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.

SHARYN RAMAGE

SVHC QUESTIONNAIRE ANSWERED

Sharyn Ramage has been mainly a track specialist but has run for Scottish Masters in the British and Irish XC International and won the Scottish W50 XC title in 2013. 

NAME: Sharyn Ramage
CLUBS: EAC & Ayr Seaforth
D.O.B: 06/08/1962
OCCUPATION: Retired

HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED IN THE SPORT?
I was in the school gymnastics and netball team and as competition was fierce they required extensive training to ensure selection for the teams. I left school at 15 and my body was so conditioned to training that I needed something to fill the void. I began to jog and one day I stumbled on a group of 4 or 5 men warming up to go for a run and was invited to join them. From there Colchester Joggers was formed. I was hooked immediately and found myself running many half marathons, mostly within a 20-mile radius of Colchester, with reasonable success. My then husband was posted to Berlin where I joined Berlin Harriers for group training – however races were limited due to the restriction of the wall. I ran the Berlin marathon and 25km road race. I worked for the military whilst there where I ran the 7 miles to and from work every day. My colleagues were keen for me to run for them in the cross-country league. I was really not interested but after a lot of persuading I started competing for them and went on to win every race. To those colleagues, I am forever thankful. However I do not ever remember running in mud up to my armpits like here in Scotland, our,next posting. It was imperative I found a running group. I acted on an advertisement for a training group at Saughton and this was where I met Kim (Fisher) Forbes. Kim and I immediately struck up a friendship, running many miles together both in training and competition, usually not without incident, we always had a story to tell. During this time I joined Pitreavie for a short period. When I wasn’t running I was playing netball for Edinburgh.
HAS ANY INDIVIDUAL OR GROUP HAD A MARKED INFLUENCE ON YOUR ATTITUDE OR INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE?
I ran up until the birth of my son, Reece, and was back on the roads 6 weeks to the day after his birth. I was looking to get the elusive sub-three-hour marathon. Kim, suggested meeting Bill Walker at Meadowbank and he advised me to join the middle-distance group. I fell in love with the training sessions and the 800m. Bill, a no-nonsense coach, together with a focused, competitive and supportive squad, helped develop me into the athlete I am today. Having joined Bill’s squad I also joined my current club, Edinburgh Athletic Club.
WHAT EXACTLY DO YOU GET OUT OF THE SPORT?
Initially I began running solely for my health and well-being. Never did I envisage it being such a huge part of my life. Running has brought me everything I could possibly wish for and more. The camaraderie, lifelong friendships, amazing places I have travelled and picking up a few medals on the way, for me the best tonic ever.
WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER TO BE YOUR BEST EVER PERFORMANCE OR PERFORMANCES?
My first memorable performance was at the East District Championships 1500m at Pitreavie 1999. Hayley (Parkinson) Ovens, a Scottish senior squad member at the time, set the pace. I was a W35 and I tucked in behind her. What was I thinking? I remember wondering ‘where are they’? i.e. the rest of the field. As Hayley started to pull away with a lap to go, I believed I could medal. With true grit and determination along with the benefit of Bill’s training, I held onto win the silver medal with a PB of 4:44:04.
The second memorable performance was at the British Masters Championships 800m in Newport, Wales. The weather conditions were wild with torrential rain and a wind that could almost hold my body weight. My Mum and Dad were spectators. Mum had just been diagnosed with breast cancer and as I left for the call room I said, ‘This one is for you’. My husband, gave me a pep talk advising I should tuck in behind given the gale force winds. Nodding my head, I made my way to the start line. Immediately after the gun I went to the front – I suspect Alan was shaking his head at this point. With 200m to go an athlete passed me, I was expecting more to follow. Visibility was poor and the headwind on the home straight was brutal. I’m hanging on for dear life to medal, working my arms like never before – I’m sure my eyes were closed – however I was aware of increased volume from the spectators. I was thinking the rest of the field were queuing up behind me. I remember looking down asking myself ‘where the f*** is the finish line’? There it was, I lunged and pipped the leader to take the title. British Master W35 800m Champion, for my Mum!

YOUR WORST?
My worst performance has to be the Scottish Masters Indoor Championships 800m in Kelvin Hall. Leading from the gun I won! Oh no! I eased up at the wrong line, and let another athlete slip pass on my inside. I was gutted, adding to my woes Bill, my coach, was on photo finish. For months I was regularly reminded ‘How far is 800m’?

WHAT UNFULFILLED AMBITIONS DO YOU HAVE?
Before I became very ill, I had been very close to a World and European individual medal. Eventually after two years I was diagnosed with Coeliac disease – this was a huge relief. After various tests and following a strict gluten free diet I was back to full health. At the time it had a massive impact on training and performance, too much time had elapsed and I never really recovered previous fitness levels. Occasionally there is a glimpse of my former self but mostly I’m propping up Edinburgh Athletic teammates Sue Ridley and Karen Dobbie for team medals in cross country races.

OTHER LEISURE ACTIVITIES?
For a laugh, my friend sent me a link to play “WALKING” Netball. The hardest thing is to not burst into a run, however, I now facilitate it and play regular netball myself. I didn’t think I would ever play netball again.

CAN YOU GIVE SOME DETAILS OF YOUR TRAINING?
Training sessions have been varied over the years. In the early days I would run 6 miles to Meadowbank followed by a session and run the 6 miles back. Typical sessions were 10-12 300m or 400m with a minute recovery, 4 sets of 4 x 200m with 30 seconds recovery and 5 minutes between each set, 600m reps with 8-12 minutes recovery. Then there were the 150m reps, I hated them. Too fast and too short. I remember shouting at Bill, ‘I’m going to scream if we have 150m tonight’! Yep, we had 150m and yep I screamed. I didn’t appreciate the value of these sessions until my times improved.
My most memorable sessions were quite contrasting. The first being hill reps at Arthur’s Seat with Andy Stoane. As it was just the two of us the reps were increased, and all on the long steep hill where Bill sat on a rock at the top with stop watch poised. Not shy of training hard we were giving it all we had. Lactic was excruciating unlike I had ever felt before to the point when returning to the bottom was a challenge in itself. We were walking down backwards, sitting down and eventually any which way in an ungainly manner ready for the next rep.
The second was at Meadowbank, only myself and David Ovens showed for training. Bill wanted us to work on our technique. Following his postural instructions and trying to run at the same time felt ridiculously alien to us, we giggled uncontrollably while Bill, unusual for him, quietly despaired. Incredibly we got faster every rep. I have so much to thank him for.
I am currently coached by Paul Forbes when I’m free of injury.

