Greenock Glenpark Harriers

GGH Hodelet

Dick Hodelet

Inter-Club fixtures were a big part of the scene when I first came into athletics: and it’s a part that I am sorry to have seen disappear from the calendar.  There are many more road races in the twenty first century than there were in the mid-twentieth but my own opinion is that while almost all of the races we ran in then were meaningful events, too many at present are just ‘more of the same’.    The number of 10K’s on the programme now is far too many to make any sense and any permit system worthy of the name would surely weed some of them out.    I would gladly see some space left in the programme for the inter-clubs to be reinstated.  The programme at that time included several inter-club runs, ie one or more clubs visiting another with the host club providing the accommodation, the trail and hospitality afterwards.   The hospitality invariably included burnt sausage rolls and home-made cakes, often Empire Biscuits.   Our own club shared an inter-club with Garscube Harriers at the Victoria Park HQ at Milngavie the week before the National every year and we hosted them at another time of the year; we also had annual fixtures with Springburn and Vale of Leven.   One of our favourites however was the one with Glenpark at Greenock.   There was the exotic trip across the Clyde on the Erskine Ferry, the drive down through Fort Matilda and Port Glasgow to Greenock and it was always well attended with four or five carloads at least making the journey.   Then there was the trail – starting through the streets of Greenock from the Orangefield Pavilion, up over the Lyle Hill with the Free French Memorial Cross of Lorraine at its high point before the batter back down the hill and back to Orangefield.   Every club had its own unique selling point – Glenpark had nice wee tables for four complete with tablecloths and you could sit like civilised people and have your sausage roll, sandwiches and Empire Biscuit in comfort.   We often had track competitions with then too at the old Ravenscraig track.   On one occasion it was a three-way with Wellpark also running.   Glenpark was always a good club which at that time was producing a lot of very good middle distance runners – cross-country international victors and medallists, and even Olympians among them.   In the International Cross-Country Championship, for instance,

James Wilson won the ICCU race at Belvoir Park, Belfast in 1920;

George CL Wallach was second at Chesham Park, England in 1914, and

third in 1911 at Caerleon Racecourse, Wales in 1911.

Wilson also won the bronze medal in the 10000m in the Antwerp Olympics in 1920.

This club profile concentrates on the period immediately after the Way when they were genuine competition for the very best clubs of the time and indeed won medals in the Edinburgh to Glasgow – not easy when we know already how good Victoria Park, Shettleston and Bellahouston were not to mention Wellpark, Springburn, Clydesdale and Edinburgh Southern were.

The club had been successful before the war and had won the ‘most meritorious medals’ in the last pre-war race in 1939 when they were seventh behind Maryhill, Bellahouston, Shettleston, Plebeian, Garscube and Dundee Thistle Harriers with a team that included Alex McLean on the long  leg and J Wilson on the second stage.    Alex Maclean, who won so much in the colours of Bellahouston Harriers after the war had started out as a Glenpark Harrier and won the club cross-country championship six times, and also won the Renfrewshire 7 miles cross-country championship and track 3 miles title.   He also won the British Territorial Army championship in 1939 and resolved to retire when the war started.   He was talked into coming back into the sport by none other than Sydney Wooderson in 1942.   It was a big loss when he joined Bellahouston on his return to Civvy Street.

The war interrupted many careers and deprived many clubs the pleasure of seeing a good squad mature the way it would have liked.   At the start of the 1946-47 season, there was no sign of Glenpark in either the Dundee Kingsway Relay or the McAndrew Relay at Scotstoun either but there were signs of promise in the newly established Clydesdale Harriers Youth Race in November 1946 when W Williamson finished third after ‘a real dust-up’ with T Millar of Kilbarchan for second place.   Further down the field was D Kennedy who was fifteenth and a member of the winning Ballot Team.   The first real test for the seniors however was in the South Western District Relays where there were three teams from Greenock forward – Glenpark, Wellpark and the now defunct Auchmountain Harriers.    The race resulted in a victory for West Kilbride from Auchmountain and Wellpark with Glenpark finishing fifth of the 18 teams in the race.   In the South Western Championships however, the team was third behind Auchmountain and West Kilbride with their top man, William Mclean being second and W Williamson finishing third.   Other counting runners were J McNab 13, J Blackwood 19, J McCall 20 and R Delussy 23.   When it came to the National Championships at Hamilton in March however, Glenpark in seventh place was easily the first of the teams from the South Western District to finish – the runners were D Turner 30, T Mearns 44, W McLean 53, J McNab 71, B Leitch 74, and C Berry 75.

Into winter 1947-48 and, like Wellpark and Auchmountain, Glenpark did not run in the McAndrew Relays at Scotstoun but did put forward a team in the Renfrewshire Relay on 8th November in Paisley and, taking the lead at the end of the third lap they went on to win with W Williamson running a good last lap in 16:41.   The report concluded Glenpark, a fine balanced team by their times, Turner 16:46, Armstrong 16:52, W McLean 16:40 and W Williamson, 16:41, deserved their victory for their concentrated effort.”   McLean and Williamson were fourth and fifth fastest times.   For the record second and third were Bellahouston B (2nd) and Bellahouston A (3rd) with Alex Mclean being third fastest time.  In the National Novice Championship at Pollok on 22nd November and they finished seventh – again the first South Western team by a distance, West Kilbride being fifteenth.   Top club runner was W Armstrong in fifth.   In the same issue of the ‘Scots Athlete’ Emmet Farrell said that the main feature of the South  Western Relays was the title changing hands and going to Glenpark.   In the race itself (held at Beith in December),    The report read that the trail was very heavy, ‘taking in two ploughs’.   At the end of the first lap, Adamson of West Kilbride led veteran D Turner of Glenpark but on the second stage W Armstrong moved into the lead.   W McLean handed over a 70 yard lead to young W Williamson who had some job to hold off Internationalist J Reid of West Kilbride.   He managed it however to see his team win by 10 yards – the runners and times were Turner 14:53,  Armstrong 14:52, McLean 14:39 and Williamson 14:31.   They also had first B team home, they finished ninth of fifteen teams forward.      Williamson was second fastest of the day behind Reid.   This all led Emmet Farrell to say, “In the South West District Junior Championship, I fancy Greenock Glenpark to win the championship held by the other Greenock club, Auchmountain Harriers who of course suffer the usual depletion of a winning team rising to Senior status.    For individual honours, the issue appears open but W McLean of Glenpark Harriers and J Fisher of Ayr, 2nd and 3rd last year, both appear to be sound chances as should W Williamson of Glenpark.”   The forecast wasn’t too far out – Fisher won by 10 seconds from Williamson with  McLean third.   And Glenpark won the team title with 62 points to Doon Harriers’ 131.   The team was W Williamson, W McLean, W Elder 10, J Armstrong 14 D Morrison 15 and B Leitch 18.    Willie Elder would of course go on to be a tremendous club servant filling the difficult position of secretary for many, years before his early death.        In the National Championships they were in the top ten, just when the club was led home by W McLean in fifth place with other counters being D Turner 17, W Elder 81, B Leitch 82, D Berry 90 and W Fullerton 97.   In the Youths Race they were sixth with the runners being J Armstrong 6, S Williamson 24, J Aitchison 42 and H Beaton 48.   In his annual review of the year, Emmet Farrell opined that W Williamson had the ability to match and maybe even outdo some of the established stars and mentioned his beating of all the Bellahouston strs in the South estern championship.   W McLean made the Scottish team for the interational for the first and only time that year and finished forty ninth.

Glenpark sent a not one, but three teams to the Victoria Park Road Relay on 3rd October, 1948, with the first team finishing eighth.   The men were W McLean 16:26, : W Elder 17:02,S Williamson 17:07 and W Williamson 16:29.    On 20th November, the team was eleventh , led home by S Williamson in 18th place of the 251 starters.  Then in the South Western Relay in December, an interesting race saw them lose their title to local rivals Wellpark by 45 seconds.   There were twenty teams forward for the trail from Wellpark HQ which consisted of one and a half miles country with half a mile road at the start and again at the finish.   Not in the first three at the end of the first lap, Glenpark took the lead on the second thanks to H Beaton.   John Stevenson took the lead on the third stage and handed over a six second advantage to brother Tom.    The chase by W Williamson proved futile though and Tom Stevenson came home a comfortable winner with the fastest time of the day,   Williamson was third fastest and the Glenpark team and times was S Williamson 12:38, H Beaton 12:55, W McLean 12:51 and W Williamson 12:10.    Showing strength in depth they had the first second team (8th) and were the only club with three teams out (C Team was sixteenth out of twenty).    This was fairly significant in that the first post-war Edinburgh to Glasgow Relay was to be held in April 1949.  In his preview of the National Championships Emmet Farrell named W Williamson and W McLean among those who should run prominently.    The club had not done well in the South Western Championships, finishing only ninth but few of their top me were out in the race, S Williamson leading the club home in twentieth place.   It was a bit different in the National although the finishing place was also ninth.   The men in the team were W Williamson 13, J Grant 35, W McLean 43, W Elder 86, C Berry 102 and B Leitch 106.   Strangely enough, S Williamson was 13th in the Youths race with H Beaton 42, JK Aitchison 71 and and W Cooper 77.   But the big relay was still to come – the first post-war Edinburgh to Glasgow was held on  23rd April 1949.

First off for Glenpark was W McLean and they could not have had a better start – he was second, four seconds behind Shettleston and four seconds in front of Victoria Park with the next club 49 seconds back.   J Grant ran the second stage – and he held on to second place with the third fastest time of the day while VPAAC dropped back to fourth.   The third stage was covered for the club by B Leitch who dropped to fourth, thanks to first class runs from the Garscube and VP runners who moved into second and third.   H Beaton dropped back to sixth and then Willie Elder dropped another place to seventh.   Top gun W Williamson ran the long sixth stage for the club and brought them back up to fourth with second fastest time of the day behind George Craig of Shettleston and 25 second faster than Alex Mclean running for Bellahouston on the same stage.    S Williamson held the place with the second fastest run on Seven and on the last leg D Turner kept fourth with third quickest on the stage.   The award for the most meritorious unplaced performance of the race went to Vale Of Leven AAC in eighth place in their first run in the event, having been founded only three years previously.   There were many good scalps taken that day – Edinburgh Southern, Maryhill and others – and the club had had four outstanding runs, on stages one, two, six and seven with a very good one on eight.

In the Edinburgh to Glasgow in November that year, there was no W McLean – but there was an A McLean but no A McLean in the Bellahouston Harriers team sheet.   Alex had returned to Glenpark.   However the team in November was a bit different from that of April.   S Williamson ran the first stage this time and finished fifth and was followed by W Williamson on the tough second leg who moved up to thrid with the third fastest time of the day.   B Leitch on the third stage had the second quickest run of the day to keep a hold on third place before J Grant dropped back to fourth.   H Beaton on five and A McLean (second fastest on Six) held the place as did I Sinclair and D Farren on the last two stages for the club to finish fourth again.   The most meritorious medals this time went to Edinburgh University in fifth place.   That was November, but how about the rest of the 1949-50 season?

It started with a very good third place in the Victoria Park Relays at Scotstoun,The team of W Elder 16:50, A Mclean 16:03, S Williamson 16:32 and W Williamson 16:20 was remarkably even paced and Alex Mclean was fifth fastest of the day.   On to the South Western District Relays where the A team was second and the B team sixth.   The A team was H Beaton 14:27, S Williamson 14:16, A Mclean 13:50 and W Williamson 13:56 and W Williamson was fifth fastest time.   The B team were all in the 14:40’s.   On 2nd January there was a new race run – the Helensburgh to Clydebank which would transform itself into the Clydebank to Helensburgh by the next running but it was run in January 1950 and was won by Alex McLean in 95:03 – an excellent time for the largely uphill course and run in January!   A month later – 5th February, Glenpark won the South Western District Championships with Alex Mclean taking second place in 46:22, just one second ahead of Willie Williamson in third.   The team was McLean, W Williamson, A Williamson 7, J Grant 10, H Beaton 12, W Elder 13.   Emmet was quite clear in his forecast for the National championship that Alex Mclean would be in the team for the international.  It was not to be however – there was no finishing team from Glenpark and Mclean was down in sixteenth position, with W Elder 97, B Leitch 112, C Berry  132 and T Mearns 138.

Despite the good result a year earlier, there was no Glenpark team in the 1950 Victoria Park Relay at the start of October but on the 28th of the month they ran a team in the Renfrewshire Relay where they finished third behind Bellahouston and Wellpark Harriers, Their team was S Williamson 14:25, A McLean 14:32, J Grant 14:43 and W Williamson 14:16.   W Williamson was third fastest on the day.   On 4th November they were fourth in the South Western District Relay with the same quartet running in times of 14:34, 14:45, 14:31 and 14:27.   The Edinburgh to Glasgow was held on 18th November and was to prove very significant for the Greenock club.   S Williamson had a good Stage One to cross the line in fifth place only 30 seconds down on the leader, F Bradley of Monkland and one place behind Ian Binnie.   J Grant on the second stage had a very good run to pull the club up to first place, 45 seconds ahead of Shettleston and in the fastest time of the stage by 29 seconds.   J Osborne on the third stage managed to hold on to first place but the lead was cut to 12 seconds by J Smart of Edinburgh Southern.   On to the fourth stage where W Williamson had a poor run for him and dropped to fourth place and Willie McLean ran well enough but could only hold on to fourth place before handing over to Alex McLean on the long 7 miles downhill leg who pulled in one place with fourth quickest time on the stage.   Willie Elder dropped down to fourth before W Armstrong overtook Edinburgh Southern to clinch the third place medals.   To win a medal of any colour in the Edinburgh to Glasgow was always a tremendous feat but at that point in the history of Scottish endurance running, it was a wonderful performance.   After finishing fourth and fourth, third was a just reward for their efforts.

