Jack Paterson


By the standards of the day, Jack Paterson was a latecomer to amateur athletics. Born at Musselburgh on 22 May 1873 to Alison and William Paterson, a grocer and spirit merchant, both his grandfather, Willie Currie, and his elder sibling, also Willie, were noted golfers. Proving that the apple never falls far from the tree, young Jack was drawn to the venerable Musselburgh Links like a moth to a flame. Eventually he would play alongside David Duncan, a fellow townsman of Musselburgh and amateur golfer, and the first Scottish amateur one-mile champion and holder of the Scottish mile record. Paterson was also, among others, a contemporary of David Jamieson, a doyen of Scottish athletics journalism whose seminal history of Scottish professional athletics, Powderhall and Pedestrianism, hit the shelves in 1943.

Paterson was educated at Edinburgh’s prestigious George Watson’s College, where academic and physical education traditionally went hand in hand. In 1857 William Turner, of the University of Edinburgh, postulated in An Atlas of Human Anatomy, that “it would greatly tend to prevent sickness, and to promote soundness of body and mind, were the elements of Physiology, in its application to the preservation of health, made part of general education.” In a world in which survival of the fittest was the mantra of the day, the public-school philosophy reflected this opinion. George Watson’s College had various sports clubs, one of the oldest being the Watson’s College Athletic Club. However, it was through the Watsonian Cross-Country Club, formed in 1893, that Paterson discovered and nurtured his gift for running. During his time at George Watson’s he had mostly played golf and taken no interest in the annual athletic sports. Former pupils of George Watson’s being known as Watsonians and eligible to compete for the school after graduation, Paterson was a mainstay of the Watsonian Golf Club and winner in 1895 of their scratch gold medal. However, as snowbound winters were not conducive to playing golf, Paterson laid down his clubs during the 1895/1896 season and joined the school cross-country club. The rest, it is said, is history.

Even before Paterson arrived on the scene the Watsonians were a rising force in the world of “field and fen”, having in 1896 supplied the winning team at the Scottish junior cross-county championship. And few Watsonian stars shone brighter than that of Hugh Welsh, who lit up the tracks of Scotland during a very short but highly successful career culminating in a brace of British one-mile titles and Scottish records.

On 27 May 1896 Paterson made a memorable debut for W.C.A.C. “Paterson,” wrote The Scotsman, “led the field a merry dance” and won by 10 yards from the 65 yard mark in a time of 4:28.0. “This” Scottish Referee reported, “was Paterson’s first essay on the track, and although he was known to be the second best of the Watsonian cross-country runners, he was not fancied much outside his club because he had done no training. If he sticks in, he will one of the best stayers Scotland has yet produced. His first love, however, is golf and he recently played for the Monks of the Braids in the final for the Edinburgh Despatch Trophy.”

Two weeks later, during the Edinburgh Harriers Sports at Powderhall, Paterson ran another 4:28 mile, albeit off 40 yards, prompting Scottish Referee already to speculate that he “might easily be another Welsh for all the data we have to go on so far”.

Paterson was not yet ready to vie for honours at the 1896 S.A.A.A. championships held at Powderhall on 26 June. Instead ran he ran in the fringe mile handicap and finished 4th from scratch in about 4:40. The spotlight was, of course, on his Watson’s College alumnus Hugh Welsh, who with consummate ease scored a double in the half-mile and one-mile events.

Eager to get back to golfing, Paterson concluded his first season with a flourish at the St. Bernard’s F.C. Sports at Powderhall a fortnight later. It was a two-part meeting. On the Saturday he ran 3rd in the mile handicap off 30 yards in 4:27.0 (worth 4:32 for the mile) and on the Monday evening he won the 3-mile handicap off 80 yards in 15:02.8. On the back of these performances, Paterson was already garnering accolades from the local sporting cognoscenti and being tipped as a champion in the making.

The 1896/97 cross-country season traditionally got under way in November with an Opening Run of the combined harrier clubs of Edinburgh – some 200 runners took part – at the Portobello Baths. This was followed every Saturday afternoon by smaller pack runs of 6-8 miles from various venues across the city, such as the salubrious Braid Hills Hotel.

On 13 February 1897 Paterson came of age by winning the Scottish junior cross country championship at Musselburgh after a good race with Hamilton Yuille from Motherwell. He also led the Watsonians to victory in the team championship, thanks especially to top-10 finishes from Lewis Jack (6th) and Alex Gibb (8th).

A few months later Paterson got his 1897 track season off to a good start by winning the 2-mile steeplechase at the obligatory fixture for Watsonians – the Watson’s College A.C. Sports at Myreside on 1 May. However, he continued to lead a double life, for that same weekend he shot a 77 from scratch over 18 holes at Musselburgh. On 27 May he won a mile handicap at Powderhall in 4:34.4 off 15 yards and then on 5 June he took the honours in a 3-mile inter-club race at Tynecastle in 15:28.8. The weekend after that he wrapped up his preparations for the 1897 S.A.A.A. Championships at Celtic Park on 26 June by finishing second to Willie Robertson, Clydesdale Harriers, in another inter-club 3-miler at Powderhall 15:16.2. The Watsonians had entered Hugh Welsh for the half-mile and the mile, while Paterson and Alex Gibb were to run the four miles. Needless to say, Welsh had no trouble retaining his titles, notably winning the mile in a Scottish native record of 4:24.2. It had been expected that Willie Robertson and Stewart Duffus would take the honours for Clydesdale Harriers in the 4-mile championship, but the crowd’s excitement turned to dismay when both favourites dropped out, paving the way for a shock Watsonian 1-2 with Paterson striding home 150 yards ahead of Gibb in 21:10.0. “The surprise of the day,” the Glasgow Herald wrote, “was the defeat of W. Robertson and S. Duffus in the 4-mile event by J. Paterson, of Watsonians.” Paterson’s S.A.A.A. championship triumph gave him automatic selection for the 4-mile event in the international match against Ireland. Before that, he had one final outing at the St. Bernard’s F.C. Sports at Powderhall, where he showed a good turn of speed to win the half-mile handicap off 15 yards in 2:00.6.

The Scotland v Ireland match was decided at Powderhall on 17 July in “magnificent weather” in front of 2500 spectators. In the four miles Willie Robertson set the pace for 2 ½ miles, when he, Bob Hay and Ireland’s Barren and Faussett retired, leaving the race to Paterson and Ireland’s Mick O’Neill. Paterson took the lead and made all the running but was unable to shake off O’Neill and had nothing left when the Irishman flashed past on the home straight to win by 3 yards in 20:37.2. Despite failing to win, Paterson had acquitted himself well by finishing 2nd in a new personal best of 20:37.8. Overall though, there was nothing that year for the Scots to write home about. With only the winner to count, the Irish équipe made it three wins out of three since the inauguration of the contest in 1895. The vanquished Scots would therefore have to wait another year for their next chance to turn the tables on their Celtic rivals.

As in the previous year, the “International” concluded Paterson’s track season. He was the consummate amateur, a puritan, or whatever you want to call it, not in the least tempted to take part in the “games” or to run for money, let alone compete alongside professionals. He was, it was reported, also a non-smoker and teetotaller. It goes without saying these days that athletes would be clean-living, but tidbits such as that were worth a line of newsprint back in the days when sports meetings were followed by smoking concerts. 1897 had been a good second year full of promise for Paterson with two Scottish titles and a cap against Ireland.

Paterson kicked off the 1898 season by winning the Scottish senior cross-country championship on 5 March at Musselburgh after a great race with the 1894 champion Willie Robertson. Despite his victory and a 3rd-place finish from Lewis Jack, the Watsonians failed to defend the team championship against the might of the Clydesdale Harriers.

