams M35 Cross Country Team
Silver – Colin Feechan M55 Cross Country Team
Silver – Colin Feechan M55 Half Marathon Team
Silver – Claire Thompson W35 Cross Country Team

Bronze – Jane Scott W35 100m Hurdles
Bronze – Janette Stevenson W65 5,000m
Bronze – Julie Wilson W45 2,000m Steeplechase
Bronze – Paul Thompson M60 Cross Country Team
Bronze – Caroline Lawless W55 Cross Country Team
Bronze – Jan Fellowes W60 Cross Country Team
Bronze – Bob Douglas M60 4x400m Relay
Bronze – Debbie Savage W40 Marathon Team
Bronze – Michael Craig M50 Half Marathon Team
Bronze – Mark Simpson M45 Half Marathon Team
Bronze – Ian Williams M4

WORLD MASTERS, DAEGU, SOUTH KOREA: MARCH 2017

Paul Thompson continued his successful assault on M60 World Masters medals.

David Fairweather sent three emails about Paul’s progress.

“Paul Thompson came agonisingly close to being World Masters Cross Country Champion this morning in Daegu, being outkicked in the last 40m of the 8km race, losing by less than half a second to take the silver medal. Another gutsy run saw Paul sit with the leading group over the first half of the race until deciding to stretch them out over the third lap. Reducing the group to four in the final lap, Paul managed to gain a 20m gap coming into the last 100m. However, the Pole, who had started his charge, had the momentum as they both rounded the last sharp bend. Unfortunately, by the time Paul realised the Pole was there he had run out of straight to hold on. Paul can still be pleased with his run, going two places better than in Perth last year. He also added another Bronze medal to his ever-growing collection in the Team competition.

“Paul Thompson has added another Silver medal at the World Indoor Masters Championships in Daegu this morning. Paul finished second in a time of 10:38.68, just under 4 secs behind an Irishman. Just as he was winning another medal, he unfortunately had to hand his bronze medal back from the Cross-Country Team event after an error had been made with the Italian team results. Paul will look to make it a trio of medals in the Half Marathon on Sunday.”

“It was Gold at the third time of asking this week for Paul Thompson in the M60s Half Marathon this morning at the World Masters Championships in Daegu. With a determined display of running, annihilating the field, Paul won in a time of 79mins 52secs to add to the title he won in Perth last year. He also helped his team to Bronze medals. This takes Paul’s tally for the week to four medals: one Gold, two Silvers and a Bronze, not a bad week’s work for Paul.” Scottish Athletics reported: “In fact, it was a hugely successful championships for the contingent from Scottish Veteran Harriers Club with a number of good performances helping land 21 medals in total. Among those to land more than one medal were Paul Thompson, Lynne Marr, Janet Fellowes, Brian Scally and Sharyn Ramage.

Here’s a list of the Daegu haul: Gold – Paul Thompson M60 Half Marathon; Sharyn Ramage W55 Cross Country Team; Lynne Marr W55 Cross Country Team; Janet Fellowes W60 Cross Country Team; Brian Scally M50 Cross Country Team.

Silver – Paul Thomson M60 Cross Country Individual; Paul Thompson M60 3000m; Claire Cameron W55 Discus; Janet Fellowes W60 Half Marathon Team

Bronze – Janet Fellowes W60 3000m; Brian Scally M50 3000m; Jozsef Farakas M35 3000m; William Lonsdale M65 Pentathlon; Janet Fellowes W60 Half Marathon; Claire Cameron W55 Shot Putt; Brian Scally M50 1500m; Dean Kane M35 Cross Country Team; Tony Golabek M35 Cross Country Team; Paul Thompson M60 Half Marathon Team; Sharyn Ramage W45 4x200m Relay; Lynn Marr W45 4x200m Relay.”

 

I was pleased to make the V60 team for the British and Irish XC International in Derry in November 2017 – it probably helped by being towards the younger end of the 5 year age bracket. Our hosts in Derry put on an excellent event. It was also worth going for a few more days either side of the run to take in and explore the lovely historic city of Derry. (Paul finished 6th in this prestigious 2017 event and contributed to team silver medals; in 2018 at Swansea, consistent Paul was 8th and his Scottish M60 team won silver again.)

Paul racing hard in Swansea 2018

The course in Derry was generally flat but testing underfoot due to recent rain. Although sapping, it didn’t turn into a mud-fest characterised by many cross- country courses in Scotland in recent years. It is interesting to compare our ideas of cross country to those of other nations, a recurring theme when watching seniors at televised World and European events. I had first-hand experience of this as I was persuaded to run in 2 World Masters Championship events in Perth, Australia (October 2016) and Daegu, South Korea (March 2017). Both championships opened with a cross country event. Both courses were pancake flat and firm underfoot to the point of suiting a road runner like myself rather than a cross country or hill specialist. No need for anything but road racing footwear. My impression for this, at least at these Masters events, is that the cross-country event and indeed a half marathon are add-ons to what are essentially track meetings and their inclusion makes such championships more attractive to road runners like myself who might baulk at travelling to potentially expensive destinations to run in just one or two track races.

Runners who have yet to participate in a World Masters event might be surprised by the lack of strength in depth in the field although most races were competitive at the sharp end. As might be expected medals generally went to runners in the younger end of the 5 year age category. Also at World events many countries outside Australasia, Europe and USA fail to have enough runners to compete for team medals (awarded in the cross country and road events) so GB athletes have plenty of opportunity to compete for both individual and team medals. In 2018 the World Championship is in Malaga so one anticipates more intense competition for both individual and team medals.