 In the South Western District Championships on 3rd February 1951, the team was second after a great example of team packing – their first runner was 10th and their last scoring man was 17th!   The heroes were C Fitzharris 10, J Grant 11, W McLean 14, H Beaton 15, A McLean 16 and J Armstrong 17.   The race was won by Irvine YMCA and Wellpark Harriers were third.   After the great team results of the winter, the National was a bit of a disappointment: the team was tenth and the first counter was Alex Mclean in 25th with Willie Mclean in 44th, W Williamson 63rd, D Farren 85th, C Berry 96th and T Mearns 97th.

Cross-Country season 1951-52 started with the McAndrew Relay on 6th October when their squad was seventh and runners were S Williamson in 16:23, A Mclean in 16:20, J Osborne in 17:06 and W Armstrong in 16:42.   On 27th October in the South Western Relays, the club was second to Irvine YMCA by seven seconds.   The team was I Osborne in 14:19, W Armstrong in 13:34, J Grant 14:15 and S Williamson in 13:59.   The Edinburgh to Glasgow was held this time on 19th November and the club sent out S Williamson to do duty for them on the first stage.   He finished sixth, one place and seven seconds ahead of Ben Bickerton of Shettleston Harriers and 70 seconds down on the first man.   The baton was passed to J Grant who moved up one place with fourth fastest time of the day.   He  was followed by H Beaton who dropped all the way from fifth to tenth.   The long climb back up the field was started by W Armstrong on the next leg who moved up to eighth with fourth fastest time and then W McLean took the club up two more places to sixth before Alex McLean dropped back down to seventh on the ferocious competition of the sixth stage.   Two stages to go and H Coll held on to seventh before J Osborne moved up one place to sixth n the last stage.   But for the third stage, the team could have been among the medals again.   In the Renfrewshire Championships in Pollok Park on 9th January 1952, the team was second to Bellahouston with Alex Mclean leading them home in fifth place.   The remainder of the team was J Osborne 9, J Armstrong 14, H Coll 15, S Williamson 19 and J Grant 20.   There was no senior team in the Nationals in 1952 but the Junior team of I Osborne 12, S Williamson 20, W Muir 56 and W Soutar 62 was tenth and there was one runner in the Youths race – J Gillon was sixth.

This section of the website is called The Fast Pack and this particular group of Glenpark Harriers had no star – unless it was Alex Mclean who was arguably past his peak when he returned – and the results obtained were the result of teamwork.   It was teamwork which led to their two fourth places in the Edinburgh to Glasgow and to the club taking bronze in the event in an age when the standard was remarkably high in Scotland.   Well worth a place in any fast pack!

The club history as presented at the club centenary dinner in 1992 can be found   at this link

 

Glasgow University

GU Group

Back Row: Ray Baillie in the middle and Nick Rogers second from the left

Second Row: Tor Denstad,  Terry Kerwin,  Craig Sharp, Brian Scobie, Willie Diverty, Brian Kennedy

Front Row: Allan Faulds, Calum Laing, Dick Hartley and Cameron Shepherd

It is unusual for any University team to make it to the top in team competition for many reasons.   First there is the regular turnover of students as they arrive and graduate.   There was a time when the ‘chronic’ was a feature in every university – the student who went on either doing degree after degree and never working for a living, but these days are gone.   Second a habit seems to be developing, or have developed for students, after graduation, moving to another establishment for their PhD and increasingly they are leaving the country.   Third we have a situation where many, if not most, students continue to represent their clubs while studying rather than temporarily transfer allegiance to the University team.    Rumour has it that Bobby Calderwood of VPAAC was one of the very first to keep on racing for his club team during his student days, and certainly when Glasgow University won the ScotUnis eight times in succession in the 80’s several prominent members only ran for them in Scottish or British University competition while competing against them for the rest of the year.    It is therefore  not all that common for any University squad to reach the heights.

When we talk of good University teams the immediate point of reference is the great Edinburgh University runners who won the Edinburgh to Glasgow Relay three times in the late 60’s and were running well right into the 70’s.   But before their heyday, the Glasgow University team was hailed as the best ever Scottish University team.   Several very good runners just happened to appear at the same time, to prefer to run for GUAC or GU Hares and Hounds and to enjoy each other’s company.    The names fondly remembered by those who saw them come easily to mind: in alphabetical order they were Ray Baillie, Jim Bogan, Tor Denstad, Allan Faulds, Douglas Gifford, Calum Laing, Nick Rogers, Cameron Shepherd,  Brian Scobie, and several others.   Allan Faulds will be profiled on the ‘Elite Endurance’ page of this website and it would maybe be appropriate to look at some of the other members of this group first before taking the team as a whole.   By the way, if anyone has more names for the photograph above, would they let me know?

Calum Laing was undoubtedly the top endurance runner for his brief time at University and it is a real pity that he did not carry on with his career after graduation.   He was a son of the manse from Ross-shire who appeared in the 1960 National Cross Country Championship as one of only two seniors entered by Inverness Harriers when he finished down the field in sixty second place.   In two short years he moved up to third place when representing Glasgow and leading the team (Laing 3, Gifford 27, Hartley 38,  Rodgers 67, Denstad 123 and Campbell 146) to third place.   The quality of this run can be seen from the names of the first eight finishers – Jim Alder, Andy Brown, Calum Laing, Steve Taylor, Alastair Wood, Bertie Irving, John McLaren and John Linaker.   His reward was a run in the International Cross-Country Championship where he was a scoring runner in thirty seventh position.   The country was his real forte and in 1963 he again made the team for the International Championship and was again a counting runner, finishing in sixty third place.   In the National in 1964 he was eighth, his second best placing, and the team was fourth.   An inspiration, he had several very good runs in the Edinburgh to Glasgow Road Race.  In 1960 he raced the second stage and picked up from twelfth to fourth for the team that was to pick up the bronze medals.   A year later he again ran the second stage and pulled the team from fifteenth to twelfth on this very difficult leg with second quickest run of the day but the following year, 1962, he ran even better bringing the team from fourth to first with the fastest time for the leg.

1962 was to be his best year on the track with four personal best times which are noted below.   That for the Six Miles was set when winning the SAAA championship, (he had already won the West District Six Miles) and the Three Miles time was set when he was third in the District championships, he was also third in the National Three miles.   So – two first places and two third places.   Many of his team-mates and rivals thought that he could have been an Olympian but unfortunately he had a short career before leaving University.

Distance Time Year Ranking
One Mile 4:15.0 1962 12
Two Miles 9:12.4 1962 8
Three Miles 14:01.6 1962 4
Six Miles 29:53.8 1962 3

When his University days were over he ran for Victoria Park.   Nationally he ran in two Edinburgh to Glasgow Relays and one National winning medals in two out of the three.  In the E-G in 1965 he ran on the fifth stage for the team which was third, turning in the second fastest time.   In 1968 he ran in the last stage, taking over fourth and holding it to the finish.   In the National in 1966, he was thirty second in the team that took silver.

In his official history of the SCCU, “Whatever the Weather”, Colin Shields says in his review of the 1962 Cross-Country Championship, ’24 year old agricultural student Calum Laing, a son of the manse from the North of Scotland studying at Glasgow University, was the best distance runner produced by any Scottish university to date.’ 

GU BritUnis

UAU team (in front) and the SUCC team at Durham, 1960:   Jim Bogan on the left in the back row, Don Macgregor third from left.

Picture from Don Macgregor’s “Running My Life”

Jim Bogan stayed as part of the University faculty after he graduated and became “one of Britain’s leading figures in veterinary medicine.”     A member of Victoria Park AAC (as indeed was Calum Laing) he was a steeplechaser during the track season and when Lachie Stewart set the SAAA 3000m steeplechase title, Jim was one of the early pacemakers.   The steeplechase was to prove his best event and he was ranked among the top men in the event almost every year in which he competed seriously with a best of 9:40.4 in 1966.   His best Mile time was 4:18.2 and for Three Miles he is credited with 14:55.0 in 1960.

In 1960 Jim in thirteenth place led the University Junior team to third place in the National Cross-Country Championship.   He was followed home by Hunter (16), Gifford (27) and Hartley (28).   He joined some of the men who would make up the really good team of later years and which was second in the Scottish Junior Cross-Country Championships in 1961.   Douglas Gifford (9), Bogan (13), Baillie (22) and Shepherd (23) were the counting runners.   In his third year in the Junior age group he was in the team which won the Junior championship giving him the complete set of gold, silver and bronze for the National team race.    The runners that day were Allan Faulds (4), Jim Bogan (5), Cameron Shepherd (16) and Ray Baillie (23).

In the Edinburgh to Glasgow relay in 1959 he was ninth on the first stage for the team that finished thirteenth.   In 1960, he ran on the first stage for the team that was placed third – he was twelfth on the first stage before Calum Laing brought the University up to fourth, from which position the others worked their way up to third.    In 1961 he was fourth fastest on the third stage, bringing the team from twelfth to sixth – six places was really something in the E-G.     When the University team was third in the Edinburgh to Glasgow in 1962, Jim Bogan ran on the third stage again and although dropping one place it was from first to second after Calum Laing’s fastest time on Stage Two, so there was no disgrace in that!      In 1963 he ran the last stage and picked up one place from seventh to sixth with again the fourth fastest of the afternoon.   By 1964, many of the top men had moved on but Jim was still there, running the last stage he maintained fifteenth position.   No fair weather runner he was out for the team again in 1966 running the very difficult second stage and held on to seventeenth place.    By 1967 the team had slumped to nineteenth and Jim ran the seventh stage picking up from twentieth to nineteenth.   That was to be his last run in the race.

He stayed on as a member of the staff of the University and became President of the University Hares & Hounds.   In that capacity he was responsible for many innovations – the key one being the University Road Race every year in November.   He stayed as a member of Victoria Park too as a recreational runner and it came as a shock to us all when he died following a road accident while on holiday in Grenoble in July 1988.   An excellent athlete, he was very easy to get on with and was popular with all athletes regardless of club or generation.    He was a runner first and foremost and runners always know their own.

Douglas Gifford was a very good athlete who, like many University athletes of the period, just seemed to stop competitive running when his student days were over.   A key member of this excellent team, he excelled in student matches and championships, and showed great ability in open competition.    In the National Championships, Douglas appears in the 1959 Glasgow University team when his twenty fifth place headed the four counting men to fifth place.   In 1960 he was twenty seventh and third scoring runner in the Junior team that finished third and one year later his ninth place led the team to silver in the National championship.   Unfortunately he was a year out of  sync with Jim Bogan and moved up to the senior ranks and by so doing missed the gold Junior medals of the following year.    Nevertheless he was twenty seventh in his first Senior National behind Calum Laing’s third place.   The team was eighth.   Unfortunately, despite all his good running, he was not a member of the team that was placed fourth in 1964.   He continued to run for the University from time to time but by 1966 the team had broken up – Calum Laing was running for Victoria Park in the National , Allan Faulds for Stirling and Dick Hodelet for Greenock Glenpark Harriers while Douglas was fiftieth running in the University colours.

His record in the E-G covers the same period.   In 1959, in his first run in the event, he was on the second stage – seldom a good idea for a first run in that event – and did well to limit the drop to four places.   In 1960, he was given a job which might even have been slightly more difficult – taking over in fourth place on the sixth stage surrounded by top class athletes.   He kept the position and the team was third at the end of the race.   In 1960 he was again on the Stage Six and held the sixth place that he had been given by Dick Hartley.   1962 brought him another bronze medal.   This time he was on the fourth stage and ran the third fastest time on the stage to hand over in second place for the team which eventually finished third.   In 1964, the team lost several members and in the E-G Glasgow University finished fifteenth with Douglas back on the sixth stage.

In the picture below he is seen leading the 1960 Scottish Universities Championships which he won with Glasgow winning the team race.   It is described in Don Macgregor’s autobiography “Running My Life”, from which the photograph was taken, as follows:   “Our hopes of recording an historic victory in the Scottish Universities Championships the next Saturday, February 6th, were high.   The four teams lined up outside St Salvator’s Tower in North Street.   Archie Strachan and Willie Diverty, Glasgow’s “manager” and Scottish ‘Athletics Weekly’ correspondent, watched as Professor Dickie, dressed in his usual broad-brimmed black hat, black coat and suit, dropped his hankie and we were off.   It was quite sunny and much drier underfoot than the week before.   The individual and team struggle was intense along the Kinkell Braes, over to the A917 Crail Road, and up the big hill with its ‘plough’.   St Andrews were 12 points ahead with 2 miles to go as we plummeted down from Lochend farm track over the stubble fields with the whole magnificent vista of the city and its towers laid out before us.  

Alas for our hopes!   The Glasgow middle counters gradually moved up the field.   The two best Glasgow runners, Douglas Gifford and Jim Bogan, and I had broken away from the rest quite early on.   We stayed together through the streets of the new town and were still together going up Dyers Brae into narrow Abbey Street – widened ten years later – and over South Street into South Castle Street.   It was only over the last 300 yards that Gifford and Bogan were able to break away from me to take the first two places for Glasgow with five seconds covering the first three.   David Jeffrey followed me home in 4th.   Glasgow also took the team medals, but there were only 7 points in it.”

