Uphill Only Races

There was something new in the hill running calendar for 1996: important enough to get its own box on the front of the Tiso calendar: an uphill only series of 7 races.

The Tiso calendar of the 1996 hill racing season had a box at the foot of the front cover advertising a new development: an uphill only series was promoted quite prominently at the foot of the page.   The selection of races was interesting in its own right but the question is how, after over many decades of hill racing, it had come to be.   But first you will note that the list included a half Ben Lomond Junior Race as well as six races for Seniors.   In the list of six there was a newcomer in the form of the Glencoe Chairlift Race which was a brand new arrival on the circuit, and about which, more later.   It may have been the first time that a series of uphill races as such appeared on the fixture list but the genesis had been longer, it had been discussed and the decision to encourage uphill only had already been taken. 

There was maybe a wee hint in this extract from the back page of the brochure as to why it started in 1996.

ICMR XII Mountain Running World Trophy 1966 (Uphill Only) is the phrase that should maybe be noted here.   

To begin our look at the ‘new’ series, we  asked Denis Bell, international hill runner, selector and team manager about it.  He tells us that: Europeans used to do most of their running ‘uphill only’ (aided by the fact that it was ‘considered safer’ and probably because they have so many mountain top services like chalets and cable cars, etc.)   I do think though that the Italians probably had a decent race series of our UK traditional style  ‘up and down’, I say this because on all race types and terrains they coped ‘brilliantly’ and with the rough (‘dangerous’) downhills.

