MEMBERSHIP NOTES 26th November 2012


Welcome to the 12 new and 9 reinstated members who have joined or re-joined since 4 Sep 2012. 52 members have not renewed their subscriptions, and 2 members have resigned. We now have 463 paid up members.

If you have not set up a standing order, renewal subscriptions are due from the AGM date 21st October 2012. Please pay promptly. Annual subscription is still £15. Men o/65 & women o/60 £12.


The massive increase in postal charges has forced us to change to an electronic version of the Newsletter as the preferred option. Any member who wishes to continue receiving a printed Newsletter must contact me, if they have not already done so. Please inform me if you add or change your email address.

Please send photos, news, letters, articles, etc for the next issue to: DAVID FAIRWEATHER 12 POWBURN CRESCENT, UDDINGSTON, G71 7SS e-mail: Tel: 01698 810575

If any member would like to take over the editing of the Newsletter I would be very happy to hear from them.


Stewards/marshals are required for club races. The club appreciate all members & friends who volunteer to act as stewards/marshals. If you are not competing just turn up and introduce yourselves to the organisers. Thanks to all those who have already helped out.


Thank you to the members who have set up standing orders for membership subscriptions. Please remember to update the amount payable, & keep me informed if your membership details change (especially email addresses). If any other member wishes to set up a standing order please contact me.

Please ensure, if possible, that the next payment date is set for 10Nov2015, and annually thereafter.


SVHC running vests can be purchased from Molly Wilmoth for £15 (Tel: 0141 7764941).



James Burns 16-Oct-12 2104 Fairfield

Richard Davidson 13-Nov-12 2110 Greenock

Adrian Dow 25-Oct-12 2105 Kirkintilloch

 Yvonne Green 07-Nov-12 2107 Bearsden

Ian Johnstone 20-Sep-12 2101 Nairn

James Lewis 04-Oct-12 2103 Bishopbriggs

Graham McGrattan 16-Nov-12 2112 Greenock

Maureen McVey 01-Oct-12 2102 Cathcart

Norrie Neilson 30-Oct-12 2106 Longton

Miriam Rennet 16-Nov-12 2111 Newport-on-Tay

William Skinner 13-Nov-12 2109 Aberdeen

Andrew Stirling 11-Nov-12 2108 BO’NESS

David Adam 04-Sep-12 1907 Leuchars

George Y Black 05-Sep-12 26 Kingskettle

Paul Carroll 09-Oct-12 1894 Whitecrook

Maureen Gallacher 08-Nov-12 302 Lambhill

Claire Gilchrist 06-Sep-12 1787 Edinburgh

Frank Hurley 21-Sep-12 167 Cambuslang

Robin Sykes 21-Oct-12 163 Pollokshields

David Thom 18-Oct-12 1460 Rutherglen

Robert Turner 16-Oct-12 1879 Musselburgh



The Run and Become Veterans Race Series is set to continue next year thanks to the generous sponsorship of Run and Become, the specialist running retailer in Queensferry Street, Edinburgh.

The Series is based on the International Age Graded tables and will again have 8 scoring races from 12.

 The only change to last season’s programme is the inclusion of the National Masters Cross Country Championships, which replaces the National Senior Championships. As last year, runners can gain merit points by completing more than 8 races, an additional point being awarded for each race beyond race 8.

There will again be a very generous prize list including the Dale Greig Trophy to the first woman and the Jackie Gourlay Trophy to the winning man. Last season’s winners were Fiona Matheson and Stewart McCrae, with prizes going to the first 5 men and women and trophies to the winner of each 5 year age group. With such an attractive prize list there is plenty for everyone to aim for!

After the first race of the 2013 Series, the SVHC 10,000m at Coatbridge Track, the leading contenders are Robert Gilroy, Ian Johnston, and Russell Whittington in the Men’s competition and Fiona Matheson, Pamela McCrossan and Marie McChord in the Women’s competition.

The proposed races for 2013 are:

February 2 National Masters Cross Country Champs, Forres

April 7 Tom Scott Road Race Motherwell

April 14 Lochaber Marathon Fort William

May 1 Snowball Race Coatbridge

May 5 SVHC Walter Ross 10km Cartha Rugby Club

May 18 Bathgate Hill Race June ?

SAL Masters Track Champs (Men 5K, Women 3K)

June 5 Corstorphine 5 miles RR

June 26 SVHC 5K Clydebank

August 18 SVHC Glasgow 800 10K Cartha Rugby Club ( inc BMAF Champs) October 6 Half Marathon, Kirkintilloch

Some dates are provisional at this stage; further details will appear in your Newsletter and on the SVHC website.

Alastair Macfarlane



Name Change Proposal

Dear all, I have observed from afar the proposal and counter proposal for a re-vamp to the name of SVHC. It feels that the time is right to be heard on this matter.

Having been a master/vet athlete for only the past six years I do not have the attachment to the name SVHC that others clearly have, but fully understand that change is difficult for some, as we pride ourselves on our tradition in this country.

I have spoken at length to the master/vet athletes of Law & District AAC: Patrick Kelly, James Macdonald, Hilary McGrath. They are in agreement with myself that we should move to adopt Masters in our new title.

My own reasons are much deeper than modernising. I have been a Secondary School teacher for the past 20 years and many of my students have gone on and joined the armed forces. They have gone on to become what I would call true “Veterans” and I feel that we should do the right thing and adopt Masters as part of our new identity.

We all watched in amazement the events of London 2012, both the Olympics and the Paralympics; cheering on Mo, Jessica et al. But what amazed people more was the TRUE Veteran athletes, the men and women who served their country in Afghanistan and Iraq, and then overcame horrendous injuries and showed astonishing bravery to compete in London and make the whole country proud of their achievements.

There are lots of things that need to be changed in Scottish Athletics but let us get our own house in order first, and do the right thing and change for the right reasons.

It does not seem right that the SVHC vests have “Scottish Veterans” emblazoned on them, I do not feel we have earned the right to that name in this day and age.

“Scotland” would be more appropriate.

I am not totally against tradition as I would be happy for the SVHC badge on the vest to be retained (albeit with a much smaller V on it) as the roots of the club should not be forgotten. I hope you take the time to consider my thoughts on this subject and thank you for your time.

Stephen Allen Law & District AAC


Fellow Members, I wish to thank all those members who attended the Annual General Meeting on 21st. October and voted in favour of my motion to change the name Scottish Veteran Harriers Club to Scottish Masters Athletic Association.

I was well aware that it would be a huge ask for the proposal to obtain the necessary two thirds majority of votes cast but I was somewhat taken aback, and very disappointed, by the scale of the reverse.

It is very evident that my views on the current positioning of the club and my aspirations for its future are completely at odds with a significant majority of members, or at least of members who attend AGMs, and my fellow committee members.

I have enjoyed my time as Honorary Treasurer and my close involvement in the running of the club but have finally accepted that I will not be able to implement the changes which I feel are necessary for the organisation to become fully representative.

Under the circumstances I felt that, in all conscience, I could no longer continue to serve on the committee of the club.

Finally, I would like to wish the club and its individual members all the best for the future.

Yours in Sport, Mike Clerihew.


