Perth to Dundee

P-D 51

The start of the Perth to Dundee Race in 1951

There have been many classic point-to-point road races held over the years and several of them lasted for a long time before being lost.   A change of course in any race that is a feature of the athletics calendar is regretted but the consolation is that the race itself is still in existence.   When a real classic disappears altogether then it is, to all runners, a tragedy: there is always the feeling that we are not keeping faith with past generations who  promoted it, but even more that we will never have the chance to run in it ourselves.   The race from Perth to Dundee was just such an event.    Competitors included Olympic athletes, British and Scottish marathon champions and British and Scottish internationalists.   We are indebted therefore to Alex Wilson for this account which is the result of a great deal of research and represents an abridged version of his own complete account which may see the light at some point in the future in book form.   Alex would like to acknowledge the assistance from Roy and Barbara Robertson – Charlie Robertson’s son and daughter-in-law.

NB: Alex Wilson has also done a post script covering the last two races in 1981 and 1982.

A Potted History of the Perth – Dundee Marathon: 1942 to 1954

By Alex Wilson.

In 1942 the Allies began to strike back at Hitler’s Nazi War Machine, and for the first time in three dark bitter years of War a ray of hope began to glimmer through the gloom.   When the USA finally joined the Allied effort, Britons began to sense that the War was beginning to turn in their favour.   With few exceptions, organised sport had been in a state of limbo since the outbreak of hostilities in 1939.   A notable exception was the Polytechnic marathon in war-torn London where the remarkable  Polytechnic Harriers continued defiantly to stage their annual marathon race.    In their programme, however, the made sure to inform entrants to the fact that in the event of an air-raid warning the event would be cancelled at short notice.   The Nazis were intent on crushing the heart of industrial Britain and had begun carpet-bombing big cities like London, Coventry and Birmingham, but they had also started targeting Clydebank with its ship-building industry.   For the most part however Scotland was a haven from aerial attack.   Famous Scottish marathon runners Donald McNab Robertson and Duncan McLeod Wright, on home duty, kept themselves race fit despite rationing.   In Dundee the talented Jimmy Brannan set up a cross country league which was well attended by Servicemen from the local Army training camps.   In 1942 Brannan came up with the idea of recreating the old Perth – Dundee race which had first been run in the late nineteenth century.   The event ironically was made possible by the War!   Strict petrol rationing had transferred the main Perth – Dundee highway into a quiet country road.   But there was another key factor: the destruction of the Dundee Thistle Harriers clubhouse in Abbotsford Road by the Luftwaffe in 1940.   These circumstances, and a concomitant shortage of manpower owing to enlistment, forced the homeless ‘Thistle’  to make a virtue out of necessity and amalgamate with inter-city rivals Dundee Hawkhill  Harriers creating Dundee Harriers.   Collectively and with considerable ingenuity under the auspices of Jimmy Brannan, the Dundee Harriers inaugurated the Perth – Dundee marathon.   It has the distinction of being one of the very few events in Britain to have come into being during World War II.   For thirteen years the race would be a major fixture on the Scottish Marathon Club calendar, attracting the finest distance running talent from Scotland and further afield.   The Perth – Dundee marathon flourished during the war years but did not survive peacetime for long.   The 1950’s brought increasing prosperity to the region with the result that the A90 between Perth and Dundee became a busy arterial route no longer suitable for running races.   This is the story of a long-forgotten piece of Scottish Athletics history.

CDR 49

Charlie Robertson  (Dundee Thistle Harriers) Won the Race No Fewer Than Five Times.

Seen here Winning the 1949 Race

It all began back in 1894 when a footrace from Perth to Dundee was held by Dundee Hawkhill Harriers.   The winner was James M Galloway.   He covered the 21 miles 1540 yards course in 2:20:00 to finish 25 minutes ahead of  second-placed James B McNair.   Of course there was no such thing as a marathon in 1894 and, indeed, it was only in retrospect that the inaugural 1894 race was referred to as a ‘marathon’ – as many races of 10 miles and over were commonly known pre-1945.   In 1944 the famous Dunky Wright won 12 of the 114 marathon fixtures of the recently established Scottish Marathon Club.   Not one of these fixtures was actually over the regulation distance, the longest being the Perth – Dundee 22.   Interestingly, while the inaugural Olympic Marathon in 1896 was about 25 miles,  and today of course the marathon is 26 miles 385 yards, the actual distance from the ancient battlefield of marathon to the Greek capital of Athens is around 22 miles.   This, according to the Greek legend was the route taken by a foot courier to bring news of the Athenian victory over the Persians in 490 BC.   So, strictly speaking, the Perth – Dundee was actually closer to the legend!

After Galloway’s inaugural run, a series of walking matches from Perth to Dundee were held about the turn of the century.   A lapse then occurred until about 1930 when the Dundee Hawkhill Harriers, prompted by Galloway who was by then on their committee, staged a series of walking matches which attracted large fields from 30 to 70 strong.   Galloway’s two sons, Scottish and AAA’s champion, George and Alex between them won five out of the six events.   Again there was a lapse until 1942 when Dundee Harriers captain Jimmy Brannan launched an attempt on Galloway’s ancient record.   A writer characterised Brannan as a “restless, erratic, yet likeable, genius”.   He had been a promising young runner and in 1931 had been selected as a reserve for Scotland at the ICCU International Cross-Country Championships after finishing twelfth at the Scottish National Championship.   However Brannan disappeared from the athletics scene soon after that and nothing was heard of him until 1940 when he made a comeback.   Finding the united Dundee Harriers in a state of disarray, he brought his considerable organisational skills to bear , enlisting local service units and setting up an eastern cross-country league.

In 1940 German bomber planes dropped bombs in the Blackness Road area in Dundee, one of which obliterated the Abbotsford Street clubrooms.   This came as a hard blow to the Thistle Harriers’ club which was already losing its young runners to the Forces.   City rivals Hawkhill Harriers were facing similar woes.   In an unprecedented move, the remnants of the Thistle and Hawkhill Harriers clubs amalgamated under the name of Dundee Harriers.   Thanks to this initiative, Dundee Harriers was the only functioning Harrier club in the East of Scotland in the Second World War.   After the War, the ‘Hawks’ and the ‘Thistle’ went their separate ways again and the ‘Thistle’ rebuilt their clubhouse in Abbotsford Street.   From 1946 onwards a joint committee comprising members of both clubs shared responsibility for organising the Perth to Dundee Marathon.

In 1942 Brannan turned his attention to marathon running and decided it was time to revive the legendary Perth to Dundee.   This he accomplished despite considerable difficulties in obtaining resources.   Brannan galvanised the support of the amalgamated Dundee Harriers which at that time was under the auspices of DM Thompson, President of Dundee Harriers.    Thompson as race convener was pivotal in the success of the 1942 and 1943 races.   Through Brannan’s influence, Dundee Express Deliveries household removals firm donated a handsome perpetual trophy which the named ‘The Dundee Express Trophy’ and was to be awarded to the first competitor to finish the course.   In 1943 a second perpetual trophy, the ‘Owens Trophy’ was sponsored by J Owens, Esq, and awarded to the first Angus competitor to finish the course.   Placing, handicap and special awards were provided by the Dundee Harriers.   However Thompson was directed south on war work in the autumn of 1943 and thus ended his involvement with the race.   With the fixture now gaining momentum, the 1944 race attracted a record entry and was organised jointly by Brannan and Alex Mudie.   The task of organising the race eventually fell to  PD Henderson after Brannan’s retirement from competitive athletics.

Official race programmes were printed and distributed.   Among those responsible for their proliferation was Chick Haskett, father of 2:18 marathon runner Charlie and a nephew of Scottish cross-country international and NCCU President Alex Donnett, who acted as timekeeper.   The revived race was held over the original 22 mile course with the competitors covering an extra furlong more than Galloway did forty eight years earlier.   The start was at South Inch Park in Perth.   From here the course went along Shore Road and swung right across the River Tay by Victoria Bridge (demolished in 1960 and replaced by the Queen’s Bridge), an on to the main Perth to Dundee road continuing via Glencarse, Longforgan and  Invergowrie to Ninewells.   After the tram terminus at Ninewells, the route forked right down to Riverside Park and went past the Tay Rail Bridge to the finish, situated by the drinking fountain at the east end of Riverside Drive.   In the 1946 programme, the course was described as ‘level practically the whole way’ and ’eminently suitable for fast times’.   In actual fact, competitors had to negotiate two tricky inclines in the latter stages of the race, these being “Snab’s Brae” from Inchure to Longforgan at around 15 miles, and the uphill section to Ninewells at around 18 miles.   It was without doubt a scenic route set against the rolling Sidlaw Hills to the North and the River Tay to the South.

The smooth running of the race was in no small part dependent on a closely co-ordinated team of dedicated volunteer helpers, marshals, and officials.   And with the added difficulty of the distance involved and the race being a ‘point to point’ course, timing and logistics were critical to success.    The minor matter of changing accommodation for instance was provided by the Queen’s Barracks in Perth.   Of course the race officials and the runners’ belongings had to be transported from Perth to Dundee without hitch.   In this regard the organisers were indebted to Dundee Express Deliveries who always contrived, even during the most difficult days of the war, to place transport at the disposal of the organisers free of charge.   As befitted a race of this distance, refreshments were provided at the check points along the route and intermediate times taken.       The timekeepers had their work cut out keeping intermediate times for the leaders and the pursuers, especially as sizable gaps began to emerge, and they would be seen rushing frantically from point to point in their car.   Several cars and numerous cyclists always accompanied the runners through the Carse of Gowrie.

Jimmy Brannan

Jimmy Brannan

The inaugural race of 1942 attracted only a handful of competitors but nevertheless was hailed as a success after world famous marathon runner Donald McNab Robertson clipped over 14 minutes from Galloway’s timeworn record.   Despite  having no rival to keep him on his toes in the latter stages of the race, Robertson gave an impressive display of sustained front running to cover the 22 mile course in 2:05:51.   Jimmy Brannan was second in 2:10:37 and Jock Lindsay (Bellahouston Harriers) third in 2:18:48.   A former protégé of Dunky Wright , Donald Robertson was a six-time winner of the AAA marathon.   From 1930 until the outbreak of war in 1939, Donald Robertson and Dunky Wright dominated the AAA’s marathon winning between them all but two titles.  Robertson had been chosen to represent Britain at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1932 but turned down the invitation to look after his mother.  Selected again as British champion four years later Donald ran at the Berlin Olympic Games where he finished seventh.   Donald also represented Scotland twice at the Empire Games placing fourth in 1934 and second four years later in Sydney.   Winning the British championship in 1939, he had been bound for the abandoned Helsinki Olympic Games of 1940.

The course for the 1943 race was extended to the regulation marathon distance for an ambitious assault on Harry Payne’s British Record of 2:30:57.6.  Donald Robertson and Tom Richards, among others, were invited to participate.  Unfortunately no amount of planning could have foreseen that Donald Robertson would contract a chill and be unable to run.   Local favourite Jimmy Brannan deputised for the indisposed Robertson, but collapsed dramatically after 15 miles.   With no one to push him, the Welshman ran out an easy clear winner  in 2:44:13.   Richards was followed home by two Maryhill Harriers runners – the tall, bespectacled figure of Andy Blair second in 2:50.4, and Andy Burnside third in 2:52:10.   Sadly this was to be Blair’s last race.   A glazier by trade, he fell to his death the following month while working on the roof of Singers’ sewing machine factory in Clydebank.   When the Scottish Marathon Championship was inaugurated in 1946, a perpetual trophy named in his honour, the ‘AH Blair Trophy’ was awarded to the winner to hold for a year.   Although Richards winning time was a long way off the British record it was easily the fastest marathon time posted by a Briton during World War II.   Brannan it was later revealed had been running against his doctor’s orders, having been ill with the ‘flu.   He never fully recovered his health and died suddenly four years later aged 39.

The creators of the 1944 programme couldn’t resist poking fun at the Nazis.   the cartoon on the cover shows a cigar puffing Winston Churchill, FD Roosevelt and Joe Stalin running side by side en route to Berlin with Adolf Hitler training behind, well beaten.   A real gem!

The 1944 event was  again held over the traditional 22 mile course. On this occasion it was the turn of another Scottish marathon running legend, Dunky Wright, to have his name engraved on the winner’s trophy.   The 1930 Empire Games champion was in the twilight of a long career spanning four decades, but even at 47 was a force to be reckoned with.   It proved a close race but Wright had the upper hand, winning from Richards by over 300 yards in 2:11:07.   Wright’s club-mate, Gordon Porteous, finished third in 2:1425.   Porteous was a solid, if not outstanding, club runner during his younger years.   He really came into his own after turning sixty when he set a world marathon M60 record of 2:51:17 to win the inaugural world veterans championship in Toronto.   Wright retained the title in 1945, winning by seven minutes from Willie O’Connor (Shettleston Harriers)  in 2:09:37.   Gordon Porteous again finished third.   The picture is of Dunky receiving the Trophy in 1945.

The 1946 Perth to Dundee was the last big road race of the season.   It was also the last in the long and illustrious career of a certain Duncan McLeod Wright.  Only 15 days shy of his fiftieth birthday, Dunky was still a threat and looking to score a third victory and thereby win the Dundee Express Trophy outright.   However despite running his fastest time for the course, he had to settle for second behind his club-mate Emmett Farrell who gave an inspired performance to lower the course record to 2:04:43.

The 1947 race marked a return to Tayside for Donald McNab Robertson.   The five-time AAA’s champion had a real challenger in the up-and-coming Charles D Robertson, a Dundee arts student representing the promoting Thistle Harriers club.   However the elder of the two Robertsons lived up to his role as favourite, breaking away from his younger namesake three miles from home to win by a quarter of a mile in a course record of 2:03:25.

Map of course

This map, drawn by DM Bowman (Clydesdale Harriers), shows the route of the 1948 Perth – Dundee Marathon which hosted the Scottish Marathon Championship for the first time.

David Bowman drew the maps for all the Scottish Marathon Championships up to and including the 1970 Commonwealth Games Marathon.   He was meticulous about detail and usually included water points, sponge stations and five mile points.   he often had an insert with the contours showing the location and severity of gradients on the course.

In 1948 the organisers were invited to host the Scottish Championship so the course was again extended to 26 miles 385 yards by moving the start further westward to a point on the Methven Road.   Local hero Charlie Robertson was not to be denied and won by over half a mile from Emmet Farrell in 2:45:12.   As reward for his efforts, Robertson took home no fewer than three trophies together with his winner’s medal.    The 1949 race reverted to the traditional 22 miles route and Charlie Robertson defended his title in emphatic style, winning from Gordon Porteous by nine minutes in 2:05:49 – the biggest winning margin since the inception of the annual race.   Bob Fail (Gosforth Harriers) who finished third in 2:16:44 was the first of the English runners to participate.   Robertson was actually on course for the record until a few miles from home but lost ground in the closing stages on account of the unseasonably warm weather.   A notable performance was that of the 64 year old Australian veteran Stewart Vance who was visiting Britain.   Last at one stage he pulled up to tenth and collect the handicap prize.