So in my early years there was a compromise in the World Cup (yes, that’s what it was called) mountain races. They were however  forced to re-name those events because of football’s World Cup.   So the ‘World Running Mountain Trophy’ races developed. 
It was not the usual British format but following great negotiation by Danny Hughes et al of the Fell Runners Association, they gave the UK teams some wee balance by doing 2-yearly cycles:  uphill only one year then ‘up-and -down’ next.    It was, therefor, very sensible that we should try to ‘condition’ our best to cope with the, to us, ‘alien form of racing’.   He continues: “We set up uphill races and we might have actually had a series but I cannot remember if there was a ‘championship or award’ as such..   We already had …
Aonach Mor Gondola race [very early year]
Glenshee Uphill from way down the glen by the Dundee Uni ski club ‘tow’ to The Cairnwell
The Glencoe Chairlift Challenge, (we also added a super low key ‘relay’ (sorry I cannot remember the format for that …It might have been a team of 2,3,or 4…up and down a ‘same short-ish leg’…the athletes were asked if they wanted to do all 3 (same day!) and a fair few did!!!
An ‘Aberfoyle’ Braeval Uphill Evening race (set up by Dermot McGonigle)
Glas Tulachean set up by Martin Hyman, then run by Dave Hanlon (Dundee Hawkhill Harrierss).    I believe form Angela it’s in it’s 21st or 25th year!!
I also organised an uphill in Glencoe and got great support from the ‘manager’ using the base lodge / services area as a base, and running up the old access track by a secondary wee summit, right up to the summit of Meall a Bhuirdidh. I think this race might have been resurrected.
Can’t remember if there were ‘others’ but this parcel of races at least offered ‘experience of going up as full gas as possible without holding anything back for a decent. Please note that the only assist down was of course from the Snowgoose gondola station on Aonach Mor…the rest meant all had to get back down safely anyway..so our absolute ‘up and down‘ was not fully compromised’! [even at AM, most ran back off the hill!]
The Glencoe Chairlift Challenge was a brand new race devised by Alistair Lawson.   Hill races, rounds and runs are devised in all sorts of formats and for all sorts of reasons.   It is worth looking at how these things happen!   When asked Alistair explained that “The Glenshee Chairlift Challenge was a short-lived (mid-1990s) event in conjunction with the Glenshee Chairlift Company, which was anxious to attract new summer customers and generate new interests in order to justify keeping the skiers’ café open during the summer months.  The deal was that a stuffed dummy, created using a bright orange suit from the mountain rescue equipment) was strapped into one of the chairlift seats, thereby providing a visible marker for the runners.  The chairlift runs, of course, at a constant speed, which meant that the dummy gained ground on the runners on the uphill leg (straight up the rough hill, directly under the lift-line), whereas the reverse obtained on the downhill leg and the lead runners overtook the dummy.  It was a close-run thing, such as to allow the awarding of certificates to those who beat the dummy, while those who didn’t were simply “also rans”.  ”  
As part of the search for more detailed information on the topic, Denis discussed the topic Angela Mudge who had been more closely involved in the matter  and she was very helpful with information on the World Mountain Running Trophy format and ‘The European Championships’.   The WMRT, and Euro Champs are held ‘every second year‘ and they alternate between them having an ‘up and down’ and an ‘uphill only’; then the next cycle, they reverse the format of their previous event…so every 2nd year there’s an up and down or an uphill only.   
Denis goes on to say: “Scottish Athletics Limited have been holding a single race Championship event for all age categories for very many years now.  They also did a Championship race to combine it as an ‘Uphill selection race’ for the WMRT.   This was a very positive bit of management.   Over the piece you can clearly see that the ‘hill runners’ year could be very challenging and had many, many races of real consequence.  On reflection maybe the most complicated of all sports anywhere?
Angela reminded me that in 1996, the second Euro Champs (where I was a team manager) at Llanberis for the Snowdon uphill race format with ladies stopping at The Midway Station (Angela, Sonia Armitage, Tracey Brindley), and the men went to the summit(John Brooks, Dermot McGonigle, Mark Rigby, and John Wilkinson). 
Typically, ‘women’s uphill was to target 50 minutes; the ‘men’s’ 67 minutes.
Angela also reminded me that, on that occasion, we went into a local sports shop to buy then ‘blue shorts’ instead of them wearing the team kit of ‘white knickers’(???)….hill runners do things a bit differently to track and field.
{The inaugural European Championship, was in the south of France, 1994?}
Scotland had lots of presence over the years at both WMRTs and Euro Champs.   Angela has told me that in 2021, the IAAF are incorporating WMRT and going to ‘combine a format of Short Uphill; Up and Down; a 40km mountain ‘trial’ and an 80km trail event.    I think a 4 day festival.”
In Scotland, we used Broad Law in Tweedsmuir for a selection race (not quite to the ‘top’ top because of the radar beacon). I did that race, and I think though ‘not first 2’, it added to my race result profile for ‘considered selection’…..[i remember Dave Weir was very close, and he very shortly after matured into an internationalist…]
In 2019 there were 600 athletes competed in a Long Mountain 80km, and a 50km trail (a kind of conundrum is that Sierra Zinal, a very long standing classic,  is classed as both a MOUNTAIN Race and a Trail race…?!)



Junior International Selection 2002

The teams did well in the international, of that there is no doubt whatsoever.   Team selectors at whatever level often (usually?) get it in the neck for some inappropriate selection or omission.   Not this time.  It is appropriate to have a look at how the team was chosen.   First we have the race details and the course maps.

Having been informed of the venue, arrangements and trails, the races went off well as the report below shows.