MICHELLE SANDISON

Michelle Sandison has run both 5000m and 10,000m for Shetland in the bi-annual NatWest Island Games four times, in Lerwick (2005), Sandown (2011), Jersey (2015) and Visby in Sweden (2017). Her Power of 10 profile lists umpteen track or cross-country races from under-23 (for Shettleston Harriers) back in 2001; onto representing Springburn Harriers from 2010 onwards. It is notable that Michelle’s personal bests (for 3000m, 5000m, 10,000m, parkrun and 10k) have all come in 2017 and 2018, after she moved into the W35 age-group. In 2016 (Glasgow), 2017 (Derry) and 2018 (Swansea), she took part in the prestigious British and Irish Masters International, running very well for Scottish Masters: obtaining individual bronze and team gold in Glasgow;  finishing fourth individual in Derry (team silver but in front of England); and winning the W35 title in Swansea (team bronze). Michelle also secured W35 bronze (and GB team silver) in the 2018 World Masters cross-country in Malaga.

Wow, what a weekend… Swansea British and Irish Masters International Cross Country 2018.

A flight from Glasgow to Bristol and a car share to get there but every second of travel was worth it.
Race Day – Singleton Park. As I warmed up, with pre-race music ringing through my head, I could feel the sun on my cheeks, I could smell a hint of mud which made me feel happy and I remembered how grateful I am to be injury-free and fit and healthy. So many times through my running life, as for every athlete, this has not been the case but bad times ensure that the good times feel even better. I went through my race plan, recalled my process goals and worked hard to keep the adrenaline at bay until the start line.
When standing there, I often think, “It’s not too late to change your mind, you don’t really have to do this” and “you need a wee” but deep down I know I do want to do it, I’m actually desperate to run it and I don’t really need a wee. Weird head demons.
BANG! Elbows, elbows, elbows!! The tussle seems to have popped me out in front so I settle. I don’t need to be at the front, that is not the race plan and is an unrealistic goal! All I recall about the first lap is working hard at keeping the adrenaline as low as possible, finding the hard tempo pace that I am happy with, remembering the best lines around the course and focusing on my breathing, my feet, my shoulders. The first time up the hill feels good but I know that it won’t always seem that way so I prepare myself mentally for how it may feel harder next time.
Lap 2 is inevitably where it starts to hurt physically and mentally. I had planned a small “rest” period here to ensure I had plenty for lap 3 so I focused very hard on every aspect of my body…relax the jaw, shoulders down, use the arms, lean gently from the hips, switch on the glutes, listen to your feet, listen to your breathing….calm, calm, be calm. I am aware that I am leading V35 but I shove that knowledge far away. This is not the time to get carried away.
As I enter Lap 3 I am tired, I feel a bit sick and my arms and legs are starting to get heavy. “It’s only a lap and a bit of Glasgow Green (one of my training areas in Glasgow) you’ve done that tired many times” I tell myself. Last big effort. The tannoy cuts in – I hear my name. It makes my heart jump, my adrenaline spike “shhhhhh, be calm, you need to breathe”. The spotlight effect has not always been my friend so I force myself to ignore it and run away from the noise. As I run, my mind wanders, asking itself nonsensical questions, allowing demons in and losing focus on my body, another sign of fatigue for me. I work so very hard mentally to pull it back under control, to focus completely on my body and my breathing and I visualise all the times I feel like this in training. I force myself to hear the voice of my coach, Anne-Marie, in my head, I force myself to leave the reality of Swansea and go to the island I grew up running on (I am from Shetland). I visualise running through knee-deep heather with my father, as I did as a child, and force myself to block out the physical and mental pain. As I approach the final hill someone shouts “there’s a medal in there for you Scotland” but I brush it off. I have a hill to climb and a “sprint” finish to complete, there’s no medal if you collapse before the finish line!
Luckily, I didn’t collapse and did cross the finish line and there was a medal. A gold! I was so exhausted that the overwhelming emotion at the finish was pure relief. I had followed my plan, I had kept my focus and had executed the race as I had wanted. I had run every ounce of energy out of my body (so much so that I got a visual migraine but even that was positive as I was looked after by the best team-mates you can ever hope for… but that is another story). Relief was quickly followed by elation and a final massive surge of chemicals through my body. The runner’s high, I guess. And nothing beats it.

Michelle in Swansea 2018

QUESTIONNAIRE: MICHELLE SANDISON

CLUBS Springburn Harriers and SVHC.
DATE OF BIRTH 11.04.80.
OCCUPATION Additional Support Needs Teacher.
HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED IN THE SPORT?
I have run all my life. I grew up on a small island in Shetland and running was a natural way to get to places quickly. When I was young, I accompanied my dad on his long hikes through the hills and, when I reached 10 years old, he had to give me his fly fishing gear and the water to carry – he says it was to slow me down so he could keep up! I joined Shetland Amateur Athletics Club which was based on the mainland of Shetland when I was 12 years old. For me to train on the mainland of Shetland required a lot of dedication from my parents, who had to drive me to and from the sessions. The journey consists of a 30-40 minute ferry journey and 30 minute drive, often in challenging weather conditions.
Running became a lot more serious for me when I left Shetland to go to Stirling University in 1998. I joined Central AC and had my own coach. At Uni I was selected to run for Scotland at Cross Country and I represented the Scottish Universities and East District team at Inter Districts events. I also competed in 3000m and 5000m events on the track.
HAS ANY INDIVIDUAL OR GROUP HAD A MARKED INFLUENCE ON YOUR ATTITUDE OR INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE?
There are four people that spring to mind.

Firstly, my parents. They have always accepted and supported my love of running even when they haven’t understood it. They allowed me the freedom to be outdoors, get very muddy and to run everywhere as a child. They drove me to and from athletics three times a week and sat waiting in some awful conditions until I had finished. My father’s love of the hills, nature and being outdoors certainly had a huge impact on me as a child, helped me to appreciate what’s around me when I run and how to pace myself. My dad has always been my biggest fan and has been proud of me when I have won but, more importantly, has been there for me the many times that I have lost or been disappointed.

Secondly, my husband whose background in sports psychology has helped me significantly change my approach to racing and training.