Donald McNab Robertson was conspicuous by his absence.   A couple of months earlier the Scottish distance running fraternity had been shaken by his death, from a thrombosis, at the age of 43.

The 1950 race was held in torrential rain with surface water making the going difficult in some parts of the course.   However Charlie Robertson was unstoppable and achieved the impossible – breaking the course record by a second.   Flooding at Invergowrie forced Robertson to tiptoe precariously along a narrow dyke  to avoid having to wade through knee deep water!   Again his winning margin was huge – a full six minutes.   Having clinched the crucial third victory that had eluded Dunky Wright, the Newport runner became the new owner of the coveted Dundee Express trophy.    The race is in the pictures below with the trophy: click on them to enlarge them.

The 1951 Perth to Dundee race was a much closer affair and in terms of quality the best so far.   Robertson continued to go from strength to strength and was looking for a fourth win but reigning Scottish Marathon Champion Harry Howard and Bill McMinnis (Sutton Harriers) had other ideas.   McMinnis, a PE instructor at RAF Padgate was a recent winner of the Liverpool Marathon in 2:37:40.   As expected the race turned out to be a three way tussle between Robertson, Howard and McMinnis.   At one point it looked as though Howard would have his way but Charlie Robertson pulled out all the stops on the long incline to Ninewells to win narrowly in yet another course record – 2:01:41.   Howard (2:02:13) and McMinnis (2:03:47) also finished inside the old record figures in what was the classiest race so far.   It is fair to say that on this occasion it was local knowledge that tipped the balance slightly in Robertson’s favour!   The young St Modan’s runner, Joe McGhee, a star of the future in the making, clocked 2:09:41 but that was only good enough for sixth place.

Howard and Robertson

Charlie Robertson overtakes Howard on the climb up to Ninewells.

The 1952 race was again over the full regulation distance for the last time.   For the second time, the Perth – Dundee Marathon would host the Scottish Championship.   Charlie Robertson was the firm favourite after lowering Dunky Wright’s Scottish record to 2:30:48 in the AAA’s marathon.   He had narrowly missed out on selection for the 1952 Olympics and therefore was back challenging for a fifth win.   However, Anglo-Scot Jock Duffy of Hadleigh Harriers gave the champion more than he bargained for and provided the most exciting finish in the history of the race.   Robertson was, by his own admission, a little short of training and ran himself literally to a standstill, coming to an exhausted stop only half a mile from home with the determined Duffy breathing down his neck.   However just as Duffy was about to pass, Robertson got going again, and, summoning his last reserves of energy  sprinted home to clinch his third Scottish title in 2:38:07.   Duffy, a bricklayer hailing from Broxburn, brought home the runner-up plaque in 2:38:32, finishing two minutes two seconds ahead of third placed Emmet Farrell.

There was an English invasion in 1953 and in the absence of Robertson, who was in semi-retirement from the sport, Eric Smith (Leeds Harehills Harriers) outpaced Joe McGhee in the closing stages to win by 19 seconds in a course record of 2:01:13.   Alan Lawton, also of the Harehills club, was third in 2:02:40, while Alex Kidd (Garscube Harriers) found 2:05:42 only good enough for fourth.

The 1954 event saw a resumption of the English incursion, Alan Lawton winning for Leeds Harehill Harriers by more than four minutes.   Lawton covered the 22 mile course in 2:01:18 only narrowly missing the record set the previous year by his now highly successful club-mate.   George King (Greenock Wellpark Harriers) confirmed his third place in that year’s Scottish Marathon Championship by claiming the second prize in 2:04:23.   He finished nearly a minute ahead of another English ‘invader, Alan Turner of Bedlington Park Welfare Harriers

The 1954 race was, as mentioned, the thirteenth and last Perth – Dundee Marathon.   The increasing traffic on the road was only one reason for the event’s demise,

*but the demise of the race had to do with the fact that Dundee Thistle Harriers were themselves in terminal decline.   The ‘Thistle’, according to Charlie Robertson’s son Roy, had become too road-oriented and as a result had been having difficulty recruiting young athletes, who instead were flocking to city rivals, Dundee Hawkhill Harriers which had a stadium and cinder track at Caird Park.

Thus ended an historic race series graced by several of Britain’s best marathon runners of the 1930’s, 1940’s and 1950’s.

POSTSCRIPT

On 5th July, 1981, after a 27-year hiatus, the Perth – Dundee road race was resurrected in conjunction with the Dundee Highland Games.  By then, all but senior or at best middle-aged Dundonians, would have lost any recollections of the footraces held in the 1940’s and 1950’s.   Who was the instigator?   A senior member of the Hawks?   Or maybe it was Games Secretary and organiser John McGuire?   Perhaps a reader will care to enlighten us.

The race was run over an advertised distance of “about 22 miles” between the two cities.   The route started at the North Inch, Perth, and was mainly on the dual carriageway.   After reaching the outskirts of Dundee, the runners swung left up the Kingsway to the finish at Caird Park, concluding with a lap of the track.   The course therefore was slightly different to the old one – and evidently a little longer too.   Details are sparse, but it is known that around 40 runners took part and Sam Graves of Fife AC was first home in 2:18.   Indeed Google Maps indicates the distance to be something over 23 miles.   The revival race was certainly deemed a success given that it was repeated the following year.   The 1982 event attracted almost double the number of entrants, 75 in all taking part.   Despite the high number of local entrants, it was an Irishman based in England who produced the best performance of the day, coming home in 2:17:05 to claim the £40 first prize (a voucher – not cash!) and teh Barnett Trophy.   Peter Mitchell, of Reading AC overcame wet and blustery conditions and still looked full of running when he reached the tape after a circuit of the Caird Park track.   He had enjoyed an excellent battle with Murray McNaught, from Fife Athletic Club, who led the race most of the way.   Murray, who finished 15 seconds later, took his defeat in truly sportsmanlike fashion and was among the first to congratulate the winner.   The next places were filled by Brian Kirkwood (Edinburgh AC), third in 2:18:13, Peter McGregor (Victoria Park) fourth in 2:21:14, the previous year’s winner Sam Graves, fifth in 2:21:14 and D Walker, sixth in 2:30:32.   In addition to the prizes, there was a finisher medal for each contestant who completed the course.   It is not known who the first woman was, or indeed if there were any women competing, but there was a woman’s prize of £10 on offer.   It will be noted that in 1982, gender equity in sports prize money was still a thing of the future.   The Courier  reported that only 3,500 spectators braved the elements at Caird Park, where in addition to seeing the finish of the road race, they witnessed an exciting “heavies” contest featuring British Shot Putt record holder, Geoff Capes.

Needless to say the running of the race on a busy dual carriageway was bound to raise concerns over safety and provoke police intervention.   There was also criticism from the Scottish Marathon Club, which wrote in the editorial of its October 1982 magazine: “At the Perth to Dundee Road Race on July 4th, at least two runners were forced, on threat of disqualification, to run about 12 of the 22 miles on the grass verge.   The situation would have been bad enough had all the runners been forced on to the verge, because clearly all the competitors should have to face the same conditions, but the promoters obviously infringed the SAAA Rules for Competitions by such action.   If the organisers had intended the race to be a cross-country event then it should have been advertised as such and would probably have attracted an entirely different field!”

The race was almost certainly abandoned thereafter, be it due to the policing problems or the organisers.

The 1981 and 1982 races brought the total number of runnings to 16 (1894, 1942 – 54, 1981 – 2) and that is how it still stands today.   It remains to be seen whether  we will ever see a resumption of this classic intra-city footrace in any shape or form.

Shettleston Marathon

Andy Brown

Andy Brown (Motherwell YMCA) winner of the first two Shettleston Marathons

At one point there were no fewer than 14 marathons in one year in Scotland.   Of these the most prestigious by far was the SAAA Championship where all the very best men raced each other annually over the full standard marathon distance.   The others mainly had very high standards at the front end with international challenges being incorporated into the race.   The Scottish Championship has been demeaned by having it included into a mass participation event with the championship itself a mere additional attraction to a massive People’s Race. We still have the Moray and Lochaber Marathons and there is an Edinburgh Marathon organised on what seems to this writer an opportunistic and ad hoc fashion – it’s certainly not part of a Marathon Development Programme.  It is still possible to access the results of the more significant of these races – I refer to the Moray, Lochaber, Loch Rannoch and Shettleston events.   Just go to the wonderful American website arrs.net at www.arrs.net/HPr_Ma.htm     That should take you to a page of marathon results in every country in the world.   Just scroll down to the ‘Scotland’ section and there you are.    If the link doesn’t work – and at times they do not –  just go to the www.arrs.net page, click on ‘Marathon Race Histories’ and that’s your page!

This page will deal with one of the older ones – the Shettleston Marathon which ran from 1961 to 1971 and you can already see from the date that this was not an attempt to jump on to a ‘running boom’ bandwagon.    It was organised by the Shettleston Harriers club as a serious venture as will be seen from the results and had fields which were typical of the time.   In other words, a few dozen runners, all club men, not all from Scotland, running hard over a course that had not been specially tailored for fast times.   That fast times were run on the course is down to the quality of the runners and the nature of the racing.   It started at the almost-circular track at Barrachnie in Shettleston and took in two laps of the East End of Glasgow.   Joe Small has put the results together for us – a sterling job given the lack of specialist Scottish athletics magazines of the time.

Brown’s Marathon Win:

16th September, 1961.   

AH Brown (Motherwell YMCA), who recently won the Shotts Highlanf Games 14 miles road race, won Shettleston Harriers open marathon race at Barrachnie in 2:40:04, beating W McBrinn (Monkland Harriers) by 600 yards.   J Jarvie (St Modan’s) was third.

Marathon Win For Brown:

26th May, 1962

AH Brown (Motherwell YMCA) won Shettleston Harriers Marathon race in the fine time of 2:25:58.   Second and third were JM Kerr (Airdrie Harriers) and Clark Wallace (Shettleston H).    C Fleming (Cambuslang Harriers) was the winner of the handicap event.

Wood’s Marathon Win:

18th May, 1963

A Wood (Aberdeen AAC) won Shettleston Harriers marathon race at Barrachnie.   The weather took its toll of the competitors for only nine out of eighteen starters completed the course.   Results:

1.   AJ Wood (Aberdeen AAC) 2:25:56);   2. G Eadie (Cambuslang Harriers)   2:34:40;   3.   HK Mitchell (Shettleston Harriers)   2:41:13;   4. RC Wallace (Shettleston Harriers)   2:42:50;   5.   IC Donald (Shettleston)   2:50:53;   6.   J Foster (Edinburgh AC)   2:53:16.

 

Wood Wins Marathon:

16th May, 1964.

Shettleston Harriers open marathon race at Barrachnie attracted 23 starters but only eight completed the course.   AJ Wood (Aberdeen AAC), the holder, won convincingly in 2:23:16, more than eight minutes faster than I Harris the Scottish marathon title holder.   D Simpson (Motherwell) was third in 2:48:16, R Coleman (Dundee Hawkhill) fourth in 2:50:04 and veteran Andy Forbes (Victoria Park) fifth in 2:51:51.

Marathon Win By Murray

15th May 1965

Shettleston Harriers open marathon attracted the Scottish three- and six-mile champion, AF Murray (Edinburgh University who ran out the winner in an excellent time of 2:18:30, four minutes forty six seconds improvement on last year’s best time for the course by AJ Wood (Aberdeen AAC).    Wood showed his best time for the distance (2:19:03) in finishing second, further evidence of the value of keener competition in such events.   R Donkin (Sunderland) was third in 2:30:11.   Other positions were4.   HK Mitchell (Shettleston)   2:31:50;   5.   C McAlinden (Babcock and Wilcox)   2:34:33;   6.   RC Calderwood (Victoria Park)   2:42:04.    Handicap:   R Donkin (22:06) 2:08:05;   2.   J Harkins (Shettleston)  (31:12)   2:22:44;   3.   HK Mitchell (5:12)   2:26:38.

Wood’s Marathon Victory

23rd April 1966

Ten of the twenty one starters in Shettleston Harriers’ Open Marathon survived the 26 miles 385 yards of Lanarkshire roadway, but for one of those who gave up before the end, the outcome was particularly disappointing.   C McAlinden (Babcock and Wilcox) a hardy competitor in road races throughout Scotland for years, was forced to admit defeat to cramp after having completed about 23 miles.   To that point he had been well in contention for third place although from about 16 miles onward he was obviously losing his grip of HV Mitchell (Shettleston) the second man.

AJ Wood, the winner, has always been a gritty performer and Saturday’s run was won in that mould.   He had company for the first quarter of the journey, but it is significant that his two companions, McAlinden and W Lyle (Edinburgh Southern Harriers) never reached the finish.   By the time 15 miles had been run, Wood was more than two minutes ahead of Mitchell and there was little sign of fatigue threatening to put him out of the contest.   At the finish he had built up a ;ead of 8:30, one whihc must be considered staggering even for a marathon.   Results:-

1.   AJ Wood (Aberdeen AAC) 2:24:00;   2.  HV Mitchell (Shettleston) 2:32:37;   3.   J Donkin (Sunderland) 2:34:36;   4.   J Heggie (Edinburgh SH)  2:42:46;   5.   D Ritchie (Aberdeen AAC)  2:43:25;   6.   A Matson (Edinburgh University)   2:44:22;   7.   RC Wallace (Shettleston)  2:45:39;   8.   G Porteous (Maryhill) 2:49:28;   9.   E Beard (Leeds)   2:53:16;   10  A Meehan (South London Harriers)   3:13:05.

Fourth Victory For Wood

13th May 1967

AJ Wood (Aberdeen AAC) won Shettleston Harriers open marathon for the fourth time on Satutrday in the creditable time of 2:23:02.   His superiority was such that the runner-up HK Mitchell (Shettleston) finished half a mile behind.   Wood’s clubmate D Ritchie finished third and won the handicap section.   With an allowance of 19:30 he had a net time of 2:10:29.   Of the 19 starters eleven finished the course.   Result:-

1.   AJ Wood   2:23:02; 2.   HK Mitchell   2:26:11;   3.   D Ritchie   2:29:59;   4.   AG Matson (Edinburgh SH)   2:30:40;   5.   P Duffy (Motherwell)  2:35:33;   6.   R Jenner (Aberdeen University)   2:38:11.

