Bobby in the Edinburgh to Glasgow
Bobby Young is a fixture on the Scottish athletics scene. He seems to have been here for ever but only took the sport up in his mid thirties – later than most of us – and proved to have a natural aptitude for it. He also thinks about the sport a lot and has been giving advice and trading theories on training for some years now but he is first and foremost a competitor. If we look at his career in the sport we might learn a bit about him. His most recent exploits have already been added to the website on the ‘Three Amigos’ page. I first met Bobby in either 1980 or 1981. I was coaching two very good first or second year senior men in Robert McWatt and George Carlin: Robert had run in the World Cross-Country Championships in 1978 and George should have made that team but had given blood on the Tuesday before. I was going out to do the first three miles with them before turning and returning to the Baths and this guy joined in as we left the Bruce Street Baths. The pace was quite brisk but the guy kept running comfortably and chatting away. The first mile went by and he was still there, and the second and I was struggling before the relief of the three mile marker came up but Bobby (for he it was) was still running very comfortably so I left them to get on with it! I’ve taken an interest in his career ever since. Some runners – especially those coming late to the sport – are awkward and stiff with a stride length like advanced rigor mortis but Bobby isn’t at all in that category. He is a smooth runner and always looks comfortable. But first, before we go on to the profile proper, Bobby has filled in the questionnaire for us and we will start there.
Name: Robert Young
Club: Clydesdale Harriers
Date of Birth: 4 November 1943
Occupation: Retired teacher
How did you get into the sport initially? A work colleague was part of a group of recreational runners led by David Andrews of Springburn Harriers. They ran five mile loop of Pollok Park on Saturday mornings. In December 1979 I joined them some Saturdays. Probably averaging less than 5 miles a week for a year. In early 1982 we decided to enter the 1982 London Marathon so more regular Saturday mornings were follow by a 15 miler. Finishing in 3:03 followed by 2:47 at first Glasgow Marathon that year and serious running was off and running.
Track: 1500m in 4:20.5 Vets Champs
3000m in 9:22.5 British Vets Kelvin Hall 1994 age 50
5000m in 15:54 League meeting Crownpoint.
10000m in 33:26
Road: 10k in 32:59.
10 miles in 52:21
Half Marathon in 72:27 Kirkintilloch 1990
Marathon in 2:36:15 Lochaber 1989
Has any individual or group had a marked effect on either your attitude to the sport or your performances? SVHC has been a great incentive to compete and improve. This led to British Masters competition and and eventually to World Masters events.
What do you consider your best ever performance/s as a runner?
World Championships Gateshead 1999 Gold British Team XC and Marathon (with Individual Bronze). Fourth 5000m and seventh 10,000m.
World Championship Brisbane 2001 Gold British team XC and Marathon Bronze, fourth 5000m and Bronze 10,000m
Winning M60 Gold in Dublin at British and Irish International XC after 18 consecutive years of competition.
And your worst? I tend to forget those immediately!
What do you do apart from running to relax? Travel when possible, hill walking (lots before running got started), a bit of golf (my 15 – 25 sport).
What has running brought you that you would not have wanted to miss? Meeting a great bunch of men and women. Unlike some sports, runners are nice people to have as friends
What goals do you have that are still unachieved? Winning International Cross-Country again. (NB: 2018 Swansea Won second Individual Gold !!)
Can you give details of your training?
Since starting in 1980, over 3 decades training went through several phases.
During M40 period racing over 50 races a year, training was fairly normal. About 50-70 odd miles a week: Tuesday and Thursday hard run with Harriers, race Saturday and long run (16ml) on Sunday. Races were from 1500m, 3000m and 5000m and 10,000m track, 10k, 10 milers, Half marathon and Marathon (3-5 a year). Most PB’s set during this period. Except the 3000m indoor which was set at age 50 in British Masters in Kelvin Hall in 1994 at 9:22.5.
Although running distances up to marathon, weekly mileage never went above 50-70 miles. Beyond this fatigue or injury was a possibility. Marathon training would be about 12 weeks building up to long runs 20-22 miles. Very important run was a marathon pace run, building up to 15 miles at 6 min miles. This meant that first 15 miles of the marathon was fairly routine and only 11 miles of real effort.
For shorter races on track and road, Tuesday and Thursday were speed sessions. One was maybe 12x400m in 70-72 with 30sec recovery. The other maybe 10x 1000m in 3:00-3:10 with 60 sec recovery. A race on Sat and longer run maybe 16 miles on Sunday. That left 3 easier days.