And finally, my coach, Anne-Marie Hughes. Without her I don’t even know if I would still be running. Anne-Marie became my coach in 2002 when I was seriously ill and had not been able to run for nearly a year. She agreed to take me on at a time when I felt like I had lost running forever. Her honesty, love and belief in me is something that shaped my future, my running and my attitude to life.
WHAT EXACTLY DO YOU GET OUT OF THE SPORT?
My husband says running for me is my “default state” and in many ways he is right. It’s something that I have done for as long as I can remember and, when I can’t run due to injury or illness, I yearn for it.
Running has widened my horizons and given me opportunities to travel. It is running that brought me to Glasgow, where I now live and work and where I met my husband. It has also provided me with deep, ever-lasting friendships and a busy social life. I have a lot to thank the sport for.
WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER TO BE YOUR BEST EVER PERFORMANCE OR PERFORMANCES?
The most memorable and most meaningful performance for me was when I won 10,000m gold at the 2005 Island Games in Shetland. It wasn’t my fastest time or best tactical race but running (and winning!) in front of my family, friends and my community was a very rare opportunity. It gave me an experience that I shall never be able to repeat and will stay with me forever.
YOUR WORST?
My worst was in Holyrood park in 2001 when I was running for the East District in the Great Edinburgh International and Inter Districts event. I was not well and hated every step. When I crossed the line, I was a wreck physically and mentally. It was the last time I ran for a year.
WHAT UNFULFILLED AMBITIONS DO YOU HAVE?
I try very hard not to set outcome goals, as I find they tend to work against me, rather than be a source of motivation. I have things that I would still like to accomplish in my running, of course, but it won’t be the end of the world if I never do.
OTHER LEISURE ACTIVITIES?
I love catching up with friends near and far, so I tend to go out socialising quite a bit and travel to see people when I can. As a teacher and a runner, I don’t get much time for leisure but in the holidays I like to read.
CAN YOU GIVE SOME DETAILS OF YOUR TRAINING?
I am a low mileage runner. I usually run between 25 and 30 miles per week. I have learned over the last 38 years what my body is happy with and that I have to listen to it or I will get injured. My job is also very physically demanding so I see work as my first session of the day.
A typical week consists of:
Mon – Quality session consisting of anything from 300m reps to mile reps.
Tue- Cycle and weights session.
Wed – Hard tempo run and Kettlebells.
Thurs – Speed type session.
Friday – Rest.
Sat – Hard reps session or hills. Core work.
Sun- Either a swim or a few easy miles, usually no more than 4 or 5.

By Michelle Sandison

Aberdeen University Track: King’s College

Scottish Universities have a strong tradition of track and field athletics and none more so than the four ancients.   There were inter university competitions, matches against local clubs and even national university championships. Aberdeen has had several facilities that they used over the years for the Athletics Club.   In writing this piece there has been help from Hunter Watson, Fraser Clyne, Bill Ewing and Colin Youngson.

KING’S COLLEGE GROUND PAVILION

All four of the ‘ancient’ universities had their own running track and grounds.   The Pavilion at Westerlands in Glasgow is legendary but King’s College in Aberdeen had one every bit as good.   Completed on 4th April, 1941 and seen in the photograph above, it even had its own swimming pool.   I quote: “The pavilion was built for the King’s College University Athletic Club (more  usually referred to as Aberdeen University Athletic Club), but was also required to provide common room facilities for the whole college.    Hunter Watson describes the building: “The new building was two storeys high. On the ground floor were changing rooms sufficient to cater for as many as 180 people. Also on the ground floor was a 20 yard long indoor swimming pool with a diving platform at its deep end. On the first floor there was a cafeteria which looked out on to the playing fields and from which the swimming pool could also be viewed. Also on the first floor were squash courts, a private dwelling and two common rooms. Curiously, one of the common rooms was intended for men and the other for women!”

The playing fields themselves were like all the University tracks of the time were of good, well looked after grass and were big enough to hold two rugby pitches, a cricket wicket and a lacrosse field.   Fraser Clyne tells us that King’s playing fields opened on Saturday, 2nd November 1889 with a rugby match between Aberdeen and Glasgow Universities.  Cricket, rugby and football were there from the start.  The first athletics meeting on the grass track was held on 24th May, 1890 with competitions for the championship of the University.   Olympians James Tindal Soutter (of Aberdeen University) and Eric Liddell (of Edinburgh University) have both competed there in the past.    Hunter Watson takes up the tale:  The initial actions which led to the provision of playing fields at King’s College, Aberdeen took place in 1883. In that year it was established that the University had no intention of erecting any buildings on the site, one which lay immediately to the east of King’s College. Also in that year a committee was appointed to see what could be done.

     It was calculated that about £2000 would be required to complete the necessary work and an appeal was made to the graduates of the University for help. With the aid of that appeal and a bazaar, the Committee were able in the summer of 1888 to arrange that the work on the provision of a new playing field be commenced: the ‘Alma Mater’ of 28 November 1888 reported that the ground had “now been laid out”. (The ‘Alma Mater’ is an Aberdeen University magazine which has been published since 1872. Copies for consultation are held in the Aberdeen University Library.)

      In the ‘Alma Mater’ of 20 February 1889, it was stated that “The completion of the new Recreation Ground at King’s College may be regarded as a landmark in the history of our ‘Varsity Athletics …  What is now needed … is the organisation of the various clubs on a sound financial footing: Good gates are the chief means to this end.” At that time, it appears that numerous spectators could be expected to turn out to watch university students engaged in sporting competitions and also to pay for that privilege.

    In the ‘Alma Mater’ of 24 April 1889 it was stated that “The ground, it is fully expected, will be sufficiently firmed by another season to allow of its being freely used.” It was also stated that “The committee suggested the formation of an Athletic Association consisting of the different athletic clubs in the University and to whom the care and custody of the ground should be entrusted.”

    It appears that the provision of this playing field at King’s was the stimulus which led to the formation of the Aberdeen University Athletic Association. It also appears that to this Association was given much of the responsibility for the management and maintenance of the new playing field.”

The first Inter University match was held at King’s track on 17th June, 1899 with teams representing Edinburgh, and Glasgow competing with Aberdeen.   It was fairly well covered in the ‘Press and Journal’ which started its report: 

“Everything conspired to make the Scottish inter-university athletic meeting, which was held at King’s College Grounds, Aberdeen, on Saturday afternoon a decided success.   The weather conditions were ideal, the sun shining brilliantly through the heat haze of the early forenoon.   The arrangements were most complete; the contests were keen; and the large and fashionable crowd of spectators were rendered picturesque by the bright toilettes of the many ladies who formed a large part of it.   The last occasion on which Scottish inter-university sports were held was in 1673; and the present revival, under such successful auspices auguers well  for an annual gathering in future. …

The grounds were gaily festooned with ribbons and a number of seats were placed on the terrace from which a good view of the sports could be obtained.   During the afternoon, refreshments were provided by Mr W Kennaway, Union Street, in two spacious marquees, while the band of the 1st AREV played the following selection of music ……    

The competitors in each event were photographed by Mr James Ewing, Crown Street, and the three teams were also photographed.   …  The games were under the Scottish Amateur Athletic Association rules. …”

The winners were Edinburgh from Glasgow and then Aberdeen.  The reference above to the previous meeting in 1673 is obviously a misprint for 1873, the year in which the Inter-Universities was held at St Andrews.  There were only three of the four ancients competing at that time in the Inter-Universities Championships,(Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow) and the event was held by rota so that they were held in Aberdeen in 1902 (14th June) and 1905 (12th June) with St Andrews being involved for the first time since that meeting in 1873 in 1906.   This four-team competition meant that Aberdeen’s next fixture at King’s College was on 19th June 1909: it was the first time the full four university complement was held at King’s.    Thereafter the four yearly rota was followed with Aberdeen’s last hosting before the War being 21st June 1913.   In this period many more world class athletes were involved at the competition including the wonderful athlete that was WH Welsh.