I would encourage runners to take in at least one World or European Masters Championship as the experience is interesting on many levels. They really are the Olympic equivalent for the master athlete in that they are structured along the same lines with as much rigour and organisation. Unlike the Olympics, however, we are lucky as no selection is necessary. Running in a GB vest as opposed to a Scottish one is also interesting. Incidentally, the tale of purchasing my GB vest is a long and complicated one and my wife (Jan) has the story and it involves a few tears and a lot of angst culminating in an acrimonious encounter with an unofficial team GB person which nearly resulted in a Glasgow kiss. For the first few events in Perth I ran the cross country in a borrowed female vest 2 sizes too small but the correct vest, ordered some 4 months previously, was finally purloined.

In Perth and Daegu, the Scottish contingent was numerous and tended to gravitate together helped by excellent daily reporting on the SVHC website by Alan Ramage. There was, however, a general camaraderie amongst the GB runners and many new friendships were formed which were renewed in Derry.
Paul Thompson

LES NICOL

LES NICOL: HOW HE BECAME M80 BRITISH XC CHAMPION

(Many thanks to Fraser Clyne for two articles about the amazing Metro Aberdeen RRC man’s late-peaking running career, along with an excerpt from ‘Who’s Who of Scottish Distance Running’ on the website scottishdistancerunninghistory.scot)
November 2006
Les Nicol is looking forward to representing Scotland for the first time – at the age of 70.
The Torry runner has been invited to compete for the Scottish Veteran Harriers select side in next month’s British and Irish masters cross country international at Falkirk.
Runners will compete in five-year bands from age 35 upwards.
Les won his place on the team after finishing second in the over-70 age group trial in a 10,000m track race at Coatbridge earlier this month.
His time of 44min 48sec is one that many runners of half his age would be happy to accept.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever run on a track,” Les said. “I wasn’t sure how it would go because I didn’t have any spikes, so I ran in my road running shoes.”
“I was surprised to get such a fast time as I thought I’d be closer to 45 or 46mins.”
Nicol will invest in spiked shoes before he tackles the cross country international on 18th November.
“I don’t want to be slipping around on the grass course,” he said.
Les took up running 15 years ago to keep in shape. “I’d always tried to keep fit by walking to work,” he said. “Then I started going to the gym and began running on a treadmill. It compensated for sitting at a desk all day.”
“I decided to try some races and the first I did was the Dyce half marathon.”
“I enjoy 10kms, 10 miles and half marathons, but nothing longer than that.”
Nicol thrives on exercise. “I run every second day for about six or seven miles at lunch-time,” he said.
“On the other days I go to the gym and use the rowing machines or tackle some weights. And at the weekends I’ll try to fit in a race.”
And although he’s well past the normal retirement age, Les continues to schedule his daily fitness regime around his job as an engineer.
Appropriately, he works for Marathon Oil in Aberdeen.
“I enjoy running as a way of keeping fit. In races I just try to do my best. I’ve no idea how I’ll get on at Falkirk but I’m sure it’ll be competitive.”

Leslie NICOL, Metro Aberdeen RC
Les came to the sport very late but this cheerfully tough Aberdonian sparrow had real talent and thoroughly enjoyed his success. In the Scottish Masters XC championship, he won the M70 title in 2010. In 2012, 2013 and 2015, Les added three M75 titles. For Scotland, Les ran consistently well in the British and Irish Masters XC International: contributing to three M70 team silver medals, in 2006, 2007 (when he finished 4th individual and first Scot) and 2009. Les won individual bronze (M75) in 2014, leading Walter McCaskey and Bill Murray to team bronze. In 2018, recovering from injuries and race-training over a hilly Aberdeen parkrun, Les triumphed in the British Masters XC championships in Forres, winning a well-deserved M80 title.

March 2018
Les Nicol has won his first British athletics title at the ripe old age of 82.
The Metro Aberdeen club member showed his rivals a clean pair of heels to strike gold in the British Masters Athletics Federation cross country championships over-80’s age group race at Forres.
Nicol completed the testing 6km course, which included some undulating woodland trails, in 32min 47secs to finish well ahead of his closest challengers.
He was delighted to claim the scalps of English athletes Steve James (Southport Waterloo AC), a former World Champion in several age groups, who was runner-up in 33:57, and Walter Ryder (Morpeth Harriers) who took bronze in 36:46.
Nicol said: “I am chuffed to bits to have won. I just wanted to beat some of the folk who have always beaten me in the past, so I’ve done that now.
“The guy who finished second has always beaten me but I was well ahead of him, which surprised some people.
“It’s my first British title although I think I was third in a younger age group a few years ago.”
Nicol’s success is particularly impressive, given he only returned to running a few months ago after being side-lined with a heel injury for the previous two years.
He said: “I developed plantar faciitis in one foot and once it cleared up I got it in the other one. I went to physios and did lots of exercises in the gym to get it fixed and to strengthen myself, but it took a long time.
“It was very frustrating but I started running again towards the end of last year. I began by doing 1km, then progressed to 2km, then 3km.
“I managed to do a few hilly Hazlehead parkrun 5kms before going to the Masters championships but the Forres race, being 6km, is the furthest I have run so far.”
Nicol’s running career began when he was in his mid-50s but he had always kept fit by walking and going to the gym.
He won his first Scotland call-up in 2006 at the age of 70 when he competed in the British and Irish masters international cross-country match at Falkirk.
Two years later he recorded his best 10km time of 44:46, a performance which many runners half his age would be delighted to achieve.
Nicol is still employed full-time as an engineer, appropriately with Marathon Oil, and has no difficulty in fitting his family, work and running commitments into a busy schedule.
He said: “I enjoy it. I run every second day and I’m in the gym most other days. I’m busy at work as well, which is good.
I’ve no immediate race plans. I just want to work back into it steadily. My Hazlehead parkrun times are getting faster, so that’s encouraging.
“I might consider doing the BHGE 10km in May but it depends how training goes between now and then. I have no particular ambitions at the moment. I just enjoy being able to take part in races so I’ll see what comes along.”
He joked: “My wife and family came to Forres with me but I’m not sure what else they might let me go to, so I’ll have to ask permission if I’m going any further afield.”