Wood’s Marathon Victory

11th May 1968

AJ Wood (Aberdeen AC) won the Shettleston Harriers marathon race on Saturday in 2:25:27.   G Eadie (Cambuslang Harriers) was second in 2:34:04 and DA Ritchie (Aberdeen AC) third in 2:34:13.

Unknown Outsider Wins Shettleston Marathon

10th May 1969

An unknown outsider, Alex Keith (RAF Huntingdon) won Shettleston Harriers open 26 mile marathon on Saturday, beating J Craven (Rowntrees AC) by over 100 yards in 2:29:22.   HK Mitchell (Shettleston Harriers) was third 55 seconds behind Craven.   After five miles, AG Matson (Edinburgh Southern) headed a group who included W Stoddart (Wellpark Harriers), A Keith, R Wedlock and HK Mitchell.   Stoddart and Wedlock were in front after ten miles in 52:44 with Matson and Keith 15 and 34 seconds behind respectively.   Stoddart still held the lead after 20 miles in 1:48:36 but Wedlock dropped out of the picture.   This was not surprising for it was his first attempt at the distance.   The vital last six miles found Stoddart unable to stay in front and Keith moved to the front followed by Craven and Mitchell.   Result:-

1.   A Keith (RAF Huntingdon)   2:29:22;   2.   J C Raven (Rowntrees AC)    2;29:39;   3.   HK Mitchell (Shettleston)   2:30:34;   4.   G Eadie (Cambuslang)   2:31:07;   5.   W Stoddart (Wellpark)   2:32:38;   6.   AG Matson (Edinburgh Southern) 2:33:12

Maclagan’s Late Spurt For Win

11th April 1970

Pat Maclagan (Victoria Park) burst into action in the final stage of Shettleston Harriers open marathon on Saturday and won in the excellent time of 2:22:03.   Maclagan lay second to A Reid (Glasgow University) after five miles but R Calvert (Small Heath Harriers) had taken over the lead at 10 miles with Maclagan retaining his second place.   Alex Wight (Edinburgh AC) then transformed the situation over the third stage taking a short lead from Douglas ? Ritchie (Aberdeen AAC) with Maclagan third, two seconds behind.   Wight steadily increased his lead and by the 20 mile mark, which he reached in 1:48:50, was half a minute ahead of Maclagan with Ritchie third, but Maclagan put on a sudden spurtr, quickly over took Wight and went on to win comfortably from Ritchie with Wight third.   Results:-

1.   P Maclagan  2:22:03;   2.   DS Ritchie  2:25:44;   3.   A Wight   2:27:12;   4.   HK Mitchell 2:30:05;   5.   J Taylor (Edinburgh University)   2:40:12;   6.   I Leggett (Clydesdale)   2:44:05.

Taylor’s Six Second Win In Marathon

8th May 1971

Steve Taylor (Aberdeen AAC) beat his clubmate Donald Ritchie by only 35 seconds after a gruelling marathon in Shettleston Harriers open Contest from Barrachnie Playing Fields on Saturday.   Taylor’s time was 2:23:25 and D Wyper (West of Scotland) was third a further 8:26 behind the winner.   Taylor, Ritchie, Wyper and Dick Wedlock were together after five miles in 28:18.   The same four passed the ten mile point together in 56:20 with Ken Bannatyne (Springburn) and M Logie (East Kilbride) next in 57:58.   Taylor and Ritchie passed the fifteen mile point in 1:23:10, Wedlock dropped out, and Wyper was next, 1:16 behind the leaders.   The Aberdeen pair remained shoulder to shoulder and only after 25 miles did Taylor pull ahead and win by six seconds.   Results:-

1.   S Taylor   2:23:25;  2.   2. D Ritchie   2:23:31;   3. D Wyper 2:31:57;   4. W Russell (Shettleston)   2:33:29;   5. A Faulds (Clydesdale)   2:41:28;   6.   I Mitchell (Strathclyde University)  2:42:42

And that’s where the race ended.  As a matter of interest, the last race had 36 starters – not a bad field for such a race.   The trail for the race went round where the new M8 and its various flyovers was being built on the way to Mount Vernon and the works were well advanced at the time of the 1971 race.  That is probably why  the race ended.  You can see that the standard was high – among the SAAA champions who contested the race were A Wood, P Maclagan, A Brown, W Stoddart, G Eadie, S Taylor, D Ritchie and Fergus Murray with many who took medals in the championships also taking part.   Numbers were not high but all who entered really had a good go at it – none of them were just ‘engineering their bodies round the course’ for charity.   That’s not to knock those who do, it is however to indicate that it was an event for serious club runners.   None of the runners were paid expenses and there were certainly no money prizes or cars on offer.   But with small fields there was no need to close any roads for the race, the runners took their chances on the roads as they were.   Like many races at the time.   And the standard of domestic Scottish endurance running was higher then than it is now.

 

Inverclyde Marathon

Bill S

Bill Stoddart winner of the first Inverclyde Folk Marathon

The very first mass participation marathon in Scotland was the Inverclyde Marathon – styled the ‘Inverclyde Folk Marathon’ – and it had a chequered career from its start in 1091 until the final running in 1998.   At its peak it was one of the very best in the country but there was a three year shut down quite early on before it was resurrected.   It was used as the SAAA and SWAAA official marathon championship, it included at times an international contest and had fields of over 1000 runners.   Joe Small ran in the first one and he clearly still looks on it with affection: he has written the account of the career of the race which is reproduced below.

The Inverclyde Folk Marathon was first held on Sunday, 30th August, 1981 when a field of over 500 set off from Greenock Esplanade to cover the 26.2 miles – there were 498 recorded finishers.   1981 was also the year of the first London Marathon and arguably, Inverclyde was the first Scottish mass participation race over the classic distance, the inaugural Glasgow People’s Marathon taking place in 1982.   Such was the novelty of the race, it made front page headlines in the next day’s Glasgow Herald, complete with photographs.   The course was essentially flat, staying close to the Clyde throughout.   From the Esplanade start, the route headed west towards Inverkip before doubling back through Greenock and Port Glasgow, another ‘U’ turn, then heading back to the centre of Greenock and finishing, again on the Esplanade.   The 1981 race, in which I competed, produced a win for the remarkable local runner Bill Stoddart (Greenock Wellpark Harriers).   At the age of fifty he triumphed over a field of good class road racers, principally by running a very even paced race throughout.

If memory serves, I was in third place at the 20 mile point, well behind the two leaders, with Bill still behind me.   He stormed through the last six miles, passing all in front of him, to win in a time of 2:27:43.   This time was only 23 seconds outside the world record time for a 50 year old – and a time I’m sure he could have beaten.   Second was Evan Cameron with another local runner, Cameron Spence in third.   An interesting finisher in 18th place was Lachie Stewart.   The women’s race was won by Leslie Watson (London Olympiads AC), one of her many road race victories around this time, recording 2:54:32 to finish in sixty sixth position overall.   Result:

  1. W Stoddart (Greenock Wellpark Harriers)   2:27:53;   2.   E Cameron (Edinburgh Southern Harriers) 2:28:56;   3.   C Spence (Spango Valley AC)   2:29:09;   4.   D Geddes (Garscube Harriers)   2:29:18;   5.   J Small (Clyde Valley AC)   2:30:08;   6.   P McGregor (Victoria Park)   2:30:47.     Teams:   Victoria Park AAC   37 pts;   2.   East Kilbride AAC   49 pts;   3.   Kilbarchan AAC   56 pts.

Ladies:   1.   L Watson (London Olympiads)   2:54:32;   2.   M Thoms (Interlopers Orienteering)   3:07:43;   3.  K Fitzgibbon (London Olympiads)   3:12:14

1982

The second running of the race, on Sunday, 29th August, saw Tommy Wiseman (Victoria Park AAC) winning his first ever marathon.   The winning time of 2:26:29 being a new course record.   Wiseman won by a distance from last year’s winner, Bill Stoddart, with Stoddart’s team mate Tony Bird taking third place, a further 49 seconds behind.   Victoria Park AAC won the team race.   Leslie Watson (London Olympiads) repeated her victory of last year, improving her time to 2:51:38, over three minutes faster than in 1981, a performance which saw her placed fifty sixth overall in a field of over 600 runners.

1983

The 1983 race, sponsored by IBM, resulted in a victory for John Stephens (Dumbarton AAC), in one of the closest finishes in marathon history.   Competing in his eighth marathon, Stephens set a new course record when crossing the line in 2:22:21, over four minutes faster than the previous year’s winning time.   Chased along the Esplanade by local runner John Duffy (Greenock Wellpark), Stephens produced a sprint finish over the last 100 yards to prevail by three seconds from Duffy.   Two minutes further back was Gerry Fairley (Kilbarchan AAC) in 2:24:33.   Unfortunately the result as published in the Scottish Marathon Club Magazine does not include any result for a women’s race.   The men’s results go down as far as fiftieth position (2:48:15) and they were always meticulous in reporting women’s results.   If there was indeed a women’s event, we would really like the result.   Men’s race results are as follows:

  1. J Stephens (Dumbarton)   2:22:21;   2.   J Duffy (Wellpark)   2:22:24;   3.   G Fairley (Kilbarchan)   2:24:33;   4.   D Fairweather (Law)   2:24:49;   5.   B Carty  2:26:16;   6.   R Blair (VPAAC)   2:26:18;   7.   B Stoddart (Wellpark)   2:2:27:39.
  2. D Wyper (Bellahouston)   2;29:24;   9.   G Gallagher (Spango V)   2;29:28;   10.   L Stewart (Spango V)   2:29:43;   11.   R Hyett (Spango V)   2:29:43.    11 runners inside 2:30 when in the last race there was only one and the winner in the penultimate race was barely inside 2:39.n0-

1984

26 year old John Stephens, a Royal Navy physiotherapist from Dumbarton AAC repeated his victory of 1983, beating more than 1100 rivals.   His time of 2:23:13, slightly slower than the previous year, saw him defeat clubmate Allan Adams by more than two minutes, however runner-up Adams won the veterans prize.   Third place was taken by David Fairweather (Law and District AC) in 2:26:57.   The women’s race went to Rosemary Gillick (Stone Masters Marathon Club) in a time of 2:59:39.   Second was Margaret Meredith (Red Rose AC) well back in 3:11:17.    Dumbarton AAC won the team race with 14 points from Spango Valley on 25 points.

1985

1983 runner-up John Duffy (Greenock Wellpark) won the 1985 race preventing John Stephens (Dumbarton AAC) attempt at a third successive victory.   Duffy was timed at 2:23:44 with Stephens less than a minute back in 2:24:41.   Last year’s second placed finisher Allan Adams (Dumbarton AAC) dropped one place to finish third his time of 2:26:10 saw him win the Scottish Veterans Championship, incorporated into the Inverclyde race.    Mary Baker from Glasgow, competing in her third marathon, won the women’s race clocking 3:07:29 to win from Kate Dodson (Lanark) in 3:08:49.   Dumbarton AAC won the team race with 32 points from Greenock Wellpark Harriers (32 points) and Greenock Glenpark Harriers (58 points).

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As a result, probably of falling numbers, the race was not held in the years 1986, 1987 or 1988. 

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1989

The first running of the race following the three year break, was covered by Doug Gillon in the ‘Herald’ as follows: “Three local athletic clubs have secured £10,000 from Greenock based computer firm IBM and have launched the Inverclyde Athletics Initiative.   The sponsorship is being used to stage a Festival of Running on August 20th consisting of a fun run, a 10000m and the re-introduction of the Inverclyde Marathon.   The 1981 race was Scotland’s first mass participation event but was last staged four years ago.   Now, however, with the demise of several national marathons including the prestigious Glasgow event, IBM Spango Valley and the rival athletic clubs Glenpark and Wellpark, have got together to revive Inverclyde.  

IAI is chaired by former internationalist Bill Stoddart who, at the age of 50, won the inaugural event in 1981.   The Initiative’s other targets include an all-weather track for which it is hoped the district council will shortly give approval.   The marathon carries total prize money of £3000 with £500 to the first man and £300 to the first woman.   The Scottish Women’s Cross-Country and Road Running Association have designated the marathon as their championship event.”   The winners of the races, and the lucrative purses, were England’s Gareth Spring in 2:25:22, and Julie Harvey of Scotland in 3:06:23.

1990

Local athlete John Duffy proved victorious in the 1990 race, repeating his win of 1985 in a slightly slower time of 2:25:28.   The women’s award went to Rosemary Kay of Scotland whose winning time was 2:54:15.

Chas McD

Charlie McDougall (Calderglen Harriers) finishing third

1991

This year saw the race incorporate the Scottish Marathon Championship for the first time.   Terry Mitchell overcame strong headwinds and heavy rain to claim the Scottish title.   Taking the lead after just six miles, Mitchell ran the following twenty miles all on his own to win by 2 minutes 20 seconds from former two-time winner and course record holder, John Stephens.   “That shows I’m recovered from an early season injury”, said Mitchell, “I wanted to run at my own pace so went into an early lead and felt good all the way, in spite of the strong wind in my face throughout the race.   I’m planning to run a marathon in Crete in November where I’m sure the weather will be better.”   Eileen Masson won the women’s race by over 13 minutes from Julie Harvey, and was just 20 seconds outside her best time of the year.   Result:

  1. T Mitchell (Fife AC)   2:24:50;   2.   J Stephens (Low Fell AC)   2:27:10;   3.   C MacDougall (Calderglen Harriers)   2:35:51.   First Veteran:   D Fairweather (Cambuslang Harriers)   2:38:14.

Women:   1.   E Masson (Kilbarchan AAC)   2:50:12;   2.   J Harvey (City of Glasgow)   3:03:19;   3.   M Blaikie (IBM Spango Valley)   3:07:39.

Team Race:   1.   Greenock Glenpark   69 pts;   2.   IBM Spango Valley   90 points.

1992

This year’s event was part of ‘The Inverclyde Festival of Road Running’ which saw a half-marathon being contested in addition to the full distance race.   This undoubtedly had an effect on the quality of the field for the marathon with Tommy Murray in the colours of Cambuslang Harriers, clocking 1:08:53 to win the half distance event.   John Duffy completed his third win in the marathon, his time being by far the slowest winning time in the history of the race.    Eleanor O’Brien of Greenock Glenpark Harriers won the women’s race, again in a slow time.   Result:

  1. J Duffy (Greenock Wellpark Harriers)   2:35:03  2.   A Stewart (Ayr Seaforth AC)   2:39:35;   3.   D Thomson (Unattached)   2:40:12.   First Veteran:   J McMorrow (Scottish Veteran Harriers Club)   2:48:35.