The Scottish Universities track and field championships were held at King’s on 1 June 1957 when 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 championship records for the quarter and half mile events of 48.8 sec and 1:52.8,  his quarter mile time took 1.4 seconds from the championship record set by Eric Liddell in 1923, while his half mile time was only 0.9 seconds off his own Scottish Native Record which had been set the previous year.   WJ More of Glasgow set a ground record of 4:20.8 for the Mile, and A Hannah, Edinburgh won the 440 yards hurdles with a time of 54.1.    According to John Keddie in the centenary history of the SAAA, JTA Johnston equalled JGM Hart’s 1949 Scottish Native Record  of 15.3 for the 120 yards hurdles which unsurprisingly broke the universities record. R Scott, Glasgow, won the hammer with 142′ 11″.   HM Murray of Edinburgh had the satisfaction of breaking the Scottish Native record of  47′ 2″ when winning the Triple Jump with 47′ 3 1/2″but had the disappointment of not being credited with that record because, although resident in Scotland and of Scottish parentage, he had not been born in Scotland.    Miss D Will of Aberdeen beat her own discus record with 111′ 5″, and Miss S McLeod, Glasgow, beat Miss J Pringle’s record for the shot by 7″ when she threw 30′.

The ‘Glasgow Herald’ headline read “Day of records at Aberdeen” and it was entirely justified.   Paterson’s quarter mile record took 1.4 second from Eric Liddell’s time of 1923 and was a major event. 

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.

The above photograph was included in the 1953 Coronation Issue of the Aberdeen University magazine, “Athletic Alma.” The photograph was likely to have been taken at the Aberdeen University Athletic Championships which preceded the Inter-University Championships held at King’s in 1953.

In the 1950’s and 60’s the championships were held on a rota in the order Craiglockhart, Westerlands, St Andrews and Aberdeen so that Aberdeen hosted the post war championships in 1949, ’53, ’57, ’61,  and ’65.   This rota was disturbed in 1969 which was preparation year for the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, 1970.

1963: Bill Ewing wins a half mile from Mel Edwards and Graham Reid

Bill Ewing writes that that the ground staff at King’s College were very helpful. They fashioned a “solid water jump” for him just inside the home bend in 1966. He practised his jump technique all Spring, landing on a pad of foam rubber to simulate the water! That season, Bill came second to Gareth Bryan-Jones in the British Universities steeplechase at Birmingham and thinks that the jump practice helped a lot. Bill wonders now what became of that invaluable jump hurdle. In 1967 at Grangemouth Stadium, Bill won the Scottish steeplechase title, just in front of Gareth. Bill states that “King’s will always be my spiritual home for running.”

Above: 1965: Mile start, Bill Ewing second from right.   

Excellent view of the pavilion

Below: 1965: 100 yards won by Bernie Nottage

Colin Youngson trained and raced at King’s between 1966 and 1971. “I remember at the end of my first year front-running in a frantic effort to win the AU One mile title but running out of steam and finishing second to Tony Patrick. Then metric distances became standard, so I did manage to win a few 1500m and 5000m races there, either club championships against Jim Maycock or Don Ritchie or ‘Three University’ matches, e.g. AU, Glasgow and Strathclyde; or AU, Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt etc.
One memory is that once, just when I seemed likely to win an inter-university 1500m, an unknown young Strathclyde athlete zoomed past in the final 20 metres – he turned out to be the future GB star Frank Clement!
The Annual Sports Day was a lot of fun. A paarlauf was introduced one year, so that each of a pair of runners took turns to sprint 220 yards then jogged over the middle of the track to take over again. Bob Anderson and I combined to run a 3.57 mile!
Training round the playing fields was great. It was about 660 yards round, so repetitions might involve that distance; or often umpteen 220 yards efforts along the side furthest away from the art deco pavilion; or sometimes horrible flat-out 330s on the track itself. National Coaches John Anderson and Frank Dick both occasionally travelled up north to King’s to organise sessions of 20 second runs or up the clock for many runners.
The Grass Track was very good, flat with a smooth, well-cut surface, ideal for fast times. Near the end of the summer term, a ‘Minnows’ Three Miles’ was popular. The fastest club runners did not count in the results. It was a handicap with the slowest starting first. One year I started last and ended up with a personal best (unusually for me run in bare feet) due to ideal conditions and lots of slower rivals to overtake!
From the mid-1960s there was even an AU half marathon (starting with a lap of the field, then twice round the cross-country course with an extra lap in the middle and one at the finish. First prize was a Sawfish tusk!
For the Annual Students’ Charities campaign, Aberdeen University Hare & Hounds Club in April 1970 decided to attempt a sponsored 72 Hour Marathon Relay round King’s Field, which was timed meticulously. Luckily, conditions were dry. All our first and second team men took part and we succeeded in completing 636 miles at an average speed of almost nine miles an hour. We raised over £300 for the campaign. If you raised £100 you were given a free barrel of beer! The after-event party featured an attempt to drink all three barrels but we did not succeed at that sport. Rather unfairly, the Guinness Book of Records people did not accept our ‘world record’ since they did not think that such a challenge would be popular!
Happy times on a wonderful field and track!”

Aberdeen Sports Village Track

***

BALGOWNIE TRACK

Bill Ewing says that he raced there only once and that it was the worst surface he ever competed on, with its cheap red covering on an unforgiving base.
Mel Edwards says “I believe the track opened 1971/72.  An all-weather track, which was a godsend after the cinders (a charitable word for that lumpy track) at the Linksfield Stadium. Balgownie was a rather hard track but welcome all the same.
In 1979, I organised the first Aberdeen marathon and it started and finished there.  The runners left the playing fields and did 4 laps of an external road circuit. T he lap was very hilly and the route became known as the Balgownie Alps!
The guest of honour was Jim Peters who came north with his wife Freda.  Jim was a former marathon world record holder (2 hour 17 minutes 39.4 secs way back in 1954.).
So, Balgownie was a popular venue, especially for cross country races round playing fields and up and down surrounding hills. It has hosted the East District XC Championships more than once, as well as the Scottish Veterans XC Championships.”