Les distancing his age group rivals at Forres 

ANN WHITE

QUESTIONNAIRE

NAME Ann White
CLUBs Garscube Harriers, SVHC
DATE OF BIRTH 13th March 1951
OCCUPATION Retired

HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED IN THE SPORT?
In an unguarded moment descending Ben Lomond with my daughter, Katie, about 5 years ago, I agreed to do a mountain marathon. Knowing how competitive she is I thought I had better do a bit of training so as not to let her down. So I started running. I have always been reasonably fit and active and was doing a lot of hillwalking and backpacking at the time but I had never really been much of a runner. I was quite enjoying it when Katie sustained a fractured fibula doing the Liverpool marathon (which she went on to win anyway!) and she spent weeks on crutches. We never did the mountain marathon but I had been bitten by the running bug and carried on regardless, entering my first race, the Balloch to Clydebank half marathon about six months later. My main aim was to finish in less than two hours or not come in last, whichever proved to be more feasible on the day. I was, however, surprised and delighted by my time and started looking for more races. I did several more half marathons and gradually reduced my PB until last year I got a new PB of 1 hour 39 minutes on my 65th birthday. Katie was already a member of Garscube Harriers and she suggested that I join the club so that I could take part in cross country events over the winter. I really enjoy the team aspect of cross country and at Garscube we have the added incentive of home baking at the end of every race.
Whilst the half marathon and cross country are my favourite events I have also done lots of 10Ks, one marathon, one ultramarathon, various other distances such as 10 miles and a few trail races, including the Glentress Half Marathon.

HAS ANY INDIVIDUAL OR GROUP HAD A MARKED INFLUENCE ON YOUR ATTITUDE OR INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE?
Being a member of Garscube Harriers has improved my running a lot as there is a great team spirit and everybody is very supportive. The training schedule is very good and keeps me on track with some tough sessions. My daughter, Katie, is my biggest supporter, though, and she often persuades me to do things that I wouldn’t consider, such as doing another marathon (I said I would NEVER do another one and Manchester 2018 is definitely my LAST!). She gave me brilliant support when I did the Kintyre Way Ultra in 2017, providing jam sandwiches at regular intervals and getting me through the last 5 miles.
WHAT EXACTLY DO YOU GET OUT OF THE SPORT?
Apart from the obvious things such as maintaining cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength and bone strength as I get older I like the challenge that running and racing provide: trying for a PB, running longer distances, completing a tough interval session, running up a hill without stopping. Mostly, though, I just love getting out and running on all the wonderful tracks and trails near where I live, enjoying the scenery, the fresh air, the wildlife and the changing seasons.
The social side of being a club member is also important to me and I try to get to as many club events as I can. At Garscube we have a brilliant training weekend when we go away somewhere such as the Isle of Arran or the Borders and just run and enjoy ourselves. And then there is the Christmas Ceilidh!
WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER TO BE YOUR BEST EVER PERFORMANCE OR PERFORMANCES?
I think that my best performance was being first FV60 in each of the Polaroid 10Ks in 2016.But the performance I am most proud of is the Kintyre Way Ultra in 2017.
YOUR WORST?
My worst ever experience in a race was at the National Cross Country in Callander Park a couple of years ago when I was on the verge of hypothermia after the race.
WHAT UNFULFILLED AMBITIONS DO YOU HAVE?
My main ambition is to carry on running as long as I can. I would love to represent Scotland again at the Masters International Cross Country: it would be good to take part in all the competing nations.
OTHER LEISURE ACTIVITIES?
Running does tend to take up a lot of time but I manage to fit in a few other activities. I volunteer with Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park as a volunteer ranger and also as a conservation volunteer. The Park provides lots of different opportunities such as taking part in wildlife surveys, repairing footpaths, planting trees, removing invasive species and helping at events in the National Park. I count some of these as cross training e.g. pushing a wheelbarrow full of aggregate up a hill – two birds with one stone.
I also like to travel, I read a fair amount and I enjoy painting using acrylics. And gardening.
WHAT DOES RUNNING BRING YOU THAT YOU WOULD NOT HAVE WANTED TO MISS?
A little pain, a lot of pleasure and many wonderful people.
CAN YOU GIVE SOME DETAILS OF YOUR TRAINING?
I usually follow the Garscube training schedule for interval and tempo sessions. Then I do a long run at the weekend plus another short run: usually about 30 miles a week or so. However, when training for a specific event such as marathon or ultramarathon I find a more specific schedule which seems to be at right level for me and what I want to achieve in the race. After each session I do lots of stretching and rolling about on my foam roller.
I also try to do some core strengthening exercises at least once a week. However, I find that I need one or two days rest and recovery depending on the particular schedule that I am following. I certainly can’t train every day. But I am usually fairly active on the days that I am not training.