Women:   1.   E O’Brien   3:15:34.

1993

Once again, the race was chosen as the Scottish Marathon Championship event.   Fraser Clyne (Metro Aberdeen AC) Last year’s Scottish Champion, retained his title when winning the IBM Inverclyde Marathon.   He led from half distance to win in 2:26:40, finishing almost three minutes clear of English runner Ray Lees (Clayton-le-Moors).   Veteran Dennis McAra (Falkirk Victoria) passed Martin Coyne for third place after Coyne suffered a hamstring injury in the final half mile.   England’s Eleanor Robinson won the women’s event by a huge margin, over 23 minutes ahead of the runner-up.   Result:

  1. Fraser Clyne (Metro Aberdeen)   2:26:40;   2.   R Lees (Clayton-le-Moors)   2:29:39;   3.   D McAra (Falkirk Victoria)   2:32:09;   4.   M Coyne (Leslie Deans RC)   2:32:46;   5.   A Stirling (Bo’ness RR)   2:36:33;   6.   G Cunliffe (Clayton-le-Moors)   2:40:47.   Women:   1.   E Robinson (Border Harriers)   2:55:42;   2.   K Todd (JW Kilmarnock Harriers)   3:19:08;   3.   M Thomas (Westerlands)   3:23:04.

1994  

The only information available on the 1994 race is the names of the winners:

Men:   Jim Bennett (Scotland)   2:30:32          Women:   Victoria Young (Scotland)   3:49:24

1995

Having led for 24 miles, veteran David Fairweather (Cambuslang Harriers) tired badly in the final stages of the Inverclyde marathon and finished in fourth place.   His clubmate, Leo Sho-Silva, finished strongly to win in 2:42:20 just 29 seconds ahead of veteran Andy Stirling.   Gordon Porteous (Maryhill Harriers) the oldest man in the race missed the Over 80 world record by two minutes but set a new British age group best of 3:47:04.    Helen Slimon (City fo Glasgow) won the women’s race by over 38 minutes ahead of the runner-up.    There was also a six-man marathon relay held on the day of the race which was won by Shettleston Harriers in 2;16:23.   Result:

  1. L Sho-Silva (Cambuslang)   2:42:20;   2.   A Stirling (Bo’ness RR)   2:42:49;   3.   C Hutt (Kirkcaldy)   2:43:32.   Super veteran:   D Fairweather (Cambuslang)   2:45:33.

Women:   1.   H Slimon (City of Glasgow:   3:06:23;   2.    J Carr (Milburn Harriers)   3:44:38;   3.   J Wilson (Perth RR)   3:51:22.

1996

The former World Cup and Commonwealth Marathon internationalist Fraser Clyne showed his experience when, though more than a minute behind at half distance, came through in the final six miles to win his fourth Scottish Marathon Championship in the Inverclyde Festival of Road Running at Greenock.   Clyne finished in 2:28:25 also claiming the Scottish Veteran crown.   Eleanor Robinson recorded her second victory in this race, comfortably over half an hour ahead of her nearest challenger.   Result:

  1. F Clyne (Metro)   2;28:25;   2.   J Duffy (Shettleston)   2:30:41;   3.   B Scally (Shettleston)   2:31:37;   4.   C Hutt (Unattached)   2:38:18;   5.   D Fairweather (Cambuslang)   2:40:27;   6.   J Bennett (Greenock Glenpark)   2:41:42.

Women:   1.   E Robinson (Border)   2:56:42;   2.   C Lisle (FMC Carnegie)   3:27:17;   3.   P Doanld (Deeside)   3:30:35.

1997

Again, the only details available are the race winners, with John Duffy completing a record fourth win.   Men:   J Duffy   2:38:44.          Women:   M Creber   3:05:14.

1998

The was the final race held over the marathon distance at Inverclyde.   Once again, the race was chosen as the Scottish Championship Marathon, now known as the SAF Championship.   Third place finisher in 1996, Brian Scally, took the title with a sub-2:30 clocking.    Result:

  1. B Scally (Shettleston)   2;29:32;   2.   D Thomson (Portsmouth)   2:33:48;   3.   T Mitchell (Fife)   2:39:06;   4.   T Coyle (Unattached/Vet)   2:42:29.

Women:   P Affleck (Gala/Vet)   3:04:05;   2.   F Florence (Shettleston/Vet)   3:11:29;   3.   V Goldie (Milburn/Vet)   3:47:46.

And that is Joe’s report on the last of the Inverclyde Marathons.   It should have been recorded more prominently for its duration because it is clear that when it was properly sponsored, it was well enough organised to attrcat large fields, to attract quality fields and to host successful National Championships as well as international contests.   The flat fast course was ideal for fast times, and the layout was great for the spectators who could see quite a lot of the race (not usual for marathons!)   If anyone has any information to add about why there was a break of three years, we would like to hear it – although it was probably as Joe suggests due to ‘financial constraints’, as they say. 

Glasgow Marathon

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The Glasgow Marathon was one of the biggest and best of the City Marathons of which there were many – in one year Scotland had 14 races over the magic distance.   Glasgow had many of the biggest stars in marathon running and it was also one where home cots performed well.   It is appropriate that it is examined in some depth and Joe Small has written the history of the race below.

“The present day Glasgow event started life as a full marathon in 1979, prior to the advent of the people’s races, or ‘fun runs’, continuing through to 1987 as a full marathon before changing to a half marathon in 1988.   What follows is a brief summary of the full marathon between those dates.

1979:  The inaugural race required a qualifying time of three hours resulting in a restricted number of competitors.   The race on Sunday 14th October attracted a field of 63 with 58 finishers, in stark contrast to the thousands who competed in later years.   The course for that first running consisted of four laps, starting in George Square, on to Ingram Street, High Street, westward along the north bank of the Clyde to Finnieston, Argyle Street, looping round Byres Road, University Avenue, Kelvin Way, then following Sauchiehall Street back to the city centre and George Square.  

The runners set off in mild, slightly damp conditions, perfect for marathon running.   At five miles the leaders were 1976 British Olympic Marathon representative Barry Watson (England), Sandy Keith (Scotland) and Doug Gunstone (Scotland) passing the marker in 25:49.   At the ten mile point, Watson and Keith led in 52:06 with Gunstone third in 52:14.   Fifteen miles saw the same three leading, Watson and Keith 1:18:27, Gunstone 1:18:56.   This continued through twenty miles, 1:44:17 for Watson and Keith, Gunstone falling further behind with 1:46:40.   Watson pulled away over the last six miles having a seven second lead at 25 miles, winning by 23 seconds from Keith in 2:17:45 with malcolm Firth of Wales coming through to take third from Gunstone in fourth.   Leslie Watson, being the only female competitor, won with 2:53:32 taking forty sixth place.

1980:   The 1980 race, on Sunday 14th September, saw the same course as the previous year being used.   With entry requirements similar to 1979, a field of 62 runners set off from George Square.   An innovation for this event was the inclusion of an international team race, with representatives from Scotland, England, N Ireland, Wales, Eire and Argentina taking part.   Through five and ten miles a leading group of four set the pace, Jim Dingwall from Scotland, England’s John Cain and Alan McGhee and Steve McHale from Wales, 25:19 for five miles, 51:27 at ten.   McHale had dropped 30 seconds off the pace at 15 miles, passed by the leaders in 1:17:00.   By 20 miles it was down to two, Dingwall and Cain, timed at 1:42::54.   Dingwall had a two second lead at 25 miles, eventually winning by nine seconds in 2:16:07 from Cain in 2:16:16.    Leslie Watson again won the women’s event, finishing thirty fifth in 2:47:07.

1981:  The 1981 race took place on Sunday, 18th October, with a field of 144 runners.   In ideal conditions over the same city centre route, Eire’s Jim McGlynn was victorious with a winning time of 2:18:24, just outside his personal best.   Second place was taken by Alan Coles from Wales, with rod Stone from Cambuslang Harriers, representing Northern Ireland, in third.   Scots took the next three places, Colin Youngson fourth, Des Austin fifth and Alistair Macfarlane in sixth, giving Scotland victory in the team race.   The women’s race was won by Priscilla Welch, representing Dunrossness AC, from Shetland with a  time of 2:55:15 when finishing in fifty eighth place.

1982:   Following on from the success of large marathons such as New York and London, the race this year was the first “Scottish People’s Marathon” with a new course taking in much of the city, starting on the Saltmarket, via George Square taking in Byres Road, Dumbarton Road, the Clydeside Expressway, the Broomielaw, Bellahouston Park, Pollok Park then through the south side and finishing at Glasgow Green.   From the hundred or so starters in previous years a huge total, 7100, set out on Scotland’s first mass participation “people’s” event.

American Emil Magallanes was the first to make a break, just after halfway pursued by Scotland’s Jim Brown and Peter Fleming.   Magallanes fell away soon afterwards, Brown and Fleming built up a nine second lead over England’s Glenn Forster.   Brown dropped away at 22 miles with Forster, in windy conditions, pulling away to win in 2:17:16; Forster’s Sunderland Harriers clubmate Calum Bark came through with a late surge to claim second place in 2:18:36 with Fleming being first Scot in third with Brown fourth.   First veteran was Fife’s Donald Macgregor with 2:22:06 and marathon great Jim Alder competing in what he said was his last marathon recording an excellent 2:26:40.   An interesting finisher was Olympic 1500m runner Frank Clement in 2:45.     The women’s race was a repeat of the previous year with Priscilla Welch again victorious.   After running with Linda Stott from Aberdeen till around the 20 mile mark Welch pulled away to win by 26 seconds from the previous winner, Leslie Watson who passed a flagging Stott in the closing stages.

1983: If 1982 had seen a massive number of participants, this year saw even more. From an entry of 14000, 9606 started, with 9600 finishing, putting Glasgow in the top league of ‘Big City’ marathons. One of the problems with dealing with such large numbers cropped up in this event, when there was an issue with obtaining medals which were to be handed out the finishers as they crossed the line. Due to manufacturing difficulties, only the first three finishers in the men’s & women’s events together with the winners in the vets categories received a medal, everyone else had to settle for a rose!

To the race itself, the same course as last year was used, with competitors having to face blustery conditions throughout. A leading group of 18 passed through 10 miles in 52min. 30 sec., with Donald Macgregor setting much of the pace, along with Peter Fleming, Jim Brown, Andy Daly, Graham Getty among others. By 15 miles the group had been reduced to 8, with Brown dropping out shortly afterwards. At 18 miles, Fleming made his move & pulled clear of the field to win comfortably in 2.17.46 from Sheffield’s Bill Domoney with Dic Evans from Wales in third. There was a fine performance from Aberdeen’s three times Scottish marathon champion Colin Youngson, timed at 2.19.18, holding off Mick Crowell from Wales for fourth, ensuring Scotland’s victory in the international team race. Don McGregor in 19th was the first veteran. The women’s race saw a win for Sue Brusher from California in 2.49.18, with Leslie Watson once again runner up, 32sec. behind.    Also worthy of mention was the performance of Alan Wilson of Victoria Park AAC, setting a British junior record when finishing 13th in a time of  2.23.54

1984: The 30th September saw this year’s event take place, with again, an increase in the number of participants – a new record total 10173 lined up for the start, with 9449 finishing. Amazingly, over 5000 other entrants failed to show up.   A very fast start to the race saw the leaders, including Jim Brown, Alistair Douglas and Jim Warwick open up a 10 sec. lead through 4 miles, covered at close to 5min. miling pace. Andy Girling from Glasgow University caught the lead group & he & Brown proceeded to pull clear. By 20 miles, Girling had established a substantial lead. The chasing pack had included John Boyes, running for England, in spite of being Scotland qualified. Boyes closed the gap running along with multi Scottish internationalist Laurie Spence, catching Girling around the 21 mile mark. Boyes, apparently running within himself, pulled away to win comfortably in 2.14.54, some 2min.22sec. inside the course record. Girling was second, 47 sec. back, with Spence finishing third, & first Scot, in 2.16.01     With former winner Jim Dingwall in fifth along with leading veteran Donald Macgregor in tenth, Scotland finished second of seven nations in the team race.   Early leader Jim Warwick, who wasn’t a member of any club finished 13th in 2.19.19, almost an hour inside his estimated finishing time!    Lorna Irving running in her third marathon, produced a Scottish All-Comers record of 2.37.19 to win the women’s event easily, 8 minutes clear of perennial runner up Leslie Watson, again second in 2.45.24. Third was Central Region AC’s Ann Bates, 2.52.20.

1985: The 1985 race was held on Sunday 22nd September, in persistent heavy rain. Numbers this year saw 11,492 entries, slightly higher than last year’s record.

Former GB track internationalist Dave Lowes from Newcastle came out victorious in this year’s event. Having given up the sport for six years due to injury, Lowes, running in his first marathon showed excellent form to win by 23sec. from fellow Englishman Peter Russell with another England representative, Ray Maule from Coventry in third. Lowes hadn’t been included in the England team, but with 2nd 3rd & 4th they still won the team race easily.

Loews was among the pace setters from the start, along with Ossie Harris one of the England team. Harris forced the pace until the 15 mile mark, before Lowes pulled clear. The chasing pack included Maule, Harris, Robson, Russell & Mike Carroll. Running for Annan & District, Carroll was the first Scot to finish in 6th., with Donald Macgregor in tenth for the second year, once more the first veteran. In 138th place was former Commonwealth & European champion Ron Hill, completing his 99th marathon.

Angie Pain of Leeds set a course record of 2.37.06 in winning the women’s race, closely followed for around 15 miles by last years winner Lorna Irving, eventually finishing 1min 14sec. behind. First Scotswoman was Sandra Branney of Victoria Park AAC, in 2.45.06

The race was struck by tragedy when Duncan Kerr of Garscube Harriers, on course for a 2.20 time, collapsed & died, less than half a mile from the finish. In spite of intensive efforts by doctors, his heart had stopped & failed to respond to all attempts to resuscitate him. A sad end to this 1985 event.

1986: September 21st. saw this year’s race take place, with, for the first time, a decrease in the number of participants. 3000 fewer than last year, 8210 started. One argument put forward was that “at first people had been caught up in the marathon hysteria, now however, the race was attracting more serious runners”. Starters included a Pink Panther, a Scottish Superman & a hula hoop dancer – possibly a slightly flawed argument?   The course record was well & truly beaten by winner Kenny Stuart from England, running in his first marathon.   Stuart led through the 5 mile mark; at 10 miles Stuart had Poland’s Konieczny & Robin Nash for company. At 15 miles, Stuart was clear of the field and in a comfortable win, finished almost 4 minutes ahead of Welshman Dic Evans, who finished third in 1983, with Jacek Konieczny third. The winning time was 2.14.04.First Scot was Pitreavie’s Frank Harper, with a new p.b. of 2.18.44 in fourth place. Scotland’s team of Harper, Alan Adams & Murray McNaught were third in the team race with England first & Wales second. Dumbarton’s Adams was the first veteran, in 2.23.03.