Paterson and Robertson would cross swords several more times that year: in a 3-mile inter-club team race at Powderhall on 28 May Robertson had the upper hand and won by 5 yards from Paterson in 15:14.2, but Paterson returned the favour two weeks later at the Edinburgh Harriers’ Sports when he won the 2-mile invitational flat race by inches from Robertson in 9:50.2. This set the scene for the Scottish championships at Hampden Park on 25 June, where both Paterson and Robertson were to face off again in the four miles. However, Robertson, still weary from winning the mile championship earlier in the afternoon, gave up in the third mile. Even so, Paterson still had his work cut out to defend his title and only just managed to hold off Robertson’s club mate James Duffus for victory in 20:47.2. Paterson and Duffus renewed their rivalry on 9 July in the mile handicap at the St. Bernard’s F.C. Sports at Powderhall, where the 5000-strong crowd had already witnessed Alf Tysoe set a Scottish half-mile record of 1:57.8 in the colours of Salford Harriers. Tysoe, the 1897 A.A.A. 10-mile champion and a future Olympic gold medallist in the 800 metres, also turned out for the mile race, but was understandably running on tired legs and retired with a lap to go. Paterson took advantage of a 25-yard start to win by eight yards from Duffus (60) in a fast time of 4:25.0 (equivalent to 4:29 for the full distance). Unfortunately he was unable to reproduce this form in the Scoto-Irish match at Ballsbridge a week later and trailed home a disappointing 5th in the 4-mile event behind Ireland’s Mick O’Neill (20:19.8) and anglo-Scot Dr. H.A. Munro (20:30). Both himself and Duffus, wrote the Glasgow Herald, were, quote, “run off their feet”. Paterson concluded his athletics season with this and returned to his first love – golf. Despite having fallen at the last hurdle, he had enjoyed another sterling year, winning Scottish titles on and off the track and showing that he was capable of running the mile in under 4:30.

In 11 March 1899 Paterson added the next title to his resumé at Hampden Park when he annexed the Scottish senior cross-country championship from Dave Mill of Clydesdale Harriers. In addition to retaining the individual title, he captained the Watsonians to their first-ever win in the senior team championship, with club mates Alex. Gibb (4th) and Lewis Jack (6th) also finishing in the top 10.

Paterson is shown here in 1899 with the Watsonian club’s silverware.

The season-opening Watson’s College sports at Myreside on 6 May were, as usual, a colourful occasion – one of the highlights of the social calendar. Here Paterson demonstrated his speed and stamina by keeping the scratch man Hugh Welsh at bay to win the half-mile from the 25-yard mark in 2:02.8. Performances in a handicap race on a grass track in cold and windy conditions are hard to quantify, but Welsh was now the British Mile Champion and holder of the Scottish mile record (4:17.2). Two weeks later, he faced Welsh again in a mile handicap at Clydesdale Harriers Sports at Hampden Park. Having received a miserly start of only 20 yards on the British Champion at scratch, the best Paterson could do was finish 2nd to his club mate in 4:30.8. Later in the afternoon, Paterson showed his powers of recuperation in the half-mile handicap by getting through a large field to win off 18 yards in 2:03.0. It was reported that he accomplished this feat by running the entire race in the second lane where the track was firmer. Only three days later, on 27 May, he was back at Powderhall to contest the main event at the Watson’s College Athletic Sports – the invitation mile handicap. Running in glorious weather, he managed to keep Hugh Welsh in check but still settle for 2nd to Alex Gibb (60) in 4:24.4 having been allowed 30 yards. Welsh was timed at 4:25.8 off scratch. Paterson appeared not to take the Edinburgh Harriers Sports at Powderhall on 27 May too seriously, as it was reported that he had spent the whole morning playing golf. His performances in the half mile and two miles were accordingly poor. The weekend after, however, he was back in action at a Scottish Cyclists meeting at Powderhall and won the mile in 4:26.4 off 30 yards. The S.A.A.A. championships on 24 June at Hampden Park, where he was once again entered for the four miles, was a fixture he did of course take seriously. In a race dominated by tactics he sprinted to victory, his third in a row, by 20 yards over Alex Gibb in 21:33.6. All he had to do now was to conserve his form for the international meeting against Ireland. On Monday 3 July Paterson showed further improvement over the mile at the Edinburgh Northern Harriers Sports at Powderhall where he came within a yard of catching Clement Paton (105) of Edinburgh Harriers. His time of 4:21.8 from the 35-yard mark works out at 4:27 for the full 1760 yards, if not better. A week before the Ireland match, on 8 July, he tested himself over 880 yards at the St. Bernard’s F.C. Sports at Powderhall, where he finished 2nd to Bob Hay (22) and just ahead of Alf Tysoe (scratch). His time of 1:59.9 from 18 yards was equivalent to 2:02 for the full 880 yards. Fast for a long-distance specialist. Would his basic speed come to his aid in the “International”? Each country had been taking it in turns to host the event, and to enjoy home advantage. The fifth annual Scoto-Irish contest was held at Powderhall on 17 July and once again, therefore, a home affair. By the end of the afternoon it too close to call. With only one event left to be decided, the four miles, both teams were locked in an intense battle with 5 points apiece. In the early stages the runners shared the pace-making duties and were all bunched up but then started dropping off until only the Irish champion Frank Curtis and Paterson were left. When the bell rang for the last lap, Paterson, according to Scottish Referee, “went right away from” Curtis and brought the house down by winning “in great style by 40 yards” in a personal best of 20:34.0. His victory also secured, by the narrowest of margins, Scotland’s first ever win in this contest. Now would have been as good a time as any to end his season, but he extended it for another week so he could run in a 3-mile inter-club race at Berwick, which he duly won in 15:40.2. He had improved in every year so far, and 1899 was no different in that respect. Like in previous years, he won a brace of national titles, but by winning the individual senior cross-country title he also led the Watsonians to their first ever victory in the team championship. That year, for the first time in the International match against Ireland, he achieved the highest distinction available at the time to a Scottish athlete aside from winning a coveted A.A.A. title. Unlike Hugh Welsh, who twice became British champion over the mile, Paterson had never made the trip south to London to compete at the A.A.A. Championships. His track times had improved to equivalents of 2:02 for the half mile and 4:27 for the mile, and to 20:34.0 for 4 miles. His one-mile and 4-mile performances put him just outside the world’s top 10 for 1899. He was a winner by nature and he would have been keenly aware of the difficulty of emulating the successes of his George Watson’s College alumnus. However, the stage was set for further improvement in 1900.

The winter preparations for the 1899/1900 season obviously went well, with Paterson winning the S.C.C.U. championship with ease at Musselburgh ahead of Dave Mill and Alex Gibb. His third win in a row. The Watsonians were also emphatic winners of the team championship thanks to some excellent packing, Watsonians taking five of the top seven places. Having dominated the national cross-country championships for three straight years, Paterson took the next logical step and entered the 10 mile S.A.A.A. championship at Powderhall the following month. In the past the championship had suffered from indifference among Scotland’s long-distance elite, and on three occasions already since its inauguration in 1886 only one competitor had finished. Not so the 1900 championship, which saw no fewer than four runners charging up the home straight shoulder to shoulder. Needless to say, this scenario played into the hands of Paterson, who won by a clear 4 yards from Dave Mill in 57:32.2, having run the last mile in 5:07.2 and the last lap in 1:06.2.

While the indications were that he may move up in distance, Paterson did the exact opposite, and moved down! After annexing the half-mile handicap off scratch at the W.C.A.C. Sports in 2:07.4, he won the mile, again off scratch, in the Stewart’s College Sports at Inverleith Park in 4:38.0. Then on 22 May he took 3rd place off scratch in the mile at the Edinburgh Pharmacy Sports, where he posted a promising 4:34.0 on a soft track in windy conditions. The handicapper had of course taken note, and four days later at the Watsonian Club meeting at Powderhall Paterson only had a 15-yard start on the British half-mile champion Alf Tysoe in the mile handicap. Scottish Referee recounts what happened next: “The mile proved the event of the day, with Tysoe essaying to concede 15 yards to our long-distance champion, J. Paterson. The Englishman ran well for three laps, “clocking” 1 min. for the first quarter, 2mins. 7secs. for half distance, and 3min. 20secs. for threequarters. But Paterson had gone equally well so Tysoe turned it up at this juncture. In the back straight Paterson strode to the front, and, holding J. Ranken, W.C.A.C. (70), and G. Hume (120) at bay in the straight, won by three yards; same between second and third, while W. Laing, E.H. (130). and J. Bartleman. W.C.A.C. (140), were close up fourth and fifth. Time, 4min. 25 1-2secs. This is the second time Paterson has shown himself a sound 4min. 28secs. man, and we need look no further than him for the one mile champion now that H. Welsh has retired.”