The extract is interesting for several reasons, the first being that the race was started by dropping a hankie.   This was very common practice in road and cross country races with the old joke being about the difficulty of hearing the recall hankie in the event fo a false start.   Second is the fact that it was a single lap trail – nowadays the ease of spectating plays a part and it is much more usual to have a course of two, three or even four laps.   The Glasgow University home course was also one single, big, challenging lap which started at Garscadden Playing Fields went up on to the Great Western Road Boulevard past the Drumchapel Road entrance and then over the hilly fields of Braidfield and Langfaulds Farms before making its way back down the Boulevard.    The officials started the race and their watches, repaired to the clubhouse for tea and elegant conversation coming back out when they estimated the first runner would appear.   What is not different is the ferocity of the battle for individual and team victory.

GU Gifford

Winner Doug Gifford in the SUCC Championships leading at three miles up to Crail Road.

Jim Bogan was second

The coming together of the team can maybe best be seen by following the fortunes of the Edinburgh to Glasgow squad.   The first significant group was in the relay of November 1959 when Jim Bogan ran a fairly steady first leg to hand over in ninth place to Doug Gifford.   Being new to the event and against top quality opposition he dropped to thirteenth, a position kept by Dick Hartley on teh short Stage Three.   S Hunter brought them up to tenth before S Kerr and Nick Rogers dropped to thirteenth leaving Tor Denstad and J Gray to bring the team home in that position.   Six of the names that would bring success to the Hares and Hounds are there.   1960 saw them win their first medals in the event.   Jim Bogan again led off but was slightly lower than the previous year with twelfth place before new boy Laing brought them up to fourth with the second fastest stage of the day.   His example was followed by Rogers who was second fastest on Stage Three catching another place.   Hunter had third fastest but dropped a place on the fourth.   Gray (seventh fastest) held it, as did Gifford on the sixth stage (fifth fastest), before Hartley brought them up to third, a position held by Denstad on the final stage.   1961 wasn’t quite so good with the team crossing the finish line in eighth.   Ray Baillie had a poor first stage handing over in fifteenth, although when I say ‘poor’ you should bear in mind that it was the top twenty teams in Scotland and he was against their chosen first runners.   Everything is relative!    Calum again had a good second stage and turned in the second fastest  time again to hand the baton over to Jim Bogan in sixth.    Jim ran the fourth fastest of the stage to move up to sixth, Dick Hartley maintained it as did Cameron Shepher who had the third fastest fifth stage that year.   Doug Gifford kept it on the hard and long Stage Six before Norman McPhail dropped to seventh and then Tor Denstad lost one more place to eighth.   Two additions and some team shuffling by the selectors brought the team into medal winning contention again in 1962.   This time Dick Hartley started the ball rolling with fourth on the first stage before Calum Laing moved into first with the fastest outing on Stage Two.   Jim Bogan dropped one place but from first at the end of a close fought second, that’s no disgrace – he again had fourth fastest time of the day.   Dougie Gifford ran the third quickest fourth stage to hold second before Ray Bailllie dropped one to third.   This was held all the way to the finish by Allan Faulds (fourth fastest), Cameron Shepherd (second fastest and Brian Scobie on the last leg.   That was the last of the really good teams and many of them graduated and moved on and the following year the squad had dropped to fifteenth in the race.

As noted above, the Junior team went from third to second to first in the National with Bogan, Hunter, Hartley, Gifford, Faulds, Shepherd and Baillie moving through.   As Seniors they never seemed to reach the same heights.   In 1962, Laing (third), Gifford (27th), Hartley (38th), Rodgers (67th), Denstad (123rd) and Campbell (146th) were eighth and in ’63 they failed to finish a team behind Laing, Rodgers, Hartley and Gray.    1964 was probably their best team in the senior event – Laing was eighth, Faulds fourteenth, Kerwin forty second, Shepherd forty third, Hodelet fifty seventh and Hartley sixty first – behind ESH, Aberdeen and Motherwell and ahead of Shettleston.   The following year they were ninth, Ray Baillie in twenty sixth was the first finisher, Cameron Shepherd forty third ……………….. and the results thereafter have big gaps so that the rest of the team is not available and the fourth place of the year before was the best the seniors were to achieve.

GUAC, Appleton Trophy Winners, 1961

Allan Faulds provided some of the results from the Scottish Universities Cross-Country Championships between 1962 and 1964 and they are actually quite impressive.

  • 1962:   1st  Calum Laing;   2nd  Doug Gifford;   3rd  J Bogan;   7th Cameron Shepherd;   8th  Allan Faulds;   13th Dick Hartley.    Points total was 34 points which won the team race from Edinburgh on 45 points, St Andrews on 115 points and Aberdeen 139 points.
  • 1963:   1st   Calum Laing;   8th  Allan Faulds;   10th  Brian Scobie;    14th  Tor Denstad;   15th  Cameron Shepherd;   17th  Ray Baillie.   Points total of 65 put them second behind Edinburgh’s 53 with St Andrews on 96 and Aberdeen on 103.
  • 1964:   2nd   Calum Laing;   5th Allan Faulds;   6th    Brian Scobie;    11th    Terry Kerwin;  12th  Cameron Shepherd;   13th  Jim Bogan.   The total of 49 points gave them a comfortable victory over Edinburgh (71) with Aberdeen third (83), St Andrews 4th (110) and the Royal College of Science and Technology (later to become Strathclyde University) fifth with 189 points.

That it was a very good team, there is no doubt.    Times and marks for some of those not covered so far include:   Dick Hodelet (only ranked times for 1963 and 1964 are included since he was back with Greenock Glenpark Harriers by 1995) – 880 in 1963 of 1:54.2; in 1962 he had times of 10.2 (100 yards, ranked 16th), 49.9 (440 yards, 10th) and 1:52.6 (880 yards, 2nd);    Brian Scobie  1964, 880 yards in 1:55.6; 1965, 880 yards in 1:54.5.   Ray Baillie 1961, 1 Mile in 4:26; ’62, 1 Mile in 4:17, 1963, Three Miles in 14:41;   JB Gray  1959, Three Miles in 14:45.

Fife AC

Fife Mitchell

Terry Mitchell leading Peter Faulds (FVH) and Graham Laing (AAAC)

East District League, December 1985

Fife AC is one of the more enterprising clubs in Scotland with a whole host of races organised around the County – names like the Strathmiglo Straddle, The Gauldry Gallop are well known to athletes from around the country.   They have teams in all the leagues in the country as well as travelling south of the border for competition.   A comparatively young club they are however best known for the quality of runners who represent them.   The names will appear in the following profile by Colin Youngson who has run with and against almost all of them.

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A few of the very good athletes who ran for Fife AC have been profiled already on this website.   Donald Macgregor, Terry Mitchell and Paul Kenney.   We have also added Andrew Lemoncello (who was coacjed by Ron Morrison) to this group.   The new club had gained momentum after Donald Macgregor left Edinburgh Southern Harriers in 1975.   Fife won the most meritorious medals in the 1976 Edinburgh to Glasgow (sixth place) and for the next thirteen years had a few top ten performances, including another sixth in 1982.   Although Fife AC has always had excellent team spirit, (as is obvious if you read ‘Relay’, the club magazine) a certain lack of top end speed limited success in the Edinburgh to Glasgow.   Donald Macgregor whose finiest performance was seventh in the Munich Olympic Marathon, and who was a world veteran champion (over 10000m and the marathon) was influential in encouraging his clubmates to try longer distances, and five of them emulated him by winning the City of Dundee Marathon: Murray McNaught, Terry Mitchell, Sam Graves, Stuart Asher and Hugh MacKay.   Of these, Hugh was definitely fast on the track with times of 1:62.20 (800m) and 3:48.3 (1500m).   Terry was a very strong international runner.   Alan McIntosh (East District steeplechase champion in 1976 and 1977) was second fastest on Stage Three in 1978 and Stuart Asher was fastest on Three in 1984.

Yet Fife’s best years were to be from the decade from the mid-1990’s and apart from Lemoncello, their most talented runner was Daniel Leggate, a;though he had several especially good team-mates, including Sandy Moss (who won the 1996 Inverness Half Marathon).   in the Edinburgh to Glasgow Relay, after a year out of the race, Fife finished twelfth in 1995, despite a good start by Terry Mitchell.   There was a definite improvement in 1996 when they were nonth and Daniel Leggate made his debit on Stage Two moving up three places to sixth with a time less than thirty seconds slower than his fastest opponent.   Sandy Moss also gained three positions on Stage Three but that was the high point.

In 1997 Fife may have ended up fifth but in fact were only one good runner short of the medals.   Moss and Leggate were once again amongst the strongest performers.   Sandy moving up three on Stage Five with the second fastest time, and Daniel gaining one more on Stage Six, fifth fastest.   Finally in 1998, Fife AC gained deserved bronze medals.   This time they got the team order absolutely right.   John Cunningham did very well to come in second on Stage One.   After 1997 Scottish National Youth Junior Cross-Country Champion Jon Stewart (based in Halifax), Kevin McCue and Owen Greene slid back a little to sixth at the end of Stage Four, Terry Mitchell, Daniel Leggate  (narrowly second- fastest to Phil Mowbray on Six) and Hugh MacKay each gained one place and Sandy Moss did very well to fight off Cambuslang and secure third.   There after it was seventh in 199 and fifth in 2000 (with Cunningham second on Stage One and Leggate third fastest on Six).   The final two versions of the E-G tended towards Chaos due to the ill-advised option of a complex and badly marshalled off-road route.   In 2001, Fife were penalised two minutes due to “an unintentional cutting of the course on leg 7” and were deemed to have finished seventh.   This seems harsh since Ala Milligan (a Scottish hill-running international) who ran that stage, was one of their best athletes and his time, minus two minutes, seemed to be what he would normally have run.   Without the penalty they would have finished fourth.   The final E-G in 2002 produced another farce.   Fife were in ninth position when Daniel Leggate took the baton on Stage Six.   Somehow he and three other runners went off course.   He was forced to run for at least an extra fifteen minutes and handed over in sixteenth.   His club was later to be declared non-counting.

Daniel Leggate won a gold medal as the first individual in  the 1995 National Junior Cross-Country.   In this championship, between this year and 2004 Fife AC wone one team gold medal, four silver medals and two bronze medals.   In 1996 future Fife athlete Alan MiIlligan (running for FMC Carnegie Harriers) was Junior Champion.    Daniel’s best performances in the Senior National were   fifth in 2000, eleventh in 2001 and third in 2003.   Sandy Moss (third in the 1998 East District Cross-Country) was seventeenth in 1997 and thirteenth on 2000.   Alan MiIlligan finished tenth in 2000.   Owen Greene (another British International hill-runner) was seventh on 2002.   Fife AC won two team bronze awards – in 2000 (Leggate, Milligan, Moss, Cunningham, David Adam and Adrian Davis_ and 2003 (Lemoncello third, Andrew Liston twelfth, Greene, Leggate, Christopher Russell and Adrian Davis.   They won silver medals in the Scottish Six Stage Road Relay in 2000 with Scott Taylor, Terry Mitchell, Alan Milligan, Daniel Leggate, Owen Greene and John Cunningham.

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Colin’s club profile finishes there and he does well to highlight the shambles of the final two Edinburgh – Glasgow Relays – there is a school of thought that they should not be recognised as proper E – G’s since they were not on the road and there were too many catastrophes (major and minor) in each of them.   I knew several of the Fife runners – Sandy Moss was coached at one time by Frank Horwill, founder of the British Milers Club and who called him Alex Moss.   He also trained frequently with our group when he was at University in Glasgow and was indeed a talented distance runner.   John ‘Cowboy’ Cunningham was a real tough guy who had quite a lot of ability and was a very good steeplechaser who was at one time on the very verge of international selection.   They were indeed worthy members of any fast pack.

 

Falkirk Victoria Harriers

P Faulds

Peter Faulds, en route to winning the  Cramond 5 Miles, 1984

There are profiles of two very good runners who represented Falkirk Victoria Harriers on the track, on the road and over the country already covered on the website – namely Jim Dingwall and Willie Day.   But it is self evident that any club needs more than one or two stars to make up a team – especially a six-man team plus reserves or an eight-man squad as was needed for the Edinburgh to Glasgow Relay.   When the two men already mentioned were the top men the club was blessed with a fast pack of top-quality runners, several of whom were unlucky to be running at a time when the sport in Scotland was fortunate enough to have a host of excellent athletes.   Peter Faulds, in the picture above by Graham MacIndoe, who took all the photographs on the page, was just one of them.   Colin Youngson has written about these men who were known and respected across the country in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

Falkirk Victoria Harriers finished eighteenth in the 1974 Edinburgh to Glasgow Road Relay.   One year after, they were seventh.   How to explain the difference?   Jim Dingwall!    He had been working at Grangemouth and living in Falkirk but still running for Edinburgh AC.   However he was sick of coming second in the E-G and when thirteenth place in the 1975 National Cross-Country made him only seventh man home and a non-counter due to EAC’s illustrious winning team, he decided to switch to FVH and join his training mate Willie Day (a Junior Cross-Country International back in 1967 in a quest to overcome the big city monopoly.   One previous Falkirk star had been Sam Downie, who won the Senior East District title in 1972.   As is mentioned in his Marathon Stars profile (click on the link above) Jim was charismatic and thoughtful as well as a brilliant runner and his arrival led to increased success for his new club.   In both 1976 and 1977 Jim, Willie, John McGarva and Ian Brown won bronze medals in the Scottish Cross-Country Relay.  This quartet won another bronze in the 1976 Edinburgh to Glasgow with the assistance of Mike Logue, Willie Sharp, R Adam and B Morton.   Their next success was in 1979: another relay bronze with Davie Lothian replacing Ian Brown.