MEMORIES OF DERRY: British and Irish Masters International Cross Country 2017

The excitement really started to build at the team photos, seeing how many people were taking part and what it meant to everybody to be there running for their country.
A warm-up jog round the course revealed how muddy some sections were, the difficult corners and the long, tiring stretches.
The start line was very crowded but the initial straight was quite wide and the field soon spread out. Although we were wearing numbers on the back and front of our vests I found it impossible to know how I was doing in my age category as I didn’t see anybody else with a 65 number for the full three circuits. So it was just a case of going as fast as I could and hoping for the best.
The support around the circuit was tremendous particularly as we approached the end of each lap and it really kept me going.
The celebration dinner was lovely and the food was excellent. I was absolutely delighted to have won an individual gold and team silver. The medals are a really beautiful design.
The organisation was superb and I had a great time both at the race and the dinner. Everyone in Derry was really friendly and the city itself was very interesting, highlights for me being the Peace Bridge, the city walls and the Museum of Free Derry. We also ventured further afield and went to the Giant’s Causeway and Belfast where we visited the Titanic Exhibition.
Thanks to everyone who took part, the organisers in Derry and in each of the participating countries and all the supporters.
Ann White

Ann well clear in Derry 2017

A HOT HALF MARATHON IN MALAGA: WORLD MASTERS CHAMPIONSHIPS 2018

We knew it was going to be very hard. We had trained in the heatwave during the summer and had found it difficult to maintain pace during speed sessions: we are just not used to that sort of weather in Scotland. The Beast from the East was more our thing. At least the race was early in the morning.

We were not sure of the route so we arrived early at the stadium and tried to work out where we would be running and where the water stations would be. We took advantage of the opportunity to have our own electrolyte drinks at two of the water stations. Having warmed up we headed for the start which was arranged in age groups.

Katie’s race: Having not run in any of the International Masters events before I didn’t really know what to expect from the race so I had no target time in mind. After an over-crowded start and a first loop around the stadium people started to spread out a bit and I settled into a consistent pace on the long out and back section of the course. On the first lap it was nice to find a bit of shade, but unfortunately it didn’t last long. I wasn’t sure what position I was in until the turn-around point at about 4.5 miles. Then I realised I was the second woman with quite big gaps between the women in first and third place, so I just hoped I would be able to keep a steady pace and maintain my position. I don’t normally drink anything during a half marathon but I tried to make good use of all the water stations both for drinks and to throw water over myself to keep cool. Looping around the stadium to start the second lap there was some good support for the GB team, which really helped encourage us on as we set out on the long out and back again. The gaps between me and the other women runners didn’t seem to have changed much and I was maintaining a relatively comfortable pace. It was good to finish with a lap of the track and experience the support in the stadium. Other than the hours spent waiting for the results I really enjoyed the event so hopefully it will be my first of many more International Masters events.

Ann’s race: I set off at the pace that would give me my target finishing time but after the first few miles I realised that, because of the heat, I would not be able to maintain it for the whole race. There was an athlete in my age group from Finland just ahead of me and I had decided to use her as a pacemaker but I had to let her go and just run at a pace that I thought I could manage for 13.1 miles. We did two laps of the course, round the stadium and out and back along the coast. On the first lap there was some shade from the tall buildings along the way but later we seemed to be in the blazing sun all the time. It seemed a very long way between some of the water stations and it was a relief to pick up my drinks and pour water over my head. There were several moments during the race when I thought I wouldn’t be able to finish but I just tried to maintain my pace. Starting the second lap was daunting as I knew exactly what I was up against but there was some good support along the way that kept me going. And then, about three miles from the finish, I spotted the Finnish runner up ahead! I steadily gained on her and then had a dilemma. Should I overtake her now or just tuck in behind and then make a break nearer the finish? I decided to risk it and went past her, expecting her to come back at me any second. But she didn’t! Then it seemed a very long run back to the stadium, particularly the last mile where we had to circle the outside of the stadium and then do a lap of the track. I was getting cramp as I circled the track but I was spurred on by the sight of Katie cheering me on from the stands. What a relief to finish and get into the shade of the stadium.
I had no idea where I had come. Indeed it wasn’t until very late in the afternoon that the results were revealed and I was delighted to find out that I had won an individual silver medal in the W65 age group and team silver in the W60 age group. Although we had to wait for several very trying hours in the heat for the medal ceremony, it was a great feeling to be on the podium with the Union flag. I was very proud to see Katie get her silver medals as well and we had an excellent paella and a couple of beers to celebrate later that evening.

By Ann and Katie White

KATIE WHITE

QUESTIONNAIRE

NAME Katie White
CLUBs Garscube Harriers
DATE OF BIRTH 6th January 1981
OCCUPATION Medical writer
HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED IN THE SPORT?
I never really intended to get involved in running. I hadn’t really done any running before, but I ran the Buchlyvie 10K in 2011 just to get involved in the village event. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it and so I started doing a few runs as I preferred to be outside rather than in the gym. A couple of months later I ran the 10K at the Milngavie highland games and surprised myself, and everyone else, by winning it. The race was organised by Garscube Harriers and while chatting to some of the members after the race they suggested I went along to a training session. The following week I decided to give it a go and before I knew it running became a big part of my life.