When Hugh Welsh retired after the 1899 season to pursue a career as a factor of estates, he left a void nigh on impossible to fill, completely changing the Scottish competitive topography. The search for a successor was now in full swing, but it remained to be seen who would step up to fill Welsh’s boots. Apart from Paterson there were James Macdonald, Bob Hay and John Rankin, all of whom came from Edinburgh. On the west coast, on the other hand, things looked rather grim and remained that way until the emergence of John McGough a couple of years later. Another mile handicap followed a week later in the Queen’s Park F.C. Sports at Hampden Park, where 4:28.6 from 20 yards was enough to win. The Edinburgh Harriers’ Sports at Powderhall on 9 June saw Paterson in action in the half-mile handicap, where he was starting from scratch for the first time at a big meeting. Only two Scottish amateurs had beaten the two-minute barrier so far: Robert Langlands, 1:59.6 in 1895; and Hugh Welsh, the record holder with 1:59.4 from the previous year. Could Paterson get anywhere near these times? That was the question. This, according to Scottish Referee, was the answer: “The event of the day was the half-mile handicap which produced a Scottish record, compiled by a brilliant performance on the part of Jack Paterson. Moving grandly from the start he reeled off the first quarter in 57 secs., and was amongst his men on entering the second and last lap. Coming through the field he lost a bit in cutting in and out of the twenty-five others, but getting clear, he pursued the veteran, Geo. Hume, on the bend, and getting him on the straight, he overtook and passed his man, winning with ease in 1 min. 59 sec. This knocks 2-5 secs. off the record made by Hugh Welsh at the same meeting a year ago. Undoubtedly Paterson was helped by the keenness of the track, but he still can do better. The time was sensational, Jack, although deservedly popular, hardly being thought quite so good in a half-mile.” It was hard to believe but true. Today it would be difficult to imagine a three-time Scottish cross-country champion setting a native record in the half mile, but in these early days of Scottish amateur athletics some of the records were still “soft” enough, relatively speaking, to be accessible to such versatile a runner as Paterson. The S.A.A.A. Championships were still two weeks away but Paterson was in demand. On Saturday 16 June he competed again over the half mile in the Clydesdale Harriers’ Sports at Ibrox Park. He started again from scratch but this time he was unable to weave his way through the big field and had to settle for 4th place in 2:01.8. After an interval of four years, Powderhall Grounds had once more been selected for the big event of the athletic year. Paterson entered both the half mile and the mile, but elected not to defend his four-mile crown. First up was the mile, and here he did no more than was necessary to win by 2 yards from James Macdonald in 4:37.4. He was clearly saving himself for the half mile, where he was up against fellow Edinburgh runners Clement Paton and Bob Hay. Soon after the start he took the lead and reeled off the first quarter in 60 sec. Hay stuck with him until 200 yards from home, but then he opened up and powered to an impressive win in 1:59.6, equalling the championship record of Robert Langlands. By winning the half mile Paterson brought  his total tally of S.A.A.A. titles to three – a feat only Andrew Hannah and Willie Robertson among distance runners had accomplished so far. The match against Ireland took place a week later at Belfast in wet and miserable weather. The 385y cinder track at Cliftonville Park was accordingly heavy. In the mile Paterson was no match for the Irish champion James Finnegan and had to settle for 2nd place in 4:38. His best chance for victory was in the half mile but here he made the mistake of following Bob Hay’s injudiciously fast pace during the first lap. As a consequence, he tied up on the home straight and was relegated from 1st to 3rd behind Ireland’s James Mackenzie (2:00.8) and James Finnegan (2:01.2) in 2:01.4. According to the athletics aficionados, the times were worth at least 2 to 3 seconds faster in ideal conditions, so it wasn’t that bad a run after all.

As was his custom, Paterson concluded his season at this juncture and returned to playing golf. He had achieved much in his athletic career so far, having won every national title from half-mile to 10 miles, as well as setting a native record for the half mile. Scottish Referee described him as “perhaps the finest all-round distance runner from a half to ten miles Scotland has yet produced”.

At the end of 1900 Paterson intimated that the 1901 season would be his last. He skipped the “National” and the 10-mile championship, thus reliniquishing both titles without a fight, and waited until May before making his first competitive appearance of the year. Far from being rusty, however, he immediately showed himself to be in good shape. At the Watson’s College A.C. Sports on 4 May, running in ideal weather, he finished 3rd from scratch in the half mile in 2:02.6 – impressive running on the grass track at Myreside. The following week, he entered the mile handicap in the Stewart’s College Sports at Inverleith Park where he, according to Scottish Referee, “veritably ran a great race from scratch just failed to get placed” in a time of around 4:35 – again, a good time on turf still heavy from April rainfall. Then on 1 June he competed in the mile handicap in front of 2000 spectators at the Queen’s Park F.C. Sports, which were held that year in Gilmorehill in conjunction with the 1901 Glasgow International Exhibition. The excellent quarter-mile cinder track was one of the features of the Exhibition Sports Ground, which had already been nicknamed the “X”. In spite of strong winds, Paterson gave an outstanding performance, ploughing his way through a big field from scratch to take 3rd in a personal best of 4:28.3. At the Edinburgh Harriers Sports on June 8, he competed over the half mile, just like in the previous year when he had set a Scottish native record. Could he deliver another record performance? 1000 spectators had gathered at the Powderhall Ground to find out. Paterson started at scratch and covered the first quarter in 59 seconds. A trifle too slow. A great second lap brought him to the fore but it was still not quite enough to catch his fellow Watsonian George Black (18 yards) who clocked a superb 1:58.5 (worth 2:01 for the full 880y). Paterson’s time of 1:59.5 was maybe not a record but it was the third sub-2-minute half mile of his career and the third fastest ever by a Scottish amateur. He was once again a strong favourite to win the half mile and the mile at the upcoming Scottish Championships at the Powderhall Ground on 22 June. In the mile Paterson had no problems defending his title, romping home 20 yards ahead of W.R. McCreath (Berwick) in 4:44.4. In the half mile, however, there was upset when he only managed to finish 2nd after being pipped at the post by John McAusland (W.S.H.) in 2:02.8 with James Cormack (London A.C.) just half a yard behind. Paterson was of course selected for both the half mile and the mile at the annual Scoto-Irish match at Gilmorehill the following weekend, but there was now a question mark over his form. It tuned out to be just a blip, a temporary malfunction. In the half mile he was beaten by the Irish champion James Finnegan, but this was expected and he only lost narrowly in 2:02.2. In the mile however he finally showed his true colours by running his Irish opponents Horan, McCreath and Finnegan into the ground and winning in a personal best of 4:25.0. Among Scots, only Hugh Welsh had run faster. It was also a very important win, as it helped Scotland to a narrow victory over Ireland by a single point. A near carbon copy of the 1899 match when he won the 4 miles and helped Scotland to their first win, the scoreline being identical on both occasions (6-5). Contrary to his usual custom, he competed twice more after the Ireland match. At the Queen’s Rifle Volunteer Brigade Sports at Powderhall on 6 July he ran the mile from scratch. J. Paterson was unquestionably the outstanding personality, Scottish Referee reported. He won the mile with the greatest of ease in 4 min. 30 4-5 seconds. Finally on 17 July he turned out for a mile handicap at the Watson’s College Sports at Powderhall and finished 3rd from scratch behind C. Jones (400) and George Black (55) in about 4:31. It was to be his track and field swansong.