I would like to add my own comments to the previous letters. Up till now I have been a staunch supporter of the status quo, but I’m not a Luddite and I now think we have to move forward with the times.

Stephen’s argument is the best I’ve heard so far, and it’s a pity he couldn’t attend the AGM.

As Mike pointed out at the AGM, our Club is the National Association for promoting Veteran/Masters Athletics in Scotland. Prospective members viewing the name Scottish Veteran Harriers Club might not realize this.

I also had it brought home to me at the British & Irish Masters Cross Country International. I was Scottish Veterans/Masters Team Manager at this event, and was in regular contact with the other Team Managers, who were representatives of England Athletics Masters Association, Welsh Masters Athletics Association, Northern Ireland Masters Athletics Association and Irish Masters Athletes Association.

So the name Scottish Veteran Harriers Club stuck out like a sore thumb.

Our website is, and I sometimes receive membership applications with cheques made payable to Scottish Masters Athletics, so the name obviously causes some confusion,

David Fairweather

Ron Hill Cambuslang Harriers

SVHC Membership Secretary


Athletics Clubs should use Sports Students as Coaches.

The News Focus section of Athletics Weekly, 6th September, reported the dearth of coaches some athletics clubs are experiencing at present due to increased numbers post Olympic Games.

Here in Scotland, 4 athletics clubs – Central AC, East Kilbride & Whitemoss AC, Kilmarnock Harriers and Pitreavie AC – have advertised through the SportScotland website for people to become volunteer coaches.

From my experience in middle/long distance running as a competitor and an endurance coach, the aforementioned clubs, and other clubs having trouble attracting volunteers, should spread their net to a larger scale, for people trained to become coaches.

For example, I am a mature student studying for an honours degree in sports coaching.

Therefore I am surprised that athletics clubs don’t contact colleges and universities in their areas for their sports students to be asked if they are interested in utilizing their sport skills to coach athletes.

Sport students study courses in sport development, coaching and science. This includes practical and applied sessions to underpin the knowledge to become effective coaches; also to become able to work effectively, independently with little supervision, designing and conducting coaching programmes, showing awareness and value of ethical and cultural issues in sport and society to their own continued development in a sport coaching setting.

This form of academic sports coaching should be introduced into club coaching for post Olympic Games generation of athletes.

Peter McGregor Victoria Park City of Glasgow AC


 British and Irish Masters Cross Country International

On Saturday 10th November the cream of veteran runners from Scotland, England, Wales, Ireland and Northern Ireland headed to Belfast for the annual British and Irish Cross Country International. Each of the national Masters associations takes it in turn to host the event.

Last year it was hosted in Bellahouston Park in Glasgow about four miles from my house, so this was my first taste of going on tour with the Scottish Veteran Harriers and it was a weekend to remember.

The event was originally going to be at Stormont, but the course was waterlogged so it was moved to the excellent replacement of Queen’s University.

The course was a pretty flat 2 km loop, but there were a couple of small hills and some muddy stretches to make it a testing course.

There were three veterans’ International races and then an open veterans’ race to close proceedings for the day.

The first race was 3 loops of the course for the women’s teams and the male 65-69 and 70+ teams.

This resulted in an exciting finish with Clare Martin of England and Barbara Cleary heading into the final stages sprinting shoulder to shoulder. Unfortunately, Barbara misread where the finish was and stopped a few metres short leaving Clare to successfully defend the title she won in Glasgow last year.

Fiona Matheson was the pick of the Scottish women and won the 50-54 category finishing 5th overall, Sue Ridley picked up a bronze medal in the F45 category and Liz Bowers won the F60 bronze.

In the men’s 65-69 category there was another exciting finish between the England team mates Martin Ford and Peter Young being given the same with Martin edging it. They were followed by George Mitchell of Scotland who picked up the bronze medal. Les Haynes of England won the M70 category with Gordon Omrie of Wales edging Scotland’s Pete Cartwright out in the battle for second place.

The next race was 4 loops of the 2 km course for M50- 54 through to M60-64. The race was won overall by Graham Saker of England 5 secs ahead of local boy Deon McNeilly of Northern Ireland. Neil Thin of Edinburgh AC was first Scot finishing in 5th place and Ian Stewart won the silver medal in the M55 category. Mike Hager of England added another gold medal to his collection in the M60 category and Scotland’s Andy McLinden picked up the silver.

The final championship race was the M35 through to M45 race and my chance to test myself in a tough competition.

The field soon spread out and I found myself towards the back of the field in a race with my Bellahouston Road Runners club mate Greig Glendinning and Scott Martin of Kilmarnock. I knew that they had been getting similar results to me recently so we worked together to push each other on to the best of our abilities.

This race was won by M40 Andy Morgan- Lee of England who beat Ireland’s Ciaran Doherty, who won the M35 race. First Scot was Kerry Liam Wilson with Charlie Thomson narrowly missing out on a medal in the M45 category by one second.

I finished down in 74th out of 87 finishers, but was delighted to have been given the opportunity to race in such a prestigious race.

To celebrate the event we headed out for an evening at the excellent Europa hotel where we were treated to a large slice of Irish hospitality. A three course meal was followed by the awards ceremony.

David has summarised the team medal winners in his report.

The night was finished off brilliantly by an excellent live band, who covered a wide range of music and got the dance floor jumping until the early hours of the morning. Particular mention must go to Kenny MacPherson for his unique brand of dancing. It was very entertaining and worth making the trip just to experience that. The closest similarity I could think of would be Bez from the Happy Mondays in a kilt.

Next year the event moves to Colwyn Bay, North Wales and SVHC would like to get as many runners as possible signed up to compete for places in the team to try to build on this year’s success.

Russell Whittington Bellahouston Road Runners



Standing on the start line in Belfast amidst 70 other athletes wondering why on earth you had been selected to run for your country is a strange feeling. Unlike any other race I’ve participated in there was no ‘banter’ amongst the runners, everyone was totally focused on the race to come. This was serious running, no place to hide or have an ‘easy run’.

People may think that it’s an easy vest to get. But believe me seeing some of the athletes taking part, who, when I was younger were internationals & inspirational to me, standing a few yards away, brings home the reality that this is not an event to be taken lightly.

Some debate rages on why we have ‘Scottish Veterans’ on the vests rather than ‘Scotland’ due to the fact that it is SVHC who organise the Vets international selection rather than Scottish Athletics – does this demean the honour of representing your country?

Ask any of the Scottish runners at Belfast & the majority of them consider themselves as representing Scotland not Scottish Vets. As far as I was concerned when I put the vest on I was representing Scotland & felt immense pride in doing so, and I was prepared to run myself into the ground for Country & Team.

Running around the course with the spectators from all teams shouting “Come on Scotland” (not “Scottish Vets”) brought a lump to the throat when you realized that it was you they were shouting at. It made you feel 10ft tall and knocked off a few seconds from the run.

After the race hostilities were suspended, we met ‘old’ friends we raced against years ago, met up with again in the evening & shared a few drinks with them – a fantastic weekend with a lot of warmth & humour (after the race!)

A day I’ll never forget especially when we picked up team bronze. (5th vet overall, 2nd team counter) It was made even better with Lorraine & George also picking up deserved team medals. (and Hazel from the Haddies who also picked up a medal).