HAS ANY INDIVIDUAL OR GROUP HAD A MARKED INFLUENCE ON YOUR ATTITUDE OR INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE?
As I have more or less been a member of Garscube Harriers since I started running, the club has had a huge impact on my running. When I joined I had no idea about anything to do with running from what to wear, how to train and what races were available. The advice and support from everyone at the club has been invaluable to me. It’s also been great having my mum, Ann, getting involved in running. It’s something we can enjoy doing together and having someone who understands the highs and lows of training and racing and why I want to take my running kit whenever we go away anywhere is a big help.
WHAT EXACTLY DO YOU GET OUT OF THE SPORT?
I get so much from running in addition to it being a good way to keep fit and healthy. Having a desk job I look forward to the end of the day when I can get out for a run and have a break from everything else. The constant challenge it provides with new targets to work towards keeps me motivated to continue running. I also love having the freedom of just being able to put on my trainers and go and explore somewhere new wherever I am.
I have also made a lot of friends through running and enjoy training and racing with like-minded people. I think the running community is great with everyone being so encouraging and supportive. It’s good to be part of that and to be able to share everyone’s achievements, whatever they are.
WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER TO BE YOUR BEST EVER PERFORMANCE OR PERFORMANCES?
Probably getting a PB and finishing in 6th place of the mass start in the London marathon last year.

YOUR WORST?
A cross country race in the Manchester league a couple of years ago. The only reason I didn’t drop out was that I knew I would at least score some points for the team. For a few months I nearly gave up running completely as it was making me feel so unwell. Luckily, I discovered that it was just because I was anaemic and when I sorted that out I had a huge improvement in my running.
WHAT UNFULFILLED AMBITIONS DO YOU HAVE?
My main ambition is just to keep avoiding injuries and enjoying running. I would like to try and improve my marathon time and I enjoyed doing a bit of fell running last year, so maybe a few more fell races.
OTHER LEISURE ACTIVITIES?
Running takes up most of my spare time and having recently moved to a house that needs a lot of work, DIY and gardening are going to be keeping me busy for a while.
WHAT DOES RUNNING BRING YOU THAT YOU WOULD NOT HAVE WANTED TO MISS?
All the people I have met and places I have visited through running.
CAN YOU GIVE SOME DETAILS OF YOUR TRAINING?
I run almost every day, even if it is just a few easy miles. Generally, I do an interval session, tempo run and long run every week. My mileage varies between about 50 and 85 miles a week. I go to the club training sessions when I can, but the majority of my running is on my own. I also go to the gym most mornings for strength and conditioning.

MEMORIES OF DERRY: BRITISH AND IRISH MASTERS INTERNATIONAL CROSS COUNTRY, 2017

After struggling (due to illness) through the race in Tollcross the previous year, my aim for the race this year was to finish as a counter for the team. Conditions on the day were good, and after checking out the course during the warm up we were ready to go. As I tend to start slowly and gradually improve my position throughout the race, I was a bit concerned that I had started too fast as early on I found myself just behind the leading group. But I was feeling good and as the group gradually broke up I was able to make up a few places and by the start of the last lap there were three of us left challenging for first place. The support all around the course was great and really helped push me on to finish in second place overall in a close race. I was delighted to have far exceeded my expectations and win my W35 age group. I then had a nervous wait hoping that mum would finish well in her age group too.
It was a great weekend, a well organised event, with good support and cameraderie between all the runners. I enjoyed being part of the SVHC team and will hopefully get another opportunity in Swansea next year.
Katie White

Katie racing hard in Derry 2017

A HOT HALF MARATHON IN MALAGA: WORLD MASTERS CHAMPIONSHIPS 2018
We knew it was going to be very hard. We had trained in the heatwave during the summer and had found it difficult to maintain pace during speed sessions: we are just not used to that sort of weather in Scotland. The Beast from the East was more our thing. At least the race was early in the morning.

We were not sure of the route so we arrived early at the stadium and tried to work out where we would be running and where the water stations would be. We took advantage of the opportunity to have our own electrolyte drinks at two of the water stations. Having warmed up we headed for the start which was arranged in age groups.

Katie’s race: Having not run in any of the International Masters events before I didn’t really know what to expect from the race so I had no target time in mind. After an over-crowded start and a first loop around the stadium people started to spread out a bit and I settled into a consistent pace on the long out and back section of the course. On the first lap it was nice to find a bit of shade, but unfortunately it didn’t last long. I wasn’t sure what position I was in until the turn-around point at about 4.5 miles. Then I realised I was the second woman with quite big gaps between the women in first and third place, so I just hoped I would be able to keep a steady pace and maintain my position. I don’t normally drink anything during a half marathon but I tried to make good use of all the water stations both for drinks and to throw water over myself to keep cool. Looping around the stadium to start the second lap there was some good support for the GB team, which really helped encourage us on as we set out on the long out and back again. The gaps between me and the other women runners didn’t seem to have changed much and I was maintaining a relatively comfortable pace. It was good to finish with a lap of the track and experience the support in the stadium. Other than the hours spent waiting for the results I really enjoyed the event so hopefully it will be my first of many more International Masters events.