On 19 July Scottish Referee eulogised: “It is with a distinct feeling of regret that we learn of the intended retiral of athlete J. Paterson from the athletic arena he has so long adorned. Overshadowed for some years by the brilliance of his club mate, Hugh Welsh, “Jacky ” (as he is familiarly styled), on the retiral of Hugh, came, as it were, out of his shell both in the half-mile and mile, the championship of which he won a year ago, and one of which—the mile—he still holds. At the recent international v. Ireland he ran a great mile—in fact, his very best—doing the distance in 4 min. 25 secs. In view of this performance, we think it a pity he has resolved to retire and leave the “paths to glory” to other and, we fear, less capable feet. However, if Mr Paterson carries out his present resolution, we are certain he will have with him the heartiest good wishes for his success in life, for he was a pleasing and popular pedestrian.”

After retiring from athletics, Paterson continued to excel in golf, playing for Scotland against England and Ireland. In 1907, in the first round of the British Amateur Championship, he had the distinction of defeating the U.S. amateur champion, Eben Byers.

He holed in one on four courses: Gleneagles, Kilspindie, Musselburgh and St. Andrews.

His younger brother Charles was killed during the First World War, as was his fellow Watsonian John Ranken, Scottish Cross-country Champion of 1904 and 1905.

In 1925 Paterson was appointed to the board of directors of the firm of Messrs Thomas & James Bernard. Listed on the Edinburgh Stock Exchange, T&J Bernard Limited operated the Edinburgh Brewery at Gorgie, with 10 affiliated pubs in Edinburgh. They were acquired in 1960 by Scottish Brewers Ltd. who that year merged with Newcastle Breweries Ltd. to form Scottish & Newcastle Breweries Ltd., whose UK operations are now owned by Heineken.

In 1949, as the long-serving President of the Glasgow and West of Scotland Watsonian Clubs, he donated one of his trophies to George Watson’s College. It was named the Jack Paterson Bowl for the Half-Mile in his honour.

A lifelong bachelor, Paterson died in Glasgow on 15 August 1950 at the age of 77 of cardiovascular degeneration.


His record as an athlete can be best summarised in tabulated form:

Event Years
Scottish Junior cross-country champion 1897.
Scottish National cross-country champion 18981899 and 1900.
Scottish half-mile record holder (1:59.0) 1900 to 1905.
Half-mile Champion of Scotland 1900.
One-mile Champion of Scotland 1900 and 1901.
Four-mile Champion of Scotland 18981898 and 1899.
Ten-mile Champion of Scotland 1900.
Winner of Scoto-Irish International four miles 1899.
Winner of Scoto-Irish International one mile 1901.


This picture of Jack Paterson appeared in Fifty Years of Athletics commemorating the 50th anniversary of the S.A.A.A. in 1933.

The First Scottish Harrier Clubs

Part 1

Popular recreations are part and parcel of the social fabric of communities through history. Harrier running stems in part from this culture. What follows is the context which delivers us to the mid to late 1880s when sport, in all its forms, became organised and codified. The new Harriers clubs of 1885-86 (only occasionally known as ‘Athletic Clubs’) are part of this sporting boom.
There has always been some form of running ‘culture’ both as part of popular recreation as well as a more functional form of societal service. One of the earliest descriptions we have is of a race between the running footmen of feudal lords and also of a race in the early years of the nineteenth century at Carnwath (The Red Hose Race) which has its roots of existence going back to 1456. With Fairs and Festivals as part of rural life of Scotland, many of the festivities were the only sources of release from everyday life and recreations of various sorts including foot races featured. There were however various ‘gatekeepers’ to enjoyment, from feudal lords to the Church. Thus, the journey of leisure time activities was often regulated and defined over many centuries as to what was acceptable and what was not. By the time we get to the nineteenth century influences were changing yet again. The context from which modern day Harrier club and athletic activity emerged was subject to a number of important factors which shaped the way the clubs emerging in the mid 1880s conducted their affairs. In amongst what follows may be some mongrel myths but bear with it and you’ll emerge with an insight into these new clubs.
The social and political changes of the nineteenth century played significant roles on popular recreations. There were of course some sports that we would recognise such as golf, the beginnings of cricket, horse racing, hunting ‘sports’ and the games and activities associated with village celebrations around the natural rhythm of countryside life. However, with rapid urbanisation and industrialisation, recreation also adjusted to the new and emergent stratifications in society. A ‘romantic view’ of the countryside was emerging as part of a longing for a way of life changed, thus shifting the way in which we not only viewed the countryside, but also engaged with it. Thus, going out into the countryside was an important antidote to the new, challenging city conditions and new forms of engagement in countryside activities emerged. The ‘view’ of the countryside changed considerably by the mid nineteenth century with organisations such as the church actively taking children out to the countryside and seaside from cities.
By the early nineteenth century betting and wagering on sporting activities became immensely and overtly popular as were the new and often inventive activities on which one could wager and place a bet. Pedestrianism was part of this as a new form of physical ‘challenge’ and from the mid to late eighteenth century into the nineteenth century, ‘Peds’ (most famously perhaps Capt. Barclay Allardyce) became household names bringing physical recreations such as running into the popular sphere. At the same time, ideas of nationhood and ‘patriotic’ games were much to the fore mainly as a popular narrative by such as Sir Walter Scott whose involvement in the visit of King George IV to Edinburgh in 1822 set loose a new notion of traditional Scottish sports and pastimes and was especially important in reinventing a new narrative of the countryside and engagement with it. Scott was one of the Edinburgh Six Foot Club whose aim it was to celebrate ancient sports and pastimes, and their activities in the 1820s and 30s listed ‘steeplechasing’ which, in essence, was a cross country race. The St Ronans Border Games of 1829 also listed a ‘steeplechase’ as did a number of other local Games. Cross border influences may also be at work here as the north of England had a rich heritage of local Games not least in the Lake District.
However, not all agencies saw popular recreations as a ‘good thing’. As cities grew at ever faster rates, the great fear of city fathers and the great and good of society was that the devil may make work for the idle hands of the ordinary workers and so recreation was made ‘rational’ with the intention of ‘improving’ the life of the ordinary (mainly) man. This idea of ‘Rational Recreation’ was to strongly influence the new Harriers clubs of the mid 1880s. Popular sports and pastimes were rationalised with an ideology of usefulness while new forms emerged and became popular. The new interest in physical forms of popular and acceptable recreations saw a burgeoning of various tracts on health, fitness and new gymnasiums became popular as did swimming baths. The press also started reporting on physical recreation activities thus bringing them to a larger audience (eg. the Scottish Athletic Journal had a circulation of 15,000 plus at its height).
By the mid 1880s the need to promote recreation as ‘rational’ had changed to the need to organise it. Railways were beginning to open up opportunities for movement, and within cities transport was becoming organised, thus meetings, matches and contests between others was opened up.
As is so often the case however, some of what developed was accidental. In 1850 students at Exeter College, Oxford despairing of the horses available to them to ride over the adjacent countryside hit upon the idea of replicating the idea of a ‘chase but on foot (called a College Grind). Preceding this was the Crick run of Rugby School and the various runs of other Public Schools. Thus modern cross country running comes from various forms and influences and by the mid 1880s these young men were firmly in the grip of the new ethos of the muscular Christian that ‘manliness was next to godliness’ and so physical recreation had become a necessary marker of this manliness. Not only athletic contests but other sports emerged and by the 1860s national organisations had been formed (The Football Association, 1863; Amateur Swimming Association, 1869; Amateur Athletic Club, 1866 became the Amateur Athletic Association in 1880 and The Amateur Rowing Association in 1882 from the Metropolitan Rowing Club 1879).
Scotland was part and parcel of this new vogue for rational and acceptable physical activities. The diffusion of these activities was partly (although not exclusively) through the universities and public schools. Early athletic contests existed between the universities of Edinburgh and Dublin and as many students became school masters, sporting forms were diffused and popularised. By the early 1880s swimming, rowing, gymnastics, cycling, rugby, cricket and football were all firmly established as acceptable forms of manly physical activity (Queens Park FC the earliest club formed in 1867). The formation of the new Harriers clubs emerging from 1885 onwards owe much if not all their existence to the men involved in those other sports forming not only Harriers sections, but new Harriers Clubs. These new clubs in character and conduct epitomised the idea of the gentlemen’s sporting club as part and parcel of a marker of respectability. To ‘belong’ was much valued and set you apart in society generally and was part of ‘getting on’ which was an emerging hallmark of Scottish civil society.
This notion of the Victorian men’s club is an important factor in the emergence of the new Harriers Clubs. This period epitomised the nature of  belonging to a club as a marker of getting on and belonging in civil society. Numerous male clubs were already in existence from the earlier part of the century and new ones were always springing up, some with dubious and obscure provenance. Just some examples of the, at times, highly improbable contexts in which clubs were formed are: The Hodge Podge Club (Tobacco lords), Pig Club (Sugar), What you Please Club (Theatrical) and the wonderfully named The Wet Radical Wednesday of the West Club (Waterloo Radical Movement). Sports clubs were relatively late into this framework of male homosocial activity but as will be seen in Part 2 of this article, they became no less important not only for members but also in recruiting patrons. The new Harriers clubs also embraced the norms and functions of other male clubs with the acquisition of ‘Rooms’ and associated male club activities (developed in a further article). One of the reasons that Harriers clubs were later in their formation was perhaps to do with the fact that by their very nature they visited various parts of the country for their activity thus one central place of ‘home’ such as other sports was more difficult to reconcile. They did however overcome this factor by adopting hotels and key venues in which to change in various parts of the country that they visited for runs as well as (usually) a hotel for main meetings.
By the 1880s, the scene was set for the emergence of Harriers clubs as both sporting and male social clubs in their own right.