Do you have any thoughts on current training and/or racing theories that you would care to pass on? eg. Big miles or low mileage? Steady running or always hard? To stretch or not to stretch?
Funnily enough I never stretched at all and never really suffered an injury as eighteen consecutive International Cross-Country appearances would indicate. Eight visits to physio/chiro in all that time. But good warmup and strides very important. With increasing age the length of adequate warmup increases significantly ( 3-4 miles of running)
As he says above, Bobby took up running for the first time in December 1979 when he was thirty six with some friends and work colleagues. A five mile run at 9:00 am in Pollock Park on Saturdays turned into a twice yearly handicap race and Dinner. He had a go at several races including the Springburn Cup, Round Cumbrae and the Glasgow University Race over the next two years before there was a group decision to run in the second London Marathon and the first Glasgow Marathon – both in 1982. These resulted in times of 3:03 and 2:46 after which training became more regular.
He got up to 60/70 miles a week with a couple of speed sessions and the regular long Sunday run became standard practice. Bobby joined Clydesdale Harriers and ran a couple of dozen marathons and recorded 2:37:18 in Glasgow in 1986. His lifetime best for the marathon came at Lochaber in 1990 when at the age of 46 he ran 2:36:15. He regularly ran 10K’s in 33 minutes, 5K’s in 16 minutes, 10 miles in 54 minutes and half marathons in 72 minutes testified to the quality of his running at this point. Regardless of his age, Bobby was more than holding his own in open senior competition. He competed more than most and on all surfaces.
On the road, his first Edinburgh to Glasgow relay was in 1986 when he ran the third stage. As a newcomer to the sport in the early 80’s he was in a Clydesdale team that had many very good runners – Phil Dolan, Douglas Gemmell, George Carlin, Derek Halpin (an under rated runner), Bobby and Jim Shields and youngsters like James Austin would have made it hard for anyone new to the sport to break into the team but when his chance came in ’86, Bobby was in there. He stayed in the team until mid 90’s running in ’87 (7th stage), ’88 (8th), ’89 (7th), ’90 (7th) and ’91 (7th). At this point, young runners such as Des Roache, Ewan Calvert, Grant Graham, Ewan Calvert, Allan Adams, James Austin and company kept him out. His running continued to improve and he was in the team again in 1998 (7th), 2001 (7th) and the last ever in 2002 (7th) when the race ceased to be. Bobby would have been in the 2000 team but John Hanratty and himself were in Ireland with the Scottish vets team that weekend. ’86 was also his first run for the club in the 6 stage road relays when he turned out on the fourth stage (the second long leg) – a race he would appear in many times over the following decades. His marathon race record is in the table below.
|1986||May||2||42||SVHC||2:41:08||4 laps of Pollok Park|
|1987||August||43||SVHC||2:49:05||4 laps of Pollok Park|
|1989||April||5||45||Lochaber||2:36:15||Splits: 29:15, 29:20, 31:00, 29:30, 30:00, 7:10|
|1999||July||3||55||Gateshead||2:49:39||World Championship: 4th race of the week.|
|2001||July||5||57||Brisbane||2:53:01||World Championship: 4th race of the week.|
NB: This list is not exclusive, there were also runs at Inverclyde, Loch Rannoch and others!
As a distance runner in Scotland he ran of course in all the championship cross-country races at county, district and national level becoming a valuable, consistent and dependable member of the team. His cross-country record for the club is in Table 2 below. Bobby was also a member of the excellent club track and field team of the late 80’s and 90’s turning out in 5000m and 10000m for the club all over Scotland. It is however as a superb veteran runner that Bobby is best known around Scotland, indeed all over the UK. His notable track performances include the following:
1987: 10000m Wishaw pb 33:26
1990: Scottish indoor champs 1500m Gold 4:25 + 3000m Gold 9:24
Scottish masters T & F 1500m Gold 4:27 + 5000m Gold 16:00.8
1994: Scottish indoor champs 1500m Gold 4:29 + 3000m Gold 9:31
Scottish masters T & F 800m Gold 2:16 + 1500m Gold 4:36 + 5000m Gold 16:26
British Masters indoor 3000m Gold 9:22.5 pb
1989: Scottish masters 1500m Gold 4:21 + 5000m Gold 16:18
2004: Scottish indoor champs 1500m Gold 4:57 + 3000m Gold 10:24
Scottish masters T&F 1500m Silver 5:01 + 3000m Gold 10:24
British masters T & F 1500m Gold 4:54 + 5000m Gold 17:39 + 10000m Gold 37:40
In 1988 he took part in the first ever British Veterans International at Wrexham where he won the bronze at M45 – Pete Cartwright had also been invited. Bobby then ran in the British Vets International for 18 consecutive years until 2005 when he won gold in the M60 category. On the World Veterans stage, he competed in 1999 at Gateshead in the World Vets Track and Field Championships winning team gold in Cross Country and Marathon in which he also won the individual bronze. Then in 2001 he went off to Brisbane in 2001 for the World Veterans Track and Field Championship winning team gold in cross country, team bronze in the marathon and individual bronze in the 10000 metres.