Ann’s race: I set off at the pace that would give me my target finishing time but after the first few miles I realised that, because of the heat, I would not be able to maintain it for the whole race. There was an athlete in my age group from Finland just ahead of me and I had decided to use her as a pacemaker but I had to let her go and just run at a pace that I thought I could manage for 13.1 miles. We did two laps of the course, round the stadium and out and back along the coast. On the first lap there was some shade from the tall buildings along the way but later we seemed to be in the blazing sun all the time. It seemed a very long way between some of the water stations and it was a relief to pick up my drinks and pour water over my head. There were several moments during the race when I thought I wouldn’t be able to finish but I just tried to maintain my pace. Starting the second lap was daunting as I knew exactly what I was up against but there was some good support along the way that kept me going. And then, about three miles from the finish, I spotted the Finnish runner up ahead! I steadily gained on her and then had a dilemma. Should I overtake her now or just tuck in behind and then make a break nearer the finish? I decided to risk it and went past her, expecting her to come back at me any second. But she didn’t! Then it seemed a very long run back to the stadium, particularly the last mile where we had to circle the outside of the stadium and then do a lap of the track. I was getting cramp as I circled the track but I was spurred on by the sight of Katie cheering me on from the stands. What a relief to finish and get into the shade of the stadium.
I had no idea where I had come. Indeed it wasn’t until very late in the afternoon that the results were revealed and I was delighted to find out that I had won an individual silver medal in the W65 age group and team silver in the W60 age group. Although we had to wait for several very trying hours in the heat for the medal ceremony, it was a great feeling to be on the podium with the Union flag. I was very proud to see Katie get her silver medals as well and we had an excellent paella and a couple of beers to celebrate later that evening.

 

TONY MARTIN

BRITISH AND IRISH MASTERS CROSS COUNTRY INTERNATIONAL, DERRY, NORTHERN IRELAND, 18th NOVEMBER 2017

Perhaps our top male team was the M65 outfit, which finished second. However, the English proved impossible to beat, although their winning margin was only three points, due to an excellent silver medal for Tony Martin, and strong backing from Frank Hurley (4th) and Andy McLinden (6th).

Tony racing hard in Derry 2017

SCOTTISH MASTERS CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS AT KILMARNOCK ON 3rd FEBRUARY 2018

Tony Martin of Falkland Trail Runners won the M65 race ahead of Frank Hurley of Cambuslang and Andy McLinden of Hamilton Harriers.

BRITISH CROSS-COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS AT FORRES ON 17TH MARCH 2018

Despite the icy wind blowing across Grant Park, it turned out to be a great day for the organisers Forres Harriers and for many Scottish Masters runners. The course wound round bumpy grass, up forest trails and a long, steep, horrible hill, and then along leafy litter (but very little mud), before plunging back down to the park and towards the finish; or into the final lap for non-pensioner men.

Tony Martin (Falkland Trail Runners), who has kindly sent in an action-packed report, thoroughly deserved his clear M65 victory against very good opposition; Cambuslang’s Frank Hurley sprinted to silver just in front of that durable campaigner Stan Owen from Salford.

BMAF Masters Cross Country 2018: The Battle for M65 Victory
The Beast from the East Part 2 had started its shenanigans again on Sat morning. Looking out of the window at 6:30 a.m., I could see a small blizzard was blowing in, not a good omen for the 3-hour trip up to Forres for the British Masters XC champs (6K). However, the weather gods relented and we enjoyed an incident-free trip past snow-covered mountains, highlighted with spring sunshine against a blue sky. We arrived in Forres with around 40 minutes to spare before the start of the race – quick number pickup, changed and a jog over to the start – it didn’t give us much time to look at the course – apart from the loop around the park.
Met up with a few running friends and rivals, notably my Scottish team mate Frank Hurley and, from way back when I first started running, Salford runner Stan Owen. Stan doesn’t travel to races just to take part. The fact that it was a British Championship gave us a chance to race against runners from London, Gloucester, Liverpool and other areas from England. Those making the journey hadn’t come all that way just to look at the scenery.
Considering the amount of rain and snow we had over the past weeks, the course was dry underfoot. The route took us around the park over a couple of bumps and up a small hill, cut off to the right and back round the park again. Instead of cutting off right on the small hill, this time we continued up the big hill, up some more, climbed a bit more, but after that it was back down onto the flat and into the finish.
At the start the wind was in our faces. The sun was out but couldn’t compete against the chilly wind. As we lined up, I looked around – Stan was way over to my left. I was as close to the barrier as I could get, on account that the course took a right turn. Frank hovered behind me. I didn’t want to lead out from the start, but from where Stan was it meant he had quite a way to run to get to the corner. I had no choice, as the gun went, but to go into the lead at a steady pace. Stan caught me and immediately went to the front. “Here we go,” I thought, “He’s going to force it now.” The pace was comfortable and I sat on Stan’s shoulder until we hit a small bump. Then I pushed up, overtook Stan and hit the hill. As we turned right and headed down to the 2nd loop, Stan came flying past me, putting in a burst onto the flat. Decision time. Do I let him gain a few yards and try to pick him up (if I could) later on? Or go with the pace and hang on? Go with the pace, it’s a championship race. I got my head down and chased him. Stan slowed down, so I went past, lungs bursting. “Oh, blinking heck!” (substitute your own swear words in here!): he’s now going to sit in with Frank and leave me hanging out at the front. Momentum carried me on, and I gradually pulled away from the pack. I’m assuming that’s what happened, as I wasn’t looking back, too scared about what I might see! I decided that when we hit the hill, to push really hard. if anyone came past me, fair play to them, they deserved it. The hill was a relentless hard climb, which levelled out to a bend then kicked you in the teeth with another incline – we only did it once but the youngsters had to run it twice. I had a chance to look down on the path as we twisted our way up. I couldn’t see Frank or Stan below me, so I assumed they were sitting behind, waiting to give me a good kicking. Over the top, and we headed down towards the park again, leaping over a small embankment which caused a few casualties as we landed among the Spring daffodils poking up nervously.
Summoning up my last reserves of energy, I dug in hard around the winding route to the finish, trying to make it difficult for anyone sneaking up behind me to overtake. I crossed the line in 1st place 22:44, 6th overall, happy to note that Frank had passed Stan on the small embankment to secure 2nd place with Stan 3rd.
It may not seem like this to the observer from the side-lines, but the racing in the Vets is just as fierce as you would find in Senior races – only maybe a bit slower. Most of us hail from an era (before the running boom) when road and XC was predominately about racing and not a mass-participation sport. That’s why I enjoy competing in Masters races – you get a good honest race like they used to be! Coupled with a friendly competitive spirit and a chance to catch up with Old friends (literally!). You couldn’t wish for more.