Part 2

Being the ‘oldest’ or being the ‘first’ in anything always brings with it a status. Being the first Harriers club is no different. However, the sporting landscape of Scotland had been changing rapidly in the 20 years preceding the first Harriers clubs. It is important to keep in mind not only the ‘new’ clubs in gymnastics, swimming, cycling and the team sports but also Scotland’s rich tradition of local Games such as the various Highland Games. Influences from abroad were also part and parcel of the formation of the Harrier clubs. In 1883 the USA held its first NYAC cross country Championships and Ireland had also held its first cross-country championship by 1881 with the inaugural French cross country championship in 1889 (Canada had a governing body by 1884 and also New Zealand by 1888). This diffusion was undoubtably led by emigration. Our next door neighbours in England were ahead by about a decade. Influences therefore were many and varied including changing societal attitudes and values in relation to acceptable activities.
The prevailing view that Clydesdale Harriers was the first Harriers club (formed in 1885) is widely accepted. However, this may not be the case. We know of the presence of a club preceding this called Towerhill AC (AC at this time denoted a club that had a broad involvement in more than one sporting form). We also know of ‘sections’ of existing sports clubs in 1885 devoted to Harrier running such as that of the Lanarkshire Bicycle Club and Langside Bicycle Club. It is probably accurate to accord Clydesdale Harriers the position of being the first bespoke Harriers Club that also managed to stay in existence (others came and went). Clydesdale’s club history records the club being formed of men from football, rowing, cycling and cricket clubs (indeed the history records Clydesdale beating Celtic FC in a cup tie in 1889).
Prior to 1885 the central athletic activity recorded is mainly around other sporting clubs holding athletic sports in the summer months as a means of making money. These were given the nomenclature of ‘Sports holding clubs’ and they often vied with each other in attracting the leading athletes of the day which subsequently boosted gate money. While most were football clubs some gymnastic, rugby, cricket and cycling clubs also held sports days. Some of the better known sports days were that of Queens Park FC, Abercorn FC, Vale of Leven FC and Rangers FC. In the face of creeping professionalism, some clubs in the east of Scotland made a move to set up a governing body to establish rules and in February 1883, the Scottish Amateur Athletics Association was formed.
The new SAAAs however was almost exclusively run by men from other sports, mainly rugby, football and the universities and the setting up of the governing body met with almost instant disapproval from sports clubs in the west of Scotland. It was clear that there was an emerging sporting ‘aristocracy’ vying with themselves for control of a sporting activity that gave influence and not a little financial support for other sports clubs through Sports Days. Athletics (in the sense of both track and field and cross-country running) became a battleground of control and resistance for some years to come. The story of this is worth developing as a separate piece. It is in part therefore, due to a number of catalysts, that we find ourselves by 1885 with the formation of new clubs. Three clubs now take centre stage. Clydesdale Harriers, Edinburgh Harriers and The West of Scotland Harriers. Clydesdale Harriers were formed on Monday 4th May, 1885; Edinburgh Harriers on 30th September, 1885 and the West of Scotland Harriers on 14th September, 1886. These clubs almost certainly recruited men who had experience of Harrier running as it would be unlikely to join a club without such prior knowledge and experience of the activity. This suggests that many of the clubs that these men were already in membership of, either had Harriers sections or had put on runs perhaps as part of training or in place of activities in winter months

Clydesdale Harriers

At its meeting on 4th May, 1885 Allan Kirkwood was elected President, A.M. Campbell as Treasurer and Alex McNab as secretary. Given that it was now the summer months they set about organising a track meeting on the south side of Glasgow. The club were formed by the partial influence of the McNeill brothers of Glasgow Rangers FC and their choice of name may in some way be connected with an area of Lanarkshire where one of the McNeill brothers lived for a period of time. The club also had connections with Partick Thistle FC.  Members of Linside Rowing Club were also members as well as members of the Victoria and Caledonian Bicycle Club of Paisley and the club developed extensive links with other football clubs around the west of Scotland. Clydesdale Harriers carried the flag for Harrier activity and athletics generally for the next year which saw the sport develop its own marque mainly through cross-country running, as this form of activity was sufficiently set apart from those members of the SAAAs such that it was relatively non-threatening. Clydesdale was therefore able to set about establishing the boundaries of the sport and its social structures. It also had to deal with betting rings such as the ‘Co-partnery’ but the club in some respects was also a function of the inactivity of the new SAAAs.
Clydesdale’s membership initially was wide and varied and perhaps just three examples serves the purpose of illustrating the draw Clydesdale had in attracting members from other sports wishing to ‘specialise’ or add running to their list of accomplishments.

A former pupil of Glasgow High School, Pettigrew played football while at school. He also sailed lugsail boats and swam (member of Queen’s Amateur Swimming Club). An initial member of Clydesdale Harriers he was also a member of Clyde Amateur Rowing Club and excelled both as a sculler and single oarsman. James ‘Teuch’ Campbell won the second Scottish cross-country championship in 1887 and had a successful career as a doctor in Helensburgh. George T Ward is best known as an excellent sprinter. A founder member of the club in 1885, he took part in Clydesdale’s first track meeting in May 1885. He and Tom Blair of Queens Park FC were, more famously, involved in 1887 in challenge matches over 220 and 440 yards.
Clydesdale duly set about arranging track events for the summer while preparing for a winter of cross-country running and successfully put on a number of meetings, which not only attracted attention, but also new members. It also sent the first signal to the new SAAAs that there was now a club whose central focus was both track and field as well as cross-country. However, from the start there was to be controversy in relation to the influence of betting from book makers at meetings, arising in part not just as a threat to the amateur ideal, but also linked to the handicapping of athletes. This was a problem that was to affect clubs and the sport for some years to come.

Edinburgh Harriers

This club was a distinct mix of interested parties. Formed on 30th September, 1885 at the Richmond Hotel in Edinburgh, the meeting was conceived by St George’s Football Club who wished to form a harriers section of the club. However, one David Scott Duncan (later to be thought of as the ‘Father of Scottish Athletics’) had convened a meeting the evening before between friends and colleagues from the university in Edinburgh where he had been a student (law) and from Edinburgh schools. He wished to form not a section but a separate club in Edinburgh given over to Harrier running. While no decision was taken at the meeting of the 29th, he attended the meeting on the 30th and spoke eloquently about the need to ‘form one (club) on a more liberal basis’ rather than as a section of another club. The motion was carried and Edinburgh Harriers was formed. They wasted little time.
Their first run was from the Harp Hotel in Corstorphine on 17th October, 1885 over 6 miles and is the first run of any Harrier club of the ‘modern era’. Walter Gabriel a well known Edinburgh University member was pace along with David Scott Duncan as whip, and a further 14 runners completed the course including JN Bow who was to become President after Walter Gabriel. They subsequently used a number of venues around Edinburgh as bases for running such as the Volunteer Arms, Morningside; Mrs Crosbie’s Inn, Levenhall; Sheephead Inn, Duddingston and Justinlees Inn, Eskbank. By 1887 the club had a membership of just over 300 in a matter of two years.
The initial membership of the club spanning the inaugural meeting and their first run included RH Morrison, TED Ritchie, DS Duncan, W Rodger, J Caw, J Heron, WA McLaren, JH Allen, WH Wilson, WP Grant, JG Grant, G Beattie, Webster Brown, R Paton, WP Arnot and JC Clarkson, JN Bow, JHA Laing, J Luke, Walter Gabriel, AM Luke, J Meek, EJ Keith, FW White, J Macrae, G Weir, JWL Beck, W Williamson and J Menzies.