In the Six-Stage Road Relay it was bronze in 1980, silver in 1982 and, much later, bronze in 1993.   The Senior National brought bronze in 1984 and silver in 1985.   However, Falkirk’s greatest days were in the E-G: two glorious wins in 1984 and 1990, plus third place in 1985 and second in 1992 and 1993.   In 1984, Donald Bain gave his club an excellent start with second place on Stage One.   Gordon Mitchell, Ian Johnston and John McGarva fought hard but slipped back a little, before Derek Easton moved up to fourth with the second fastest time on Stage Five and the inimitable JD raced into first position on Stage Six (also with the second fastest time behind Nat Muir).   John Pentecost and Stuart Easton extended the lead to a comfortable 96 seconds in front of Cambuslang.    Falkirk Victoria celebrated (Jim, Willie and John were dedicated real ale fans) and there could not have been more popular winners.

In 1990, only Johnston and Pentecost remained of the 1984 gold medallists, but both starred in a most dramatic race.   Robert Cameron finished the first leg in eighth place before the talented John Sherban zoomed into the lead with the fastest time on Stage Two.   Peter Faulds kept in front and Ian Johnston moved further away with the fastest time on Stage Four.   However, holders Dundee Hawkhill Harriers and Caledon Park Harriers moved closer on Five, although Donald Bain kept the lead.   Gary Grindlay was second equal at the end of the long Stage Six, before Mike McQuaid finished Seven only four seconds behind Dundee.   Former infant terrible John Pentecost kept a very mature head and battled right to the end against Richie Barrie.   They were the two fastest men on Stage Eight but John managed tosqueeze home by four seconds!

Now for some very brief sketches of notable Falkirk runners, Jim Dingwall and Willie Day have already been profiled.

Pentecost

John Pentecost

John McGarva was a talented extrovert who trained hard despite being rather injury-prone.   He ran the steeplechase in 9:13.8 but his speciality was cross-country (tenth in the 1979 Senior National).   In the four National team competitions, John won four bronze, two silver and one gold.   He was a great team man who went on to create a micro-brewery (trystbrewery.co.uk) which is still very successful, especially in the production of bottle-conditioned beers with a fantastic range of flavours.   Thoroughly recommended!

Ian Brown won the East District Junior Cross-Country Championship twice, in 1977 and 1978.   he also ran the World Junior Cross-Country twice and was first Scot home (seventeenth) in Glasgow 1978.   After winning three bronze medals with FBVH during an inconsistent career, he eventually joined Racing Club Edinburgh and was in two winning E-G teams in 1992 and 1993.

Mike Logue was a tough guy to train with and ran a 2:27 marathon.   One of his finest runs was on the hilly Stage Three in the 1976 E-G, when he kept the lead and was only twelve seconds slower than the great Lachie Stewart.   His team won bronze; and he obtained another similar medal in the 1980 Six-Stager.   Mike, who had previously run the E-G with Victoria Park AAC was a confident fashionable fellow who also smoked small cigars!

Dave Lothian, who became a successful coach, was cheerful and sociable.   He won a Scottish Schoolboys 800m title and bronze medals in the Six-Stage Relay and teh Cross-Country Relay.

Ian Johnston ran well in the E-G, winning gold medals in 1984 and 1990, plus silver in 1993 when he was only five seconds off fastest on Stage Four.

Stuart Easton was a Scottish track international who specialised in the 1500m.   He won a Scottish title indoors and two bronze medals outdoors, with a pb of 3:45.8.   Eventually he produced a 2:23 marathon.   He ensured FVH’s first major triumph by running strongly on the last leg of the 1984 E-G.   Nowadays he is a very fast veteran cyclist and triathlon competitor.

Derek Easton, Stuart’s younger brother, represented Falkirk Victoria more frequently.   He won two Scottish 2000m steeplechase titles in the Scottish Schoolboys Championships.   As a senior he ran the steeplechase in 9:11.7 and a marathon in 2:26.   In 1984 on Stage Four of the E-G he moved up three places and provided the momentum to win gold.   In addition, he won bronze in the 1985 E-G and silver in the 1982 Six-Stager.   In recent years, Derek has been a very successful coach.

Gordon Mitchell was a very talented young runner, who was part of Falkirk’s winning team in the 1979 Scottish Cross-Country Relay Championship for Young Athletes.   He was fourth in the 1980 National Youths Cross-Country and second in 1981.   Then he was second once more in the 1982 National Junior after which he represented Scotland in the World Junior Championships.   His best Senior National placing was twelfth in 1985.   On the track he ran 3000m in 8:20.07 and 5000m in 14:18.37.   For FVH in the E-G, he won gold in 1984 and bronze in 1985, as well as silver in the 1982 Six-Stager, bronze in the 1984 National and silver in 1985.

Grindlay

Gary Grindlay

Gary Grindlay was in the Falkirk team that finished third in the 1985 E-G.   After running for Edinburgh Southern Harriers for a while (winning silver in 1988) he returned to FVH in 1989 and was fastest on Stage Eight.   He helped to win gold in 1990 and another silver in 1992, when he was second fastest on Four.   Another silver was obtained in 1993 and Gary led the way by winning Stage One.   He also won a bronze in the 1993 Six-Stager.

Peter Faulds was a very useful, tough runner, who showed talent as a Youth.   In the Senior ranks, he won E-G bronze in 1985 (finishing third on Stage One) and gold in 1990 (second fastest on Stage Three).   He was fastest on Stage Three when his club ended up fourth in 1991.   In addition he won silver in the 1982 Six-Stager and two team medals in the National Cross-Country – bronze in 1984 and silver in 1985.   He finished an excellent seventh individual in the 1990 National.

Donald Bain was fastest on Stage Seven in the 1983 E-G.   He was twenty second (and first finisher from Falkirk Victoria) in the 1984 National Cross-Country when his team won bronze medals.   Donald was third counter in the Vics outfit that won silver in the 1985 National.   He won E-G gold, in 1990 when he was second fastest on Stage One.   Another silver was gained in the 1992 E-G.

John Pentecost was in the Falkirk team that won a bronze medal in the 1984 National Cross-Country.   That summer he ran a fast steeplechase in 9:06.5 and then won team gold in the E-G when he was second fastest and extended the lead on Stage Seven.   John was in the team that finished second in the 1985 National Cross-Country.    In 1990 he was fastest on Stage Eight of the E-G when his finishing sprint won gold medals for his team.

John Sherban, an English International runner, was controversial but undeniably talented.   He was fastest on Stage Two when FVH won the 1990 E-G, fastest on Stage Six when silver was gained in 1992, featured in the team that finished second in 1993 and was fastest on Stage Three in 1994.   On the track he won the Scottish 5000m title (representing England) in 1991, recorded a very rapid 13:46.4 in 1994, was somehow selected for the Scottish Commonwealth Games team for Victoria but was injured and did not start in the 5000m or finish in the 10000m.

Mike McQuaid .   ran eleven consecutive Edinburgh to Glasgow Relays for FVH between 1990 and 2000.   He won team gold in 1990, silver in 1992 and silver in 1993.   In addition he gained a bronze medal in the 1993 Six-Stager.   Mike has gone on to be a successful veteran athlete on road and country and in 2011 represented Scotland in the annual  British and Irish Masters Cross-Country International.

Other Falkirk medal winners included: Willie Sharp (a consistently good club standard runner, 51 minute 10 miler), Jim Evans (SAAA Medallist, 8:57 3000 steeplechaser), Rab Cameron (Scottish Schools, Scottish U20 internationalist), Kenny Rankin (14:19 for 5000m), Steve Binns (English internationalist), Frank Harper (SAAA medallist, 2:18 marathon), Gordon Crawford (International steeplechaser), D McMillan. W Grieve, A Murray and R Jones.

D Bain

Donald Bain

Following on from Colin’s record of Falkirk Victoria Harriers achievements it could be noted just how many of their runners mentioned above became coaches in the club.    Willie Day took up coaching and worked with some very good field events athletes of both genders, Willie Sharp was a steeplechase coach who became Scottish National coach for the event and also coached runners such as Ian Johnston, Derek Easton was and is a very successful coach of endurance runners coaching such as Morag McLarty and Alistair Hay to Scottish championships and Games selections, Dave Lothian was not only a coach but also a senior figure in Scottish Schools Athletic Association and they were not the only ones who served their club in that capacity.   When he was at college in Glasgow Davie Lothian ran for Shettleston Harriers in the Track League as indeed did Stuart Easton and, for a shorter period, Derek Easton.  

As Colin says, their victory in the Edinburgh to Glasgow was very popular.   Their runners were seen all over Scotland in the same events as everyone else – Willie Day and Willie Sharp for instance ran in all the major road races – the Gourock 14, the Clydebank to Helensburgh 16, the Strathallan 20 and so on; others like Ian Johnston and Rab Cameron were members of the British Milers Club and performed at a consistently high level and they were all fairly gregarious characters.   A good club, a popular club and one that thoroughly deserved its successes.

 

Edinburgh University H & H

EU H&H

First let’s get the terminology right: in Glasgow the students cross-country team is called the Hares and Hounds, in Edinburgh they only have one hare – so it’s Hare and Hounds.   Both answer however to the name of The Haries!    The following series of profiles was written by Colin Youngson who knew them all well when he was teaching and living in Edinburgh and his admiration for the team is boundless.   

Edinburgh University Hare and Hounds nurtured so many fine athletes, many of whom have been profiled here under ‘Marathon Stars’ or ‘Elite Athletes’ or ‘The Chasers’.   Consider this impressive list: Martin Craven, Donald Macgregor, Fergus Murray, Alex and Jim Wight, Alistair Blamire, Gareth Bryan-Jones, Andy McKean, Jim Dingwall and Phil Mowbray.   But what about the supporting cast: very good runners who contributed to great success in the Edinburgh to Glasgow Relay or the Scottish National Cross-Country Championships?   EU H&H were usually the best long distance running team in Scotland from 1965 to 1968.   They won the E-G from 1965 to 1967 and the National Senior from 1966 to 1968.   The potential was clear in 1963 when they won the Scottish Junior cross-country title with a team including Chris Elson and Roger Young.   Frank Gamwell was part of the outfit which won again in 1964; and the students made it a hat-trick when Roger Young took part again, along with Ian Young.   Willie Allan was one of the 1965 E to G record breakers; and Ian Hathorn was in the 1966 E to G triumph.    These seven athletes will be profiled briefly.

Roger Young  won two Scottish Junior Cross-Country team golds, and in 1965 finished second individual, defeated only by the immensely talented Ian McCafferty.   In the E-G he was in the team which finished second in 1964, and was second fastest on Stage Eight in 1965 when EU won and broke the course record.   Roger achieved eighth place (second team counter behind Fergus Murray) in the 1966 National.  On the track he ran 14:20.6 for three miles.

Chris Elson   won a Scottish Junior Cross-Country gold in 1963, finishing seventh individual.   In the Senior National he obtained team bronze in 1965 and gold in 1967.   In the E-G Chris won silver in 1964, when he was second fastest on Stage Five.   When EU triumphed in 1965, he was the second fastest again this time on Stage Four, behind only Andy Brown’s fantastic stage record.   Then in both 1966 and 1967, Chris was fastest on Stage Eight in the winning team.   He broke the stage record in 1966.   On the track, he seems to have concentrated on the mile with a best time of 4:10.9.

Frank Gamwell   was thirteenth in the 1964 Scottish Junior Cross-Country when his team won the title.   In 1966 he was one of the victorious Edinburgh University runners in the Senior National.   Previously he won silver in the 1964 E-G and then gold in 1965 when he was fastest on Stage Five.   As a summer athlete, Frank ran nearly everything:   one mile (4:19), two (9:13.4), three (14:17.8) and six miles 29:33.0), steeplechase (9:35.4) and eventually the marathon (2:35:14).

Ian Young   also ran for Springburn Harriers.   He was a counter for Scotland in the ICCU Junior Championships in both 1964, when he finished twenty second, and in 1965, when he was seventeenth.   In the 1965 Scottish Junior he had achieved sixth place.   As a Senior he was fifteenth in 1967 when EU won team gold.   In the E-G Ian was fastest on Stage Eight when EU won the silver in 1964.   Then in 1966, winning team gold, he was second fastest on Stage Five, only one second slower than Alastair Johnston’s record (for Victoria Park)    Ian’s team won again in 1967, when once more he was second-fastest on Stage Five, one second slower than Aberdeen’s Steve Taylor.   In 1968, although EU could manage only seventh, Ian was easily fastest on Stage  Five when he broke the record.   As a track athlete, Ian Young had many fierce battles with Alistair Blamire over three miles.   Ian’s best time was 14:01.6 and he won a silver medal in the 1967 AAA Championships.