Tony Martin

 

ALASTAIR WALKER

A TALE OF TWO ATHLETES

Sammy Walker – Played Rugby from school age up to 27 years old got swept up in the running boom of the mid 80’S (same as Davie Cavers who remarkably played prop). Joined my home town club of Teviotdale Harriers in 1983. Got blown away in my first East District league race, total shock to the system. My abiding memory was there was a false start and Allister Hutton had run half a mile before they could stop him! Decided needed take this running thing seriously. Finished 19th in the East Districts of 1984 and 33rd in the Scottish of that year. Was so chuffed and thought this was as good would ever get ….then my friend Colin Hume returned from college in the States.

I thought I had been training hard but with Colin went to a different level. Was running at a pace I had never been near. The results were startling – 6th in the East Districts of 1985 and 17th in the Scottish of that year (which was the year that “Humegate” occurred when Colin made the Scottish World Cross Country team at Eddie Stewart’s expense.
Around this time, it all started to come together for Teviotdale. Brian Emmerson was there already and had been ploughing a lonely furrow. Now there was me, Davie Cavers had joined, Rob Hall from Jedburgh, Andy Fair was taking it seriously. Keith Logan came from the local cycling club and I was in Ian Elliot’s ear every day at work about coming back to us from ESH. There were legendary 15 mile runs on a Sunday morning which set off at 5.40 pace.

Best achievements of Sammy Walker. The win in the National relays at Inverness was an amazing buzz. We were just three Hawick guys plus one from Jedburgh. All mates had left Hawick at 6.00 a.m. To win was just insane. Two fastest legs at the E to G are right up there. Winning the Flockhart Trophy. Top ten finish in the Scottish at Dundee. My proudest moment isn’t even in the record books. I finished 5th in the Paris to Versailles road race, beating Steve Binns (who I became good friends with). I went there with Brian Emmerson on one of those “running tours ” or joggers’ tours as I found out it was. As a result I had number 10756 so, when the guy with this number approaches the finish line in 5th they think…cheat and stop me crossing the line. Managed a 29.49 10k, 1hr 06 Half Marathon, 2.22 Marathon (in the last Glasgow).
So got to 38 and Sammy fell out of love with running. Had done no too bad and “Never going to run over 40 ..I mean that Vet stuff, it’s a bit of a joke isn’t it??”

Alastair Walker – 22 years on and two stone heavier than his namesake “Sammy”. Son Greg joins Teviotdale. Alastair goes to watch a few of the league races and catches the bug. Starts to go out a couple nights a week. Feels great. Flying. Be as good as that Sammy ever was ..maybe even better. Enters the Hawick 1OK (two-lap course ), blows up after a lap and drops out feigning injury. Get Serious Time!

So Alastair gets serious and ups the miles. Buys a Garmin and discovers all Sammy’s training runs are two miles shorter than listed in the training diaries. This is Strava time and Run Britain rankings. So much information on people and times. Goals to aim for. Runs an acceptable 1OK at Jedburgh. Struggles at league race at Broxburn and enters the Scottish Vets at Dundee. Finishes a distant fourth in the V60 behind Eddie Stewart who must have been stored in ice for last 30 years because looked exactly same. Now going get Really Serious.
The result? Fastest 5k and 10k in Britain for 2017 for V60 and 2nd in the British and Irish Masters V60. One of the best weekends ever – the race, the people, the reception when received medal ..”I mean that Masters stuff, it’s what everyone should aspire to, right?”

Sammy and Alastair doing the same training. Alastair a bit slower. One long run, 2 speed sessions. Other days steady running. Around 50 miles a week.

TWO TOUGH RACES: Malaga, Spain. World Masters Championships 2018

Linda and I travelled with two of our friends on 06 Sep and stayed for a week in Torremolinos. The change in temperature from home was dramatic and I hoped itwould ease a bit for the 10k. Had three mornings of dodging early strollers and joggers along the front before the first of two big days arrived.