Sandra Branney, first Scotswoman last year, won the women’s event even more convincingly than Stuart, more than eight minutes clear of Leslie Watson, who once more took the runners up award, together with the first female veterans prize.

Kenny Stuart was a remarkable endurance athlete. Best known as a fell runner his record for the Ben Nevis Hill Race, set in 1984 still stands, 27 years later. Incidentally, the women’s course record, set in the same year, was set by his wife Pauline! Kenny also holds the course record for the Snowdon race from 1985 – 26 years on. He later recorded a marathon time of 2.11.36 in the 1989 Houston Marathon. Later that year his career came to a premature end due to persistent allergy problems.

Kenny%20Stuart[1]

Kenny Stuart

1987: Worrying signs for the race, as `only’ 5516 started, a huge drop off rate from previous years. Lack of television coverage & no main sponsor were cited as possible reasons, 15 minutes of race highlights were shown on BBC late at night as part of a programme covering a snooker tournament.   In an effort to increase the quality & quantity of the field, the course was made easier & prize money was on offer for the first time. However, these incentives did not make much of an impact, with again, no TV coverage and the car, a prize for anyone bettering 2hr. 13, remained unclaimed.    The men’s race was won By Dublin’s Eamonn Tierney in 2.19.09, the slowest winning time in the race’s history. Second & first Scot was Terry Mitchell of Fife AC, 31sec. back, with Hammy Cox only three seconds behind Mitchell in third. The race was arguably the most competitive in spite of the slower times, with a group of 20 runners together at the 10 mile point, reducing to five at 20 miles. Tierney broke clear at 23 miles, though Mitchell closed the gap two or three times, before finally losing touch with one mile to go. Fast finishing Cox from Greenock Glenpark just failed to catch Mitchell.   Tierney picked up £1000.00 for his efforts with Mitchell receiving £750.00.  First veteran was Brian Carty of Shettleston in 17th., with a time of 2.25.18.   Glasgow, with Bellahouston pair Andy Daly & Billy Robertson, won the inter-city team race & £900.00, from Cardiff in second.   A new name in the women’s event with Scot Sheila Catford threatening the course record, winning in 2.37.31, less than half a minute off the best time, which was worth £1000.00 in prize money. 2nd, once more, was Leslie Watson, again first women’s veteran, competing in marathon number 140! Third place went to Penny Rother of Edinburgh AC with a time of 2.54.27.   This was the last year in which the race distance was the full 26 miles 385 yards. Undoubtedly the drop off in numbers, together with the lack of sponsorship & television coverage caused the organisers to have a major rethink as to the way forward.   In 1988, the race was changed to a half marathon, followed by a 25km event, then back to a half marathon. Coverage of those events will require a separate article.

Colin Youngson’s account of the 1983 Glasgow Marathon, as published in the Vets magazine in 2015 is worth a read – just click on his name!

 

Inverness to Forres Marathon

AJW[1]

Alastair Wood

(This event was the road race which finished on the track of the long-established Forres Highland Games, in North-East Scotland. It was controversial because Alastair Wood set a GBR and European record in 1966 and statisticians in England doubted the length of the course. Alastair Wood was fourth in the 1962 European Marathon Championship and twice second in the AAA Marathon. He had a distinguished track career, running for GB at 3 miles, 6 miles and steeplechase, as well as the marathon. He had been 7th in the International CC and went on to be world record holder for 40 miles track and to break the record for the London to Brighton road race. There is no reason to doubt his ability to run such a time, on an occasion when he was in top form, on a one-directional course with a following wind. The 1970 Forres Marathon course was definitely short but this is no reason to doubt the distance of earlier Forres courses, since the start place in Inverness varied considerably. Anyway, this was 1966. Was course measurement always accurate back then? Tell me of a runner whose PB was not on a ‘fast’ course e.g. Boston, Glasgow and London!)

 

9 RUNNINGS

10/7/65 ALASTAIR WOOD (SCO) 2.29.54

9/7/66 ALASTAIR WOOD (2) 2.13.45

8/7/67 ALASTAIR WOOD (3) 2.16.16

6/7/68 JOSEPH CLARE (ENG) 2.18.43

12/7/69 ALASTAIR WOOD (4) 2.27.44

4/7/70 ALASTAIR WOOD (5) 2.13.44 (three-quarters of a mile short)

71 No Race

8/7/72 DONALD RITCHIE (SCO) 2.33.00

7/7/73 ALASTAIR WOOD (6) 2.22.29

6/7/74 ALEXANDER KEITH (SCO) 2.26.28

On Saturday 12th July 1969, I took part in my very first marathon, having reached the ‘legal’ entry age of 21. The event was the Inverness to Forres Marathon part of the well-organised Forres Highland Games, which continues to flourish today. I have to laugh at my training schedule: the university track season, endless repetition sessions, a 3.58.2 paarlauf mile, PBs for one mile, three miles and 5000 metres, plus a few longer hungover yet hard Sunday runs from Woodie’s house (usually failing to hang on to the great man) and a couple of ten mile races. The final regime was an exhausting eight days totalling 100 miles in seven runs (to prove I could handle the distance!), a 6 mile grass track race the following Monday, a six mile jog on Wednesday, an inexplicable short rep session on Friday and off to the marathon on Saturday.

The start was on top of a short but steep hill on the edge of Inverness, followed by the long straight fairly flat main road to Forres, running on the right hand side of the road. The only advice was that, when you passed under the railway bridge at Nairn, there were ten miles to go to the finish in the Games arena in Grant Park, Forres. A newspaper clipping shows Ally Wood striding off rapidly, followed only by Don Ritchie. Since it was a hot day, they were both sporting jaunty knotted white hankies, scout neckerchief fashion. There were only 14 intrepid starters. My diary notes: “Lots of food and drink before. Watched Wood shoot off while I ran steadily with the second pack. After 10 miles, I broke away. Passed several, feeling good, then worse. However saw the foolhardy DR ‘dying’ ahead, so passed him at 18 (he dropped out at 23 – mind you, he had won the 17 miles Mamore Hill Race from Kinlochleven a week earlier). Did the rest on my own – hard but not competitive. Sponges at every stop and two small drinks of water. Okay state, considering, at the end. Sore thighs and feet but no blisters. Might have caught Hughie Mitchell if I had pushed it.” 1st AJW (2.27.44), 2nd Hugh Mitchell (Shettleston) 2.38, 3rd Colin Youngson 2.41.13. Third prize was a pedestal ashtray – just what an improving young runner might have desired, not. After a holiday, the next race I contested was another ‘you have to be 21 at least’ event – the gruelling Ben Nevis race – in those days, we used to run everything!

Donald Ritchie reckons that “the 1969 course had been changed to compensate for a reduction in length caused by road realignment and I suspect that it is now over-length, because with a following wind I went through five miles in 28.47 and ten miles in 57.40, which did not match my effort.”

Alastair Wood had made major headlines on 9th July 1966 when he ran a fantastic British and European Record marathon (2.13.45) in this event. (This time is now fully accepted by the Scottish Association of Track Statisticians.) He had peaked brilliantly by the unusual method of running as many as 60 x 220 yard strides! On the 9th of July he “was full of energy, his knees coming up of their own accord!” There was a following breeze, but there is no doubt that he was capable of such a time, which was later ratified. (Certainly, after Ron Hill broke the European Record at the 1970 Edinburgh Commonwealth Games, ‘Athletics Weekly’ listed Alastair’s Forres time as being as down to 5th on the British All-Time list. – Ron Hill 1970  2.09.28, Bill Adcocks 1968 2.10.48, Jim Alder 1970 2.12.04, Don Faircloth 1970 2.12.19, and Alastair Wood 1966 2.13.45.) It was a day on which Alastair felt he could “run forever” and local rumour has it that he claimed to be “the fastest white man in the world” [behind an African( Abebe Bikila) and a Japanese (Morio Shigematsu)]!

Donald Ritchie ran the Inverness to Forres in 1966, 1967, 1969, 1972 and 1973. He remembers that the 1966 course started where the industrial estate is now, with about a mile to run before going under the railway and joining the A96 south bound. His training diary entry follows. “I travelled to Inverness with Alastair for the Inverness to Forres marathon, which is part of the Forres Highland Games. Weather conditions were ideal: a cloudy day with a following wind. Alastair led, followed by Ron Coleman, Peter Duffy, myself and Hugh Mitchell. By ten miles Alastair was well away and Coleman had got away from Mitchell, who in turn had pulled away from me and I had a gap on Peter. My time at ten miles was given as 50.05, which is suspicious. We had a refreshing shower of rain, which lasted for about 30 minutes, between ten and twenty miles. My time at 20 miles was given as 1.53.30 and from there I could see Hugh pass Ron. About three-quarters of a mile later he stopped for a drink and then started jogging. I passed him soon after this and the sun broke through, making the temperature rise considerably, so that it became very hot. We left the A96 at Brodie, crossed the railway line and followed a minor road, before re-crossing the railway to rejoin the A96. By this point I was really feeling grim and felt like I needed to stop for a serious call of nature. I managed to keep going and the feeling passed. I was some two miles from Forres and gradually it got closer. There are two nasty little hills as you enter Forres, which I felt hard. I was very glad to see the sports field in Grant Park and I was soon on my last lap. Alastair’s time was a great 2.13.45, the fastest in the world this year. Hugh Mitchell ran 2.25.16 and I achieved 2.29.08, with Brian Goodman 4th in 2.38.21 and Peter Duffy finished fifth of the eleven starters. I had two blisters on my right foot.” It seems likely that the course measurement may have been done in a car; and therefore the ten mile point seems a little early but the twenty mile point seems right enough. Add a following wind and AJW’s great form and the fantastic finishing time is explained. In a ‘Scotland’s Runner’ interview by Mel Edwards in 1986, Alastair himself claimed that the course had been measured by surveyors and the North of Scotland AAA.

Before that marvellous run in 1966, Alastair had won the 10th July 1965 inaugural (?) event in 2.29.54, with Duncan Davidson of Forres Harriers third in 2.47.06.

Then on the 8th of July 1967 Alastair Wood (2.16.16) won the Inverness to Forres Marathon again. Don Ritchie hung on during the first five miles but slowed down drastically during the last ten to finish second in 2.35.22. (Please note that on 26th August 1967, Alastair was a close second (2.16.21) to Jim Alder in the AAA Marathon, so there is no reason to suspect the length of the Forres course that year.) Don Ritchie’s diary is as follows. “I drove to Inverness with Peter Duffy for the marathon. Alastair won it in 2.16 with me a very poor and tired second in 2.35. Peter dropped out at 13 miles because of a blister, which allowed a Shettleston runner to take third place. I have never felt so bad in a marathon before. I went with Alastair for about five miles, but found it very hard and had to let him go. After 13 miles I began to experience restricted breathing and very painful legs. I felt that I was crawling round the track lap at the finish.”

On the 6th of July 1968, Joe Clare (AAAC), a very strong runner (but certainly not as good as AJW) won in 2.18.43 (and his time IS accepted by the International Association of Road Running Statisticians, so why not Alastair’s runs in 1966 and 1967? Sounds like victimisation.) Therefore 1969 was Alastair’s fourth victory.

On the 4th of July 1970, Alastair won for the fifth time, apparently breaking his own course record by recording 2.13.44, no less than 22 minutes in front of the second-placed Duncan Davidson. However this time the distance was found to be three-quarters of a mile short, at least partly due to a change of start place. Yet this is no reason to doubt the 1966 European record or indeed the other fast times in 1967 and (apart from the shorter distance) 1970. My belief is that these good times may be explained by changes to the start place, a following wind, and cool conditions, plus a variation in Alastair Wood’s fitness. The slow times in 1965 and 1969 were on hot days without a tailwind. Nowadays, runners exult in fast times at the London Marathon, with its long downhill start and frequent tailwind! No one complains about those factors and the rapid times……

There is no record of a marathon being held in 1971 but on 8th July 1972 Don Ritchie finally won the event in 2.33.00, with Duncan Davidson second in 2.54.35, Mike Scott third in 3.01 and Charlie Greenlees fourth in front of Ron Pickard. Donald’s diary noted: “The weather was warm and I assumed the lead after about a mile and thought that I was running well, but the five mile time of 28 minutes was disappointing. Ten miles was passed in 56.15 and I was surviving the heat quite well but the road surface was very hot and my feet suffered very badly, especially on the newly-surfaced sections of road with stone chips. I slowed over the last two miles and my feet were extremely painful, so I was pleased to reach the Games field at Grant Park and the finish and very pleased to win. At night I suffered from sunburn on my back and shoulders and my feet were blistered, with raw skin on my big toe and a burst blister on the sole of my foot. I hope that they will not become infected, despite my cleaning and disinfecting efforts.”

Then on 7th July 1973, the amazing Alastair Wood won for the sixth and last time in 2.22.29 with Don Ritchie second in 2.27.10, Colin Jackson third in 2.29.12 and Duncan Davidson fourth in 2.49.12. Donald wrote: “I had mis-judged the time to drive from Aberdeen to Inverness so had to drive like a madman to get to the start at 30 seconds after 1 p.m. The race was due to start at 1 p.m. but luckily the runners were only lining up as my Birchfield Harriers team-mate Colin Jackson and I arrived. They agreed to delay the start for us. I was completely drained of nervous energy by then. The start was quite brisk, and I went with Alastair despite feeling dozy, but after about three miles I let Alastair go. I passed five miles in 27.00 and began to feel better and held the gap to Alastair constant for a while. I reached ten miles in 54.25, fifteen miles in 1.22.52 and no time was given for 20 miles. I was quite pleased with how I felt during the race. Colin was delighted with his race and breaking 2.30. (Alastair is positive that the course is now too long and he estimates it is 27 miles 680 yards.)”

On Saturday 6th July 1974, just two weeks after finishing third in the Scottish marathon championship, representing ESH, I turned up for what turned out to be the final Inverness to Forres. I have a copy of the race instructions as well as the precise locations of the ‘refreshment stalls’. The race started now “on Longman Road at 1 p.m. sharp, directly opposite Lamp Standard on left of entrance to Brown Wooden Building, midway between Auto Sales and Ferries Garage. Runners must keep on the left side of roadway.” One official was instructed to “run and open the Canvas Gate near to the Cricket Pavilion so that runners are not hindered in getting into the Park”. However my pot-hunting attempt was doomed. At the start I met the redoubtable Sandy Keith, a training partner and major rival from Edinburgh AC. At the Scottish marathon, he had led for some time then ‘blown up’ a little to finish fourth, four minutes behind me. However his powers of recovery were far greater. I threw in several fartlek bursts during the first ten miles of the Forres race, failed to shake Sandy, and then ‘gave up’ and watched him stride away out of sight. He won in 2.26.28, whereas I plodded in second in 2.33.44. I have the finisher’s certificate, signed by Forres Harriers official Sandy Brander, who did a lot for North Athletics, along with Tom Mackenzie, a cheerful, charismatic Inverness stalwart.