The influence of David Scott Duncan would have been significant. He was a singularly well connected man. He was appointed secretary of the Scottish Amateur Athletic Association just the year before in 1885 while still in his mid twenties. By this time he had also made his mark as a scholar at Royal High School (winning the India Prize) and at the University of Edinburgh studying law. He would go on to initiate an athletic contest with Ireland; become a scratch golfer (Captain of the Royal Musselburgh Club); run in over 300 races winning over 150 prizes and also become editor of the Golfing Annual and also become the correspondent for ‘The Field’ in Scotland. He was a man of both influence and charm who had the abilty to ‘take people with him’ in discussions and arguments, a skill that would become much needed of the next few years as the cross-country running wrestled with various assaults on its path to an autonomous sport.
The occupational status of other Edinburgh Harriers was interesting. The limited amount of research so far indicates that initial membership included 2 Writers to the Signet (Bow and Duncan) with significant numbers drawn from former pupils of Royal High School, Edinburgh and the University. However by 1887 with membership at some 300, it is clear that the membership of Edinburgh attracted men of some social position. The issue of the social status of members of Harriers clubs is the subject of another article.
Edinburgh Harriers and Clydesdale Harriers held the first inter-club run in February 1886 at Govan with the first Cross-country Championships being held shortly after in March (AP Findlay of Clydesdale Harriers won from DS Duncan of Edinburgh Harriers but Edinburgh winning the team race).

There then followed a brief pause in the formation of clubs. In reviewing the sources the issue of ‘local politics’, control, suspect handicapping at sports meetings and social mobility all played their part. One of the first inklings that all was not well with athletics more broadly in the first year comes from an observation in the Scottish Athletic Journal of August 5th, 1885 some 3 months after the formation of Clydesdale Harriers. The author, signing himself as ‘Utilitarian’ observes that ‘Clydesdale harriers will soon tire of private runs. Why should not the Queens Park form a harrier section to the club for non-football playing members?’ He then goes on to state that ‘The men of the Clydesdale burn to meet foemen worthy of their steel, and none are to be found. It is a capital sport, and will soon become popular. Moreover, it is splendid winter training.’ It is clear that the two main sporting newspapers of the day took opposing sides. The ‘Scottish Umpire’ was strongly supportive of Clydesdale Harriers while the ‘Scottish Athletic Journal’ promoted the idea of setting up of more harriers clubs. Why these relative positions should have been adopted is not clear except that over the next few weeks and months a war of words broke out in relation to a new club culminating in the summer on 1886, when it became clear that there had been many approaches and discussions in relation to setting up another club. This was duly announced in the Scottish Athletic Journal in August and September of 1886.
In September 1886, the West of Scotland Harriers were formed. However, other events were shaping the landscape of track athletics which in part led to the formation of the new club. There was a growing number of Sports Days put on by clubs of other sports by 1885 and handicapping became a source of contention and at times outright hostility. There existed a group known as the ‘Co-Partnery Ring’ which although shadowy is thought to have been an unholy alliance between handicappers of the day and those involved in betting and gambling thus leading to races being ‘fixed’. There were numerous attempts to solve this, but due to the often obscure membership of the Co Partnery, little progress was made. Accusation followed counter accusation and the SAAAs also appeared powerless to deal with it. The result was that a number of individuals took matters into their own hands. Unfortunately for Clydesdale Harriers, being the only ‘athletics’ club many of their members were at the sharp end of the ensuing civil war. Some officials (of which a Mr Tait was one) tried to ensure the status quo held.
The athletes themselves tired of the unfair handicapping system they were forced to endure and in the period of the winter cross-country season of October 1885 and March 1886 there was clearly a move to break the hold that some viewed the existing clubs and organisations to have on the sport. Part of this early debate also centred around the objective of Clydesdale Harriers to support the growth of ‘sections’ of the club around the west of Scotland. By 1886 they were successful in promoting the sport through these means although in the first year of its existence it had only managed to take its club runs to a small number of limited venues as well of course as hosting the first inter-club with Edinburgh Harriers. However it was clear that Clydesdale Harriers had aspirations and viewed the growing discontent and the prospect of new clubs with some concern. Newspaper sources then pick up what was to become a recurrent theme as to the motives and background of individuals who were, by summer 1886, openly talking of starting a new harriers club. Those involved in the early discussions to set up this new club were seen as ‘elite’ and snobbish. The gauntlet was laid down on September 7th, 1886 with a circular reprinted in the Scottish Athletic Journal of an invitation to all athletic and football clubs in the west of Scotland to form a Harriers club in Glasgow. The response in the The Scottish Umpire was immediate. It condemned the circular as ‘conspicuous for its ignorance or disregard for contemporary history’ It went on to say that the reason for promoting another Harriers club in Glasgow would not be accepted by the general body of western athletes. They viewed the new club as ‘opposition’ and as an ‘unfriendly rival’. With gloves off, the new harriers club was formed a week later.

The West of Scotland Harriers

At a meeting at the Langholm Hotel on 14th September, 1886 the West of Scotland Harriers was formed. From the outset, the signatories to the original circular and those present at the meeting included some big hitters on the sporting landscape. The original circular was signed by AS Pettigew clearly disaffected by Clydesdale Harriers and wishing to move clubs; footballer AD Finlayson of Queens Park FC, cyclist CC Calder of Royal Scottish Bicycle Club, cricketer AJ Young of Dennistoun Cricket Club and rower WM Walker of Clydesdale Amateur Rowing Club.
At the meeting of 14th there were reputedly 50 gentlemen present. Although MP Fraser of Glasgow University Athletic Club had been asked to chair, it was CC Calder from the Royal Scottish Bicycle Club that took the chair. Both MP Fraser and DS Duncan had sent letters of support which were read out. Also present was a Mr Lawson from Clydesdale Harriers but withdrew from the meeting at the early stages. The meeting went well. John Meikle of Bellahouston Bicycle Club proposed the motion to form a Harriers club for the west of Scotland; WH Walker of Clydesdale Rowing club seconded the motion and it was carried by acclamation. The West of Scotland Harriers became the third club to be formed. T Skinner proposed the name the West of Scotland Harriers Club.

The office bearers make interesting reading. Elected to President of the club was Stewart Lawrie of Queens Park FC and one of the dynasty of Lawrie brothers who played for the club. Stewart Lawrie was to become one the key figures in Scottish sport also becoming president of Queens Park FC (having joined in August, 1880 aged 21) as well as president of the Scottish Gymnastic Association, Scottish Cross Country Association and the SAAAs. Lawrie had been a member of Langside Bicycle Club and may well have been a member of their ‘Harriers section’ prior to the formation of any bespoke Harrier club. T Skinner (Western Bicycle Club) was elected as Vice President, treasurer was AJ Young (Dennistoun Cricket Club), John Meikle (Bellahouston Bicycle club) as Secretary and WM Walker (Clydesdale Amateur Rowing Club) was elected club captain. Vice-Captain was JD Finlayson (Queens Park FC) and the committee consisted of DC Brown (Queens Park FC), GW Brown (SGBC), AS Pettigrew (Clyde Amateur Rowing Club), CC Calder (Royal Scottish Bicycle Club) and AC Symington (Glasgow Academicals).