Training Days

The range of people interested in and involved in hill-running is wide: there are races for Under 16’s and there is no upper limit as far as ages are concerned.   There are races for beginners (there are frequent articles in hill running journals and magazines by and about the pratfalls and pitfalls of a hill-running neophyte) and for the elite.   The sport was developed in several ways.  There were weekend gatherings aimed at the elite but open to all.   They were held all over Scotland and the cost to the attenders was as low as possible, and lifts to and from were offered where possible.   We asked Denis Bell for more information.    
“These were largely down to Martin Hyman.   Martin was a superb organiser and a stickler for detail and whilst these ‘coaching weekends’ were really targeted towards the ‘elite runners’, they actually appealed more to the ranks and file .   Few of the elite joined up, but 80% of the attendees were excellent club members, experienced runners, and then the shades below towards novice.    To begin with we had juniors and seniors, and the events worked fine, but as expected, became a bit polarised between seniors and juniors.   Nonetheless the affiliations, camaraderie etc were bedrocks.   We soon determined to split off the ages and ended with seniors and juniors as separate events and these were al in my opinion ‘great successes’…Wanlockhead, Comrie Croft, the Scout Station at Lochearnhead, maybe Dalbeattie, the Scout Centre, near Hillend, and Glencoe I think (and definitely there were a couple ‘further north).  I probably missed a few!
These were typically getting 30-40 seniors,  and separately c20 Juniors, and lasted from gathering Friday evening to departing mid afternoon Sunday. People travelled far and wide and again paid little to participate (£15 perhaps).  All the grub and drinks were provided by the organising team (this indeed was also the format for Will’s Bothy…provision of labour on the project (a couple of days..) and then the Will’s Relay afterwards….more ad-hoc as Martin arranged days to get down to get on with the workload  ( turning a pretty dilapidated ruin into a very habitable 2-floor Bothy)….again people travelled from far and wide to help.
The format of the Coaching weekends, was planned efforts, classroom-discussion sessions and also efforts out on the hills.
The class stuff was about keeping healthy, eating and drinking, injuries, preparation for events and racing, mountain craft and orienteering, training routines etc…we also set up personal training plans for the future….and then just generally shared experiences.  Some of the ‘lecture’ work was ‘formal presentation style’ in an open inclusive forum. We had invited guests sharing their experience with us and sharing ‘informed’ approaches in terms of coaching…SAL or active and well known in ‘athletics’…
We all could, were encouraged to, pitch in and have our say, do our bit.
We had ‘relay’ events and then did wider ranging into the hills. Wanlockhead was superb, very early in the year (2nd weekend Jan).. Varied weather over the years, etc. Other events at the places noted above took place at other times of the years and were well advertised to be planned in to our personal calendars.
These were a super success both for seniors and juniors, as affordable and smartly organised, and innovative approaches over diverse locations, where we tried to be inclusive to the fraternity beyond the Central Belt…   Malcolm Patterson took on a lot to do with juniors and we generally expanded interests by seniors, women and juniors..   I’d say our membership strengthened and grew, and all gained benefit, although of the top elites attended.
In my early years 200max members (SHRA)…later on by 15 years progression probably 600+ members .
As an illustration of these weekends, we have some of the documentation from the Wanlockhead weekend in January 1996.   The map used is at the top of the page, but first have a look at the schedule for the weekend.    Having been advertised beforehand, including a ‘last minute plug’ in the Scottish Hill Runner magazine for October 1995, applications received and Christmas celebrated, the attendees arrived and were given the following timetable.   Some had taken the option of travelling down the night before and staying in Wanlockhead, some had accepted the offers of lifts from others going there but all had the same weekend programme. 
  Attached to this information sheet was a list of participants with their details which included their name, phone number, where they were from, whether and how much they had paid and notes which included their age if they were juniors.   At this camp, there were 16 juniors and 26 seniors; 15 females and 27 males.   There were seven staff members.  These were Malcolm Patterson who was a run leader; Mags Turnbull head caterer, Edel Mooney helper and coach, Oleg Chepelin who was an orienteering coach, Jill Horsburgh Caterer, Denis Bell Coach and Martin Hyman who was noted as ‘Wise Old Man’.    The weekends were always successful but while talking about Squad Weekends, the Juniors were not left out: how could they be when they had been doing so well on the international scene in the early 90’s?   Staying with 1996, there was a very good one at the Comrie Croft Bunkhouse, between Comrie and Crieff.   The review below is from the ‘Scottish Hill; Runner’ of June 1996.
Senior Squad Days and Junior Squad Days in a variety of locations covering the country and all very successful.   If you put them together with such as  the Come and Try Days put on by Christine Menhennet then you have a sport that was catering for all: a recipe for success.