Willie Allan   won Senior National team golds in 1967, with EU, and in 1969 with Edinburgh Southern Harriers.   He ran Stage Three in the famous 1965 record-breaking Edinburgh University E-G team.   For several seasons Willie was a good steeplechaser with a best of 9:13.   Nowadays, relatively speaking, he is running better than ever, winning British cross-country and road titles in the over-60 age-groups.

Ian Hathorn’s finishing sprint for nineteenth place proved vital in the Senior National in 1968.   He ended up one place in front Aberdeen’s Joe Clare and EU won the team title by a single point.   Ian could cover 880 yards in 1:54 while Joe was a 2:18 marathon runner.   In the E-G, Ian’s best run was in the EU team that won in 1966 when he broke the record on Stage Three.       He also won gold in 1967.

After University, many Edinburgh University graduates joined either ESH (Craven, Macgregor, Murray, Blamire, Bryan-Jones) or EAC (Alex and Jim Wight, McKean, Dingwall).   But who were among the most prominent team mates for these stars and others such as Southern’s Allister Hutton and John Robson and EAC’s Jim Alder, Adrian Weatherhead, Doug Gunstone, Jim Dingwall, Sandy Keith and Lindsay Robertson?

 

Edinburgh Southern Harriers

ESH 1

Colin Hume winning the SAAA Steeplechase in 1985

Colin Youngson has written this section about his old club of which he has fond memories and lasting affection.   It is suggested that this selection of good athletes is read in conjunction with those of Edinburgh University and Edinburgh Athletics Club.   Colin writes:

For Edinburgh Southern Harriers the Fast Pack includes: George Brown, Kenny Ballantyne, Craig Douglas, Ian Elliott and Colin Hume (although other good team men were Alex Robertson, Craig Hunter, Colin McIntyre, Ian Steel, George Mathieson, Alan Robson, Calum Henderson, John Gladwin, Neil Thin and Gary Grindlay).

George Brown was a real ESH stalwart.   In the Senior National he first won a team medal (bronze) in 1961.   Over the next decade, a succession of consistent performances brought him a total of nine medals:   two gold (1964 when he was twelfth finisher, and 1970), five silver and two bronze.   In the E-G he featured in ESH teams that won gold (1973), silver (1962, 1963) and bronze (1964, 1971).   On the track, George ran a mile in 4:12.7, and three miles in 14:24.   Much later, in 1979, 1980 and 1983, ESH obtained team gold in the Scottish Veterans Cross-Country championships and George Brown, predictably, was one of their counters.

Kenny Ballantyne   enjoyed an illustrious career and inspired many club mates.   It is good to have an opportunity to profile him, if only briefly.   In the Scottish Junior National cross-country, he won team silver in 1961 and followed that in the Senior National with team gold (1964, 1965 and 1969), silver (1967 when he finished ninth, and 1971) and bronze (1966 and 1968).   Kenny was also very effective in the E-G.   His first team medal in the event was in 1961 when ESH finished second with Kenny recording the fastest time for Stage Eight in which he broke the record.   His team was again second in 1963 and third in 1964.   In 1966, Kenny was fastest on the prestigious Stage Two, in front of Hugh Barrow, Andy Brown and Alastair Wood.   There was another bronze in 1968 and finally the longed for gold medal in 1969.   In 1970 ESH were squeezed into second but Kenny was fastest on Stage Eight.   A final bronze followed in 1971.

Kenny was even more successful on the track, representing Scotland every year from 1961 to 1966.   His best distance was One Mile/1500m and at Motspur Park in 1965 he raced a mile in 4:01.1 which at that time made him the fastest home Scot.   In 1964 he won the SAAA title at that distance, and in addition gained one silver and three bronze medals in the event.   Other pb’s included 1:53.2 (880 yards), 8:51.0 (Two Miles) and 14:05.3 (Three Miles).

Craig Douglas   was a very fine athlete – a real battler – who originally ran for Teviotdale Harriers, but ESH always had a close link with Borders athletes.   On the country, Craig ran for Scotland in the ICCU Junior Championship in 1969 (twenty first after second place in the Scottish Junior, with Teviotdale third team) and 1963 (an excellent tenth).   In both these years he won the East District Junior Cross-Country title.   Actually in 1963 he won the East Senior title as well!   He seems to have concentrated on the track for a few years after that but was part of the ESH teams that won gold (1969 and 1970) and silver (1971 and 1975).   In the E-G, Craig ran for Teviotdale from 1961 to 1966, often going very fast but without gaining any team medals.   However he struck gold in 1969 as soon as he switched clubs to ESH, recording the fastest time on Stage Seven.   In 1970, Craig ‘won’ the first stage although ESH eventually finished second after a thrilling battle with Shettleston.   They were third in 1971 despite Craig’s fastest time on Stage Five, and third once more in 1972.   However it was gold for Craig’s team in both 1973 and 1974 (when he was fastest on Stage Three)

Craig Douglas won the SAAA 880 yards title in 1963 and the 1500m in both 1969 and 1971.   He represented Scotland on the track in six separate years between 1963 and 1971.   Personal best times included: 1:49.9 (880 yards), 4:01.8 (Mile), 3:46.3 (1500m) and 14:36.2 (5000m)

Ian Elliot   was another Teviotdale Harrier, an elegant athlete who later switched allegiance to ESH.    In 1966 he showed early promise by winning the East District Senior Boys title.   He was running for ESH by 1973 when he led them to team bronze in the Senior National.   This was followed by silver in 1974, 1977 and 1978, and gold in 1979, 1980, 1982, 1983 and 1984.   Ian was ninth in 1979 and very disappointed not to make his debut in the World Cross.   He proved the selectors wrong by winning the East District CC later that year.   The Scottish Cross-Country Relay was a successful event for Ian Elliot, who won gold in 1975, 1978, 1981, 1982 and bronze in 1984.   In addition he won two more team golds (1981 and 1982) in the Scottish Six-Stage Road Relay.

On the track, Ian’s personal bests were 3:49.5 (1500m), 14:14.4 (5000m), 29:55.0, (10000m) and 8:53,2 (3000m Steeplechase) in 1977 when he was second in the Scottish rankings.   He won the SAAA Indoor 1500m title in 1974 and represented Scotland in the steeplechase in 1979.   Eventually he returned to Teviotdale and enjoyed several years of considerable success in the Over-40 age-group winning two National Veterans’ Cross-Country titles in 1991 and 1992, plus other championships on the road and track.   Teviotdale Harriers won three National Veterans Cross-Country team awards during this period.

Colin Hume   was yet another very talented Borders athlete who ran for ESH, spent three years representing Memphis State University and then returned to ESH.   He showed great promise from the start, winning the East District Youths cross-country title  in 1978.   That year he was sixth in the Scottish Youths Cross-Country Championship with ESH third team.   In the Junior National Colin won team gold in both 1980 (individual sixth) and 1981 (second).   After his time in the USA he ran in the National Senior in 1985 (team gold, eighth) and 1986 (team gold).   In both 1985 and 1986 he was selected to compete for Scotland in the World Cross.   He won the 1985 East District Cross-Country Championship.   Colin also won team gold in the Scottish Cross-Country Relay in 1982 and silver in 1986.   In the Scottish Six Stage Relay he won gold in 1979, 1980 and 1981 as well as silver in 1986.   The E-G brought further team gold medals in 1978, 1981 (fastest on Stage Seven) and 1985.

His track career was very impressive with personal bests of 1:50.1 (800m), 3:42.72 (1500m), 7:53.06 (3000m), and 8:47.02 (steeplechase).   He was third in the SAAA 1500m in 1982 and won the Scottish steeplechase title in 1985.   A rare achievement was his time in 1983 of 3:59.58 for a mile – indoor!   Colin Hume ran for Scotland on the track in 1981, 1982, 1985 and 1986 over a variety of distances – 1500m, one mile, 5000m and the steeplechase.

Edinburgh AAC

EAC Weatherhead

Adrian Weatherhead to Richard Charleson

Colin Youngson was a familiar part of the running scene in Edinburgh in the 1970’s and knew all the runners, their strengths and weaknesses and got on well with all of them.    He has written three sets of brief profiles of many of the runners from the top clubs and they should maybe read together.   The others are of course Edinburgh Southern and Edinburgh University.

“Edinburgh Athletic Club’s Fast Pack features: The Knowles twins (Danny and Ronnie) and Dougie Hunter.   Others who contributed are Phil Hay, John Kerr, Eric Fisher, Davie Watson, Robin Morris, Nigel Jones, Colin Keir, Alan Gourlay, Archie Jenkins, Brian Kirkwood, Ken Mortimer and that very good Anglo, Joe Patton.

Danny and Ronnie Knowles really have to be profiled together.   Onlookers could only marvel about how similar and how young and fast they seemed in November 1972 when they first ran in the Edinburgh to Glasgow Relay, running the final two stages with their team finishing fifth.   They were newly 18 years of age.  In 1973 Danny had to fight the class men on Stage Two, and on the last Ronnie overtook the Aberdeen runner to secure a silver team medal.   EAC never managed to win the E-G but came second six times out of seven!   Both Danny and Ronnie won three silvers, and Danny was fastest on Stage Seven in both 1975 and 1976 while Ronnie was fastest on Stage Eight in 1976.

In the Scottish Junior Cross-Country in 1974, Ronnie finished seventh and his twin tenth, while EAC won bronze medals.  Their best Senior National was in 1977 when they obtained team bronze.   The Scottish Cross-Country Relay produced two bronze and two silver medals for Danny and one silver for Ronnie, who won another silver medal in the 1981 Six Stage Road Relay.

The above worthy performances were definitely over-distance work for the twins, whose best distance was actually 1500m.   Danny’s fastest time was 3:46.5 and he won an individual silver medal in the 1977 SAAA Championships, plus a bronze medal in the 1976 indoor event.   Ronnie produced personal bests of 3:48.2 (1500m) and 8:29.81 (3000m).   He won a bronze medal in the 1974 Scottish indoor.  

Dougie Hunter   was a tough, stocky guy who always battled as hard as possible.   One of his finest moments in the sport happened early: in the 1978 Scottish Junior Cross-Country, he claimed a valiant second place despite being a full minute behind the peerless Nat Muir.   Dougie must Have enjoyed leading EAC to a gold medal by means of a crushing victory (29 points) over Glasgow University (93) and Nat’s club Shettleston Harriers (107).  

In the E-G, Dougie won four team silver medals in 1976; 1977 (fastest on Stage Seven); 1979 and 1982.   He gained another silver medal in the 1981 Six-Stage Road Relay.   In the Senior National, Dougie won three medals: team gold in 1981 (twentieth finisher) and two silver medals (1979 and 1983).   He added another two in the Scottish CC Relay: silver in 1978 and bronze in 1979.    On the track, Dougie’s best event was the steeplechase (9:25.2) and he also ran a marathon in 2:24:25.”

To that I’d like to add the name of Ken Mortimer.       When I was organising the British Milers Club races in Scotland in the mid eighties, Kenny was an almost ever present with his clubmate Nigel Jones.   Both were accomplished track runners.   Ken however seldom ran on the country although between 1982 and 1987 he ran in five Edinburgh to Glasgow Relays and picked up two silver medals – in 1982 he was fastest man on the fourth stage.   His list of personal best times on the track is impressive:   800m – 1:52.8;   1000m – 2:27.42;   1500m – 3:47.95;   2000m – 5:20.2;   3000m – 8:16.68;   5000m – 14:44.1 and he even had a go at the steeplechase with a time of 9:32.28.   In 1984 he was third in the SAAA 1500m.   He became a veteran in 2000 and has recorded several good times as such.   As a V50 in 2011 he ran 800m in 2:19.36, in 2012 he ran 1500m in 4:55.24; he has an 18:00 5K, a 30:06 five miles, a 37:04 10K,  a 62:27 ten miles, an 85:06 half marathon and finally a 3:12:29 marathon – all as a V50!

After writing the above, contact was established with Ken and he added to the information above.    Since it illustrates the period of the 1980’s in Scottish Athletics and the attitudes of the runners so well, I’ll simply quote his email as I received it.   It reads as follows.   “I remember well the BMC races and never felt that I really managed to do myself justice in them but it was great to have races of that calibre on the doorstep, although at that stage the British League races I was turning out in for EAC were probably taking up the bulk of my mental energy.

It was a great time and I had some great fun with running and many of the highlights you covered prompted some further reminiscing on my part.   A couple which might be of interest were my first Scottish vest in 1984 over the mile at Alexander Stadium when I was paired to run with that very good anglo, Stuart Paton.   I surpassed expectations – perhaps even my own included – in finishing third behind Alan Salter and Eddy Stevens of Belgium in 4:04.32.   They’d both run 4:01 but I’d been there till the last 100m.   Alastair Currie had unofficially timed me around 3:45/3:46 at 1500 metres during the race.   I was flying and was convinced if I could get another mile race a sub-4 was on the cards.   That impression was reinforced in early September at a blustery and cold Meadowbank when I ran my quickest official 1500m but by September the races had dried up and plans to go to Cyprus for a late season attempt fell through.   Another highlight from those days was the Scottish indoors 1500m in 1987 when the Indoor Championships were revived.   I had some experience of running indoors and had been a Cosford Games finalist over 1500m five years earlier but this was a championship.   Heats were required and I front-ran my heat and came under pressure but was determined not to give way, holding on to win it but racing harder than I needed to.   Graham Crawford of Springburn who ran 3000m that day, telling me what I already knew, that it would have been more sensible to ease off since I was in a qualifying position anyway.   Alan Smith of ESH who had a recent 3:46 under his belt was the big threat from the other heat but when the final was run a couple of hours late, to my delight I kicked harder than he did (off a slower pace than the heat) to win it.   I went on to have a decent indoor record winning the East 1500m title the following year (1988), and then picking up two Scottish bronzes over 3000m in 1990 and 1992.