Support was received from cycling clubs, rowing clubs, the 1st Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteer Athletic Club and Glasgow University Athletic Club as well as various rugby clubs such as Glasgow Academicals, West of Scotland, Kelvinside AC, Queens Park FC and Battlefield FC. Membership was drawn from a wide range of social groupings and interests including not only the above but also former pupil clubs of Glasgow schools such as Glasgow High School and even one member from Airedale Harriers in Yorkshire, WH Higgins.

West of Scotland Harriers 1886

This is believed to be the oldest club photograph of any of the three clubs. Long sleeved jerseys were obligatory (wool) and clearly visible are the trail makers. The footwear is varied but of course they would be wearing what they would normally wear for the previous main sport. Clearly visible is Stewart Lawrie (5th from the left back row) and DC Brown (3rd from the left back row). Also clearly visible are the horizontal black and white stripes of a Queens Park FC strip. It is not known what function the dog went on to serve!
The scene was now set for a fuller cross country season for 1886/87.


It is always difficult to infer from sources that are scarce but the job of anybody recounting history is to deal with the facts when they are clear and to ‘suggest’ when they are less clear. Nearly all of the above has been gleaned from club histories where they exist and from contemporary newspaper sources who have their own camps that they support and indeed contributors who may be partial. Further work is needed on those years that preceded 1885 in order to establish just how young men came to enthuse about Harrier or cross-country running. It clearly was a sport that had been sampled but with whom and when and how often? A deeper understanding of both Edinburgh Harriers and the West of Scotland Harriers is also needed since neither have been researched properly unlike Clydesdale Harriers whose club history was undertaken by Brian McAusland. Biographies are also needed of those ‘movers and shakers’ who guided, cajoled and drove the sport in the various directions they thought appropriate. While some attempt has been made to fill in some biographical information in this short initial history, the real understanding of what happened and why often lies with the personal ambitions and trajectories of key individuals.
This short history of the beginning of Scottish Athletics and their clubs also needs to be understood in the context of governance and the ensuing battle for control. Over the following years from 1885 there was some 7 attempts to exercise governance over organisations, clubs and individuals and this will be the subject of a further piece. However, no history of the initial days of the sport would be complete without the more human and ‘ordinary’ face of the sport. There is ample evidence to suggest that these new Harriers clubs were havens for the personal and social aspirations of their members. Gentlemen’s clubs were still part of social mobility for aspiring young men. The enthusiasm that the original clubs also set about in gathering Patrons, is testament to the way they viewed themselves and their position in Scottish sport as well as setting down a marker as to the type of member it wished to attract. ‘Belonging’ was everything in Victorian male civil society! This will be subject of a further piece of work showing the homosocial, liminal and at times disgraceful behaviour of club members.
Further contributions and corrections to this article are more than welcome.

Scottish Veteran Harriers Club: from 1970-1992; then celebrating 50 years in 2020.


Walter Ross


In 2020, the SVHC celebrates 50 years of lively existence. Long may Masters Athletics continue to flourish!

In the 1970s, the Club was almost completely organised by and for Men over the age of 40. Nevertheless, Dale Greig (a Scottish cross-country champion who, in 1967, had set the first Women’s world marathon record) did a tremendous amount of work helping the founder, Walter Ross, not only by typing up the first decade’s Newsletters, which were either a single sheet of paper, printed on both sides, or a couple of sheets stapled together. This Newsletter was posted out to members three or four times a year. DALE HAS SINCE BEEN INDUCTED INTO THE SCOTTISH ATHLETICS HALL OF FAME.

By the mid-1970s, Dale Greig and her friend [former Scottish track and cross-country champion Aileen Lusk (nee Drummond)] took part in at least two Scottish Veteran Women’s XC championships and raced as guests in Club events. However, these championships may not have been restarted until 1984, when the SWCCU accepted a W35 category in the Women’s Senior National XC.

Between 1980 and 1985, competing in W50 and W55 age groups, Aileen won four bronze medals for road running in World Veteran Championships. Alastair Wood, Bill Stoddart and Donald Macgregor had been World Veteran Champions, as well as Emmet Farrell, Gordon Porteous and David Morrison. A key moment had been in late 1982, when the SVHC accepted Veteran Women as full members; and shortly afterwards, Aileen Lusk and Molly Wilmoth joined the Club committee. From then on, the number of Female SVHC runners grew steadily. From 1993, the Scottish Veteran XC Championships included races on the same day at the same venue for both sexes. Nowadays, of course, there are almost as many Female runners as Men in most events. When it comes to International Masters Championships, it seems that Scottish Women usually gain more medals than the Men.

How has the fixture list changed? Well, less than might be imagined. From 1972 until 1984, the annual Scottish Veteran Harriers Open XC (for Men) was the Scottish Vets Championship; thereafter the SCCU took over. The list included: at least two other club cross-country races, a hill race; road races over 10 miles, half marathon and marathon; a road relay; the Christmas Handicap (over a distance of four and two-thirds of a mile), the Glasgow 800 road race; and Outdoor Track and Field championships. British Veteran events featured: XC (for Women too) and Track and Field (including 10,000m). Both European and World Veterans Championships had Track, Field, 10,000m, and Marathon.

In 1988, the first Home Countries Veteran/Masters XC International took place; and this has developed into perhaps the most important race of the year for the fastest Scottish distance athletes. Certainly by 1989, the Kelvin Hall Indoor Track and Field allowed Scottish Vets to race on the boards, throw or jump, while sheltered from the elements.

The 2019 fixture list contained: Christmas Handicap; Snowball Race; Cairnpapple Hill Race; SVHC 5k, 10 miles, half marathon, marathon, 10,000m; SAL Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field, Masters XC; BMAF road relays, 10k, ten miles, half marathon, marathon, XC; British and Irish Masters XC International; European Masters Outdoor Track and Field; World Masters etc etc. As I suggested above: FLOURISHING.

But let us not forget so many SVHC members, not only the champions but all the hard-working officials and everyone who trained and raced as well as they could, were as fit as possible in several age groups and who loved the ups and downs of a tough, rewarding sport. In another 50 years, I am optimistic that the Scottish Veteran Harriers Club, by this or a revised name, can reach its centenary!

N.B. Please note the following websites for a wealth of statistics and detailed reading: Scottish Distance Running History (especially The Veterans section); Anent Scottish Running; the Archive of the Scottish Road Running and Cross Country Commission; and the Scottish Athletics Archive (or Scottish Association of Track Statisticians).

                                                                                             THE BEGINNINGS

A veteran movement had been started in Germany to cater for long distance runners in the older age bracket, named IGAL for short.   Its idea was to foster the love of distance running for its own sake over path, road and field but even masters or veterans have not entirely lost their competitive urge and inevitably it was mandatory to promote annual road races at 10 kilometres (six and a quarter miles) and 25 kilometres (fifteen and five eighth miles) and in alternate years 10 kilometres and the full marathon distance.   A few years later a world veteran movement was formed, the WAVA, setting up a programme involving all athletic track and field events like a minor Olympic Games for older athletes to be held every two years.   The age categories  were over forty for men and thirty-five for women. Eventually it was agreed that groupings should be in five year periods.  Even five-year groupings are arbitrary but perhaps as practical as possible.

In 1970 Walter Ross was instrumental in starting and developing a Scottish veteran movement.   At first it was almost like a family gathering of older runners but later it spread in numbers and in competitive intensity. 

John Emmet Farrell

Perhaps the best account of the club’s origins comes from the late Jack MacLean, a real stalwart and a founder member of SVHC. There follows an excerpt of his profile (by Brian McAusland) from the website Anent Scottish Running. 

The club in which Jack has been most active is the Scottish Veteran Harriers Club, of which he (used to be) the only surviving founder member.   The other members of the group were Walter Ross of Garscube Harriers, Jimmy Geddes of Monkland Harriers, George Pickering, Roddy Devon of Motherwell and Johnny Girvan of Garscube.  How did that come about?