Denis Bell: Official & Administrator

A HELP prize giving with Guest of Honour Yvonne Murray

Almost everyone involved in athletics in any serious way takes on other tasks away from the training track and the racing programme.   There is almost always an overlap with club committees and even at times with District Committees, and in exceptional cases goes further yet and into national and international involvement.    Haddington East Lothian Pacemakers (HELP) was formed by a group of runners in 1983 as a result of people watching the first London Marathon in 1981.  Founding member, Henry Muchamore is the man the old brigade have a lot to thank for. Henry was the main driving force, pushing the club forward in establishing a very well respected, competitive club. The peak years of the club were from about the mid 80’s to late 90’s. It had athletes winning road, hill and cross-country races.     One of the club’s early aims was to raise money for charities and they raised a lot when they did a ‘Run the World Relay’ round the boundary of the town, they raised money from all sorts of local sources.    Tens of thousands of pounds were raised by the club.

Of the charity work, Denis himself says “I managed personal charity contributions too…my co-workers at Brunton’s Musselburgh were so generous on at least 2 occasions, and I think I got another two ‘personally collected’ amounts from families and friends etc. For doing my marathons especially….our HELP acronym was most certainly rooted so generously in trying to support and help charitable causes.”     Denis’s charity efforts did not stop there however. and among the more notable were the following: 

  •  He also did an abseil from Glasgow University Tower when working with Keystone Valves for the Macmillan Cancer Fund.   
  • He did the Corryairack Challenged from Fort Augustus to Kincraig for the Badaguish Respite Centre, near Coylumbridge.   This was a duathlon running 17 miles to Garbh Bridge and then cycling a further 10 miles to Kincraig.   
  • Denis was also part of a 10 man team with a support group of three ‘whusketeers’ that did the JOGLE (John o’Groats to Lands End) on their cycles just 7 years ago in eight and a half days to raise funds for Stem Cell research.

Henry was the club’s first Chairman, and when Denis and some other talented runners joined the club they added even more enthusiasm.    It is always important when setting up a new club to draw up a Constitution right at the beginning  and Denis played a big part in that.   A real livewire within the club,   he was said to be involved in everything: for instance, the club had a magazine called ‘The Chaser’ and Denis wrote reports on several issues including reports on hill running.   When Henry stepped down as Chairman, he tells me that Denis took over.   In about 1986 the club organised the ‘Haddington 5’ Miles  in June.   It subsequently organised the half marathon in June which in turn was followed by the ‘Haddington 10’ miles for August.   Henry Muchamore tells us that Denis was very important in setting these races up, maybe especially the 10 miles,  and filled many posts in the organisation.     He was the club’s first Scottish international when he represented the country in hill running doing the Snowdonia Mountain Race and was made a life member.   The photograph below shows Denis receiving a trophy (for something!) at a HELP Presentation.

Having started as a club committee member, he had held just about every office – from Chairman to Club Captain – and discovered that he enjoyed the experience, and it was natural that he should continue to be involved when he moved to Torrance.   The involvement continued at National level.

Denis was fairly quickly recruited to the Scottish Hill Runners Association committee and was active on a variety of fronts.   In the mid 90’s the governing body for the hill runners was one of the seven that came together under the Scottish Athletics Federation banner.   He says: “I was active in SHRA committee work and the transition from Scottish Hill Runners Association [aligned to Fell Runners Association] to Hill Running Commission, under direct Scottish Athletic Federation]”  This was a serious exercise as the whole structure of the sport in the country was being radically altered.  Apart from that,  I also did some informal coaching (hunting out Juniors from schools cross-country etc) and facilitating ‘Squad development'(really towards the elites, but in practice superbly supported by ‘rank and file’) under the tutelage of Martin Hyman..   It all developed from there and just grew.  Others pitched in from our ‘friendly sport’ , and took ownership ,led and made things happen, in my opinion, very democratically and inclusively.”