Tony Martin Fife AC


British & Irish Masters Cross Country International Sat 10th November 2012 Queen’s University Playing Fields, Belfast – Reporter David Fairweather

 The selection process for this event starts earlier every year, mainly because the hotels insist on having guest lists finalised 4-6 weeks in advance. We started selecting our team at the end of August, and aimed to complete the selection by 4th October. In reality, many runners were unavailable, and there were several call-offs, so we were still making changes a few days before the event.

Like last year there were last minute changes, but this time it entailed a complete venue change. Jim Newberry, Chairman, Northern Ireland Masters Athletics Association, and Event Co-ordinator, announced on 19th October that the course at Stormont was waterlogged. The venue was transferred to Queens University Playing Fields because they were in good condition.

I’d originally booked rooms at the Europa Hotel but, due to communication problems on both sides, the booking was cancelled! Fortunately, I managed to arrange rooms for most of the team at Jury’s Inn, which is very close to the Europa.

I travelled by bus/ferry to Belfast, and met a few runners en route. Just before boarding at Cairnryan, Walter McCaskey was relieved to meet me, as he’d forgotten which hotel he was staying in!

We had a perfect crossing to Belfast, and were able to relax in preparation for Saturday’s racing. Most of the team met up at Jury’s Inn, and with the help of Hazel, Lynne & Archie we got most of the numbers and dinner dance tickets distributed. (though next morning 2 runners confessed that they’d mislaid their numbers!)

Russell and Tony have given good accounts of the races, so I’ll just summarise the Scotland results.

The Team Managers met at 5pm after the event to check the results, but unfortunately they all failed to notice that 1 runner John Convery M50 ENG had not been recorded in Race 2 and, even worse, that 3 finishers had not been recorded in Race 3. Tim Hartley ENG and Steve Cairns NI had actually finished 3rd M40 and 3rd M45 respectively. Michael McLoone had finished 15th M45. I have amended the results in this Newsletter to include these 4 runners.

There also seemed to be discrepancies with some runners’ times in these 2 races. It was unfortunate, but did not detract from an excellent day’s racing. Jim Newberry and his team are to be congratulated on promoting such an excellent event after the upheaval of the previous 3 weeks. Jim even managed to take part in Race 2, finishing a creditable 10th M60.

In Race 1 Fiona Matheson gave another 1st class performance, finishing 1st W50 and 5th overall. Sue Ridley W45 and Liz Bowers W60 both won bronze medals. Joasia Zakrzewski finished 7th W35, Jacqui Thomson, made a welcome return to the team to finish 6th W45, while Pamela McCrossan, after being overlooked for the team for many years, finished 8th W50.

Hazel Bradley returned to the team after missing last year’s event to finish 8th W60.

George Mitchell M65 and Pete Cartwright M70 both won bronze medals.

In Race 2, Ian Stewart M55 and Andy McLinden M60 both won silver medals; Neil Thin M50, Brian Gardner M55 and Tony Martin M60 all finished 5th in their categories.

In Race 3, Kerry Wilson M40 and Charlie Thomson M45 were the highest placed Scots, both finishing 5th. It was a relief to see Charlie finish safely as he has struggled with injuries in the last 5 years, so this was the first year he has managed to run in the event.

The Scottish results were a bit disappointing, but a lot of runners were unavailable for various reasons. However, we still won 2 silver and 6 bronze team medals, and finished 3rd in all the overall team results.

Race 1: 6km for Women (all age groups) and M65+

W35: 4 SCOTLAND, 7 Joasia Zakrzewski 22:29, 10 Avril Mason 23:50, 15 Claire McCracken 24:12, 18 Barbara Knox (W45) 26:31.

W40: 5 SCOTLAND, 15 Hazel Dean (W45) 24:58, 16 Rhona Anderson (W45) 25:02, 18 Shona Aiken 26:09, 19 Clare Barr 26:54.

W45: 3 SCOTLAND, 3 Sue Ridley 23:12, 6 Jacqui Thomson23:53, 13 Lorraine Brown 25:11, 19 Sharyn Ramage 26:22.

W50: 3 SCOTLAND, 1 Fiona Matheson 22:03, 8 Pamela McCrossan 24:58, 12 Sonia Armitage 25:25, 15 Beryl Junnier 25:49

W55: 3 SCOTLAND, 9 Jane Waterhouse 27:05, 11 Phyllis Hands 27:31, 14 Jan Fellowes 30:02.

W60: 3 SCOTLAND, 3 Liz Bowers 26:25, 8 Hazel Bradley 27:53, 15 Ann Bath 34:55. M65: 2 SCOTLAND, 3 George Mitchell 24:43, 7 Colin Youngson 25:08, 14 Stewart McCrae 26:03, 15 Hamish Cameron 26:10

M70: 3 SCOTLAND, 3 Pete Cartwright 25:32, 9 George Black 28:03. 14 Watson Jones 28:58, 16 Ian Leggett 29:49,

Race 2: 8km for M50, M55 & M60:

M50: 5 SCOTLAND, 5 Neil Thin 27:47, 12 Iain Campbell 28:08, 21 John Stevenson 29:38, 24 Colin Feechan 30:04, 25 Willie Jarvie 30:26, 28 Gerry Montgomery 31:44.

M55: 2 SCOTLAND, 2 Ian Stewart 28:31, 5 Brian Gardner 28:49, 9 Gerry Gaffney 29:39, 13 Alastair Dunlop 30:23.

M60: 3 SCOTLAND, 2 Andy McLinden 29:50, 5 Tony Martin 30:40, 15 Robert Marshall 33:11, 17 Ian Johnstone 33:46.

RACE 3: 8KM FOR M35, M40 & M45:

M35: 5 SCOTLAND, 18 John MacNamara 28:35, 23 Stephen Allan 29:33, 24 Joe McKnight 29:41, 25 Russell Whittington 29:51, 26 Paul Carroll (M40) 29:52, 27 Scott Martin (M40) 29:53.

M40: 4 SCOTLAND, 5 Kerry Wilson 27:29, 21 Greg Hastie 28:37, 22 Ian Johnston 28:48, 24 Kenny McPherson 29:12, 25 Grant Wilkie 29:29, 26 Greig Glendinning 30:00.

M45: 5 SCOTLAND, 5 Charlie Thomson 28:06, 12 John Blair 28:54, 15 Michael McLoone 29:17, 28 Alan Derrick 31:25, 29 Gary Mitchell 31:59.

With racing over, it was time to enjoy the Dinner Dance and medal presentations at the Europa Hotel. The medals and awards were very efficiently presented, and I hope future organisers took note of this.

Jan Fellowes won the raffle prize of a w/e for 2 at Slieve Donard Hotel, plus £100 spending money. A couple of hours were left for dancing, and a good time was had by all.

Some of us then adjourned to the bar at Jury’s Inn, where I was unceremoniously ejected when I rashly decided to join in the singing of Molly Malone! I now know that you don’t sing a Dublin song in Belfast.

Next morning after breakfast 4 of us walked over to the Bus Station to catch the bus to the ferry. Andy suddenly realised he’d forgotten his ticket! He managed to run to the hotel, retrieve his ticket, and get back in time to catch the bus. He said he would have outrun Mike Hager if he’d been there!