Fraser Clyne says “Balgownie, I am pretty sure, was opened early 1970s. It was there when I started AU in 1973. Always a hard track and very windy.
Graham Laing and I ran 29:22 there one Tuesday night in the AAAC club champs, just running round together (should have gone faster instead of chatting).   I did quite a lot of solo 14:20’s there but couldn’t get any quicker.
I vaguely recall outsprinting Colin Youngson there in a 5000m a few days after I ran the Pittsburgh marathon in 1985. 14:54 and 14:55 was all we could manage.   Not sure when it stopped being used or maintained regularly, but the superior all-weather track at the Chris Anderson Stadium opened in 1988 so I guess it must have been after then.”

Hunter Watson concludes with a few remarks on Balgownie: “That all-weather track was being used by the North-East Athletics League by 1973. It also began to be used by Aberdeen’s section of the Scottish Young Athletes League in 1975, the year in which Aberdeen joined that league. For a few years in the early 1980s some East of Scotland championship events for younger athletes were held at Balgownie in conjunction with an open athletics meeting organised by Aberdeen AAC. However, Aberdeen University was unable to afford the upkeep of the Balgownie track with the consequence that it deteriorated to such an extent that by 1986 clubs from outwith Aberdeen refused to compete on it. In my capacity as secretary of Aberdeen AAC, as early as 1984 I had begun making representations to the City of Aberdeen to either make a contribution towards the repair of the track at Balgownie or to upgrade the cinder track at Linksfield Stadium. On 1 March 1985 the Director of Leisure and Recreation sent me a letter (see attachment) which made it clear that he had begun discussions with the Scottish Sports Council which, if successful, would lead to the stadium at Linksfield being upgraded to become a Sub National Sports Facility. Happily those discussions were successful though we had to wait until 1988 for the superb track that was eventually laid at Linksfield Stadium. “

 

Hugh Barrow, Frank Horwill Award.

Hugh was awarded the BMC’s Frank Horwill Award for outstanding service to the British Milers Club for 2018.   A well deserved award the citation reads:

I served as Scottish Secretary of the BMC for about 10 years and when I was first appointed, Hugh was a tremendous help to me.   The first conversation on putting on races was held at the Allan Scally race when we had a long chat on the pavement surrounded by sweaty bodies.    Then when we had three BMC training days at Huntershill, Hugh arranged for us to have the use of the premises and for the cafeteria to be open.   Not only that but he put Frank Horwill up at his own home – Frank really appreciated it (and it saved us money on accommodation costs!)    Then there were the lunchtime chats in his office in Bishopbriggs which led to the organisation of the ‘Gallery Mile’ races held in Kirkintilloch when the Luddon/Strathkelvin Half Marathon was taking place.   These races brought the likes of Yvonne Murray, Lynne McDougall, Liz Lynch and company to the streets of Strathkelvin and were very popular.   When the BMC rand Prix races were held at Scotstoun at the start of the millennium, Hugh was there and was even encouraged to present some of the awards.   The award is well deserved.

Hugh is pictured below at the Scotstoun GP having made a presentation to Hayley Haining.   Former miler Phil O’Dell (Bedford) on the right.

Hugh was presented with his award at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow on 4th January 2019 by BMC Treasurer Matthew Fraser Moat who had flown up from London specifically to present two awards – one to Hugh and one to Laura Muir as BMC Female Athlete of the Year.   However, after Hugh received his award, he was asked to present Laura with hers.  It was a memorable occasion and some of Bobby Gavin’s photographs are below.

Glasgow Athletics Miler Meet/ Scottish Athletics 3000m Champs, January 4th 2019
(C) Bobby Gavin – Byeline Must be Used

Hugh receiving his award from Matthew Fraser Moat.

Another Bobby Gavin photograph: Hugh making the presentation to Laura Muir

Glasgow Athletics Miler Meet/ Scottish Athletics 3000m Champs, January 4th 2019
(C) Bobby Gavin – Byeline Must be Used

Matthew, Laura and Hugh

 

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Goldenacre

Goldenacre: Pavilion

The playing fields at Goldenacre belong to George Heriot’s School and Wikipedia has this to say:   George Heriot’s School has its own sports ground at Goldenacre in the north of Edinburgh, on a site enjoying a wonderful view of the Edinburgh skyline. Here 24 acres of playing fields, together with well equipped pavilion and grandstand facilities, provide for the School’s activities in Rugby, Hockey, Football, Cricket, Tennis, Cross-Country Running, Athletics, and multi-sports.   Goldenacre is also the home ground for the School’s associated adult Rugby, Hockey and Cricket Clubs. Although formally constituted as Former Pupil clubs, and affiliated to the Heriot Club, the official association of Heriot’s Former Pupils, these sports clubs all function as open clubs.    From Wiki then we know that the grounds are large:  24 acres is large.   If you recon that a football pitch is about two acres, then we have 12 football pitches.   We also learn that it has been used for at least eight sports.  In general terms it is probably best known for its rugby and many of its rugby players have been outstanding sportsmen.   It has a very impressive history indeed and it has been a significant player in the development of athletics in Scotland.    

J Wardlaw, Heriot AA, President SAAA 1930-31.

The Scottish Amateur Athletic Association was established on 28th February 1883 and, while not a founding member, the Heriot Club was one of the first clubs to join.  Heriot’s members took part in all the championships and many of the open meetings.    By 1933,  the time of the 50th anniversary of the Association, the Heriot Club, Heriot;s School (FP) AC and Heriot’s School were all listed separately as members.   J Quigley of Heriot AA (1914-15) and J Wardlaw,Heriot Club , (1930-31) had been Presidents of the Association.   Wardlaw was still a committee member of the SAAA in 1933.   In 1921-22 AF Dickson of Heriots CCC was President of the SCCU and in 1926-27 JW Dickson of the same club was also President.   Athletically JF Wood represented Scotland in the world cross-country championships four times between 1928 and 1932 and won the Scottish track 10 miles championship twice.   The school was always involved in athletics and enjoyed a fair degree of success.   

After the 1939-45 War, Goldenacre however was best known however as the venue for the Scottish Schools AA Boys Championships.   The championships at that timewere held turn about in Edinburgh and Glasgow.   In Glasgow they were held at Westerlands for several years before moving to Scotstoun Showground.   In the East however they were held at Goldenacre every second year.   

 The post war SSAA Championship in Edinburgh were held June 14th 1947  at Inverleith  and at the same venue again on 18th June, 1949, when the top boys age group (ie over 17) was known as the ‘open events’.   In that year the top athletes were D Leith of Robt Gordon’s who added 12′ to the javelin record with 185′ 3 1/2″ and A Hanlon’s Pole Vault of 10′ 3 1/4″.   Schools represented on the prize list included McLaren High, Greenock High, Elgin Academy, Kirkcudbright Academy, Irvine Royal Academy, Ardrossan Academy and Buckhaven High School as well as all the private schools.   In 1948 and 50, they moved to the West and were held at Westerlands so maintaining the habit of alternating between the two major cities.