In brief Denis

  •  Worked as team manager/ assistant.
  •  Worked in race organisation.   
  • Carried on with administration (committee) work,
  • He also tried to ensure a continued  focus on uphill-only running races (WMRT format ‘bi-annual’) and
  • kept working to support juniors entering the sport.  ” Inaugural Juniors Home Championships were at Grasmere, Lake District, won by our Emma Gorman (Milngavie, straight from Cross-Country at school) and John Brooks (Lochaber).   It was a superb set of results too at the later Welsh event in Llanberis..  (we possibly got our ‘best ever’ Scottish athletics team at a single event.”). 

Emma’s picture is below – a real study in concentration and determination as well as a very good image of the height and nature of the course at Grasmere.   Denis commented on the race at Llanberis the following year: rightly so, it was a superb performance by the Scots. In the Under 18 Boys race, Iain Donnan by half a minute from England’s Andy Ellis with the other Scots being John Newsom 4th and Graham Bee 6th totalling 11 points to England’s 15 and Ireland’s 23.   The Under 18 Girls were led home by Sarah Blake who defeated England’s Katie Ingram by 19 seconds with the other two runners being Marbeth Shiell in 5th, Bryony Curtis 6th giving a team total of 12 points to England’s 14 and Ireland’s 19.   In the Under 16 Boys race, The three counting Scots were Scott Fraser 5th, Andrew McCall 6th and David Butcher 7th – all three within 30 seconds of each other.   The team wa second with 18 points, two behind England and six ahead of Ireland.   Three teams, two firsts and one second!   In the remaining race – Under 16 Girls – Jennifer Emsley was unlucky to be just out of the medals in fourth but there was no team there to back her up.   The selectors had done their work well – for a look at the selection race organisation and report just follow  this  link.  

The Fellrunner magazine of February 2003 reported on the race as follows:

“All the home countries plus Ireland made great efforts this year to field full teams for the junior home international which was held on the more gradual grassy slopes of Moel Eilio.   This coupled with a relatively flat start and finish was a much faster course than usual allowing those runners with a degree of speed to compete on more even terms with the more out and out fell junior.   In the team awards, England shared the team honours with Scotland, with Ireland taking a well deserved third in front of hosts Wales.   The competition up front was very competitive with Richard Newton of England winning with the biggest margin of the day.   Other notable wins were those of Karrie Hawitt of England who had the company of the new junior England Fell sensation, 13 year old Daniele Walker, all the way to the turn.   Scotland had two gold stars in Iain Donnan and Sarah Blake who impressed greatly with their front running and, in particular, Iain’s tremendous descending ability.   In the Welsh team, Rhodri Buffet had a super run in winning the  U/16 bronze medal, as did Colm Turner for Ireland in the U/18 race    Eoghan Gill in the U16 Boys race had the best performance from the N Ireland team.”

Denis had been a joint team managher with Helen Diamantides who sent his this note attached to some other correspondence after the event.

He continues, “In Committee work, I was also keen to try and give general runners something to aim for rather than most things being for the Elite athletes, so designed a format for ‘Alternative Hill Racing Champioships’, in 1996,  Effectively turning the  ‘points scored HRC format (21 points for 1st downwards making it easier for stats compilations for the Championships.)’ on it’s head…so that highest results got the fewest points and overall ‘lowest amassed points win’….this accounted for a good few people who went to many events through the year getting credits that were not elitist but results for commitments to ‘many races’.

Meantime, whilst still in Haddington, I was busy in committee work there and held the Chair position. I also helped out at our road race series, racing some; and did a quirky lovely event called The Chairman’s Challenge.  Multi-age team relays around Saltoun Woods, with a BBQ afterwards!! Great fun, serious (seniors trying to get ‘best timed legs!)  but not so serious with wee kids ‘n’ wives involved too!   

From ‘Chasers’, Christmas Newsletter, 1986

I was very generously made Honorary Life Member, and was the club’s ‘first international athlete’ ( having been selected to run Snowdonia (when it was an early-doors true international high calibrate race) ). 