During the journey back we agreed that next year we should appoint a carer for the older team members! Next year the event will be held at Colwyn Bay, with hotel accommodation in Llandudno. We will be using a coach for the journey.


 Running has let Wilson get ahead of his Demons – Richard Winton

 The question appears innocent enough, little more than a final thought after 20 minutes of fairly inconsequential conversation about one man’s spate of sporting success.

 “What has running given you?” Kerry-Liam Wilson, who earlier this month completed an annual clean sweep of Scottish Masters running titles by finishing third in the Loch Ness Marathon, pauses momentarily. “My life,” he says quietly. The words hang in the air as he clears his throat. “I suffer quite badly from depression but I get rid of my frustrations and anger when I’m running. Without being too dramatic about it, it gives me encouragement to get up in the morning and, if I didn’t have that focus, I don’t know if I’d even be here talking to you now.”

The words are delivered in a matter-of-fact tone; there is no sensationalism or bombast about the 42-year-old’s admission, only relief at the modicum of control he has managed to exert on an illness that has been part of his life since 1990. There were, he admits, times when he wanted to do little more than hide in bed. “And if I did get up and go to work I’d sit on the bridge outside Girvan, look at the fast-flowing river and think about jumping in,” he confesses.

It was only the thought of wife Kate and sons Caine and Kalle that stopped him taking his own life during those dark days.

Having never known his own father, Wilson could not countenance his own children being in a similar situation, particularly as 11-year-old Kalle has autistic tendencies, has not spoken since he was born and suffered a stroke in January of last year.

Running, he says, helps quell the anger created by such difficult circumstances, even if there are still times when he struggles to maintain his morale.

 Yet his introduction to the sport came almost entirely by chance. A decent cross country runner at school, he trained with a local football team for a while and started cycling and jogging once he became a father, but his recreational time was spent mainly following Aberdeen and Scotland home and away.

 “I would get an 8am train, get there for midday, head to the Pittodrie Bar for a pint and a plate of stovies, go to the game and get the train back down to Girvan for 10pm,” he recalls. “I was single, liked a drink and had money in my pocket, but once I got to 33, I realised there was more to life and needed a change of direction.”

A chance conversation with an athletics coach offered just that. With Caine having recently started running after growing frustrated at his lack of opportunities at a local football club, his father was invited to join in one evening to keep an eye on the then 7-year-old and soon found himself immersed.

“I went from being told by the football coach that ‘if I wasn’t happy I could get my own f***** team’ to athletics, where it didn’t matter how good or bad you are, everyone got a number,” Wilson says. “I’d enjoyed my fair share of drink so I wasn’t in great shape but I stuck at it and slowly improved.”

Not that slowly, as it happens. His first 10km race took just 36 minutes, his second a couple of weeks later a minute-and-a half less, and suddenly he discovered a desire to go quicker and quicker; an appetite sated when he joined Ron Hill Cambuslang Harriers.

Years of hard work has culminated this year in his most successful season yet, winning the Scottish title in the over-35 age group at 5km, 10km and 10-mile distance as well as both the half and full marathon and the National cross country.

October’s Loch Ness marathon completed the set, franking a dominance of the Masters’ scene that also includes taking four of the five titles last season.

“I missed the 10- mile last year because I had a marathon the same day, so it was special to do all five this year,” says Wilson of a feat that has earned him a nomination for Scottish Athletics Masters Athlete of the Year award. “It’s not quite sunk in yet but I’m actually quite disappointed with the marathon because I was on for a 2:27 before my legs died in the last three miles.”

That upset will linger. Wilson’s mindset is such he finds it difficult to accept any slip in standards, a consequence of his depression perhaps, but he insists he would much rather deal with those feelings than the ones he wrestled with during his darkest days.

“It’s just the type of character I am,” he explains. “The running can help me deal with the depression but it can also trigger it in some ways. “The worst times are when you get an injury or when you are slogging your guts out all week but running crap in a race. You wonder sometimes why you’re doing it but I don’t have anything academically to give my kids – I’m a production line operator at WM Grants – so at least this gives me something to show them now and will do when I’m still running round muddy fields on a wet February morning at the age of 65.”

Originally published in The Herald, Friday 12 October, 2012


Runner Guides Addicts to a Recovery Marathon – Richard Winton

Henry Curran recounts an anecdote about a recovering drug addict and reformed criminal who had taken up running.

One day, while pounding through a Glasgow park, he spotted two familiar faces jogging the other way. “He looked at them, they looked at him and there was a moment of recognition,” Curran explains. “But it was not just a couple of prison officers recognising an inmate; it was three people realising they had more in common than they thought.”

For once, the addict’s identity was not solely predicated on drugs. In that moment, perceptions were challenged and prejudices disabused on both sides because of sport’s capacity to unify hitherto disparate individuals.

Curran tells the story in relation to September’s Great Scottish Run, which will bring together around 20,000 people in Glasgow for one of Scotland’s largest mass participation sporting events.

Inspired by the parable of the addict, the 60-year-old race veteran has amassed a team of over 150 users dealing with drug and alcohol abuse, who will take part under the banner of Glasgow’s GRAND Recovery Runners as part of an annual city-wide initiative – Getting Real about Alcohol ‘N’ Drugs – to support community responses to alcohol and drug issues.

Having lobbied for funding to cover the £28 entry fee, Curran has held open training sessions at Glasgow Green in recent weeks as the race nears and can already divine a difference in the behaviour and self-esteem of those taking part.

“It’s given them a sense of purpose,” explains the project leader of New Horizons, a training and employment scheme based in Queenslie. “And it’s brought together people from different projects, which doesn’t happen too often. The stumbling block was the entry fee because, for someone who is on a giro, that is a lot of money, but now I imagine we’ll be the biggest team there on the day even if we’re realistic to know that not all of them will turn up.”

For those who do, it carries the potential to be a life altering experience. Previously characterised only by their addiction, they will soon be able to call themselves runners, their entire identities changing and moving towards something more positive.

“A lot of these guys couldn’t look in a mirror before because they didn’t like what they saw,” says Curran. “Once you get them clean, they start to remember all the things they did and some of it is not very nice so when they’re running towards the finishing line and all these people are cheering, what a huge self esteem boost that will be, even though the noise is not necessarily for them.”

Curran speaks from experience. Although never an addict himself, he has savoured the feeling of crossing the line on several occasions since taking up running a few years ago, recording a best time of just over 90 minutes for the half marathon despite being well into his 50s and completing a marathon in under 31/2 hours just four years after he first wheezed his way through 16 minutes on a treadmill at New Horizon’s headquarters.

Working on the premise that you have to practise what you preach, he was soon dragging himself round 10km circuits before the project set up Team Horizon and began training.

“I just got the bug. I don’t do anything for fun so I began taking it really seriously but I’ve got a foot condition so I’ve not been able to train for this one. I’ll get around though,” he vows, determined not to be shown up by the people he describes as his “clients”.

That term chimes with the approach that New Horizon takes to helping those who want to kick their habit. Open to addicts over the age of 16, they currently have 68 in their programme which has run since 2000, with 10 of those completely drug-free and a further 9 weaned off their dependency on alcohol.