A year later, I finally obtained a coveted ‘North of Scotland Milk Marketing Board’ plaque, for winning the Forres Highland Games Road Race, but the distance had been reduced to a hilly ten miles. In 1983 I won the event again, over a similar course measuring 11 miles plus.

 

 

 

Dundee Marathon

Dundee Donald

Donald Macgregor

Olympian Donald Macgregor has written about the first two People’s Health Dundee Marathons (both of which he won) in his fascinating autobiography “Running My Life”. Aberdeen and Glasgow had led the way, while the Edinburgh People’s event had not been a success. However Dundee – the ‘City of Discovery’ – was determined to create a well-organised, popular event. It was sponsored by Radio Tay, The Courier, the Health Organisation Council and the City of Dundee.

1983 24th April: City of Dundee People’s Health Marathon

1                    Don Macgregor (Fife AC) 2.17.24 1st Veteran

2                    Terry Mitchell (Fife AC) 2.20.50

3                    Rab Heron (Brighton and Hove AC) 2.21.26

4                    Craig Ross (AAAC) 2.22.43

5                    Murray McNaught (Fife AC) 2.23.34

6                    Sam Graves (Fife AC) 2.23.57

1st Woman: Marjorie Thoms 3.02.08

 

According to Don Macgregor, “the course started in City Square then went round a small loop then westwards towards Invergowrie, Back to Broughty Ferry past HMS Victory and the shipyards. Next was a wide arc north of the Kingsway, past the Dundee University playing fields at Downfield, before rising to the highest point about 21 miles, just before Lochee. Then the course descended in swoops towards the city centre before flattening out into the main street and the finish gantry in City Square.” 

A huge field of around 3500 started, on a cool day, ideal for running. Richie Barrie (Dundee Hawkhill H) led for sixteen miles and he and Macgregor broke away after five miles. After Richie dropped out, Donald describes concentrating hard during the last ten miles on his own. “You have to stay focused all the way. It’s possible to exchange remarks for a second or two but best not to stop. Better to take sponges and drinks on the run, snatching a cup of water or juice or in some cases a special drink from the tables, and pour the water – not the juice – over your head, wiping head, neck, face, arms and thighs with a well-filled sponge or two.  I got to the top of the hill with an effort and after that my cadence grew more fluent; I was able somehow to run more smoothly and on the downhill my stride lengthened. Gradually the lead over Terry Mitchell, who had moved into second and had been catching me, increased. At the finish it was over three minutes……It was the fastest time by a veteran in the UK that year.   Charlie Robertson of Newport, Scottish marathon champion in 1948 and 1952, won the over-65 title with around 3.20.”

 

1984 29th April: City of Dundee People’s Health Marathon

1    Don Macgregor (Fife AC) 2.18.16 1st Veteran

2    Charlie Haskett (Dundee Hawkhill H) 2.18.41

3    Murray McNaught (Fife AC) 2.19.44

4    Alastair Macfarlane (Springburn H) 2.19.56

5    Don Ritchie (Forres H) 2.19.58

6    Terry Mitchell (Fife AC) 2.20.24

1st Woman: Margaret Baillie 2.51.12

2000 ran.

Since the first Dundee Marathon, “Don Macgregor’s Marathon Manual” had been published by the Scottish Health Education Group and Radio Tay. This was full of excellent advice. In addition, to encourage would-be marathoners, Don had delivered no fewer than 26 four-minute weekly slots on Radio Tay on Saturday mornings.

 

The author describes the race. “The weather was a bit colder but again not too windy. The pack ran together for the first few miles, until Terry Mitchell and then Charlie Haskett pulled away from me along the outer roads from 15 miles onwards. I did not think I would be able to catch Terry, but somehow reeled him in, then went after Haskett. I passed him as we started the downhill, and he couldn’t respond sufficiently to stop me building up a slight lead. I didn’t look back until the bottom of the hill. He wasn’t far away, but far enough. I crossed the line considerably less fresh than in 1983, 25 seconds to the good. Charlie was obviously disappointed, but I was relieved rather than exultant.”

In “Relay”, the Fife AC magazine, Don was less restrained: “On the downhill, DFM sensed that CH’s dominance had gone, and forced the pace on the Lochee Road – and a gap opened – yippee! Bit by bit it grew to 30 yards, 50, 70 and by 25 miles it was clear that only falling over would stop ‘Der Alte’ from repeating his 1983 victory. “I wish I could have spent a bit more time running up and down that last 300 waving at the crowd,” said the slightly amazed champion, who thought Time’s winged chariot would get him this time. McNaught ran excellently to confound the lack of mentions pre-race, and took himself down to 2.19.44. Five were under 2.20 – classy stuff! Terry, though disappointed, really made the race and was, despite fading, faster than last year. Sam Graves sped to 2.22.19 (PB).”

“Margaret Baillie was the superstar of the ladies race, winning by sixteen minutes (and one second), from 1983 champion Marjorie Thoms in a splendid 2.51.32. It was Margaret’s third marathon and she finished in excellent shape. For those of you who don’t know her, she’s rather small, looks fit, and like men’s winner Don, has two children (now there’s a hint if you’re looking for the secret of success!) The Courier described her as “mother of two” but refrained from “father of two” for any of the men. Bell-Baxter PE teacher Jocelyn Scott, who ought to be an FAC member, was third in her debut in 3.13.55. Great stuff! Kim Macgregor (3rd marathon) was encouraged (she said on the radio anyway) by news filtering back of father-of-two’s victory, to scamper home about 8th or 9th of the ladies in 3.25.04, and that includes time spent waiting to be registered by the key-in man, she swears. A PB by 23 minutes – all the miles were worthwhile.”

 

1985 28th April: City of Dundee People’s Health Marathon

1    Murray McNaught (Fife AC) 2.20.25

2    Craig Ross (Dundee Hawkhill H) 2.23.10

3    Doug Hunter (EAC) 2.24.25

4    Sam Graves (Fife AC) 2.25.44

5    Charlie Haskett (DHH) 2.26.06

6    Peter Wilson (AAAC) 2.26.31

7    Don Ritchie (Forres H) 2.26.35 1st Veteran

8    Dave Hamilton (DHH) 2.27.43

9    Dave Wyper (Bellahouston H) 2.28.06

10  A. Graham 2.28.30

11 Peter McGregor (VPAAC) 2.28.31

 

1st Woman: Ann Curtis 2.48.00

2    Tricia Calder 2.48.26

3     Jill Danskin 3.02.21

4    Carol Gray 3.02.36

5    Caroline Moorat 3.03.14

6    K. Sloan 3.04.58

7    Gail Pope 3.06.12

8    Sheila Cluley 3.08.06

9    A. McMurray 3.09.27

10  A. Wilson 3.09.52

 

Doug Gunstone reported for the Scottish Marathon Club magazine. “A cold, if not gale force, westerly wind greeted runners and soon after halfway, even for the leaders, this was accompanied by sleet. This made life miserable, especially for the slower runners in the second half of the race.”

2215 faced the starter (only 65 did not reach the finish) and a large group of over fifty formed at the front for the first three miles out the Perth Road and against the wind, but as the course swung around and runners enjoyed a following wind, the pace increased considerably and the bunch was reduced to around 20. It was Craig Ross who made the first serious break as the course turned back into the wind at 11 miles, and started to climb away from the Tay. By halfway, in around 69 minutes, he was pulling clear ……… For a couple of miles it looked as if Craig might run right away, but gradually the joint pre-race favourites, Charlie Haskett and Murray McNaught began to peg the lead back and by 17 miles shared the lead. The next few miles saw Murray hanging on as Charlie made his bid but on the last uphill climb towards the 22 mile point Murray made his move and soon pulled clear, running in an easy winner, almost three minutes clear of Craig Ross. Craig had stuck to his task well after being dropped and he enjoyed  his most rewarding marathon for some time. Doug Hunter ran a typically steady race for third place, and Don Ritchie took the veterans award, a week after running the London Marathon. The team race was won by Hawkhill Harriers, who comfortably beat Fife AC, the winners in the previous two years.   The women’s race was won by Ann Curtis, who led all the way and was rewarded with her first sub-2.50 clocking and a course record. The late rush by Tricia Calder was not quite enough and she was still 36 seconds behind Ann at the finish.   Murray’s winning time was only 41 seconds slower than his PB, and after what was on his own admission an unspectacular winter season, his ability to peak for the race that he was aiming for is highly commendable……. Mass participation road racing appears to be here to stay in Dundee.”

“Relay” is less serious in tone. “Who won his last victory at Babcock and Wilcox Sports in 1964? Who asked NOT to be made favourite for Dundee? Who looks like a Spaniard – so much so that the SAAA officials mistook him for one last year? Who showed on Snowy Sunday that he had convinced himself he was a winner? Who passed impetuous ex-FAC man Craig Ross and pulled three minutes clear of him and last year’s second-placer Charlie Haskett to cross the line with both blue gloves thrust skywards and last year’s winner shouting about him over the Radio Tay airwaves? Whose wife said of his victory, “I never expected anything else”? Yes, the answer is our latest Fife AC hero Murray McNaught, the architect of victory.”

 

1986 27th April: City of Dundee People’s Health Marathon

1    Colin Youngson (Aberdeen AAC) 2.20.03

2    Murray McNaught (Fife AC) 2.21.08

3    Sam Graves (Fife AC) 2.23.44

4    Craig Ross (DHH) 2.24.02

5    Peter McGregor (VPAAC) 2.29.24

6    C. Hoffman (2.32.02)

7    George Reynolds (Forres H) 2.32.09

8    E. Jones 2.32.16

9    Ken Duncan (Pitreavie AAC) 2.32.23

10  Mick Francis (Forres H) 2.33.17

 

1st Woman: Morag Taggart (Pitreavie AC) 3.06.40

2        E. Kyle 3.11.10

3        C. Chambers 3.12.37

4        U. Webernboerfer 3.13.40

5        M. Rabold 3.14.09

6        J. Armstrong 3.15.18

7        L. Simpson 3.16.50

8        E. McMurray 3.17.59

9        P. Webster 3.25.43

10    J. Baxter 3.27.33

Fewer runners entered: 1650.

 

The winner’s diary notes the following. “I did not do the pre-marathon diet but tried ginseng tablets with yeast and iron and avoided milk or cheese the week before the race. Nevertheless I had the usual problems with catarrh for ten miles. There was a headwind so the pace was slowish and about fifteen kept together. Suddenly, on a short steep hill about twelve miles, the group was down to three – Murray McNaught, George Reynolds and myself, with Sam (or Ian) Graves chasing. We dumped George, and then I mashed Murray up the big hill after 19 miles. He kept the gap to 65 seconds. Felt strong but underestimated the speed (thought it would only be about 2.23) and slowed a little to chat with the lead cyclist. Then, when I saw the finish clock in the distance, I had to go mental trying to sprint but just missed ducking under the magic 2.20. Still a good run for me at the age of 38.”

26 year-old Morag Taggart from Dunfermline said that she had hoped for a faster time but the hot conditions had not helped. “But it was a good race,” she enthused, “The spectators, especially, made the day.”

 

1987 26th April: City of Dundee Peoples Health Marathon

1                    Terry Mitchell (Fife AC) 2.22.19

2                    Charlie Haskett (DHH) 2.28

3                    Sam Graves (Fife AC) 2.29.13

4                    George Reynolds (DHH) 2.29.59

5                    Paul Briscoe (DHH) 2.32.54

9        Stuart Asher (Fife AC) 2.35.15

10    Doug Gunstone (Fife AC) 2.35.49

11    Bob Wood (Dundee RR) 2.36.55 1st Veteran

1st Woman: Jill Danskin (London Olympiades) 3.02.20

2    Margaret Robertson (Dundee RR) 3.09.04

3    M. Muir (Dundee RR) 3.12.16

Team: Dundee Hawkhill Harriers.

853 ran

 

“Relay”, the Fife AC magazine reported: “Phewwhatascorcha! screamed the Courier headline, and there was no denying that this year’s Dundee Marathon was indeed a warm affair, with temperatures in the 60s, a pleasant change from the usual wind and snow. Keeping cool at the front of the field was Fife AC’s distance dynamo, Terry Mitchell. The race was expected to be between Terry and Dundee Hawkhill’s Charlie Haskett, but an increase in pace along the waterfront section towards Broughty Ferry left Terry clear after ten miles. The fair-haired St Andrews chef went on to serve up a comfortable win, putting almost six minutes between himself and the second-placed Haskett. This was Fife’s fourth win in the men’s race, Don Macgregor having won it for the first two years, followed by an ’85 victory by Murray McNaught. As in ’85, Sam Graves was second Fife man home, this year’s third equalling his highest finish in the race.”

The Scottish Marathon Championship was included in this event, so Terry, Charlie and Sam were the SAAA gold, silver and bronze medallists. “The only problem was in the last six miles when I began to feel the pace a bit, but I got to the end okay,” said the victor.

 

24th April 1988: City of Dundee Health Marathon

1                    Sam Graves (Fife AC) 2.27.50

2                    Paul Briscoe (DHH) 2.29

3                    Stuart Asher (Fife AC) 2.29.40

4                    Rod Bell (DHH) 2.30

5                    Murray McNaught (Fife AC) 2.31

6                    Andy Stirling (Bo’ness) 2.31

1st Woman: Jill Danskin (London Olympiades) 3.01

 

“Relay” reported: “Fife athletes were out in force, as always, for this event and as always dominated the event. Weather conditions were favourable with a cool gentle breeze as the runners set off on their 26.2 mile task (must be mad). Murray McNaught took up the lead early on and remained in front for about 20 miles. Stuart Asher made his move after 15 miles by slotting into second place, but with Murray fading, it was Sam ‘When are my subs due?’ Graves who made a late burst to win this race at last. Fife AC picked up the team prize, with Sam, Stuart and Murray doing us proud.”