We moved to Torrance with family (work, redundancy related) when at the tail end of my senior-vet period, and needed the Campsies and Lennoxtown Forest to train on.  I only had a couple of years competing as a vet  –  

Won the Vets silver medal in ’94,  there were a few after that, in 95. and defo 96 .   They included 
Eildons Two Hills on 22nd June, 17th, 2nd Vet behind Jim Paterson of NI;
Edinburgh 7 Hills ,  23rd June  4th in 1.45.47;
Maybe Dollar,  7th in 43.19…? 
That might also have been a year of the reverted Full length Moffat Chase (which has been shortened to about 13 miles for a number of years… I’d personally asked for it to go back, but numbers had been falling away for years and big commitment to marshall the full course…(Gala or Teviotdale?

After the racing, I then started a wee passion to do big ‘runs’ (ridge routes..) with great colleague Peter Marshall, and ultimately as solos.

By this time, still active in admin, management and trying to encourage our sport development, I had lost interest in competing (it had been about 12 years very active racing, plus all the overload of the other stuff as well as a busy life) and ended up training for fitness and trying to balance a career (still 45-50 hours per week), growing family, married life and being a ‘citizen’!!!!”

But Denis was still as active as ever.   For instance

*as part of his interest in education and the next generation of hill runners, he was involved in a Come and Try day, organised by Christine Menhennet in Clydebank.  Just click on the  this link for an account of it.     

*Then there were the squad weekends at Wanlockhead, Comrie, Lochearnhead, Glencoe, Dalbeattie, and more, which, although aimed at the top level of athletes, were open to all who wanted to come and learn.

*The SAF coaching committee wanted to set up a new type of coach education to replace that which had been in place since the days of Frank Dick and the SAAA in the 1970’s and Denis’s expertise was wanted on that too.   

*As part of his involvement with the SAF and its coaching structure, he was one of the selectors for the World Mountain Championships at Berchtesgaden in Germany in September, 1994 along with Jim Darby (national coach) and Alistair Lorimer.

Emma Gorman at Grasmere

Denis was, as suggested at the start of his profile as a runner, very energetic in all that he undertook.   He trained hard and then  combined the training with starting a career as an administrator at HELP where he is still fondly remembered and highly respected as a hard working and loyal club member.   He went on to run successfully on the hills in championships as Senior and Veteran, and in some international races, and managed to combine that with work on the SHRA Committee.  Finally there was his participation in a number of serious initiatives dealing with the development of the sport and its athletes and his duti8es as an international team manager.   As they said at the end of the movie about ‘Gregory’s Girl’ – “What a Guy!”


Hugh’s Gems 7

We’ve got so many great pictures, great examples of athletics middle and long distance memorabilia, from Hugh Barrow that we have to start a new collection.  This is the start of collection 7.

Pirie, Brasher, Chataway, Bannister, Churchill: Festival of Britain time!

Zatopek finds a new event

1924 Olympic Cross-Country

Hugh says:  Another brilliant post by the equally brilliant Mike Fanelli , who continues to unearth wonderful facts

As a youngster, Harry Houdini was a great cross country runner.
Initially he competed for the Allerton Club and then (as pictured here) NYC’s Pastime Athletic Club.
At age 18, he set the record for the loop race aound Central Park.
Around the same time, he defeated Sidney Thomas, an English champion, in a twenty-mile race. Thomas would later set world records for ten-, fifteen-, and twenty-miles.
Many year’s later, I’d quite often run past his former San Francisco home…a great big vertical brick mansion in Sea Cliff, SF’s toniest neighborhood

.It wouldn’t be a Hugh Barrow collection without …  Herb Elliott.