Although based on referrals, the onus is on the clients to not only get themselves clean – “we ask them what they are going to change” – but also to develop a life after addiction, through either education or employment.

Although realistic enough to know that not every member of the programme will succeed, Curran remains unrelentingly positive about the prospects of those under his guidance. “I love coming to my work because this is a unique place and people feel something when they come through the door,” he says.

“Sure, I sometimes get pissed off by some of the things in the press or that politicians come away with about addiction because of a lack of knowledge or understanding but I never get frustrated, because there is always a solution. When people come in here they speak to people just like themselves, who are clean and realise they can do it too. 9 times out of 10 they know the person; in fact, there is one guy who is clean and they all know him because he used to deal to them.

“But then they’ll maybe say, ‘okay, you can get clean but you won’t get a job’ but that’s blown out of the water because we have a guy here with a criminal record four pages long – serious stuff, too – and he’s now been working for 18 months. They might think ‘who’s going to give a job to a former junkie with a criminal record?’ But how do they know that the person interviewing them has not got a similar background? You just never know what you have in common with people.

Originally published in The Herald, Friday 24 August, 2012


Liz Bowers

 Liz was a member of the bronze medal-winning W60 team at the British and Irish Masters Cross Country International, and also won the individual bronze medal. She now lives with husband Martin in Nancy in Northern France.

Prior to competing at Belfast Liz had run in the French National Half Marathon Championships on Oct. 7th in Nancy, where she came second in the V3 class (W60). Her time over a hilly and wet course was 95:00 minutes and put her a minute behind the winner but equally 50 seconds clear of the third lady. An excellent run over a distance that is well beyond that which she favours.



Annual General Meetings are normally an unexciting and even boring part of the necessity of any club’s life. I don’t think that charge could be levelled at the SVHC AGM held at Coatbridge Outdoor Sports Centre on 21st October.

The major point of activity was a motion from Club Treasurer, Mike Clerihew, to change the name of the club to Scottish Masters Athletics Association. Mike had carried out a survey, via the Club Newsletter, about a year previously to gauge whether there would be an appetite for a change. The response then, although from a small number of respondents, was overwhelmingly for change.

However, an email survey is one thing, getting people out to attend a meeting and vote is quite another, and after much heated debate the proposal was heavily defeated.

A point of concern came from the treasurer’s report; although the club is in a reasonably healthy financial position at the moment, largely due to hosting the Masters Cross Country International last year, we are still spending more than we are bringing in and further cost cutting will inevitably have to take place.

When it came to the election of Office Bearers and Committee Mike Clerihew stood down and Stewart McCrae was elected as Treasurer while Willie Drysdale, who has served the club in several positions over the years, did not seek re-election and Campbell Joss became Club Secretary. In addition, new faces on the committee are John Bell, Phyllis Hands, Andy Law and Paul Thompson. I know that club members will wish to join me in thanking Willie and Mike for their hard work and tireless devotion on behalf of the club over a long period of time.

The full committee is

Honorary President – Bob Donald

President – Alastair Macfarlane Immediate

Past President: – Peter Ogden

Vice President – Ada Stewart

Secretary – Campbell Joss

Treasurer – Stewart McCrae

Membership Secretary – David Fairweather

Handicapper – Peter Rudzinski

Committee – John Bell, Phyllis Hands, Andy Law, Paul Thompson

Full contact details for committee members can be found on page 15 of this Newsletter and on the club website.

Alastair Macfarlane



Honorary President: ROBERT DONALD

President: ALASTAIR MACFARLANE 7 Andrew Avenue, Lenzie, G66 5HF Tel: 0141 5781611

Immediate Past President: PETER OGDEN 16 Springhill Road Glasgow, G69 6HH Tel: 0141 7711950

Vice-President: ADA STEWART 30 Earlsburn Road, Lenzie, G66 5PF Tel: 0141 5780526

Honorary Secretary: CAMPBELL JOSS 25 Speirs Road Bearsden, G61 2LX Tel: 0141 9420731

Honorary Treasurer: STEWART MCCRAE 17 Woodburn Way Balloch Cumbernauld. G68 9BJ Tel: 01236 728783

Membership Secretary: DAVID FAIRWEATHER 12 Powburn Crescent Uddingston, G71 7SS Tel: 01698 810575

Handicapper: PETER RUDZINSKI 106 Braes Avenue Clydebank. G81 1DP Tel.0141 5623416

Committee Members:

JOHN BELL Flat 3/1, 57 Clouston Street Glasgow G20 8QW Tel. 0141 9466949

ROBERT DONALD 3 Manse Road Bearsden, G61 3PT Tel: 0141 9422971

PHYLLIS HANDS 39 Albany Drive Lanark ML11 9AF Tel. 01698 252498

ANDY LAW Euphian, Kilduskland Road Ardrishaig Argyll. PA30 8EH Tel. 01546 605336

PAUL THOMPSON Whitecroft, 5 Gareloch Brae, Shandon, Helensburgh G84 8PJ Tel. 01436 821707

BMAF Delegates Alastair Macfarlane ANO

SAL West District Delegate Willie Drysdale

SAL Delegate at AGM Ada Stewart

Auditor George Inglis



Sun 9th Xmas h’cap. 5.3 miles 1:30pm. Cartha Rugby Club. Pre entry Pollok Park JANUARY 2013

Sun 27th Scottish Veteran Harriers Open Masters Road Relays Strathclyde Park Motherwell 11:00am Pre entry


Sat 2nd SAL Masters Cross Country Champs Forres

Sun 10th SAL Masters Indoor Champs Commonwealth Arena, Glasgow

Sat 23rd SAL National Cross Country Champs Callendar Park, Falkirk

MARCH 2013

Tue/Sun 19/24 European Indoor, Cross-Country, Road Championships. San Sebastian, Spain

APRIL 2013

Sunday 7th Strathclyde Park Motherwell 10:00am Sunday 14th Lochaber Marathon 11am Fort William

MAY 2013

Wed 1st [PROVISIONAL] Snowball 4.8m road race 7:30 pm. Coatbridge Outdoor Centre. Convener Ada Stewart

Sun 5th SVHC Walter Ross 10km 1:30pm Cartha Rugby Club

Sat 18th Bathgate Hill Race 2:30pm

Fri/Sun 24/26th EVAA Non-Stadia Championships – Upice, Czech Republic

JUNE 2013

Wed 5th Corstorphine 5 miles RR 7:30 pm. Turnhouse Rd, Edinburgh

Wed 26th SVHC 5km road race. 7:30pm. Playdrome, Clydebank

AUGUST 2013 Sun 18th SVHC Glasgow 800 10km road race Cartha Rugby Club ( inc BMAF Champs)




Distance Running History: An Overview


(Maybe this article will intrigue some to read more about the fascinating history of their wonderful sport.) 


Primitive Man: Born to Run – nuchal ligament, Achilles tendon, springy foot arch – a ‘weak predator’ that can hunt by distance-running after prey animals until they collapse.

Nowadays, in the rough canyons of the Sierre Madre Occidental, Mexico, the Tarahumara (pictured below) still maintain their tradition of persistence hunting, running down deer and wild turkeys.