I also ran a bit quicker at two of the distances, 5000m and 3000m steeplechase, both in 1986.   In a Scottish League match at Meadowbank having travelled up from a GRE Cup match 1500m in Wigan the day before, I ran 14:33.47.   It’s a time I should have bettered a few years later in 1992, the year I won the 5000m at the East Districts, but didn’t.   A week later, this time in a British League match at Meadowbank, I lowered my steeplechase time to 9:16.03. 

Since the site is mainly about road running, maybe I should also mention two of my better road races.   The first was the 1983 6 stage relay on leg 5 when I attacked the short leg hard to put EAC back into contention (and back into the lead) with a run which set up a last leg showdown between Lindsay Robertson and Allister Hutton for the title.   Allister was imperious that day and brought Southern home and the EAC squad had to make do with silver medals.   Then there was my occasional venture up into the world of the 10 mile races.   Having been an organiser of the EU 10 mile race in 1982, I finished up eighth in 51:43.   This coincided nicely with my best for 400 metres at the time, 51.4.    I ran it (ten miles) again in 1986 when I finished fifth in 52:40 (and there are some hotos of the race in Graham MacIndoe’s collection) but by now I was intrigued to see what I could do over an easier course.   I got the chance in 1990 when I ran the Tom Scott and finished tenth in 49:08.  

You were absolutely right about me being an occasional cross-country runner although that was where I started.   I reckon my best effort was the Inter-Area cross-country when I finished seventh behind George Braidwood in sixth in the mud of Cumbernauld in 1987.    As you will know, I’m back enjoying my running as a V50 over a variety of distances and even managed to squeeze out 4:46.5 (and a win!) at the August Nithsdale Open Graded last year.   I might even think about returning to my roots in the next year or two and get back on the road.”

And that’s it in his own words.   It is included for several reasons: first it just radiates the tremendous pleasure he got from his running and he doesn’t list numbers of medals or list all his best times he just speaks of the great memories he has – and what’s the sport for if not for the memories.   All coaches are giving their charges memories and if they look back on their career with the delight that Ken does, they will not have done a bad job; second the desire to improve – and the regret when he didn’t -is mentioned at several points, eg aiming to travel halfway across the world to Cyprus to get a better time, or regretting not bettering his 5000m time; third it illustrates the range of events open to runners at the time – Scottish League, British League, Open Gradeds, Championships, Cosford Games and so on.   Most are still there but not all are and it is much more difficult to plan a year’s progressive racing now than it was then; fourth, he talks of international representation, the lack of such now is well documented elsewhere on this website.  

Dundee Hawkhill Harriers

Note the club tops which are a plain colour with the hawk on a square of material stitched on.

Dundee Hawkhill Harriers is one of the oldest clubs in Scotland and also has a women’s section dating back to the beginnings of Scottish women’s cross-country running in the early 1930’s.    They produced women cross-country and track champions such as Mildred Storrar and of course currently they have Olympian Eilish McColgan following in her mother’s very successful footsteps.  But the men have been no less successful and while Mildred Storrar was winning titles, the men were doing well with men such as Alex Donnett and Charlie Smith winning international caps for the men.   Dundee was a real hotbed of athletics and Charlie’s brother Suttie Smith – one of the real stars of the sport – competed for Dundee YMCA although the main rivals to Hawkhill was the now-defunct Dundee Thistle Harriers.   Colin Youngson has selected several runners from a particular spell of real success for the grand club and his account is below.

Dundee Hawkhill Harriers were formed in 1889.   They were the best club in their area for many years and promoted classic road races such as the Kingsway Relays and the Perth to Dundee.   Back in the 1960’s they fought with Aberdeen AAC for supremacy in the North-East Cross-Country League, producing runners like Fergus Murray, Ron Coleman, Phil Kearns, Rab HeronDoug Gunstone and Ian Graves.   However in Scottish National Competitions, their best teams featured in the late 1980’s and early 90’s.   Liz McColgan was world-famous but male club-mates included her husband Peter McColgan, Charlie Haskett and Iain Campbell, as well as ex-Clyde Valley star Peter Fox , Chris Hall (Welsh international, previously Aberdeen AAC), Dave Beattie, Richie Barrie, hill runner Des McGonigle, Matt Strachan, Paul Briscoe and Craig Ross.   Ross Copestake won the Scottish Cross-Country Under-17 title in 1980 and went on to run for his country in the World Cross as a junior and as a senior.   Terry Reid also won the Scottish Under-17 title in 1987.

In the Edinburgh to Glasgow Relay, DHH were a top ten club for several years before breaking through in 1989 when they achieved a tremendous victory.   Dave Beattie was second on the first stage, Peter McColgan brought them into the lead with the fastest time on Stage Two, and Terry Reid, Craig Ross, Iain Campbell (fastest on Five), Charlie Haskett, Richie Barrie and Peter Fox retained first place to the end, a minute and a half clear of Cambuslang Harriers.    The following year, by only four seconds, the Hawks lost a titanic battle with Falkirk Victoria Harriers.   B Pattieson was fastest on Stage Seven and the other silver medal winners were P McCanna, B Cook, Chris Hall, Charlie Haskett, Richie Barrie and both Iain and Ian Campbell!

HMcK RB

Hugh McKay to Richie Barrie in the Six Stage Relay in 1983

Charlie Haskett was a real stalwart for Dundee Hawkhill Harriers (Charlie’s father Chick was a good runner, his elder sister Christine was a major Scottish star on track and country and his son Mark is also a fine athlete.)   Charlie won the East District Senior Boys CC in both 1972 and 1973, followed by East District Youths CC in 1974 and 1975.   Then in the 1975 National CC, he won a silver medal in the Under-17 age-group behind the peerless Nat Muir.   In 1976 he finished eighth junior.   Charlie represented Scotland in the IAAF World Junior CC in both years.   His consistency in the Scottish Senior National was outstanding: six successive top ten performances between 1984 and 1990.  His best placing was sixth in 1985.   Charlie won four Scottish CC medals with DHH: bronze in 1990 and 1993, and silver in 1991.   In the Scottish CC Relay he won team silver in 1990.   The Six-Stage Road Relay produced considerable success for the Hawks and Charlie Haskett won team silver in 1989 and 1991, and must have enjoyed the victories in 1990 and 1994.   He ran 18 E-G’s, including team gold in 1989 and silver in 1990.   In the summer season Charlie ran well in the steeplechase and 10000m (30:24) and gained Scottish international vests as a marathoner, with a best time of 2:18:41 (1984) and silver medals in the Scottish Championships (1984 and 1987).   This durable athlete went on to run well as a veteran on country and road.

Peter McColgan was a Northern Ireland international who ran in the 1986 Edinburgh Commonwealth Games, reaching the Final in the steeplechase and 5000m..   By 1987 he was running for Dundee Hawkhill Harriers and won the 1988 East District   CC title.   Twice Northern Ireland steeplechase champion, in 1990 he won the Scottish 5000m title.    Then in 1991 he he claimed UK steeplechase gold.   He represented Great Britain in the 1991 World Athletic Championships steeplechase in Japan.   His track personal bests include two NI records (3000m indoors 7:54.48, and steeplechase in 8:27.93.) and a mile in 3:59.37.

Peter contributed a great deal to DHH success from 1987 to 1994.   He was fastest on Stage Two of the E-G in 1987 when his club finished fourth.   Then he was fastest once again on Stage Two in 1989 setting Hawks on the road to victory.   In 1989 he was part of the team which won silver in the Scottish Cross-Country Relay and then gold in the same event in 1990.   In the Six-Stage Road Relay, he gained team silver in 1989 and 1991 and then gold in 1994.   However his finest moment must have been when he won the Scottish Senior National Cross-Country title in 1990, leading DHH to bronze.   Peter also finished second individual in the 1991 National, with the Hawks being second team as well.

Iain Campbell (born 1960) originally ran for East Kilbride AAC, running the World Junior Cross-Country in both 1978 (27th) and 1979 (an outstanding 10th).   Then he went on to Clemson University in the USArecording a 5000m best of 14:02.0 in 1985.   He represented Dundee Hawkhill Harriers from 1989 to 1994.  Apart from making a major contribution to gold and silver medals in the 1989 and 1990 E-G, he featured in three further championship wins: 1990 and 1994 Six Stage and 1990 Cross-Country Relay.   Always enthusiastic and hard training, Iain went on to become a regular and successful member of the Scottish Masters squad for the annual Five Nations CC International.

Near namesake Ian Campbell was ten years younger and a track specialist (800m and 1500m) with impressive junior bests of 1:53.6 and 3:51.5.   His senior club 1500m club record is 3:43.64.   He was sixth on Stage One of the E-G in both 1990 (team silver) and 1992.  In addition he helped the Hawks secure team gold in the 1994 Six-Stage Road Relay.

Peter Fox (born 1962) originally came from Motherwell district and showed a great deal of athletic promise.   In 1978 he won bronze in the National Cross-Country Under 17 championship, and then gold in the Scottish Schoolboys Track 3000m.   In 1979 he finished first in the National Cross-Country Under-17, and won the Scottish Schoolboys 5000m.   In 1980 it was silver (behind Graham Williamson but in front of George Braidwood) in the Under-20 National Cross-Country.   Peter Fox ran for Scotland in the World Junior Cross-Country in both 1979 and 1980.

By now, along with Brian McSloy and Colin Farquharson, Peter was one of the young lions racing for Clyde Valley AC.   In 1979 (along with future 800m star Tom McKean) he was one of the team that won the Scottish Cross-Country Relay Young Athletes Championship.   Then Peter won two senior team gold medals in the 1979 and 1980 Edinburgh to Glasgow Road Relays, as well as two silver medals in the 1979 and 1980 Six-Stagers; and two more silver in the E-G when Peter was fastest on Stage Eight.   The 1982 Senior National Cross-Country produced team silver.   In the 1983 E-G, Clyde Valley AAC finished third with Fox fastest on Stage Four.   Then in 1986, running for Motherwell YMCA Harriers, Peter won the West District Cross-Country Individual title.   He was fourth in the 1988 Senior National Cross-Country.

Peter Fox studied for a medical degree at Dundee University and subsequently worked in the area as a doctor.   So Dundee Hawkhill Harriers must have been very pleased when he eventually joined them first-claim, making an immediate impact with a superb third place in the 1989 Senior National over a tough, hilly, snow-covered course at Hawick, behind Tommy Murray and Anglo Paul Evans but in front of Steve Ovett!   With the Hawks, Peter went on to win gold in the 1989 E-G and 1990 Six-Stager; plus silver in the 1989 Six-Stager, 1989 Scottish Cross-Country Relay and 1991 National Cross-Country, and bronze in the 1990 (tenth finisher) and 1991 National.   Although his training after this may have been reduced due to work commitments, this cheerful, popular runner can look back a career with so many fine achievements.

*   In the Six-Stage Road Relay, Dundee’s medallists (gold in 1990 and 1994 and silver in 1989 and 1991) included Haskett, McColgan, both Campbells, Peter Fox, B Cook, P McCormack, P McCavana, D Storey, Matt Strachan, J Hill, Craig Ross, Des McGonigle and Chris Hall.

*   1990 Scottish CC Relay gold medallists were Chris Hall, P McCavana, Iain Campbell and Peter McColgan.   1989 silver medallists were Fox, Paul Briscoe, Haskett and McColgan

*   Scottish Senior National Cross-Country team medallists (bronze in 1990 and 1993, silver in 1991) included Haskett, McColgan, Fox, Hall, Storey, McGonigle, Strachan, Briscoe, G Rennett and I Campbell (the younger?)

That is where Colin’s account of the DHH Fast Pack concludes but of those mentioned above, I knew Hugh McKay and Richie Barrie through their involvement in British Milers Club races that I organised in the mid-80’s.   Hugh (DoB 18/06/60) was a man of several clubs, having run for Central Region and Dundee University before joining the Hawks and he currently runs for Fife AC.   He was a good, honest runner who always gave of his best and by 1985 his best 1500, time was an excellent 3:48.3.   Richie was younger, Date of Birth 10th March 1963, but was also a good runner.  After the BMC Annual General Meeting in Glasgow in 1985, he offered to organise it for the following year in Dundee but was unfortunate that the National Committee wanted it back in England again.   In 1985 his pb for 1500m was 3:49.47 at the age of twenty one.   

Eddie Crozier

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Athletics, particularly running it seems, is basic to every sport in the land: sprinting is sprinting whether it is done on a track, criss-crossing a tennis court or ‘pinning your ears back and going for a try’;  throwing is throwing whether it is shying a ball into the box at a football match or taking a line-out throw; jumping is also basic to many sports from gymnastics to basket ball.   It is therefore no surprise to see athletics coaches such as Allan Wells, John Anderson, Tom McNab and Stuart Hogg working with professional squads in a whole host of other sports.   Many athletes in their career take part in other sports.  One sport which has benefited greatly from the input of athletics is rugby union.