The first at Goldenacre was on 16th June, 1951.   In that meeting one of the winners who would go on to represent Scotland for a number of years was RM Stephen in the hop, step and jump,  with J Hendry  winning the Eric Liddell Trophy after his superb run in the Mile.  Two years later, on 20th June, 1953, there were no fewer than 10 best championship performances spread over all age groups.

In 1955, on 18th June the Scottish Schools Boys Championships were held there again and  Crawford Fairbrother who would go on to set Scottish records and win Scottish and Great Britain honours, won the High Jump with 5’10” which was anew meeting record; and E McKeating, the Heriot’s School rugby, cricket and athletics captain, won 100//LJ in 10 sec/20′ 2″ but the Eric Liddell Trophy went to PB Hall (Fettes) for his winning height in the pole vault of 11′ 3 1/4″.

SSAA Boys championships were back at Goldenacre on 15th June 1957.   Golspie HS was producing a whoile series of throwing champions and in 1957 there was a double by I McPherson of Golspie in Discus and Shot.   Among the other outstanding results was the long jump by D Whyte of Bell-Baxter of 21’11” .   Whyte would go on to study at St Andrews University where he would set University records for both jumps for distance, win Scottish and GB University titles and compete as a senior internationalist.   

The meeting of 20th June 1959  was special for several reasons. 

 (1) The running of Mike Hildrey of Balfron when he did the sprint double  M Hildrey (above)  100/220 in  9.88/22.3.   Hildrey would become one of Scotland’s all time top sprinters.  In this meeting he equalled the national 100y record and took no less than 0.5 sec from the 220y record.   He was awarded the Eric Liddell trophy.   Among the other names that stand out in the results column is that of R McFarquhar of Inverness Royal Academy who won the Mile in 4:29.6.

(2) was the other being the running of the SAAA relays in conjunction with the championships.  The winning time in each race was inside the Scottish record but neither was recognised as such.   The results:

                                                                       4 x 110 Relay: 1.  VP  42.6;  2.  GU;  3. Ayr Seaforth;    4 x 440  1.  Glasgow University in 3:21,8;  2.  EU;  3.  ESH

On 17/6/61 the championships were a success and there were at least four names who would distinguish any meeting for years to come who were in action.   

  1. The Eric Liddell Trophy went to the latest product of the Golspie HS throws group when he won the shot putt with a best of 55′ 0 1/2″.   This gave him the record for the event in three different age groups.   He would become a champion and record setter for several years in Scttish athletics before becoming an award winning sports journalist.
  2. The 15-17 Mile was won by Hugh Barrow in 4:24.1.   Barrow was to go to a wonderful career which would include Scottish Championships and records, Scottish and British international honours and world age group records.   On this date he took 10 seconds from the existing record.
  3. the pole vault won by Norman Foster with 14′ 2″, who would become one of Scotland’s best ever decathletes and pole vaulters
  4. the Discus by Douglas Edmunds with 161′ 2″.   Edmunds would become one of the best known ‘heavy’ athletes in the country.

The senior relays were again held – the 4 x 110 yards relay was won by  the all conquering  Victoria Park AAC  in 43.3  and the 4 x 440 relay  Edinburgh U  3:31.3

On then to 15th June 1963 when the Eric Liddell Trophy was awarded to D Hendry (Galashiels Academy) for his win in the 15-17 880 yards in 1:58.3.   The school also provided the winner of the 17+ 880 yards, K Oliver, in 1:58.7.   Lenzie Academy was known at that time for the fine middle distance runners it produced and in the 17+ mile Ian Young won in 4:27.0.   He would go on to be part of the finest University distance runing group at Edinburgh competing in the same team as Fergus Murray, Alistair Blamire,and a whole host of top men.   Graeme Grant of The Hermitage School won the 15-17 Mile in 4:27.4 and he too would become a Scottish and British internationalist and record holder.   In the field events, Norman Foster again won the Pole Vault.  

incl SAAA Senior 4 x 440 (record) GUAC 3:19.3  SNR; 4 x 110 relay:  42.6  ESH

The prodigiously talented Gordon Rule

19th June, 1965 was the last year that the SSAA Boys championships would be held at Goldenacre – in 1967 they would move to Pitreavie which had hosted many of the Girls Championships over the years.   The top athlete this time was HC Robertson (Hutchesons Grammar School) who won three events: 200y hurdles in 23.6 seconds, , long jump with 21′ 9 1/2″ and triple jump with 47′ 4 1/2″ with the award of the Eric Liddell Trophy for the latter event.   The Souter family of Lenzie produced several SSAA champions and this year it was Robin who won the high jump withe a clearance of 5′ 8 1/2″.   Heriot’s School had provided many medallists at these championships and it is appropriate to indicate the strength of their athletics by listing their medallists at this, their final hosting of the event.  

17-19 :   440 yards  1st JL Galloway  51.6;  4 x 110 yards relay:  1st  44.6;  PV:  1st I Dobson 10′ 9″; Javelin  1st N Burnett 122′ 2 1/2″;  Discus:  2nd AR Dunn 

15-17 :   440 yards  1st DF Macritchie 52.2;  110y H: DS Bruce  1st 14.7; 4 x 110 relay:  1st  45.5; HJ:  D Gartshore  1st 5′ 7″;  LJ:  DS Bruce  1st  19′ 8 1/4″; PV  HM Burnett 2nd.

13-15:   80yH: 1st  WT Bell  11.3; PV:  GW Rule  10′; Shot Putt:  GW Rule  40’1 1/2″

The school was clearly an athletics supporting school (12 gold medals) although the main sports were rugby and cricket.   The reporter in the ‘Glasgow Herald mentioned “performances by the George Heriot’s School generally, whose pupils names were never far from the announcer’s lips as he gave winners and place winners.

The SAAA relays were held with much debate about the result of the 4 x 440 where it was a close finish between WM Campbell and Ross Billson.   : 4   x  110: Glasgow University from Edinburgh Southern Harriers       4 x 440  GUAC from Ayr Seaforth 

In 1967 the championships were held at Pitreavie and they would soon move to Grangemouth with Boys and Girls competing at the same venue.  In 1967, Heriot’s only won two gold medals – one by the prodigious pole vaulter Gordon Rule.  In 1962 eight of the Edinburgh public schools got together to set up the Octavians Athletic Club partly because the numbers attending the Former Pupils athletic clubs had dwindled so much.   George Heriot’s was one of the eight schools.   The very successful Octavians however had to disband in 1971 after only ten years of existence and by 1983, centenary of the SAAA not one of the three Heriots clubs that had been members in 1933 was still affiliated to either that body or the SCCU.