The Fell Runner: Some Covers

The ‘Fell Runner’ magazine (sometimes called ‘The Fellrunner’) is a  marvellous publication.  It is published by the Fell Runners Association and is a well produced magazine and a fund of  information on the world of all who love to run on the hills of Britain – and indeed further afield.   There are detailed results of pretty all hill races in the country, articles of interest fo all interested in the sport, profiles of individual runners (not all of them champions) , training hints, addresses of accommodation all over the British Isles for those looking for somewhere to stay when running in some of the more remote areas – it also has photographs.   Superb photographs (‘superb’ was chosen deliberately) taken at great vantage points to show the nature of any particular race, to show the height that the athletes have climbed, the view down to the finish or even the feelings of the runner as displayed by his face or body posture.   The magazine is a ‘must have’ for the fell runner.   Some of the photographs will be shown here – mainly those of Scottish runners or races – from the period from Spring 1987.

The Bens of Jura, 1987 (Photo by P. Hartley)

From inside back cover, December, 1988


Colin Donnelly at Edale   (Photo by Peter Hartley)


September 1990

John Blair-Fish, Winner of the Pentland Skyline  (Photo: Brian Covell)

Back Cover:  June 1994

Main picture.  Dermot McGonigle on Ben Shiantaich ; October 1996


Charlie Ramsay Round

Hill runners all love a challenge.   Not content with doing a Munro, or even two which are side by side, they have such as the Island Peaks Race where they sail from Oban and climb three mountains sailing by boat between them and finish in Ayrshire; or they do the three highest peaks in each of the three countries on the British mainland driving between them by fast car.   But the biggest challenges are those which rely on the runner tackling the environment.   There are three big ’rounds’ that are regarded as classics.   

In England there is the Bob Graham Round: “a fell running challenge in the English Lake District. It is named after Bob Graham (1889–1966), a Keswick  guest-house owner, who in June 1932 broke the Lakeland Fell record by traversing 42 fells within a 24-hour period. Traversing the 42 fells, starting and finishing at Keswick Moot Hall, involves 66 miles (106 km) with 26,900 feet (8,200 m) of ascent.”

In Wales there is the Paddy Buckley Round: “a long distance fell running challenge in Snowdonia. The route is a circuit of just over 100 km long taking in some 47 summits.  The Round has the reputation of being somewhat tougher to complete than its English equivalent, the Bob Graham Round.   Although no official time limit is set, an arbitrary 24 hours is applied, although the first completer exceeded the original aim of 24 hours.

And in Scotland we have the Charlie Ramsay Round: a long distance hill running challenge near Fort William. The route is a circuit of 58 miles, taking in 24 summits with a total climb of around 28,500 feet. Ben Nevis, Great Britain ‘s highest peak, is included in the route along with 22 other Munros.   This article is from the Fellrunner magazine of  Winter 1987 by  Martin Stone.  An Excellent article, it even includes a map of the route and split times.   [As a bonus, there is a note of the new Bob Graham Club members]

University Colours

Colin Young, talking about his time at Glasgow Universitry and the award of Colours, has this to say:

When I was at Glasgow between 1958 and 1962. I was awarded my colours for athletics so was entitled to buy the dark green tie with a laurel wreath logo – which I wore regularly. A card was issued by GUAC which you took to the authorised supplier – either Rowans or Forsyth’s – and made the appropriate purchase. Club ties were common in those days and Rowans in particular had a whole window round the side of the building filled with an array of smart and sober neckwear.   

Colours were given to those of us who turned out regularly for the team but didn’t meet the standard for a blue by – for example – winning the Inter-Varsities. The colours gave encouragement to those who filled the lower places in the inter university meetings and were an acknowledgement of the teamwork required to win contests. As a 120 yard hurdler I had little chance of beating the first-string athletes – Bobby Mills, Frank Crawley, or Gordon Brown. However, in those days points were awarded as 5, 3, and 1, for first second and third so the second-string runner had a very important role in the overall competition. First and second together counted for 8 points and first and third gave a useful 6 points. Our team captain in my first year – John Asher- was always most encouraging  to those of us filing the second and third places and  in a memorable phrase he once voted myself and one of the other athletes those who had “ got the finger furthest out” that day, for unexpectedly filing second and third places to help win a match!

The GU Colours tie.