 

14th May 1989: City of Dundee Health Marathon

1                    Paul Briscoe (DHH) 2.33.14

2                    Bob Wood (DRR) 2.35.45 1st Veteran

3                    D. Lancaster (DHH) 2.36.48

4                    N. Craig 2.37.20

5                    Dave Hamilton (DHH) 2.37.23

6                    Rod Bell (DHH) 2.37.38

7                    Charlie Love (DHH) 2.40.34 2nd Veteran

8                    J. Lumsden 2.40.50

9                    Doug Gunstone (Fife AC) 2.42.33

10                Graham Flatters (DHH) 2.42.33

1ST Woman: Jill Danskin (London Olympiades) 3.00.39.

 

Jill Danskin, a team-mate and training partner of the illustrious Leslie Watson, became the most successful female competitor in the Dundee Marathon, with a third place in 1985 and three wins in succession from 1987-89.   Paul Briscoe ran for Dundee Hawkhill Harriers in the Edinburgh to Glasgow Relay; and won a team silver medal in the Scottish National Cross-Country Relay in 1990; plus a team bronze medal in the National CC in 1993.

 

1990 13th May: City of Dundee Marathon

1                    Stuart Asher (Fife AC) 2.28.57 1st Veteran

2                    Bob Wood (Dundee Road Runners) 2.29.17 2nd Veteran

3                    Paul Briscoe (DHH) 2.29.46

4                    Rod Bell (DHH) 2.32.58

5                    Dave Hamilton (DHH) 2.36.09

6                    Mitch McCreadie (Fife AC) 2.37.29

7                    Steve Borland (DHH) 2.37.42

8                    Mike McHale (Pitreavie) 2.38.21

9                    Richard Davidson (DRR) 2.38.45

10                D. McNicol (Fife AC) 2.38.56.

 

Stuart Asher, a good hill runner, is a quiet man with considerable athletic talent. He was understandably pleased to win his local marathon after a fine battle with the consistent Bob Wood and previous winner Paul Briscoe.

 

12th May 1991: City of Dundee ‘800’ Marathon

1                    Hugh Mackay (Fife AC) 2.26.03

2                    Rod Bell (DHH) 2.26.10

3                    Euan Wilkinson (Calderglen H) 2.29.22

4                    Dave Hamilton (DHH) 2.30.39

5                    Davie Fairweather (Cambuslang H) 2.31.00 1st Veteran

6                    Don Ritchie (Forres H) 2.32.03

7                    Stuart Asher (Fife AC) 2.32.30

8                    George Sim (Moray RR) 2.32.57

9                    Bob Wood (DHH) 2.33.39

10                Craig Ross (DHH) 2.35.29

 

1st Woman: Eileen Masson (Kilbarchan AC) 2.45.52

2nd Aileen Wilson (DHH) 2.56.35 1st Veteran

Eileen Masson also won the Scottish Women’s Marathon title twice: in 1988 (Aberdeen Marathon); and in 1991 (Inverclyde Marathon at Greenock).

Before he switched to Fife AC, in 1985 Hugh Mackay set club records for Dundee Hawkhill Harriers: 800m in 1.52.20 and 1500m in 3.48.3; so his ability to produce a sprint finish to win a competitive marathon was not surprising but his stamina certainly was!

Don Ritchie wrote in his training diary: “I ran in the ninth and final edition of the City of Dundee Marathon. My start was fine and I tucked in with the leading bunch, but I drifted off the back as I began to find the pace too hard to maintain. I was pleasantly surprised to regain contact with the group by the time we got to Riverside Drive. I got my first drink at nine miles, but had to stop to retrieve it from the table. This, plus trying to drink it caused me to lose contact with the group, but not with John Duffy of Shettleston. We ran past ten miles in 55.24 and the halfway point in 1.13.06, which was pleasing. Now, however, we were exposed to winds and our pace slowed.

I got my second drink, again 330 ml of 10% solution of Enduro Booster at 17.5 miles. At 18.5 miles we were joint 10th and I decided to try to push on and passed 20 miles in 1.55.50 and I was pulling in the runner ahead. There were some stiff climbs after this and I managed to catch and pass three runners in the last two miles, including George Sim, which was pleasing. My time was a little disappointing, but if I could have held onto the main group until the start of the return journey, I am sure that I could have produced a better time. I am, however, quite pleased with my run.”

 

Thus ended the City of Dundee Marathon, for nine years a successful race on a fast course. The event’s rise and fall coincided almost exactly with the boom years of Scottish, and indeed British, marathon running. Maybe the fashion will return in the 2020s?

 

 

Aberdeen Marathon

G Laing

Graham Laing: men’s winner in the first race

The seventies and eighties were wonderful decades for Scottish marathon runners – wherever you lived in the country, there was sure to be a marathon near you!    And the SAAA Championship was a dedicated race held in the Scottish Championships.   The Aberdeen Marathon was one of the best of these and Colin Youngson has written the following portrait of the race.

Despite the efforts of the incorrigible Alastair Wood and his staunch training partner Steve Taylor, who inspired many Aberdeen AAC runners to do well in the Scottish Marathon Championship, the Shettleston Marathon and other marathons in England, Europe and beyond, there was no post-war local full-distance marathon event, although there were plenty of long training races (from 10 miles to 21 miles) in the North, East or West of Scotland. And in fact every Sunday run with Wood and co was a race!

Fraser Clyne has written: “Marathon running didn’t return to Aberdeen until 1979 when Mel Edwards of Aberdeen AAC organised a race over a four-lap course at the Bridge of Don on the northern outskirts of the city, with the start and finish on the university running track at Balgownie. Graham Laing, making his marathon debut, won ….The race attracted a field of 62 runners (the biggest marathon held in Scotland) but this increased to a peak of 1,314 by 1984. Numbers declined from then on and when the race was last held in 1990, there were just 174 finishers.”

Aberdeen Marathon Winners

1979    16th September: Norco Aberdeen Marathon

1                    Graham Laing (Aberdeen AAC) 2.21.40

2                    Jim Brown (Clyde Valley AAC) 2.22.22

3                    Colin Youngson (Edinburgh Southern H) 2.27.44

4                    John Bigham (RAF Cosford) 2.28.00.

5                    Willie Day (Falkirk Victoria H) 2.29.33

6                    Doug Gunstone (EAC) 2.29.57

7                    Evan Cameron (ESH) 2.31.22

8                    John Lamont (AAAC) 2.34.46

9                    Colin Martin (AAAC) 2.34.58

10                Alastair Wood (Cambuslang H) 2.35.47 1st Vet

59th equal James Youngson (aged 66) 4.05.39

1st Team: AAAC; 2nd ESH.

1st Woman: Leslie Watson (London Olympiades) 3.01.06

2nd Elin Abom (Sweden) 3.55.08.

Leslie, of course, was the London physiotherapist, originally from Glasgow, who became an iconic figure in British marathon running, completing an amazing 206 marathons. She was Scottish marathon record holder and in 1981 set a world record for fifty miles in Connecticut, USA. Google Leslie Watson for more impressive achievements.

Leslie W

The route involved three and a half laps of the track and then out onto Balgownie Road then right for four gruelling left-hand-circle laps past Causewayend, Lower Bonnyside and Whitestripes Road, before going back down Balgownie Road and finishing with one lap of the track. 107 entered, including 8 women. 77 started and 60 finished.   Jim Brown, a tremendously successful Scottish and UK international cross-country and track runner, started fast, with Willie Day and Ian Elliot (ESH) for company. However by ten miles (54.06) Graham Laing had caught up. They ran together until 20 miles (1.47.45) before 20 year-old Graham moved away to victory.   My diary states: “Windswept, undulating, tiring course. Kept going slowly but quite strongly. During last lap, I came past Doug Gunstone and Willie Day (and the RAF runner John Bigham, who was sent off course). Reasonably okay effort.”

1980    28th September: City of Aberdeen Milk Marathon

1                    Graham Laing (Scotland) 2.19.33

2                    Don Faircloth (England) 2.21.46

3                    Mike Critchley (England) 2.23.18

4                    John Robertshaw (Wales) 2.24.16

5                    Paul Eales (England) 2.24.44

6                    Mick McGeoch (Wales) 2.25.36

7                    Don Macgregor (Scotland) 2.26.48 1st Vet

8                    Dic Evans (Wales) 2.28.03

9                    Evan Cameron (Scotland) 2.30.13

10                Jim Dingwall (Falkirk Victoria H) 2.30.40

11                Marty Deane (Northern Ireland) 2.30.55

12                Graham Milne (AAAC) 2.33.13

James Youngson (aged 67) 3.36.18

1 England; 2 Scotland; 3 Wales; 4 N. Ireland.

1st Woman: Margaret Chambers (Blaydon) 3.05.07

2nd Nancy McCraw (Teviotdale) 3.36.29

3rd Kim Boxell (Fife) 4.06.43

A brilliant run by the youthful newly-crowned Scottish Marathon Champion, Graham Laing, who outclassed the experienced 1970 Commonwealth Marathon bronze medallist Don Faircloth. Graham’s time, on the same exhausting course as before, was an excellent one.    The P and J reported: “Early on, Laing forged ahead of Bolton’s Mike Critchley the leading Englishman, and after ten miles had a 45 second advantage, which had become 2 minutes 18 seconds by 20 miles. He broke his own course record and reduced his personal best by 2 minutes 7 seconds. A well-judged race was run by Don Faircloth of Croydon, who moved from 6th in the second lap to second at the finish.”    Recently crowned World Veteran Marathon Champion Don Macgregor was a long way in front of his M40 challengers.

 

1981    27th September: City of Aberdeen Milk Marathon

1                    Max Coleby (England) 2.21.29

2                    Martin Knapp (England) 2.21.30

3                    Don Macgregor (Scotland) 2.21.52 1st Vet

4                    Fraser Clyne (Scotland) 2.23.36

5                    Dic Evans (Wales) 2.24.24

6                    Mick McGeoch (Wales) 2.24.41

7                    Evan Cameron (Scotland) 2.26.23

8                    Tim Hassell (England) 2.26.57

9                    Graham Milne (Scotland) 2.27.13

10                Doug Gunstone (Springburn H) 2.27.26

11                Peter Wilson (AAAC) 2.27.34

201st James Youngson (aged 68) 3.31.16

1st England; 2nd Scotland; 3rd Wales.

1st Woman: Katie Fitzgibbon (London Olympiades) 3.07.46

2nd Priscilla Welch (Shetland) 3.08.55

3rd Lynda Stott (AAAC) 3.21.12

Priscilla went on to become one of the greatest veteran marathon runners. Her peak performances included: sixth in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics; and at the age of 42, second in the London Marathon (2.26.51) and first in the New York Marathon.

This race took place in cold gale-force winds and driving rain. The new course finished in one of Aberdeen’s lovely grassy areas: Duthie Park. Before that, starting opposite the Beach Ballroom, it looped round Union Street, Riverside Drive and the harbour, then up the Esplanade and back down King Street, Riverside Drive, Holburn Street, Great Western Road, North Deeside Road, Maryculter Bridge, and the South Deeside Road.   Fraser Clyne was making his marathon debut and ‘went for it’ at 17 miles. Unfortunately, having pulled away, he ‘hit the wall’ and struggled home fourth. Max Coleby, an experienced GB international runner from the famous Gateshead Harriers, squeezed home after an exciting sprint against his team-mate Martin Knapp.

 

1982    19th September: City of Aberdeen Milk Marathon

1        Gerry Helme (England) 2.15.16

2        Ieuan Ellis (Wales) 2.16.47

3        Fraser Clyne (Scotland) 2.19.58

4        Colin Youngson (Scotland) 2.21.03)

5        Nigel Spiers (Wales) 2.22.36

6        Mick McGeoch (Wales) 2.23.14

7        Donald Ritchie (AAAC) 2.24.00

8        Jim Ashworth (England) 2.25.54

9        Sam Graves (Fife AC) 2.26.11

10    Peter Wilson (Scotland) 2.26.20

1st Vet Jim Ash (Beith H) 2.31.49

1 Wales; 2 Scotland; 3 England; 4 Northern Ireland.

 

1st Woman: Jacqui Hulbert (Wales) 2.52.20

2nd Lynda Stott (AAAC) 2.53.04

3rd Priscilla Welch (Shetland) 2.55.59

This race must have been a real tussle!

The route started on the Beach Boulevard, and then went down Union Street, Riverside Drive, past the harbour, up the Esplanade, King Street, Market Street, the harbour again, Riverside Drive, Holburn Street, Great Western Road, North Deeside Road, Maryculter Bridge, South Deeside Road, Riverside Drive, the harbour and finished next to the Beach Boulevard.

My diary notes: “Cool day. Not much wind. Facing wrong way when Provost fired gun prematurely! Shot off up hill into Union Street, then in behind Fraser. Broke away from Gerry and Ieuan (rest well dropped). 5 miles in 25.03! Caught by Gerry then dropped him on the cobbles. 10m 50.47 – too fast. Hung on up Holburn and out Great Western Road past Grampian TV but had to let go at the hour, in Mannofield. Kept going steadily, though passed by Gerry. Ieuan flew past at 18 miles – slight headwind. Plodded on for the last eight miles – very tired but trying hard and held off the pursuers by one and a half minutes. Fraser blew up last two miles, but didn’t see him until last half mile. A good try. Not very smart tactics, though.”

Gerry Helme, from St Helens on Merseyside (who went on to run a wonderful 2.10.12 in the 1983 London Marathon) had recorded the fastest-ever time on the fastest course for the Aberdeen Marathon. Ieuan Ellis was seventh (2.15.12) in the 1986 Edinburgh Commonwealth Games and recorded a personal best (2.13.21) in that year’s Beijing Marathon. Fraser Clyne lost three minutes to Ellis in the last three miles. However he soon became one of Scotland’s best-ever marathon runners, with a 1985 PB of 2.11.50 when he was second in the US Marathon Championships in Sacramento.   Jim Ash – an extremely durable athlete – for several years lived in Peterhead and worked as a fire and safety officer with Shell Expro at St Fergus gas terminal before being transferred to Fife.

 

1983    18th September: City of Aberdeen Milk Marathon

1                    Kevin Johnson (England) 2.19.01

2                    Trevor Hawes (Wales) 2.19.41

3                    Calum Bark (England) 2.19.57

4                    Marty Deane (Northern Ireland) 2.20.08

5                    Dave Hill (England) 2.21.27

6                    Peter Wilson (Scotland) 2.21.53

7                    Mick McGeoch (Wales) 2.24.18

8                    Charlie Haskett (Dundee Hawkhill H) 2.24.57

9                    Don Ritchie (Scotland) 2.25.20

10                Ian Moncur (Forres H) 2.27.47

11                Craig Ross (AAAC) 2.28.42

12                Billy Brannigan (Northern Ireland) 2.30.40 1st M40

13                Alastair Wood (AAAC) 2.31.48 1st M50!

14                G. Williamson (N.I.) 2.32.16

15                Jim Ash (Beith H) 2.32.55

16                Sam Graves (Fife AC) 2.33.00

17                Murray McNaught (Fife AC) 2.34.46

18                Steve Brown (Wales) 2.36.04

1 England; 2 Wales; 3 Northern Ireland.

1600 started.