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 Goldenacre is, however, known to many millions of cinema goers around the world for it appearance in the Oscar winning film ‘Chariots of Fire.   Many locations were used for the film including the Sma’ Glen, Inverleith in Edinburgh, the Church of Scotland Assembly Hall and others.   Goldenacre, pictured below, was the scene of the Scotland v  Ireland International contest.

If you go to the website of the present Heriot’s Club, you will see that it has six sections listed – Angling, Cricket, Curling, Golf, Hockey and Rugby.   The main sport right now is rugby with exciting games bei g played every winter and athletics seems to be relegated to school sports days.   Whatever the current situation, past members of the governing bodies such as Quigley, Wardlaw, Dickson and their contemporaries contributed to the development of athletics in Scotland.   Goldenacre witnessed so many excellent perofrmances across all disciplines and meant so much to so many pupils and athletes in the country who nurse fond memories of the ground, should be remembered as a cherished venue.

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Douglas Gifford


The story of the great Glasgow University cross-country team of the 1960’s would not be complete without telling about Doug Gifford:  TDG Gifford sounded more like an amateur cricket player of the 1960’s but he was a talented and hard running athlete that any club in the land would have been glad to have as a representative.   He is pictured above (L3) taking the baton from  Cameron Shepherd in the Edinburgh to Glasgow relay race where he had many a good run.   That he was a naturally gifted runner was never in doubt but he confined his endeavours to cross-country and road running.   There is no record of him running in club, university, inter-varsity, district or national championships on the track at all.   He first appears in the record books on 26th January 1957 when he ran in the  Midland District Championships as a  Youth (Under 17) where he was  8th and the sole representative of his club, Garscube Harriers.  A year later, 1st  March 1958 he ran in the National Cross-Country Championships at Hamilton, again in the U17 age group, for  Garscube Harriers where he finished third   – six seconds behind J Linaker with an Anglo from South Shields winning the race.   At this point he left Hillhead High School and went up to Glasgow University where he continued to run and his performances improved immensely with every year that went by.

The winter season starts in October and on the very first day of November Freshman Gifford ran on the third stage of the Midland District Relay with the others being Horn, Woodcock and Johnstone.   The team was 12th but he was in the first team right from the start.   Two weeks later he ran in his first Edinburgh to Glasgow eight stage relay race for the Hares & Hounds.   He ran on the first stage of this invitation only event and handed over in 13th place to another who would be one of the teams outstanding runners over the next few years, Callum Laing.   1959 started with the traditional Nigel Barge Road Race at Maryhill and Gifford finished 22nd and first University runner with Stan Horn in 30th place.   On 10 January 1959 a trial was held over an icy and treacherous seven mile trail from Garscadden. which Gifford won easily in 38min 34sec.   There was a match against St Andrews University on 21st January in dull wet conditions.   The University history tells us that : “as soon as open country was reached conditions underfoot were very treacherous for the runners, with the thaw having come too late and the overlying water merely concealing the ice below. Stan Horn won the race in 37 min 18 sec, with Jim Bogan second (37 min 21 sec) and Douglas Gifford third (37 min 25 sec). In the Team competition Glasgow won easily with 30 points. St Andrew’s scored 72 and Aberdeen 87. “

Gifford, along with Callum Laing, was injured at the time of the Scottish Universities championship and did not run that year.   Then came the Midland District Championships where Jim Bogan finished first in the Youths’ Race, and Douglas Gifford was the second Junior home.    On 28th February the climax of the cross country season came in the form of the National Championships at Hamilton.   Gifford was  25th in Junior race and first GU runner.   The team finished 5th.

Gifford was one of ten runners presented with first team colours at the AGM at the end of 1958-59 and he was also elected Secretary/Treasurer at the same meeting.

Start of 1960 Scottish Universities Championship in St Andrews

In his review of the 1959-60 season, the team captain (Nick Rogers) spoke about the mixed fortunes of the Club during the previous season. “The First Team Trial had seen six men beat the Blue’s standard of 38 minutes over the Garscadden course (later that night this was lowered to 37min 30sec). Then a Glasgow Eight “hammered” Queen’s University (Belfast) by maximum points over the Garscadden course. The Hares and Hounds had finished 10th in the Midland District Relay. “Edinburgh, our arch enemies, were also soundly trounced at last after 10 years, Gifford, Bogan, Horn and Hunter finishing in that order before the first Edinburgh man”   On this occasion Douglas Gifford also set a new course record of 36min 51sec over the Garscadden course.”

In open competition, a team of Rogers, Bogan, Gifford and Hartley was tenth in the Midland District Relay on the first Saturday in November and then on 21st November Doug Gifford found himself running the notoriously difficult second stage of the Edinburgh to Glasgow relay.    Difficult because of its six miles of undulating road but more difficult because it was the leg where each and every one of the invited teams put out their best runner.  Not surprisingly the young Gifford, who had taken over from Jim Bogan in ninth dropped down to 13th position.   The next major championship was on 23rd January 1960 and it was the  Midland District event.   He finished 31st and top Hares and Hounds counter for the team that finished ninth.  

Having been Secretary of the Hares and Hounds in 1958-59, Doug was also elected Captain for season 1959-60 and led the team into the national universities cross country championships.   They were held at St Andrews on 5th February in 1960 and the race is described by Donald Macgregor in his book “Running My Life” as follows:

“It was quite sunny and drier underfoot than the week before.   The individual and team struggle was intense along the Kinkell Braes, over to the A917 Crail Road, and up the big hill with its ‘plough’.   St Andrews were 12 points ahead with 2 miles to go, as we plummeted down from Lochend farm track over stubble fields with the whole magnificent vista of the city and its towers laid out before us.   Alas for our hopes!   The Glasgow middle counters gradually moved up the field.   The two best Glasgow runners, Douglas Gifford and Jim Bogan, and I had broken away from the rest quite early on.   We stayed together through the streets of the new town and were still together going up Dyers Brae into narrow Abbey Street and over South Street into South Castle Street.   It was only over the last 300 yards that Gifford and Bogan were able to break away from me to take the first two places for Glasgow, with five seconds covering the first three.   David Jeffrey followed me home in fourth.   Glasgow also took the team medals but there were only 7 points in it. “

Exactly one month later, on 5th March, the team headed for Hamilton for the National Cross-Country Championships.  The Junior team performed well and was placed third at the finish with the counting runners being Bogan 14th, Hunter 16th, Gifford 27th and  Hartley 28.   

At the end of the season Gifford was not only awarded club first team colours, but with Stuart Hunter, awarded a Blue.