And that is one of Bobby’s biggest virtues as an athlete – he is very competitive and goes looking for good competition. Among all these races, which ones does Bobby himself rate most highly? We asked him for his career highlights and they can be found at this link.
The table below shows his record in Scottish Championships which is summarised in the first 10 rows and successes further afield follow.
|World Masters 1999/2001||3||–||3|
|European Indoor 3000m||–||–||1|
|International Cross Country||1||2||2|
Bobby has run in 23 Cross Country International races out of a possible 27. The breakdown of this remarkable record is as follows
|Venue||Year||Individual||Team||Age Group||Runners||Venue||Year||Individual||Team||Age Group||Runners|
|Wrexham, Wales||1988||Bronze||45||Falkirk Callendar Park||2001||8th||Bronze||55||Young, Dolan, Fairweather|
|Ampthill, Bedfordshire||1989||?||45||Ballymena||2002||4th||Silver||55||Youngson, Young, Dolan|
|Ampthill||1990||11th||Silver||45||Adams, Dolan, Young, Edwards||Cardiff Bute Park||2003||Bronze||Silver||60||Young, Cartwright, Campbell|
|Aberdeen University||1991||9th||Silver||45||McMonagle, Watson, Young, FDairweather||Croydon||2004||5th||Silver||60||Cartwright, Young, Fairweather|
|Newton Abbey||1992||19th||Gold||45||Youngson, Dolan, Martin, Adams, Young, Guthrie||Dublin||2005||Gold||Bronze||60||Young, Fleming, Campbell|
|Cardiff||1993||11th||Bronze||50||Guthrie, Young, Cartwright, Leggett||Falkirk Callendar Park||2006||MISSED|
|Sunderland, Silkworth||1994||10th||Bronze||50||Adams, Young, McMonagle, McMillan||Belfast Stormont||2007||MISSED|
|Malahide, Dublin||1995||6th||Silver?||50||Swansea||2008||7th||Silver||65||Campbell, Young, Leggett|
|Irvine Beach Park||1996||11th||4th***||50||Gemmell, Young, Fairweather, McMillan||Perry Park, Birmingham||2009||7th||Silver||65||Fairweather, Cartwright, Young|
|Ballymena||1997||11th||Silver||50||Youngson, Gemmell, Young, Fairweather||Dublin||2010||16th||5th***||65|
|St Asaph, Wales||1998||Silver||Silver?||55||Glasgow + Belfast||2011/2012||MISSED|
|Bideford||1999||Silver||Silver||55||Cardiff Bute Park||2013||Bronze||Bronze||70||Young, Cartwright, Campbell|
|Navan||2000||4th||Gold||55||Fairweather, Young, Campbell||Nottingham||2014||Silver||Silver||70||Young, Cartwright, Fleming|
All of the above gave Bobby a total of 7 individual medals (1 gold, 3 silver and 3 bronze0 and 19 team medals (2 gold, 12 silver and 5 bronze).
And you can add in 4 SAF Gold Medals and 4 SAF Silver medals that are unlabelled in any way! As for open races, forget it, the calculator can only go so high. He has been known to do three events in a weekend. Athletics is a sport where success can be easily measured – first gets gold, second silver and third bronze – and like all true competitors, success matters to Bobby. This doesn’t mean he doesn’t enjoy his sport. I believe he gets a great deal of pleasure out of being fit and in the very action of running, there is pleasure in moving well and in the company of other runners, but he does take the sport seriously.
With Bob Rosborough before a track league 10000m at Crown Point
- A Closer Look At Bobby’s Scottish National Cross Country Championship Record
|1996||New Elgin||2nd||52||2009||Holiday in NZ|
- indicates race missed through injury or illness.