The Olympics

Olympia, Greece. The Games began in 776 B.C. Only men were allowed to compete. In 720, the Dolichos, or long foot-race, was added. Less than a Parkrun. Starting and finishing in the stadium, with the race course winding through the Olympic grounds, passing by the statue of Nike, the Goddess of Victory, near the Temple of Zeus. Acanthus of Sparta won the first Dolichos laurel wreath, and his statue was built in Olympia.


490 B.C. The Persian Fleet approaches. (According to the historian Herodotus), Athens sends Pheidippides, a professional long-distance running messenger, to ask Sparta for help. 150 miles over rough hilly country in 30 hours. Immediate aid is refused; so he runs all the way back with bad news (the Spartans actually arrive two days after the battle) and good (the God Pan appeared to the exhausted Pheidippides and promised to help). Athenians are victorious at Marathon and their city is saved from destruction.

In 1983, the first Open International Spartathlon Race took place. The route had been pioneered the previous year by Englishman John Foden and two other R.A.F. officers.

Barclay Allardyce – often simply known as Captain Barclay


In Britain, from the late 17th Century, aristocrats often employed footmen who ran and walked long distances, carrying letters and bringing back replies. Some employers boasted about the speed and stamina of their servants and placed bets on who would prove superior in a race trial.

Foot racing and walking evolved into Pedestrianism: professional distance running.

During the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, this was a popular betting spectator sport in the British Isles. Pedestrianism became a fixture at fairs – much like horse racing.

Famous pedestrians included Captain Robert Barclay Allardice, called “The Celebrated Pedestrian”, from Stonehaven. His most impressive feat was to walk 1 mile every hour for 1000 hours, which he achieved between June 1 and July 12 1809. The feat captured the public’s imagination and around 10,000 people came to watch, over the duration of the event. In 1864, Emma Sharp became the first woman to emulate the feat. Ada Anderson was named Champion Lady Walker of the World in April 1878, after covering 1500 miles in 1000 hours – at Leeds, England.

Sir John Astley M.P. founded a “Long Distance Championship of the World” in 1878, staged over six days, which became known as the “Astley Belt Races” (or ‘Wobbles’, because of the erratic progress of knackered runners). These events allowed a wide interpretation of rules, with walking, jogging, and running allowed. The competition was partly inspired by a desire to clean up the perception of the sport as corrupted by gambling interests and led to a push amongst some to codify pedestrianism as an amateur sport. The same process was happening to British track and field athletics and gave rise to the modern Olympic Movement.

Famous Six-Day racers included: Edward Payson Weston, Daniel O’Leary, Charles Rowell and George Littlewood, who in 1888 created a new world record of 623 miles 1,320 yards—a world record that wasn’t beaten for 96 years.


In 1984 Yiannis Kouros (above) from Greece ran over 1,022 km (635 miles) setting a new world record that would stand until 2005, when he improved to 1,036 km (644 miles) at the Cliff Young Australian 6-day race in Colac, Australia.

The women’s world record was broken by Australia’s Dipali Cunningham in 1998 when she covered 504 miles (811 km). In 2001 she improved this to 510 miles (820 km).

  • Middle Distance


W.G. George: Walter Goodall George (1858 –1943) was a runner from Wiltshire who, after setting numerous amateur world records [between one mile and one hour (11 miles 932 yards)], went professional in part to challenge the mile record-holder William Cummings, defeating him in several highly publicised races. On 23 August 1886, he set a mile record (4 minutes 4:12¾ seconds) which was not surpassed for almost 30 years. (In a 1885 handicap race he had run 4:10​1⁄5 – which was not beaten until 1931.)

  • Long Distance


Alfred Shrubb (1879–1964), known as Alfie, was an English middle and long-distance runner from West Sussex. During an amateur career lasting from 1899 to 1905 (when he was barred from amateur competition for receiving payment for running) and a professional career from 1905 to 1912, he won over 1,000 races from about 1,800 started. At the peak of his career he was virtually unbeatable at distances up to 15 miles, often racing against relay teams so that the contest would be more competitive. He won the International Cross-Country Championships in 1903 and 1904. On 4 November 1904, at Ibrox Park, Glasgow, he broke the world record for the one hour run as well as all amateur records from six to eleven miles, and all professional records from eight to eleven miles, running eleven miles, 1137 yards (18.742 km). Altogether he set 28 world records.

  • Scotland: Powderhall


The great annual professional meeting on 1st January, which has taken place every year since 1870, was for many years known simply as Powderhall, since that was where it took place. It is now known mainly as the New Year Sprint and although it is a real festival of sprinting, there have been races at half mile, mile, two miles and long distance. In the era of Open Athletics, amateurs have been permitted to enter since 1993.

Scotland’s greatest ever sprinter George McNeill won the Centenary running of the race in 1970. For the illustrious history of this event, do look up the website:

You will also find an article about Powderhall under ‘The Games’ in


“Tom Brown’s Schooldays” by Thomas Hughes, was a very successful novel (published 1857). It is set in the 1830s and includes a marvellous description of a paper-chase cross-country run for senior pupils at a top fee-paying residential public school. Adults do not seem to have competed in this sport until Thames Hare and Hounds (the oldest cross-country club in the world) organised events from 1868. Such a steeplechase involved ‘hares’ starting ahead of the main pack, marking their route with a trail of paper. The pack of runners would then follow the trail, the first to catch the hares being the victor.

In 1879 the use of paper trails was banned in Wimbledon Common. 1883 was the year when the English Cross-Country Association was founded. The Scottish Cross-Country Union followed in 1890.

Before that, many cross-country races had taken place in Scotland. In Carnwath in Lanarkshire, the ‘Red Hose’ XC race dates back to the early 19th C. Public Schools and Universities encouraged cross-country running. Clydesdale Harriers was formed in May 1885; as was Edinburgh Harriers (that September). Colin Shields’ invaluable centenary history of the Scottish Cross Country Union (“Runs Will Take Place Whatever The Weather”) gives fascinating details.

This book, combined with the on-line archive of the Scottish Road Running and Cross Country Commission, and will tell readers a great deal about top Scottish cross country runners, male and female. The articles (in SDRH) about ‘Women’s Cross Country’ are particularly interesting. Between 1931 and 1957, there were only five International XC matches for Scottish women. The modern era began in 1967. However Scottish National championships were run between 1932 and 1938; and from 1951 onwards. The men were much luckier, since Scottish National Championships started in 1886, and the International Championships in 1903, at Hamilton Park Race Course, Scotland.

A Scottish Veteran Harriers Club Group

The Scottish Veteran Harriers Club began in 1970. Our cross-country champions include the following.