1st Woman: Lynda Bain (AAAC) 2.50.29

2nd Jacqui Hulbert (Wales) 2.56.20

3rd Morag Taggart (AAAC) 3.07.08

Marriage obviously suited the former Lynda Stott’s rapidly improving marathon form. The quietly –spoken librarian, who only started running in 1981, had fitted in seven marathons before this one, when she won a gold medal in this, the very first Scottish Women’s Marathon Championship. Jacqui Hulbert had made a bold attempt to retain her title but tired badly with four miles to go. Lynda Bain surged past to secure a clear victory.

Previous winner Graham Laing (Scotland) tried to break the field and was two minutes clear at 14 miles. However he had underestimated the effect of running alone into powerful winds (which blew down the Press tent) and dropped out at 18 Miles, shortly after he was passed by a more cautious pack of three Englishmen, a Welshman and a Northern Irishman. Kevin Johnson, a 25 year-old Geordie from Elswick Harriers, finished most strongly. Local Hero Alastair Wood broke the M50 record by twelve minutes. Scottish Marathon Champion Peter Wilson was awarded the A.J.M. Edwards Trophy for the leading AAAC runner and, as first finisher from the North-East, won an all-expenses-paid trip to the following April’s Milk Run in Boston USA! Sadly, this proved to be a one-off prize.

 

1984    16th September: City of Aberdeen Milk Marathon

1                    Mark Burnhope (England) 2.19.36

2                    George Reynolds (Scotland) 2.21.04

3                    Alan Catley (England) 2.21.09

4                    Charlie Haskett (Scotland) 2.21.37)

5                    Colin Brown (England) 2.22.37)

6                    Colin Youngson (Scotland) 2.23.36)

7                    Noel McEntaggart (Eire) 2.23.51

8                    Nick Jobson (Blaydon H) 2.26.25

9                    Don Ritchie (AAAC) 2.26.35 1st Vet

10                Mick Walsh (Eire) 2.27.54

11                1st Team: England; 2nd Team: Scotland; 3rd Eire; 4th N. Ireland.

2400 entered the race but only 1313 actually ran.

1st Woman: Lynda Bain (AAAC) 2.41.41

2nd Margaret Baillie (Fife) 3.00.57

3rd Morag Taggart (Pitreavie) 3.10.02

Lynda made a rapid start to defend her Scottish title. She took three minutes off Leslie Watson’s Scottish Native record. This was Lynda’s seventh PB in ten marathon outings. After representing GB in the 1984 Kosice Marathon in Czechoslovakia, she went on to improve to an excellent 2.33.37 (another Scottish record) when seventh in the 1985 London Marathon. Sadly injuries prevented further progress.

My diary states: “Dull, overcast day, bit of a breeze, drizzle sometimes. Off fastish up the prom but the pace slowed into the wind and a big pack of 18 stayed together to 10 miles (very slow 55 minutes). Pushed up the hills from Garthdee and six got away. Hung on along the North Deeside Road but after Milltimber Bridge, the rest escaped on the South Deeside Road. Lost a struggle with Colin Brown and then had to fight hard to keep clear of Noel McEntaggart. Could have been worse. Respectable at least.”   Up front, George Reynolds (originally from Kinloch Rannoch) and Charlie Haskett (from Dundee) were leading at 20 miles when they heard the fateful patter of large English feet, as Mark Burnhope, a 24 year-old from Wolverhampton, loomed alongside and before long moved away for victory. George just managed to hold on to second place at the Beach Boulevard – and was rewarded with a gold medal in the Scottish Marathon Championship, which was reserved for Scots only on this occasion.

1985    15th September: City of Aberdeen Milk Marathon

1                    David Catlow (England) 2.22.54

2                    Colin Youngson (Scotland) 2.23.58

3                    Mick Woods (Eire / Rest of Europe) 2.25.24

4                    Dic Evans (Wales) 2.26.11

5                    Richard Tough (England) 2.27.19

6                    Doug Cowie (Scotland) 2.27.59

7                    Alan Jeffries (1st Vet – Wales)

8                    Eddy Lee (Wales)

9                    Paul Wheeler (England) 2.29.53

10                Robin Thomas (Hunters Bogtrotters) 2.33.57

1 England; 2 Wales 3 Europe 4 Scotland

1st Woman: Ann Curtis (Livingston) 2.55.55

2nd Teresa Kidd (Dublin) 3.01.09

3rd Janine Robertson (AAAC) 3.01.57

English-born Dr Ann Curtis raced away with the Scottish Women’s Marathon title. First native Scot was Janine Robertson, who won a trip to New York in what was only her second marathon.

My diary states: “Blustery day. Union Street, then Holburn. Pushed it a bit because slow (26.45 at five). Four got away into the prom headwind. After the Bridge of Don, right for a bit then left up an undulating country road, heading for Dyce. DC moved away at 19 miles. Overtook RT, and stuck 80 yards behind Dave until 23 miles but then ran out of steam and sagged to the finish. A good try on an awkward day and a tougher course.”

 

1986    25th May: City of Aberdeen Milk Marathon

1                    Ray Maule (England) 2.22.52

2                    Neil Featherby (England) 2.23.53

3                    Kevin Best (England) 2.24.58

4                    Colin Youngson (Scotland) 2.27.55

5                    Allan Adams (Scotland) 2.29.10 1st Vet

6                    Alan Rich (England) 2.32.22

7                    Peter Wilson (Aberdeen AAC) 2.32.45

8                    Doug Cowie (Scotland) 2.34.37

9                    Don Ritchie (Scotland) 2.36.53

10                Brian Howie (ESH) 2.41.25

1 England; 2 Scotland.

248 finished a difficult course on a very windy day.

1st Woman: Stephanie Quirk (Isle of Man) 2.58.57

2nd Janine Robertson (AAAC) 3.16.15

3rd Morag Taggart (Pitreavie) 3.21.26

Stephanie Quirk, a 29 year-old physiotherapist, won the Scottish title, knocking nine minutes of her previous best. She was based in Kendal and enjoyed some success as a fell runner. She finished well clear of Janine Robertson and Morag Taggart, who pocketed her third championship bronze in four years.

Ray Maule, a 32 year-old planning engineer who ran for Coventry Godiva Harriers, made his move at 21 miles. Neil Featherby from Norfolk was next; and then Kevin Best, a fireman based at RAF Buchan. Colin Youngson, who had won the Dundee Marathon only four weeks previously, was dropped at seventeen miles and struggled towards the end. Allan Adams, a late replacement in the Scottish team for Dave Clark, finished very strongly to claim the veteran prize.

 

1987    24th May: City of Aberdeen Milk Marathon

1                    Ian Corrin (England) 2.27.42

2                    Colin Youngson (Aberdeen AAC) 2.29.21

3                    Rob Hall (Scotland) 2.29.54

4                    Jim Goldring (England) 2.30.08

5                    Garry Webb (England) 2.30.15

6                    Doug Cowie (Scotland) 2.30.49

7                    Mick McGeoch (Wales) 2.30.54

8                    Arwel Lewis (Wales) 2.30.59

9                    Richard Bullen (Wales) 2.31.00

10                Bobby Ronald (Scotland) 2.31.09

11                Don Ritchie (Scotland) 2.34.27 1st Vet

12                1 England; 2 Scotland; 3 Wales.

296 started.

 

1st Woman: Carol-Ann Gray (EAC) 3.17.12

2nd Margaret Oliver (AAAC) 3.17.27

3rd Sheila Cluley (Forfar) 3.19.49

There was no shortage of drama in this race. Welsh athlete Sue Graham had built up a big lead when she keeled over at the 22 mile point and had to be rushed to hospital with exhaustion. 23 year-old Carol-Anne Gray just managed to overhaul Margaret Oliver to win the Scottish title by fourteen seconds.

My diary states: “Easy enough start. Four drifted away – Ian Corrin and Dave Jenkin from England, Mick McGeoch and myself. After the Bridge of Don there were fifteen miles of headwind and hills – a hopeless course. DJ pushed it on downhills and got away at 18 miles. IC passed us both by 21. Tired but plodded on. Caught DJ at 23 (he dropped out at 25!) Struggled in. A poor time but could be worse – beat the so-called Scottish team! (I had won the Lochaber Marathon four weeks earlier and had not been selected for Aberdeen.) Finally completed my 50th race of marathon distance or longer, without dropping out yet.”

Afterwards, I told the press: “Considering the quality of the athletes taking part today, the finishing times are ridiculously slow, and although it is fair to say that the wind was very strong in places, really the blame lies mainly with the course. Unless the route is changed and we are not asked to run on cobbled streets, the times will remain poor.” Ian Corrin, a 33 year-old Liverpudlian, agreed, saying that: “That last mile is the hardest I have had to endure. It really was terrible.”

 

1988    22nd May: City of Aberdeen Milk Marathon

1                    Hammy Cox (Scotland) 2.21.15

2                    Frank Harper (Scotland) 2.22.20

3                    Alan Robson (ESH) 2.25.03

4                    Dave Jenkin (England) 2.25.55

5                    Doug Cowie (Scotland) 2.26.21

6                    Owen Lewis (Wales) 2.26.40

7                    Jim Goldring (England) 2.27.03

8                    Tegid Roberts (Wales) 2.27.18

9                    Arwel Lewis (Wales) 2.27.20

10                Colin Youngson (Scotland) 2.28.38 1st Vet

11                Don Ritchie 2.29.50

More than 400 ran.

1st Team: Scotland; 2 Wales; 3 England.

1st Woman: Eileen Masson (Kilbarchan) 2.47.23

2nd Sue Graham (Wales) 3.01.38

3rd Margaret Stafford (AAAC) 3.10.01

This time, Sue Graham ran well all the way to the finish but had to be content with second as Eileen Masson stormed home for an impressive victory in the Scottish Women’s Marathon Championship.

The Press and Journal reported: “The police garage mechanic who put the brakes on England’s seven-year domination of the Aberdeen Milk Marathon has his sights on new horizons. For Hammy Cox, the 30 year-old Greenock Glenpark Harrier, is hungry for a British cap. Said Cox, ‘On the whole, Aberdeen is a much tougher course than Glasgow. The second half of the race is really difficult.’”

By twelve miles, Hammy and Frank Harper from Pitreavie had dropped Dave Jenkin. They reached halfway in 69.20 and at 14 miles outpaced Owen Lewis. Then Cox moved away at 18 miles to a clear victory over his hard-training team-mate. Alan Robson paced himself well to be the first club runner home in third. Jenkin made up for dropping out the previous year, before Buckie’s Doug Cowie, an RAF runner, wrapped up the international team honours with a strong finish in fifth place.

1989    28th May: City of Aberdeen Milk Marathon

1                    Ian Bloomfield (England) 2.22.30

2                    Terry Mitchell (Scotland) 2.24.53

3                    Mick McGeoch (Wales) 2.25.57

4                    Nigel Barlow (England) 2.26.09

5                    Rob Hall (Scotland) 2.29.35

6                    Arwel Lewis (Wales) 2.30.51

7                    Colin Youngson (Scotland) 2.31.23 1st Vet

8                    David Bond (England) 2.32.24

9                    Eric Williams (England) 2.33.16

10                Charlie McIntyre (Fraserburgh) 2.40.46

11                Don Ritchie 2.41.42

1st Team: England 13 points; 2nd Team: Scotland 14 points; 3rd Wales.

1st Woman: Liz Hughes (Wales) 2.54.24

2nd Margaret Stafford (AAAC) 3.06.36

3rd Linda Trahan (Inverurie) 3.14.42

Liz Hughes, a 32 year-old university geography research officer, won Scottish gold in a time that knocked 12 minutes off her previous best, set when winning the Welsh title on her marathon debut at Bridgend in 1987. Margaret Stafford set a PB in winning a silver medal, while Linda Trahan took twenty minutes off her previous best, set just four weeks earlier at Lochaber.

Russell Smith reported in the P and J: “Ian Bloomfield said of the blustery conditions: ‘It was tough, bloody tough.’ The 36 year-old Chester-le-Street local government officer dominated the race, leading for nineteen miles. This was his third marathon in ten weeks. Previously he had finished sixth in New Delhi and had won the Belfast event. St Andrews chef Terry Mitchell raised a faint hope that the Scots might win the team prize when he took a brave second place. However England scraped home by one point. Don Ritchie, the man who confounded everyone with a new John o’ Groats-Land’s End record in early April, returned to competitive action.”

Ian Bloomfield became Scottish Marathon Champion; Terry Mitchell claimed silver; and Mick McGeoch (the most cheerful Welshman ever) won bronze.

1990: City of Aberdeen Milk Marathon

1                    Chris Tall (England) 2.23.32

2                    Stan Markley (England) 2.24.53

3                    Brian McEvoy (England) 2.25.46

4                    Charlie McIntyre (Scotland) 2.26.50

5                    Dic Evans (Wales) 2.27.46 1st Vet

6                    Paul Smith (Wales) 2.28.11

7                    Don Ritchie (Scotland) 2.31.00

8                    Raymond Hubbard (Scottish Marathon Club) 2.31.31

9                    Jonathan Hooper (Wales) 2.32.04

10                D. Cowie (Scotland) 2.32.55

(Dropped out for the first time ever at 20 miles – Colin Youngson (Scotland)

1st Team: England; 2 Wales; 3 Scotland.

1st Woman: Liz Hughes (Wales) 2.49.47

2nd Diana Jermieson (AAAC) 3.25.08

3rd Joan Molloy (AAAC) 3.33.27

Liz Hughes successfully defended her Scottish title with another personal best time, while local runners Diana Jermieson and Joan Molloy took home the silver and bronze awards. The first three won the medals in the Scottish Marathon Championship.

The P and J reported: “30 year-old Chris Tall from Aldershot raced home as a powerful team of English runners dominated the eleventh Aberdeen Marathon. Tall’s victory was his fifth successive marathon win and his first race in Scotland.” (The three Englishman were awarded gold, silver and bronze in the Scottish Marathon Championship.) “Top Scot was Charlie McIntyre from Sandhaven who completed what he considered one of his proudest days by running for Scotland in Aberdeen and finishing a creditable fourth.”

This was to be the final Aberdeen Marathon, a well-organised and challenging event not only for local runners but also for many visitors. The Home International series brought good class runners from all over Britain; many fine performances were produced; and competitors enjoyed excellent hospitality, mainly funded by the generous main sponsors: Aberdeen City Council and especially the Aberdeen and District Milk Marketing board. Happy memories!

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