The new vice-president of the Scottish Rugby Union, Eddie Crozier, used to be a runner himself.     Eddie hails from Dumbarton, son a local lawyer, and ran for the local Dumbarton AAC as a sprinter who specialised in the 400m.   As a rugby man Eddie represented two clubs from Glasgow on the sport’s governing body –  West of Scotland and Glasgow Academicals both of whom were in at the birth of the Scottish Amateur Athletic Association in 1883 as founder members along with such as Watsonians, Loretto, Royal High School, Edinburgh University, St Andrews University, Edinburgh Academicals, Fettesian-Lorettonians and Blair Lodge School.   The rugby link with athletics is still there – for instance at Scotstoun, used for athletics since the 19th century, is currently shared by athletics, mainly Victoria Park AAC, and the Glasgow Warriors rugby team.

Eddie himself is part of a long line of sprinters and 400m men who took part  in his sport.  Taking the 400m, it is possible to go back via Menzies Campbell who was the best British sprinter of his generation over 100m, 200m and 400m who captained Scottish and British teams, captained the Olympic team, won many international honours as well as doing the ‘double treble’  – ie winning the 100 , 220 and 440 yards at the same championships as well as a couple of doubles!  In total Campbell won the 100m 3 times (62, 63, 64), the 220 3 times (63, 64, 65), and the 440 4 times (61, 62, 53, 64).   Campbell raced all over Britain and was a regular runner for Glasgow University as well as for Garscube Harriers. He was a noted rugby player and although he never won a Scottish cap, he won a Twickenham sevens medal with Edinburgh Wanderers.   Going back a wee bit further we get the great Eric Liddell who won the 100 five times (1921, 22, 23, 24, 25), the 220 five times (1921, 22, 23, 24, 25) and the 440 yards twice (1924, 25), including a ‘double treble’ in 1924 and 1925.   Liddell was a rugby winger of strength and speed who was a regular all over Scotland at big meetings such as the Rangers Sports as well as at local meetings.

There were others but if we look at Eddie’s running career, one of his club mates at Dumbarton was noted official and administrator Jim McInnes, who served his time as President of the SAAA, and who himself (a) started out as a sprinter at the club and (b)who had played as one of the backs for Glasgow High School.   Dumbarton had a very good track team at that point – multi-Scottish medallist at decathlon and over the 440 hurdles Bobby  Mills covered many events, quarter and half miler Jack Brown was also a man capable of competing in other events, the young Currie brothers Alistair and Allan with fellow distance runner Scott Reid held great promise for the future, and at one point the club had four sub-two minute half milers in Mills, Brown, Jack Baird and Colin Martin.   Colin was a top class athlete at any distance from 440 yards to the steeplechase and only just missed out on Commonwealth selection.  Check their times on www.scotstats.net in the Archive section.  They trained at the Postie’s Park track in Levengrove Park in Dumbarton.   It was into this team that Eddie Crozier came.

If we look at the result below, taken from the DAAC website and drawn to my attention by Hugh Barrow we note that he defeated sub-4 minute miler Alistair Currie in a handicap club road race in 1980.  Amazing as the running of Campbell and Liddell was, neither has ever defeated a 4 minute miler!   Eddie has that honour:.

Alistair Currie’s ability was clear from the start and at local level races were arranged to give him ‘a good pull oot’.   The note at the foot of the result is self explanatory.   The link between good 400m men and rugby is clear.

If further proof of the 400m sprinters – rugby link were required, Brian Whittle, another outstanding 400m runner with Scottish and GB representation all the way through his senior career, an Olympian as well as a World, Commonwealth and European runner of note, was also a rugby player and a man who could have gone either way: his friend Derek Stark, who admittedly only ran 100 and 200m was also a rugby player of great ability.   Most recently of all, Guy Learmonth of Lasswade, a 48.0 second 400m runner and international athletes over 800m (1:46.69) only took up running seriously when he was not selected for the Under 17 Six Nations squad!

 The elevation of Eddie Crozier is an addition to the ever growing list of former athletes excelling in another sphere.   We have commented in the past on former athletes who are now better known as operatic tenor, a football referee, radio/TV sports reporter, successful sports agents, millionaire financiers, journalists of every sort and the list just goes on.   Well done Eddie.

I finish with a quote from Hugh Barrow:   When confronted with his past athletics endeavours Ed responded – “I can remember that day one of the Adams brothers wound me up re being a sprinter ! I thought my lungs were going to come through my throat !”    Most runners make a comeback at some point in their career – will we see    “E. Crozier (Dumbarton)” on a 10K results sheet at some point?

Glasgow – Fort William Relay

By Mike Lidwell, Dumbarton AAC, 16th April, 1975.

The pursuit of the athletic ideal may lead to the staging of long distance running events but is not so often associated with the appreciation of scenes of landscape beauty.   More often urban scenes are the runner’s lot: seen through a maze of traffic signs and between smoking motors.   Yet the happy union of a good running course and spectacular scenery was achieved by Dumbarton AAC in a long distance relay between Glasgow and Fort William.   As a final inestimable boon the event was blessed with the best weather conditions so far experienced this year.   The sun rose shortly after the runners and shone on the participants until the eventual massing of the clouds heralded the descent into Fort William.   Perhaps in deference to the romantic appeal of this traverse of the MacGregor country, the old name of Inverlochy should be used.

Conception

The aim of the exercise was to counter the trend in modern running away from natural point-to-point  events towards artificial courses on prepared tracks or soul destroying road running.   This breath of fresh air will have helped to revitalise the sport.   Accordingly, no course as such was defined: only a set of conditions was imposed on teh teams to preserve the desired character of the event.   The route used is believed to be the fastest possible without the use of public roads and if we or any other club wish to repeat the run, any time-saving modifications that are suggested will be incorporated.   In practice, some road mileage is unavoidable, a limit of 20% is suggested and of this, less than 5% on major trunk roads.   Only 8 baton carrying runners were employed but additional support runners were not excluded and in view of the rugged nature of certain sections of the course are an essential safety provision.   It is hoped that the time of 11 hours 03 minutes 44 seconds achieved by the club is a challenging one that may provoke a response from other clubs.   However like all records it is undoubtedly doomed once the greater runners tackle it.   The distance run was about 90 miles, excluding involuntary excursions, and the intended route did not differ by a large amount from the straight line, so that an ultimate limit nearer 9 hours 30 minutes is expected.

A large amount of effort was spent organising this inaugural run.   Maps were prepared and trial runs made over most sections.   In many instances, the available maps were found to be deficient in significant detail and these deficiencies were carefully charted.   Study of the maps reveals the problem of establishing changeover points.   The aim was to arrange 30 stages of about 3 miles or 20 minutes running time but some double stages of 7 miles with up to triple our target times were necessary.   The problems of transporting the runners to their starting points were solved by splitting the runners into two teams of four runners, each team having independent transport.   The ‘A’ team was responsible for the first section between Glasgow and Killearn and the third section between Falloch and Kinlochleven; the ‘B’ team was responsible for the second and fourth sections.   In this way the support parties were given time to drive round from Stronachlachar to Glen Falloch and to deposit runners at Kinlochleven where the route is considerably shorter than the road.

The runners were all allocated their stages prior to the start although changes could be made subsequently.   One virtue of this type of event is that legs can be found to suit the tastes of each runner provided there is a sufficient mixture of abilities in the club.   The fell runners necessary for the stages before and after Glen Falloch are perhaps the key to a successful run but the long stretches of old road and forestry track are significant to achieving a good time.   Finally inspection of the calendar showed that the event must be staged after the vernal equinox to ensure sufficient daylight.   As the 15th March coincided with the date traditionally set for the club point-to-point event, it was chosen.

The City Link

Just before 6:00 am the ‘A’ team runners assembled in George Square, Glasgow.   The dawn was just throwing aside the shadows from the facade of the City Chambers as the runners and officials assembled on the starting line in front of the GPO beside the steps of the Cenotaph.   The morning traffic not yet on the move, the field was free for Gordon McLaren to take the first strides across the square then through the streets to join the canal towpath at Port Dundas.   This branch of the Forth and Clyde Canal provides footpath access to the centre of Glasgow although closed to boat traffic.   The eventual construction of the Maryhill motorway may cause this route to be abandoned perhaps in favour of the newly constructed Kelvin Walkway.   After 18 minutes running on the level towpath, Colin Martin took over at Wyndford at the junction with the canal proper.   The morning light was now illuminating the still waters of the canal with all the signs of a fine day to come.

In Maryhill it was necessary to leave the canal and make a short link along the main road to reach Rannoch Drive.   This minor road led through a suburb to the next changeover at Boclair at the gates of the cemetery by the Roman Wall.   Colin being one of the fastest members of the ‘A’ team soon completed this stage to arrive at 6:47, well ahead of schedule.   The next stage was a rather complicated route skirting the Hillfoot Golf Course and then following the banks of the Allander Water into Milngavie, hopping over a fence on to the main road.   Here the North wind could be felt and Ronald Paton was perspiring with the effort when at last the hill up the road through Milngavie to the reservoirs had been surmounted.

The Pipe Track

Here, the city section complete, our route joined the line of the water pipes by which Glasgow is supplied from the pure waters of Loch Katrine.   Various tracks and footpaths giving access to the pipes for maintenance are kept in spick and span condition by the efforts of the corporation and enable this route to be followed with ease.   From the banks of the reservoir which form a customary Sunday afternoon perambulation for the citizens of the West End, a wide view over the City is obtained but Alistair Lawson, one of the pioneers of this enterprise kept his head down as he concentrated on getting over the Mugdock Hill to Strathblane as fast as possible, taking care not to get bogged down in the marshy stretches between the small lochans on the moor.   He was soon seen by the watchers at the fourth changeover negotiating a slippery descent down a grassy field to the memorial at Netherton Cross.   Here Campsie Dene Road an attractive track following the water leat, runs along under the crags of the Campsies.   Gordon, taking over for his second run,sped along the track taking the many gates in his stride.   In some little woodland glades the birds were startled by an unaccustomed apparition as this scantily clad  runner rushed by.   The morning sun could still be seen hitting the hills of Luss across Loch Lomond.   The next changeover the last of this section, was more difficult of access.   The timekeepers and photographers were left gasping after a sharp ascent to the track above the Glengoyne Distillery.   However Colin, the next stage runner, was obviously not affected as he completed this stage to the tennis club in Killearn before his support arrived.   Here the ‘A’ team withdrew after having achieved a very satisfactory start handing over to the ‘B’ team some eight minutes earlier than expected, even after having started 10 minutes late.   The ‘B’ team were in fact caught hopping but their first runner, Harry Martin, did not lose much time stripping off and starting off down Drumtian Road to the footbridge over the River Endrick.   Here the first setback came as, running unrehearsed and returning from his recent honeymoon, headed off trail along the Endrick towards Drumtian Farm.   Once again, after rejoining the trail, his direction went askew as the perturbed watchers waiting by the pipe crossing on the Drymen to Aberfoyle road saw him continuing up the road straight for Aberfoyle.   A valuable 4 minutes must have been lost by the time he had retraced his steps from the garage at Ballat.

 Meanwhile Michael Lidwell was waiting for his stage across the moor to the Moorpark changeover warming up in the sun’s rays now flooding over the old plug of Dungoyne which forms the terminator to the mass of the Campsies.   A landmark for much of the first half of the route.   Eventually the change was made and he set off across the damp grass chasing the rabbits as they plunged for their burrows.   Occasional stone pillars mark the pipes buried underneath but there is little else to show the route across open moorland.   Eventually a dark line of the forestry heaved over the horizon and the trail veered downhill to the right and the changeover at the entrance to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park.   Here another rushed changeover as the support was delayed by a horsebox on the narrow road.   Ian McWatt, the runner on this long stage through the forest was helped by Allan running in support.   This was fast running again on an access road but then the hard track degenerated to a loose grit surface as the trees closed in beyond Corrie.   Roe deer may be come upon suddenly when runners swiftly swing round the bends.   Occasional glimpses of the snow plumes summit of Ben Lomond were caught through the gaps in ranks of spruce.   It was while on a training run here with Alistair that the idea of the relay was born.   Our route went over Duchray Water by a planked bridge shared with the water siphon then was followed by a short stiff climb  by the piped to reach the level of the aqueduct at the Loch Ard changeover on a private road in the middle of the forest.   Billy Cairns now took over leaving Ian and Allan to drive round to pick up the trail again at Glen Falloch while the rest of the team leapfrogged on to Loch Dhu, driving from Kinlochard by a narrow dead end road.   The trail here departed from the pipeline following the infant River Forth  winding up to its source under Ben Lomond, before at Stronachlachar it crossed a low ridge back to the pipes and into another river system which flows from Loch Chon to Loch Dhu then Loch Ard before joining the Forth.   The runners were still making good time but no spectacular gains on the schedule.

At Loch Dhu, Harry took over again, as Michael husbanded his resources for the mountain stage over the pass at the head of Glen Gyle.   The trail now took a delightful little path through mixed woodland along the shores of Loch Chon.   At Frenich however the path becomes confused.   It is necessary to duck low under the branches of a small cluster of firs to find the oath and Harry chose the farm access track at the road losing a further two minutes.   Billy took the baton at the stile at the start of a path above the pipes tunnelled through the hill to Loch Katrine to the water inlet at Royal Cottage.   The hill is steep but short before the waters of Loch Katrine lie at your feet.   The rivers on this part of the route run east to the Forth.   Our route crosses the main watershed of Scotland no fewer than six times and in this respect may be considered a successor to the much publicised Pennine Way.   The watershed is highly convoluted, the rivers Clyde, Falloch, Orchy, Etive and Leven flow west, while the Forth, Cononish and Ba flow to the east.   However man has tampered with this natural distribution, the water at our feet is destined to flow west into the sewers of Glasgow but I doubt if this was bothering Billy as he descended into the birch groves speckled with sunlight and turned on to the little road that runs over rocky promontories along the loch shore to Stronachlachar.