The Edinburgh Uuniversity website tells us that Colours were awarded for services to and dedication to University Sport and to University Sports Clubs.   It adds:  Colours reward those individuals have given time and effort above and beyond the call of duty to their chosen sport or Club. University Sport could not operate without these volunteers organising and co-ordinating Clubs and the Colours award recognises this endeavour.

Successful nominees for Sports Union Colours tend to show good club commitment, including an exceptional playing or appearance record, have a history of service to the Club through serving on Club Committees or in other positions, or have a good history of coaching and encouraging new members. Successful candidates tend to go beyond the duties of their Committee positions. Nominees will be a playing member of the Sports Union (though not necessarily to a high standard) and will be available to represent the University in the first instance (i.e. they prioritised the University Club over other commitments).

The university lists 65 ‘sports’ eligible for the award of Colours including Archery, Association Football, Women’s Assn Football, .and end with  Wakeboard & Waterski, Weightlifting and Windsurfing and surfing.   

Colin Young was a student at Edinburgh University and won his Colours there giving him an interesting ‘double colours’ – Glasgow and Edinburgh Universities.   He says of this spell:

“Athletes who participated regularly for Edinburgh but whose performances didn’t justify the award of a Blue were awarded a “Green”. Somewhat confusingly this was sometimes called a Half Blue – presumably because the recipient could move up to a Full Blue if his or her performance in subsequent seasons justified it.  Some universities awarded half blues to sports which did not merit the status of a full blue – as described elsewhere by Sandy Sutherland – but I don’t know if this was the case at Edinburgh.

The “Greens” tie was a simple bottle green one with a silver stripe -which doesn’t really convey much except to those few who know what it means.   However there was also a very smart bottle green blazer which could be purchased – complete with the university badge. I guess this had the advantage over the blues blazer that it could be worn as casual wear after leaving university without being as noticeable as the blues blazer. An authorisations card from EUAC was needed to allow purchase of Green Colours from R.W. Forsyth.”

Aberdeen University in 2020: Colours Awards.   The AUSA Sport Colours Awards are for individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to their club or to sport at Aberdeen. The award takes into account not only sporting performance and achievement but also positions of responsibility, fundraising and developing new players among others. They are awarded at two levels, Colours and Colours with Distinction and are presented each year at the Sports Union AGM.

Colin Youngson thinks that (back in the late 1960s and early 70s) Aberdeen University Club Colours were awarded to athletes who were not yet good enough to be nominated for Half-Blues or indeed Blues. They might be promising first-team newcomers, valuable regular members of the first team, or hard triers who were popular because they made the absolute best of limited talent. He recalls receiving Club Colours (a small tracksuit badge with the university crest) in his first year with Aberdeen University Hare and Hounds (as well as a Half-Blue); but does not remember gaining Club Colours for the Athletics Club, despite going on to obtain Half and Full Blues on the track.   

The Aberdeen University practice was to award those attaining colours to wear a patch, illustrated bottom centre above, on their tracksuit.    Also shown above are some of the medals  that the University awarded for championships.   We also have examples of medals presented by both Glasgow and Edinburgh.   These are shown below.   Edinburgh first, front on top, then reverse:

Then Glasgow :



St Andrews: Colours are awarded to students who have demonstrated extreme sporting excellence not at the standard of a Half-Blue, have enhanced student experience or have enhanced club engagement.   The range of sports involved is as noted in the article on Blues

University of the Highlands and Islands: Colours: To receive a Colour, athletes, where applicable, need to serve and play for their club and to be regular first team members, representing the team in at least 65% of the eligible matches, recording at least one victory.

Scottish Hill Runner Covers: 1999 – 2001

`999 was a good year for the Scottish Hill Runner – 4 fat issues plus the shiny covered 36 page journal.   Mark Rigby had been editor for some time and had done a marvellous job in regular porduction and improving the standard of the magazine and this year was the best yet.

This was the format that would be used for some time to come – no picture but quite a lot of information.





The  Journal for 2000 – 2001 was A4 sized and ran to 82 pages.  Front page above, back pagebelow.