Leading on the way to victory in the Scottish Universities cross-country championships in 1960

Both photographs from Donald Macgregor’s “Running My Life”

The University season started with their Irish tour which had been excellent; the Hares and Hounds having been treated exceptionally well by their hosts.  Thirty four runners had taken part in the six+ mile  race in Belfast where Calum Laing was first in 34min 53sec, Douglas Gifford second in 34min 55sec, John Gray third in 35min 13sec, Stuart Hunter fourth in 35min 26sec and Jim Bogan fifth in 36min 00sec.    The team went on to a match against Trinity College in Dublin and  Calum Laing also led his Team home in the race.   In other inter-University competition St Andrew’s and Aberdeen had been beaten comparatively easily by the Hares and Hounds.    These results are noted as they indicated that the Hares & Hounds were of a strength to compete seriously in Scottish athletics.   The Junior team had been third in the National the previous season and they were all now of an age to take on their elders.   This was shown on 19th November when the team won third place medals in the Edinburgh to Glasgow Relay.

Gifford ran on the longest stage in the race – the seven miles of the sixth stage where he took over in fourth place from J Gray and handed over to Dick Hartley in fourth place.   Hartley picked up one place and Tor Denstad took the team home in third.   It was the first University team to win medals in the event.

21/1/62: In the Midland District Championships held at the Strathleven Estate in Renton, Gifford was 32nd and fifth counter for the club team which finished 10th.   It was then on to the National on 4th March where the  Junior Team went one better than the previous year and came away with the silver medals. Douglas Gifford led the team home in  9th with the others being Bogan 13th,  Baillie 32nd, and Shepherd 33rd.   

Gifford had missed several races that winter but his running was such that he was again awarded first team colours, one of nine to be so honoured.

GU 1960/61 team photograph:  Gifford is third left in second row, standing directly above the kneeling Callum Laing

In 1961, the top Glasgow University men missed the District Relays at Stirling because they had a match at Garscadden: Glasgow, against St Andrews University which they won by 26 points to 56, providing six of the top seven runners. Laing won the individual race by 68 seconds from Judge of St Andrews with Baillie, Hartley, Bogan, Gifford and McPhail in that order competing the team.

The Edinburgh to Glasgow in 1961 was held on the 18th November and Gifford was again on the long, downhill, sixth stage.   While all stages of this race were contested by quality runners, stages two and six were especially hard.   Gifford held his place, taking over sixth and handing over sixth for the team which finished eighth.   Into the new year and on 20th January the Midland District championship was held at Strathleven.  With 130 runners,  Laing was first team runner home in 11th place with Gifford 16th, and Shepherd 25th for the team that was fourth – only four points behind the third team , Bellahouston Harriers.   The remaining major championship was the national, again at Hamilton on 3rd March.   Gifford was 27th of the 190 finishers in his first run in the senior race and second scorer behind Calum Laing who had a wonderful run to be third.   The team was eighth..   The 3rd March saw the Senior National in which Gifford was 27th in the team, led home by Laing who was 3rd.

In the Minute of the 1962 AGM, the following business was mentioned:  “Douglas Gifford then told the meeting that he knew of a cottage near Fort William owned by the Caledonian Canal Trust which could be rented for £15 per annum. He suggested the Hares and Hounds take steps to acquire the cottage as a place for weekend or vacation visits, and as a Training Camp. This idea was enthusiastically received and Douglas Gifford was instructed to go ahead and arrange for the cottage to be rented. (However, as it turned out, Inverness County Council prevented the Hares and Hounds from obtaining use of this cottage. Nevertheless Douglas Gifford reported at the following AGM that the Section had an open and permanent invitation to use the facilities of Lochaber Harriers, and that he had a key to these in his possession).  “

Douglas Gifford became a noted academic, a specialist and expert on Scottish literature but this did not happen by accident and at this point in his running career his studies were at a crucial point and were demanding more and more of his attention and his racing programme was slimmer than it had been although the quality was still there.

On 5th November, 1962, Glasgow University beat Loughborugh College by 23-67, a comfortable victory, and Laing, Faulds and Gifford were the first three in the race.   This was followed on 10 Nov 62 the University beat Aberdeen, St Andrews and Durham Universities with Faulds 1st in 36:26; with Gifford fourth.  GU won by 35 points from Durham, St Andrews and Aberdeen.   In the Edinurgh to Glasgow on 17th November he ran the fourth stage.   Taking over in second, he handed over in second for the team which finished third and he was third quickest on his stage of the race.   His running led to selection for Scottish Universities against the SCCU, a fixture to be held on 15th December.   He was unplaced in the race against a very strong Scottish team. 

His running for the season seems to have ended here with no appearances in District or National championships.   

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In 1863-64 Gifford was missing from all the major cross-country events but was out again in 1964-65.   His first appearance was in the Edinburgh to Glasgow relay where he was back on the sixth stage but the edge was off his running after his ‘time out’.   Taking over in 13th, he dropped two places to 15th/   In the Midland District Championships on 16th January he finished in 46th position and was fifth counter in the team which finished fourth and just out of the medals.   He did not run in the National Championship at the end of February.   

Thereafter he ran in two Edinburgh to Glasgow relays (20/11/65 on 6th when he dropped from 14th to 16th) and 19/11/66 when he improved the team’s position from 17th to 16th on the final stage) and one National (26/2/66 when he was 50th, the team finishing 8th).   And that was where his career as a member of the Hares & Hounds seems to have ended.   It had been a good one with many excellent times, a Scottish Universities cross-country championship to his credit, University international selection and a major part in many a team success over the country and on the road.  

He was part of a really good generation of runners at Glasgow along with Callum Laing, Allan Faulds, Brian Scobie, Jim Bogan and all the rest.   It is intriguing to speculate what that group could have done had they been like the Edinburgh University team of the late 60’s and 70s and lived in the same house and trained together.  

He went on to great things as an academic.  Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the University of Glasgow he has several publications to his name and the Edinburgh Sir Walter Scott Club lists his major achievements as follows:

 “Douglas Gifford was formerly Chair of Scottish Literature at the University of Glasgow; he is now Emeritus Professor and Honorary Research Fellow. He has written extensively on Scottish fiction, including James Hogg (1976), and Neil Gunn and Lewis Grassic Gibbon (1983). He edited Scottish Literature; Nineteenth Century, 1988; with Dorothy McMillan he edited A History of Scottish Women’s Writing, and with Sarah Dunnigan and Alan McGillivray, Scottish Literature in English and Scots (2002). He was on The Saltire Society Book Awards Panel from 1982 till 2011, and is presently The Faculty of Advocates Honorary Librarian for Scott’s Library at Abbotsford. He is a Fellow of the Royal society of Edinburgh.”

Respected abroad as well as at home for his academic attainments, he will still be remembered by University runners from all over Scotland affectionately as Dougie Gifford, a really good runner who might have been even better.