Dale Greig, Janette Stevenson, Tricia Calder, Sandra Branney, Trudi Thomson, Christine Haskett-Price, Liz McColgan, Sonia Armitage, Lynn Harding, Sue Ridley, Jane Waterhouse, Angela Mudge, Fiona Matheson, Melissa Whyte, Joasia Zakrzewski, Lesley Chisholm, Janet Dunbar, Hilary McGrath, Claire Thompson, Betty Gilchrist, Anne Docherty, Ann White, Katie White, Linden Nicholson, Jennifer MacLean

John Emmet Farrell, Gordon Porteous, Davie Morrison, Andy Forbes, Willie Marshall, Tom O’Reilly, Bill McBrinn, Bill Stoddart, Charlie McAlinden, Alastair Wood, Andy Brown, Hugh Gibson, Hugh Rankin, Ian Leggett, Walter McCaskey, John Linaker, Donald Macgregor, Dick Hodelet, Jim Alder, Brian Scobie, Bill Scally, Brian Carty, Allan Adams, Donald Ritchie, Davie Fairweather, Bobby Young, Pete Cartwright, Doug Gemmell, George Mitchell, Archie Duncan, Colin Youngson, George Meredith, Charlie MacDougall, Ian Elliot, George Sim, Brian Emmerson, Archie Jenkins, Brian Kirkwood, Frank Barton, Gerry Gaffney, Fraser Clyne, Keith Varney, Simon Pride, Ed Stewart, Colin Donnelly, John Duffy, Gerry Fairley, Andy McLinden, Brian Gardner, Ian Stewart, Iain Campbell, Neil Thin, Tommy Murray, Bobby Quinn, Kerry-Liam Wilson, Robert Gilroy, Jamie Reid, Andy McLinden, Frank Hurley, Tony Martin, George Black, Paul Thompson, Alex Sutherland, Les Nicol, Stephen Cromar.

Highland Games: Running

The Highland Games probably go back to the 14th century but, in their modern form, are about 150 years old. The ‘boom’ in Highland Games was due to: the development of the railway system in the middle of the 19th Century; and Queen Victoria’s summer residence in Scotland. At first, all the Games were professional; but since 1993 have been open to every athlete. Two of the most famous are Braemar (picture below) and Ballater, both with hill races.

A series of Amateur Highland Games were introduced eventually – many of them in the Lowlands. Although the ‘Heavy’ Events: caber, hammer, shot put etc are most famous, grass track middle distance races (scratch or handicap) also featured, as well as hill and road races.

For example, Forres Highland Games used to include the finish of the Inverness to Forres Marathon. Nowadays it has a 10k road race and most events have been axed or shortened drastically. Many Games had road races: Strathallan 22 mile; Bute 18; Glenurquhart, the Inverness to Drumnadrochit 15; Glasgow the hilly Drymen to Scotstoun 15; Gourock 14; Dunblane 14; Shotts 14; Carluke 12; Bearsden 10. Kinlochleven had the Mamore Hill Race, with at least a third on the road. Alva had another hill race. Achmony hill race at Glenurquhart is one that survives.

Running those traditional events over non-standard distances was great fun; and the road races were excellent preparation for aspiring serious marathon racers.

Amateur Outdoor Track

From 1865, the Amateur Athletic Club held track and field championships in London. One mile and Four miles races were included. However, entry was restricted to ‘gentleman amateurs’. In 1880 the Amateur Athletic Association took over and the sport was open to anyone who had never been a professional athlete.

The Scottish Amateur Athletic Association was founded in 1883; and the first championships (for men) that year included 880 yards and one mile; ten miles track featured in 1886; and four miles in 1887.

The Scottish Women’s Amateur Athletic Association was formed in 1931: 880 yards was the longest distance run. One mile was added in 1952; and 3000m in 1971.

The Scottish Association of Track Statisticians archive is a superb resource, listing championship winners, statistical profiles of individual athletes, records, Scottish International matches etc.

Scottish Distance Running History and Anent Scottish Running, both contain many more detailed profiles of top Scottish athletes.

Hill Running

Legend has it that King Malcolm III of Scotland, in the 11th century, summoned contestants to a foot race to the summit of Craig Choinnich (overlooking Braemar). Several Highland Games (e.g. Ballater and Braemar) hosted hill races. Nowadays the Scottish Hill Runners online calendar includes over a hundred challenging annual events.

At the beginning of September is the Ben Nevis Race. Britain’s highest mountain tempted athletes to run up and down it from the late 19th Century. William Swan was the first to break 3 hours in 1895. The first race (ascent only) was in 1903; and shortly afterwards Ewen MacKenzie won the first run (in a record 2 hours 10 minutes) from Fort William and back, via the summit. Races took place intermittently until 1951, when the modern era began. The Ben Nevis Race website has all the results right up to 2017. Lots of SVHC members tried it at least once. (The writer, aged 21, a couple of months after completing his first 26 miler, ran the Ben Race in 1969, hated the dangerous downhill and for the next 30 years stuck to safer marathon running!)

Famous Scottish Ben racers include: Jock Petrie, Duncan MacIntyre, Brian Kearney, Eddie Campbell, Jimmy Conn, Pat Moy, Allan MacRae, Bobby Shields, Brian Finlayson, Colin Donnelly, Mark Rigby, David Rodgers and Graeme Bartlett.

The Ben Nevis Race

Modern Olympic Games

Although the Cotswold Games ‘Olimpicks’ took place from 1612-1852; and the Wenlock Olympian Games (which influenced Olympics reviver Pierre, Baron de Coubertin) from 1850; the 1896 Olympic Games in Athens were inspired, not only by tales of the Ancient Olympics but also by the Amateur Athletics movement. In fact, the AAA Laws for Competition were adopted by the International Olympic Committee (1894) for the first Modern Games. In 1896, the middle-distance races held were: 800m and 1500m, both won by London-born Edwin (Teddy) Flack of Australia (‘The Lion of Athens’) who also led the Marathon for some time but had to drop out three kilometres before the finish. Female athletes were excluded from the Olympics in 1896 but took part from 1900. However, 800m for women was not introduced until 1928; and (very unfairly) not reintroduced until 1960. Sheer male chauvinism.


In 1878 the great English poet Robert Browning wrote “Pheidippides”. In a dramatic fashion, he amalgamated two stories about the legendary/mythical Greek runner: Herodotus’s account (written in 450 B.C., 40 years after the Battle of Marathon) of the 300 miles trek to and from Sparta; and, 600 years later in 120 A.D., Plutarch’s tale about Eucles, who (in full armour, just after the battle) was supposed to have run to Athens, gasped out news of the victory and dropped dead.

Browning’s poem includes the lines:

“‘Rejoice, we conquer!’ Like wine through clay,

Joy in his blood bursting his heart, he died – the bliss!”

Roger Robinson wrote: “Presumably it was Browning’s poem that Professeur Michel Breal had in mind, when he wrote to the Athens Olympic Committee in 1894 to propose ‘a race from Marathon’ on the route of ‘the Greek warrior’.

As runners interested in the history of the marathon race will know, the 1896 Olympic event was won by the Greek Spiridon ‘Spyros’ Louis, over a distance of around 40 kilometres (25 miles). The 1908 London Olympic Marathon established the official distance as 26 miles 385 yards (42 kilometres, 195 metres).

Scottish runners completed several ‘marathons’ over a range of distances before the first official Scottish Marathon Championship (for Men) in 1946. (The first Scottish Women’s Marathon Championship did not take place until 1983). The first two men’s events were won by Donald McNab Robertson, who had been AAA Marathon champion six times between 1932 and 1939; a silver medallist in the 1934 British Empire Games in London; and had finished a valiant 7th in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. (He had also been selected, as AAA champion, for the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics but could not go because of work and family commitments).

Second in the 1946 Scottish Marathon was ‘the Daddy of them all’ – Duncan ‘Dunky’ McLeod Wright, who had been AAA champion in 1930 and 1931; 1930 British Empire Games victor in Hamilton, Ontario; and a close fourth in the 1932 Olympics.