10k Road Race 09 September
The early start of the race (9.00 am) meant a 7.00 am taxi ride to the start at the main athletics stadium in Malaga. Even that early as light was breaking there were athletes from all over world milling around and the throng just grew and grew as start time approached. Had quick word with Justin Carter from Cambuslang in the warm-up area and outside while jogging, and ran into Paul Forbes and later Paul Thompson’s lovely lady Jan. Back into the stadium and it was time for the start on the track. There I spoke to Paul Mingay, my nemesis from the Run Britain rankings who I had never met and had spent two years hating!! Turned out he was a really nice guy. The start was just a free-for-all. All ages pushing in. The gun went and we were off to a slow start till we got clear of stadium. The course was out and back and very flat. Thankfully, although it was still hot there was cloud cover. I felt that I was going well and my mile splits were as I had hoped. Didn’t see many V60 numbers en route. My wife and friends had been briefed to look out for V60 runners. Finished very tired in 35.56 and hadn’t a clue about my position I’d finished. I got to the reunion area for my wife to say I’d won and my friends confirming this. After a long wait for the official results, I was indeed World Champion. Then it all got quite surreal, with strangers lauding me, flags, national anthems and a gold medal. All very emotional. A truly unforgettable day.

5000m Track 12 September

This was held at the Carranque Stadium, one of three where events were held. Because of the numbers entered there were 3 seeded heats with the gold medal going to come from third heat which I was in. I wished John Thomson luck as he was about to compete and started my warm-up. It was much hotter than the day of the 10k. Then it was off to the call room and the start of the race. I noted that the Spaniard who won gold in the cross-country and the New Zealander who got bronze were both on the start line. My plan was to sit in but the pace was so slow I took it on from 800 metres. The Spaniard sat in and passed me with 300 metres to go and the New Zealander, who I wasn’t conscious of being there, passed with 50 metres left. Could I have run differently? I don’t know. Bronze this time. I wished Fiona Matheson all the best as she was about to compete and headed off on my warm down. My World Champs were over.
Footnote: Paul Mingay, who I beat in the 10k, won the half marathon V60 on the following Sunday and the 1500 metres was won in 4.51. (I’d done 4.52 at Grangemouth). If only, ha ha. Roll on Toronto!

By Alastair Walker

In November 2018, Alastair was a clear winner of the M60 age group in the British and Irish Masters International Cross Country in Swansea, finishing a great year in style. He ended up British, British and Irish, and World Champion!

Alastair well clear in Swansea 2018

 

PAMELA McCROSSAN

Pamela McCrossan has concentrated on road and country: she finished first W55 in the 2018 Scottish XC championships; and has run for Scottish Masters several times in the British and Irish XC.

NAME Pamela McCrossan
CLUBs Clydesdale Harriers and SVHC
DATE OF BIRTH 10/6/1961
OCCUPATION Theatre Charge Nurse

Pamela on the podium after the Monklands Half Marathon
HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED IN THE SPORT?
Cliff Brown is neighbour of mine and he was a runner and a member of Clydesdale. He encouraged me to do a Ladies 10k race one year (about 20 years ago) and he helped me train for it. He then persuaded me to join Clydesdale Harriers and I have been running and racing ever since.
HAS ANY INDIVIDUAL OR GROUP HAD A MARKED INFLUENCE ON YOUR ATTITUDE OR INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE?
Clydesdale Harriers have had a huge influence on my running and helped me improve over the years. I have received so much help, support and encouragement from everyone there and I have made many good friends. Now I am very proud to be an Honorary Member of the club and current Ladies’ Captain.
WHAT EXACTLY DO YOU GET OUT OF THE SPORT?
So many things! It keeps me fit and healthy and I get to enjoy the pre and post-race banter and chat with other runners. I often get to meet new people when I race or do parkruns and I get a great sense of achievement after a good race or a hard training session. I also get to spend time with like-minded people and fellow runners who are always so friendly
WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER TO BE YOUR BEST EVER PERFORMANCE OR PERFORMANCES?
That’s a difficult question as I have done so many races over the years. However I was totally surprised and delighted to finish as first lady in the Aberfeldy Marathon in 2012 at my first attempt at the distance. I have also been lucky enough to be part of a medal winning team on the 5 occasions I have represented Scotland at the Masters International British and Irish Cross-Country events.
YOUR WORST?
A Dunbartonshire cross country race many years ago when I went over on my ankle and had to be carried off the course by John Hanratty! I then had to go to the Western Infirmary as a fractured ankle was suspected (it was actually ligament damage) and I had to take time off work. The only race yet where I have been a DNF.
WHAT UNFULFILLED AMBITIONS DO YOU HAVE?
None really. At my age I consider myself very fortunate just to be able to run and still compete in races.
OTHER LEISURE ACTIVITIES?
I go to classes in the gym, go to the theatre and cinema and I like to go on holiday as often as possible! First thing I pack is the running gear!
WHAT DOES RUNNING BRING YOU THAT YOU WOULD NOT HAVE WANTED TO MISS?
Running has brought me the opportunity to represent Scotland and the chance to spend many wonderful running holidays in the Canary Islands with friends from Clydesdale and other clubs. I have also enjoyed many weekends travelling away for races and special social occasions with friends I have met through running. These are just a few things I would not have wanted to miss.
CAN YOU GIVE SOME DETAILS OF YOUR TRAINING?
I try to run 4 or 5 times a week and do different types of sessions. There may be a speed session, a steady run, a hill session, a long run and maybe a parkrun too. I also like to do some classes in the gym for cross training.