Beith Harriers was always a good club – not a big club, but a good club. You only have to look at the names of some of their men over the decades. At one point in the w1960’s they had Ian Harris, Tom Cochrane, and Danny McFadzean, in the club at the same time. And the talent was not confined to endurance runners – David Shedden who was a first class sprinter and long/triple jumper in the 1960’2 and a Scottish international rugby player, was a member of Beith as well as being a Scottish rugby internationalist.
As a club they have enjoyed considerable local success in Ayrshire County Championships and in old South West District Cross-Country relays and events and have been strong supporters of the Ayrshire Harrier Clubs Association – probably the oldest county association and one which is still going strong when others have fallen by the wayside.
In the South West District Championships which ran until 1975 the club’s record was a good one. At Senior level they won the title in 1930, 1934, 1960 and 1963; at individual level the championship has been won by J Millar in 1934 and in the 1960s it was almost monopolised by the club with Ian Harris winning in 1961 and 1964 and then Tom Cochrane winning seven times including 5-in-a-row in 1960, 1963, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968 and 1969. His feat was recognised by the District Committee when they joined in with the Midland District when they awarded him the championship trophy to keep in perpetuity. The District Junior title was won in 1964 by J Millar and in 1975 by A Gourlay – there was no separate Junior team race as they ran with the seniors. In the Youths age group, the club won in 1960 while individual wins were by Ian Harris in 1953, J Millar in 1961, J Golder in 1972 and A Gourlay in 1974. The Senior Men won the Relays in 1931, 1934, 1935, 1936 and 1938 before the war intervened. After the war the club was successful in 1959, 1960, 1964, 1965, 1968 and 1969. Not a bad record in a very strong district which included clubs such as Bellahouston Harriers and both Greenock clubs – Glenpark and Wellpark.
The club was also one of the mainsprings of the County Association, one which has outlasted many of the other county groupings which have appeared and disappeared over the years. As well as organising the Beith New Year’s Dar race it has helped with county championships and on the track with the late Dirrans Sports Gala meeting, The arrs.run website which lists these statistics tells us that the Beith New Year race is, apart from the Carnwath Red Hose Race, the oldest endurance race in Scotland. The Nigel Bargerace in Glasgow and the Edinburgh to North Berwick are second and third.
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