The Drove Way

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Harry Martin at Loch Katrine

At the white gate marking the start of the private road, controlled by the water board, Harry took over again.   The photographer  with the party was moved to take a mood photograph of the light playing among the trees on the loch shore and slanting over the distant summit of Ben Venue.   The runners tiring, the ace was maintained by running short relay sections alternating between Harry and Billy.   At the head of the loch started one of the key runs of the day, following the route of an old drove road from Argyll to markets in the east.   This is the first of four mountain stages: Glen Gyle to Glen Falloch, Glen Falloch to Glen Atrioch, the Devil’s Staircase and the Lairig beside the Mamore Hills.   Each of these and the other double stages through Loch Ard Forest and over Rannoch Moor has been assigned to a runner as his prime task: six miles of rough mountain going may be considered a day’s outing in itself.   Michael took over at the gate and threaded his way through a heard of bullocks then  slithered over the wooden balks of timber that take a track over the marshy ground.   Soon after crossing the burn the gradient steepened and Eve’s road, made by the contractors to place the electricity pylons, became rough and stony and took a rising traverse on the north side of the glen.   All was still and very quiet in the shelter of the surrounding hills basking in the warmth of the midday sun.   The time is now approaching 11 o’clock and we are about 30 minutes up on schedule.   Running this ascent for the third time, every stone was familiar as the glen narrowed and the track petered out, it was helpful to know the best line as the trail crossed and re-crossed the diminishing slope to the burn.   The ground steepened and a large boulder marked the place for increased effort on the final slope to the col.   Once over the pass at 1420 feet the physical effort was diminished but the terrain became difficult.   By keeping well to the right the worst of this was avoided and the runner wove, jumped and fought his way over the black muddy wallows and deep beds of heather.   After wading the Beinn Glas burn the going became easier and the end of a rough track leading to Glen Falloch was reached.   A short spurt ascended some 200 feet on the track before the test of making a descending traverse across a steep untracked hillside, etched with stream gullies to the river crossing far below.   However he was pleased to splash through the river well within his personal target of 65 minutes for the stage.

The Falls of Falloch are the halfway point and our time to this point was 5 hours, 34 minutes 32 seconds.   An encouraging result which suggested an arrival in Fort William shortly after 5 o’clock.   The ‘A’ team now resumed running with Alistair repeating his trial run over the next stage.   Against the 1400 feet of vertical ascent and six and a half his early morning run over Dumbuck moor was a gentle warm up.   The hill rose uncompromisingly directly ahead of him and the best line lies direct up the drier ground past an old boundary stone of the Britons.   The rest of the team who have been taking a rest period enjoying the sun, lying out on the grass, packed up while Michael washed off in the cold water!   The joys of Glen Falloch are often missed because of the proximity of the main A82 but some fine mountain summits such as Ben Vorlich and Cruach Ardrain lie on either side and all of them today present glittering snow tops.

The gap Alistair passed through between Fiarach and Ben Dubhchraig is at an altitude of 1520 feet and not too far from the snow.   Small patches lay in the hollows of the broken ground of the upper corrie.   Once over the top he descended to the burn and then ran down its easy grassy banks in Glen Atrioch to a vestige of the old Caledonian forest by the River Cononish.   A panorama of the route ahead opened out over the wood towards the peak of Ben Dorain peeping through the Meall Odhar pass.   Arriving in Glen Cononish the possible problem of the river crossing was solved by using the railway viaduct, although this was not recommended as the trains are infrequent.   The survey faced a difficulty with the next stage to Tyndrum as the originally proposed route  had been ploughed with ditches by the Forestry Commission, the only sensible route was to continue beside the railway.   The Cononish rising near the peak of Ben Lui with its precipitous north face  is the source of the Tay and here near the sacred pool of St Fillan is deep with rocky pools.   A changeover by the railway bridge over the track leading from Dalriach up Glen Cononish might have been an advantage but as the support would have to walk in it was not carried out, leaving Alistair to plod alone for a last weary mile into Tyndrum.

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Mike Lidwell splashing through the Falloch

The Military Road

A reunion took place here as Ian and Allan arrived after their drive from Loch Ard and a discussion took place as to whether Ian should run again to save Ronald for his run over Rannoch Moor but it was decided to keep to the original scheme.   Alistair arrived worn out but on time and Colin took over using the old road which was abandoned by motor traffic in the 1930’s.   The surface, though eroded in places by small burns that become torrents in bad weather, was good.   Coming down the hill towards Auch with the famous railway horse-shoe.   Colin hesitated as stags blocked his path but continued as they took to the hillside.   At Auch the support waited by the parapet of the old stone bridge and began to feel chilly as a layer of afternoon cloud moved over  the sun.   The level of the terrain had risen as the route moved towards Rannoch Moor, a large, wild upland area which isolates the north of Scotland.   Ron took over for the ‘A’ team for the run  down to the old road just past Kingshouse.   Alistair took over the baton and the others scuttled back to their cars.   Driving along the main road it was just possible to pick out the lonely figure picking his way along the track on the other side of the valley.

At Bridge of Orchy there was a general reunion as the teams met again, the first real chance for a chinwag at Killearn was such a rush.   Jack Brown brought Billy and Harry round the long road from Stronachlachar passing round Loch Lomond by Balloch, a round trip of some ten miles.   In obedience to the old sign, a left-over from the time when tjis was a main road we routed the run through the subway at the station and changed over in the station forecourt.   Soon Ron hove into sight behind a herd of highland cattle.   A fearsome sight these beats in full flight with their impressive spread of horn.   However seeing the crowd  in front they peeled off from the track to allow our runner through: a traffic hazard not so often met on the alternative road route.   Here the direct line concept demanded that we follow Invercauld’s old military road over the hill to the hotel at Inveroran, but the Forestry Commission have been at work across the start of the path and our survey had not properly extended to the northern sections, so our first runner, Colin Martin, took the easy and probably faster road round, a little road dipping and rising over hummocks and through clusters of old pines, that is surely mis-classified as an A road.   An auxiliary car was sent out to cover the changeover at Forest Lodge.   The point at which the road terminates after crossing the Victoria Bridge in fron tof the big white gate.  The bridge is one more in the sequence of fine old stone arches which once took the old road north.   The stage over Rannoch Moor followed a long, remote track, winding its way round the edge of the moor under the shadow of the mountains from Stob Gobhar to Clach Leathad.   The gradients are easy but it is easy to underestimate the climb of some 850 feet in addition to 7.3 miles of distance.   Conditions were good but the chill breeze from the north wafted around Ronald as he appeared to be isolated from his comrades and indeed the whole world.   Once clear of the stand of pines around the lodge, the track rises rapidly up the Black Mount and looking back one surveys the icy ridge of Ben Achalader over the smooth waters of Loch Tulla, then the route passes into a defile before coming into a wide corrie around Ba Cottage.   The building a ruin long ago, but the old bridge still stands and does its job of aiding such travellers as care to pass this way.   A changeover here, the support walking in along the path up Loch Ba from the main road might have been an advantage but involve too much effort.   As it was, Ron was flagging as much from lack of company as exhaustion but the time he reached the summit of Meall a’Bhruidh before he picked up again on the run in to Black Rock.   His time however matched that produced by Alistair and Billy in the New Year trial.   The other runners have been taking things easy at Black Rock, snoozing in the van well wrapped up for warmth, or testing the binoculars by watching the ski-ers sporting themselves on the slopes above, near perfect snow conditions it appeared.   Colin goes to the phone at the ski-lift to publicise our efforts through Radio Clyde.   At last Ron appeared and Ian stripped off to lend his support to the ‘A’ team for the run down the old road past Kingshouse.   Alistair took over at the road junction with the Glen Etive road  and failing any reasonable alternative took the main road for the stage to Altnafeadh.   These short two-mile legs were dominated by the vast mass of the Buchaille culminating in the vertical cliffs of Carn Dearg, a sight which dwarfed the runner seemingly crawling underneath.

The Devil’s Staircase

At Altnafeadh, Gordon took over for the climb to the highest point of the course, at the summit of the Devil’s Staircase, 1850 feet above sea level.   He takes with him Allan, the reserve runner, making his second run of the day in a support capacity.   The organisation to this point has been going like clockwork and the runners are almost an hour up on schedule but the gains were on the early sections and now times are close to the estimates with only the odd seconds being pared off.   The path up was rough and stony, the steepness forcing the runners down to a walk, but once over the crest the greatest descent of the day, down to sea-level at Kinlochleven pulled them forward.   At Kinlochleven in the narrow valley between hills which attract the highest rainfall in Scotland lies the aluminium works powered by hydro-electricity from the fall of waters penned in the Blackwater reservoir.   The route followed the pipes down into the small town.

Meanwhile the support had been busy.   A fast car was sent off for Blair a’Chaoruin through Fort William carrying the ‘B’ team runners for the last two stages.   Another went immediately on to Kinlochleven with Billy for the Mamore Hill stage and Michael to act as guide for the initial footpath out of Kinlochleven.    The others follow more leisurely, having no particular urgency.   The road detours through Glen Coe  and it might be possible for the runners on their much shorter route to get ahead, however Kinlochleven was reached in ample time and the runners had time to warm up and the photographers to reach viewpoints.   Occasional flashes of sunlight illuminated the snows on the peaks of the Mamores but in general the early brilliance of the day was over.   The changeover was beside the public conveniences on the main road, an error really as we learnt from a local that the old road route took the other bridge further upstream.   Allan and Gordon came in together and handed over to Billy who set off in pursuit of Michael well ahead and intent on drawing him out to a good start.  Just past the last houses, a green sign indicated the start of the path which runs up the hillside through the light birch woods but a few false lines must be avoided.   After crossing the track up to the lodge, Michael faltered and Billy proceeded alone but was eventually reduced to a walk up a series of hairpins.   A number of paths traverse this hillside and here the path was joined by a stronger strand for the steepest part, then the track rising from the lodge to the Lairig was reached.   This track is good, rising gradually for the remaining altitude to the summit of the pass at about 1000 feet.   Here the runner found the going harder as the track became strewn with loose stones and dissected with streams.   It was dry as for the preceding week so the runner fared well.   The run seems to go on for ever, down the valley, until at last the woods signal the end.

Conclusion

The fast car had problems.   Choosing the ferry at Ballachulish rather than the long drive round, Jack Brown was delayed.   The last stage runners received a shaking as he raced into position, along the bumpy road through Blairmafoldach.   Ian was just in time to meet Billy, whio just beat the hour for his run.   The Lochaber man, Eddie Campbell, came out to meet us and prepare for our reception.   To speed the pace, Colin took over for a short run before handing over to Harry who carried the baton to the finish.   The clouds swirled up and rain was in the air as Fort William appeared before us.   The pulp mills at Corpach were prominent across the water at Loch Linnhe.   All the runners fell in behind Harry for the run-in bringing this event to a triumphant conclusion.   The timekeepers rushed on and found the finishing line through the centre of the square, by the museum, at the notice board.   Harry came past the Post Office to cross the line.   The timekeepers went into a huddle and announced the result:   11 hours 03 minutes 44 seconds.   This was well up to expectations but all regretted that we had just failed the 11 hour mark.

Besides the organisers, others had been estimating time and staked their money on the result.   A girl from Cardross. perhaps aided a little by Gordon, guessed within 20 seconds of the time to win herself a Westclox Quartzmatic clock.   This cliock had been carried throughout the event as an auxiliary timing check and was proved accurate.   The runners were photographed before departing to relax their muscles in a warm shower at the sports ground.  All pronounced themselves to have had a most enjoyable day and expressed their hopes that other clubs may feel moved to follow their lead in tackling this course.

Postscript

This basic route was adopted for further runs in the following years and even attracted some competition between Lochaber, Clydesdale and a University team with Clydesdale setting a record of 10 hours 48 minutes 08 seconds in 1982.   The construction of the West Highland Way and in particular the engineering of a path along the precipitous eastern shore of Loch Lomond, has drawn attention away from our route.   Previously this shore was impassable unless by a diversion up the Snaid Burn and a steep descent to Doune.   Even now our route has attractions as it is shorter and permits more frequent access for changeovers.   One change for subsequent runs has been the adoption of the West Highland Way route from Milngavie to Killearn following the Allander Water, then an old railway track with a marginal time reduction.  The stage from Falloch to Cononish has been destroyed by aforestation in Glen Atrioch involving the construction of a high deer fence across the path, but there is now a footpath from Dalriach to Tyndrum to avoid proximity to the railway.   The main road from Kingshouse to Altnafeadh can also be avoided by the new West Highland Way footpath with the sacrifice of a little speed for safety.

Inevitably solo runs have been made.   First Bobby Shields (Clydesdale)  in a northerly direction, then |Eddie Campbell (Lochaber) managed to reach Milngavie in 19 hours 30 minutes continuous running from Fort William.   Now an event is run over the West Highland Way route but I suppose some of its meanderings are omitted.

Revised by MO Lidwell, August 2006.