To that remarkable list, we can now add the following. It is clear that the word ‘retired’ above has no real meaning for him.
2015. Gold. Kilmarnock. 71
2016 Silver. Forres. 72
2017. Gold Dundee. 73
2018. 5th. Kilmarnock. 74
2019. Gold. Hawick 75
2020. Gold. Johnstone. 76
Total Championship Medals: 8 Gold 4 Silver 9 Bronze
We said that he was an insatiable competitor – check out Power of Ten where he has 260 races listed! They range from 1500 metres to marathon, they cover indoor racing and out, venues ranging from Glasgow to Australia and on all surfaces (boards, road, country and hills.) They cover the period 2000 to the end of 2014, like all these athlete profiles the list is not comprehensive and furthermore it doesn’t include club championships or races. The races listed for 2014 in the extract below are listed for interest: there are 41 in total and I make it twenty five first places. Check the actual extract below. Go to Power of 10 for the full list.
|5000||20:44.30||16||Grangemouth||Scottish National 3000m, 5000m, Relay Championships||6 Jul 14|
|10000||43:45.1||18||Coatbridge||Scottish Veteran Harriers 10000m Championships||19 Oct 14|
|2.7ML||15:54||20||L3||Houston||George Cummings Relay||27 Sep 14|
|5K||20:13||40||1||Clydebank||SVHC Open Masters 5K||25 Jun 14|
|parkrun||20:40||10||1||Springburn||Springburn parkrun # 6||14 Jun 14|
|parkrun||20:44||27||1||Glasgow – Victoria Park||Victoria parkrun # 29||24 May 14|
|parkrun||20:54||9||1||Springburn||Springburn parkrun # 20||20 Sep 14|
|parkrun||20:57||10||1||Springburn||Springburn parkrun # 10||12 Jul 14|
|parkrun||20:58||8||1||Springburn||Springburn parkrun # 18||6 Sep 14|
|parkrun||21:10||9||1||Springburn||Springburn parkrun # 27||8 Nov 14|
|parkrun||21:14||35||1||Glasgow – Victoria Park||Victoria parkrun # 25||26 Apr 14|
|parkrun||21:15||56||1||Glasgow Pollok Park||Glasgow parkrun # 270||19 Apr 14|
|parkrun||21:18||13||1||Springburn||Springburn parkrun # 19||13 Sep 14|
|parkrun||21:21||22||Adelaide, AUS||Torrens parkrun 5K Event 59||4 Jan 14|
|parkrun||21:29||13||1||Springburn||Springburn parkrun # 17||30 Aug 14|
|parkrun||21:30||35||1||Springburn||Springburn parkrun # 1||10 May 14|
|parkrun||21:32||10||1||Springburn||Springburn parkrun # 22||4 Oct 14|
|parkrun||21:35||16||1||Springburn||Springburn parkrun # 32||13 Dec 14|
|parkrun||21:50||12||1||Springburn||Springburn parkrun # 14||9 Aug 14|
|parkrun||22:37||73||1||Glasgow Pollok Park||Glasgow parkrun # 263||1 Mar 14|
|parkrun||24:12||13||1||Springburn||Springburn parkrun # 2||17 May 14|
|7KMT||29:31||33||9||Bishopbriggs||Springburn Harriers Canal Canter 7K||20 Aug 14|
|4.8M||34:00||22||1||Coatbridge||SVHC Snowball Race 4.8||7 May 14|
|5M||34:50||122||35||Glasgow||Glasgow University 5||29 Nov 14|
|5M||35:12||73||16||Edinburgh||Corstorphine 5||4 Jun 14|
|10K||41:11||41:05||160||1||Dumbarton||Polaroid Dumbarton 10K||29 May 14|
|10K||42:11||42:09||182||1||Glasgow||Poloroid Clydebank 10K||22 May 14|
|10K||42:26||73||2||Kirkintilloch||Kirkintilloch Olympians 10K||19 Jun 14|
|10K||42:33||42:31||137||1||Balloch||Polaroid Vale of Leven 10K||8 Jun 14|
|10K||43:03||42:55||172||2||Helensburgh||Polaroid Helensburgh 10K||15 May 14|
|10K||43:36||20||1||Glasgow||SVHC Walter Ross Open Masters’ 10K||4 May 14|
|10K||45:37||58||1||Glasgow||Nigel Barge Memorial 10K||29 Mar 14|
|10M||74:13||74:07||77||1||Carluke||Tom Scott Memorial 10 (Inc Scottish Champs)||13 Apr 14|
|10M||75:09||57||2||Maryport||Netherhall 10||23 Feb 14|
|HM||92:20||45||2||Kirkintilloch||Neil McCover Memorial Half Marathon (Inc Scottish Vets Champs)||5 Oct 14|
|ZXC||25:15||87||2||Nottingham||British and Irish Masters’ International||22 Nov 14|
|ZXC||26:39||47||3||Glasgow||BMAF Championships||15 Mar 14|
|ZXC||28:43||5||Balloch Country Park||Dunbartonshire Championships||15 Nov 14|
|ZXC||49:53||190||1||Linwood||Scottish West District Championships||6 Dec 14|
|ZXCL||16:53||44||L4||Port Glasgow||Scottish West District Relay Championships||11 Oct 14|
|ZXCL||19:33||71||L4||1||Cumbernauld||Scottish National Relay Championships||25 Oct 14|
Is that not impressive? What does it tell me? It tells me that we have here a man who really and truly enjoys his sport. Very popular with other runners, Bobby is a runner’s runner whose enthusiasm has never dimmed..