The Scottish Marathon Club was founded in 1944, by stalwarts like Dunky Wright, Joe Walker and Jimmy Scott. The SMC helped to organise umpteen road races (often linked to Highland Games); liaised with the SAAA to ensure that the Scottish Marathon championship went well; and to nominate a runner to receive the Donald McNab Robertson Memorial Trophy (for Scottish Road Runner of the Year). Certainly, the SMC helped considerably to raise the standard of road running in Scotland. Our current SVHC President Alastair Macfarlane (1979 Scottish Marathon champion and Robertson Trophy winner) was the last SMC President.


Dunky  Wright (centre) in Hamilton (note the casually crossed legs)

Bill Stoddart, the 1969 Scottish Marathon Champion; won the second SVHC cross country championship in 1972; and was a World Veterans champion and record holder several times, including gold medals in the 1992 M60 10km and 25km in Birmingham.

Aberdeen’s Alastair Wood was Scottish Marathon Champion six times; finished 4th in the 1962 European Marathon at Belgrade; and in 1974 became a runaway M40 World Veterans Marathon winner in Paris, leading SVHC to the World Vets Club gold medals.

In the 1972 Munich Olympics, Donald Macgregor finished an excellent 7th. He was later to win three Scottish Marathon titles; and the 1980 World Veterans Marathon in Glasgow.

Gordon Porteous, a truly great SVHC member, was World Veteran Marathon Champion many times. He won World Veteran Marathon gold medals in Toronto 1975, Coventry 1976, Berlin 1978, Hanover 1979, Glasgow 1980, New Zealand 1981 and Rome 1985. Gordon set World age-group marathon records at: M60 (2.51.17); M65 (2.57.00); M70 (3.11.45); M75 (3.23.12); and M80 (3.47.04).

Scotland’s greatest female marathon runner was Liz McColgan (World and Commonwealth 10,000m champion and winner of the first World Half Marathon championship in 1992.) Liz won marathons in London and Tokyo and, seriously hampered by an insect bite which poisoned her system, finished 16th in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.

Modern ultra-distance

After professional 6-Day events lost favour in the 1890s, and marathon fever took over, ultras were ignored. Arthur Newton, born in England but in 1922 a 38-year-old South African farmer, is considered the founding father of modern ultra-running. Between 1922 and 1934 he averaged 20 miles a day of running and walking. His victories included four Comrades Marathon wins – this 54 or 56 miles epic remains the world’s leading ultra – and new records for the London to Brighton 52. Newton broke amateur world records at 50 and 100 miles; and, as a professional, covered 152 miles 540 yards in 24 hours – a record which remained unbeaten for 22 years. The 24-hour mark was set in 1931 on a 12-laps-to-the-mile track in the Ice-Hockey Arena at Hamilton, Ontario. The wooden surface was softened by a layer of felt and paper.

A little known fact is that, on 1st January 1929, the recently professional Newton set a record of 6 hours 39 minutes 50 seconds for running from Glasgow Pavilion to Edinburgh and the Powderhall track (on which he finished by circling four and a half miles). Conditions were atrocious – freezing cold, snowy and slippery in the West and thawing with deep puddles in the East.

In England and Wales, the ultra-marathon scene held many events, encouraged by the London-based Road Runners Club. The RRC also recognised the Tom Scott 10 and the Scottish Marathon, plus the most popular Scottish ultra – The Two Bridges 36, which was run between 1968 and 2005. Many of the best ultra-racers in the world took part and Scottish winners included Alastair Wood (who also won the London to Brighton), Alex Wight, Jim Wight, Don Ritchie, Andy Stirling, Peter Baxter, Colin Hutt, Simon Pride and Alan Reid.

Trudi Thomson finished first woman in the 2 Bridges three times and set an unbeaten women’s record. As well as running for GB in many marathons, she won a silver medal in the World 100km championship. In addition, Trudi won Scottish Marathon titles and the British Veterans Cross-Country Championship.

Then there was the Edinburgh to Glasgow ultra (not the famous 8-man road relay). This 44-mile challenge was run between 1961 and 1972; plus a 50-miler (Meadowbank to George Square) in 1984. Scottish winners included Gordon Eadie, Andy Fleming, Hugh Mitchell, Bill Stoddart, Alex Wight and Jimmy Milne, with Don Ritchie victorious in 1984.

Although these great Scottish races are no more, Scottish Championships have been held over 50km from 1996; and over 100 km since 1992, when the main man mentioned below fittingly became the first champion.

Donald Ritchie (above) of Lossiemouth, Moray, Scotland, has undoubtedly been the greatest ultra-distance runner the world has ever seen. This was the verdict in 1995 of Andy Milroy, a journalist who knows more about this branch of athletics than anyone. Milroy compared Don’s achievements with those of past greats like Charles Rowell, George Littlewood and Wally Hayward; and with his contemporaries Yiannis Kouros and Bruce Fordyce. On the basis of the length of his world-class ultra-running career and his amazing accomplishments, Donald Ritchie is considered to have been the very best.

Do read Don’s full profile on Scottish Distance Running History – you can find it by clicking on ‘Marathon Stars’ and then on his name under ‘The Marathon and Beyond’. Better still, buy his autobiography “The Stubborn Scotsman” on amazon uk. No one has ever run harder than Don Ritchie.

Perhaps his finest performance took place on the 28th of October 1978. At the Crystal Palace track, he ran 100 km in 6 hours 10 minutes 20 seconds. Imagine: 62 consecutive miles, averaging almost precisely 6 minutes per mile! Unsurprisingly, this remains the world record in 2018.

Indoor Track

Peter Lovesey, in his AAA Centenary History, wrote that Indoor Athletics originated in 1863 at the Ashburnham Hall, Chelsea, where the London Rowing Club held their sports indoors by gaslight. Other London venues included Lambeth Baths and the Agricultural Hall, Islington. New York staged America’s first indoor meet in 1868.

Peter Lovesey was also a fine detective novelist. Read ‘Wobble to Death’ for a real insight into corrupt ultra-distance challenges in the Victorian era.

The AAA held Indoor championships from 1935-1939, at the Empire Pool, Wembley. They did not return until 1962 at Wembley and subsequently R.A.F Cosford.

However, amateur indoor track became really popular in the U.S.A, between the First and Second World Wars. ‘Running on the Boards’ featured as Winter and Spring training for college athletes; and the most famous meeting took place at New York’s Madison Square Gardens.

Scottish athletes were successful at AAA Indoors events; but the first SAAA Indoor championships did not take place until 1973-1976. The venue was Bell’s Indoor Sports Centre in Perth: this had a 154 metres long banked track comprising compressed cork with lino strips on a wooden base. Twice Scottish Indoor 1500m winner was Adrian Weatherhead, who later became the fastest Scottish M40 Veteran in 10k road races.

Scottish Indoor Championships were not resumed until 1987 at Ingliston. From then until 2012, the competition was held at Glasgow’s Kelvin Hall, where Scottish Veterans and British Masters championships regularly took place. From 2013, the Championships were held at Glasgow’s new indoor venue, the Emirates Arena.