IN NOVEMBER 2018, BOBBY WON THE M75 GOLD MEDAL IN THE BRITISH AND IRISH MASTERS INTERNATIONAL CROSS COUNTRY, leading his team to bronze medals. Here is a brief contribution from the man himself.
Bobby heading for M75 gold at Swansea 2018
A Good Result: SWANSEA 2018
The race was on the side of a ‘mountain’. 1k straight down and 1k straight up. Last 200m steep climb to high point and 200m steep down to start/finish.
Ran first lap to be told “Welshman 50m ahead”. Didn’t see him till got to steep climb on second lap and pulled him in. On long downhill he opened 30m. Eased up to him over gradual climb and made contact at bottom of steep 200m. Bombed up the hill and tore down steep 200m to finish!
Took about 20s advantage on the hill!
Turned out he was Emyr Davies. Old foe!
That was my 27th British and Irish XC contest out of 31.
25th team medal: 2 Gold 14 Silver and 9 Bronze.
8th individual medal: 2 gold 3 silver and 3 bronze.
2019 Liverpool, Aintree.
Team Silver. Individual Silver
26th Silver Team medal 2G. 15S 9B
9th Silver. Individual 2G. 4S 3G
Mileage 40-50 per week
80% comfortably steady 20% Quality (Intervals/hills/race)
Mon 5-6 miles steady
Tue 6 miles session e.g. 12 x 400m or 6 x 800m
Wed 5-6 miles easy
Thu 6 miles session
Fri 5-6 miles easy
Sat 5-6 miles Race or Parkrun
Sun 10-16 miles longer steady run
Stamina, then Strength, then Speed (Arthur Lydiard)
A Pyramid beginning with Stamina, acquired by concentrating on maximum steady mileage and only one session per week. The broader the base (aerobic threshold) the higher the peak.
Strength involves Tuesday/Thursday on hills (for about 4 weeks).
And finally Speed with 2 interval sessions and a race or parkrun (for 6-8 weeks).
Monday/Wednesday/Friday can be shorter or omitted if recovery is needed.
By Bobby Young
Thanks, Bobby. It is interesting to the rest of us that Bobby’s methods as well as producing success at a variety of events over a range of surfaces is one that does not lead to many injuries. He has seldom been out of action, certainly not for any extended period. If you want proof, just look at his most recent performances in Scottish Championships as an M75. Four races, three distances, three surfaces, no injuries.
Date, Venue, event, time, medal
10 July 21, Ayrshire Athletics Arena, 1500m, 6m05.89s., Gold
24 July 21, Ayrshire Athletics Arena, 5000m, 23m19s, Gold
8 Aug 21,. Greenock, 10000m, 47m20s, Gold
12 Sept 21, Stirling Scottish Athletics, 10K Road, 44m58s,. Gold
30 Jan 22, Indoors, Scottish 3000m champs, 13:09.5, Gold
5 Feb 22, Aberdeen, Masters CC, 29:36, Gold
13 Feb 22, Indoors, Scottish 800m champs, 3:11.17, Gold
13 Feb 22, Indoors, Scottish 1500m Champs, 6:09.69, Gold