After the Midland District Cross-Country Championship at Stirling University in 1970, Walter Ross spoke to me.   He wanted to form a Veterans club with a minimum age of 40 years, and paid me the compliment of being one of the enthusiasts of the game.   The committee was formed of Walter and six others, and we held our meetings in Reid’s Tea Room in Gordon Street with a regular starting time of 7:00pm.   We all put forward our ideas and Walter drew up a constitution.   In the beginning the age groups went up in ten-year intervals.

 I organised the very first Veterans race: the SVHC (Club Members only) Cross Country Championships.   It was in Pollock Estate on Saturday 20th March, 1971 (i.e. in the 1970-71 season).   We had very few officials at that point: Davie Corbet of Bellahouston started the race and shouted the times to George Pickering of Renfrew YMCA.   I had laid the trail in the morning with markers of wee pegs with paper attached.   33 runners started and 32 finished.   As I worked in the “Daily Record”, I arranged for a reporter and a photographer to attend.   There was a wee piece in the Daily Record about it.     

The race was run over about 5 miles and the winner was Willie Russell of Shettleston.   He was followed by Hugh Mitchell, Willie Marshall, Tommy Stevenson, Willie Armour, Chic Forbes, Jack McLean and Andy Forbes in that order.  Andy Forbes won the Over 50 title from Tommy Harrison and Walter Ross. John Emmet Farrell was first Over 60, in front of Harry Haughie and Roddy Devon. Shettleston Harriers won the Team Award.  

Within a year we had 1000 members from the whole of Scotland.   Internationally we had great success as a small country. 

  •   In Cologne 1972 I ran the World Masters marathon, Bill Stoddart ran in the 10,000m.   The Australians were boasting that they had the certain winner in Dave Power, double gold medallist (six miles and marathon) in the Empire Games in Cardiff.   Bill Stoddart beat Power in just over 30 minutes.  
  • Walter organised a large group to go to Paris for the World Masters Marathon in 1974.  There were between 600 and 700 runners.  On a day that was great for the spectators with a temperature of 88 degrees and not a cloud in the sky, Alastair Wood won the men’s marathon in 2:28:40 and Dale Greig won the Ladies marathon (Dale went on to compete in 10 IGAL Championships and three European Championships: and is now in the Scottish Athletics Hall of Fame.)
    Charlie Greenlees of Aberdeen was 23rd and I was 33rd. We won the team race and I was 7th British runner to finish.   
  • In 1980 the Scottish Vets staged the World Championships for 10,000m and the marathon.   I, along with Willie Armour set out the course: Willie in his car with the clipboard, me walking with a surveyor’s wheel measuring the course.   On the day, the whole thing went off very well with the Glasgow Corporation giving a great meal to the competitors in the City Chambers. Donald Macgregor won the M40 Marathon title.

Having been one of the founding members of the Scottish Veteran Harriers Club, I served on the Committee for 10 years before giving it up.   One of the unsung pillars of the organisation was Dale Greig. She worked for Walter in his printing business and, as well as typing the newsletters, she did a tremendous amount of work behind the scenes.   (Walter and Dale certainly produced many Newsletters – although others contributed a lot –  and subsequent editors includedOwen Flaherty, Henry Muchamore, Jack Newbigging, Kay Dodson, David Fairweather and Colin Youngson.)

Jack (in an SVHC vest) with 200 yards to go in the 1980 New York Marathon where at the age of 51 he ran a time of 2:55


                                                         SCOTTISH VETERANS CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS

                                                                                   THE FIRST OFFICIAL RACE

Bill Stoddart with the British Veterans Cross Country Trophy. He defeated England’s Arthur Walsham by thirty seconds

The second Championship (i.e. in the 1971-72 season), this time officially recognised by the Scottish Cross Country Union, was on 4th March 1972, at Clydebank, Dunbartonshire. The course was five miles (or eight kilometres) long. The SVHC organised the event, assisted by Clydesdale Harriers.

Bill Stoddart (Greenock Wellpark H) won easily, from Hugh Mitchell (Shettleston H) and Moir Logie (East Kilbride AAC). M50 champion was Andy Forbes (Victoria Park AAC), in front of Tommy Harrison (Maryhill H) and Walter Ross (Garscube H). Emmet Farrell (Maryhill H) retained his M60 title from Ron Smith (SVHC) and George Taylor (Shettleston H). Greenock Wellpark Harriers won the Team Award.

In the programme, Walter Ross, the SVHC Secretary, and a very important figure in the development of Scottish Veteran Athletics, published a poem (written many years earlier by an anonymous Clydesdale Harrier). Walter suggested it could be retitled ‘To a Veteran’.

To a Harrier

Some fellow men seem lucky, yet

I yearn to change with few,

But from my heart this afternoon,

I needs must envy you,

Mud-splattered runners, light of foot,

Who on this dismal day

With rhythmic stride and heads upheld

Go swinging on your way.

A dismal day? A foolish word;

I would not, years ago,

Despite the drizzle and the chill,

Have ever thought it so;

For then I might have been with you

Your rich reward to gain:

That glow beneath the freshened skin,

O runners through the rain.

All weather is a friend to you:

Rain, sunshine, snow or sleet.

The changing course – road, grass or plough –

You pass on flying feet.

No crowds you need to urge you on;

No cheers your efforts wake.

Yours is the sportsman’s purest joy –

you run for running’s sake.

O games are good – manoeuvres shared

To make the team’s success,

The practised skill, the guiding brain,

The trained unselfishness.

But there’s no game men ever played

That gives the zest you find

In using limbs and heart and lungs

To leave long miles behind.

I’ll dream that I am with you now

To win my second wind,

To feel my fitness like a flame,

The pack already thinned.

The turf is soft beneath my feet,

The drizzle’s in my face,

And in my spirit there is pride,

for I can stand the pace.

(Brian McAusland adds: a romantic view of cross-country, no doubt, but perhaps how we all feel, briefly, on a very good day! The first SVHC Cross Country Championship took place in 1971. We owe those pioneers a great deal.)

The ‘anonymous Clydesdale Harrier was Thomas Millar who had been club secretary for many years and contributed to the local Press under the pen name ‘Excelsior’.   After being a member for decades he moved to the English Midlands which was where he sought work as an accountant.   His son Gavin is a film director, BBC programme producer, director, actor and has been responsible for many excellent programmes.


(In the July 1992 SVHC Newsletter, the founder Walter J. Ross wrote the following, which makes clear how several important club members had been honoured for their invaluable services to running.)


History moves on – and in the name of progress or otherwise there are bound to be changes. Whatever one’s views are of the reorganisation into one single Scottish Athletics Federation and the demise of the long-established ‘Governing Bodies’, there has to be some tinge of sadness at the winding up of the latter.

The Scottish Amateur Athletic Association and the Scottish Cross-Country Union have completed their centenaries.

However, on a nice note relating to the SVHC, it was pleasing that Danny Wilmoth, in the last year of the SCCU, was honoured as President; and that John Emmet Farrell and Gordon Porteous were elected Honorary Life Members and presented with Scrolls. It is understood that there were only thirteen such elected persons in the 100 years of the SCCU and that includes our two Past Presidents Roddy Devon and George Pickering and also W.J. Ross. Ian Clifton, who has been a member of the Scottish Vets for some years, also gave great service to the SCCU as Hon. General Secretary.

It should also be acknowledged that in the Women’s movement, Molly Wilmoth has been a President of the Scottish Women’s Cross-Country Association; and Aileen Lusk was a past Secretary. Dale Greig – a behind-the-scenes activist for the Scottish Vets, had been Secretary, Treasurer, President and Life Vice-President.

We have also officials and members – too numerous to mention – who have given, and continue to give, much time and service to the whole sport.

Walter Ross was a wonderful man – friendly, gentle and a real enthusiast for the sport of athletics, in particular distance running.   The articles and obituaries below will testify to that in better words than I can muster but I was fortunate enough to have met him many times and hear him speak in public at dinners and prize givings.  I remember him speaking at a Clydesdale Harriers Presentation when he was guest of honour in the early 1970’s and, commenting on the novel concept of ‘fun-running’ as proselytised by Brendan Foster, saying “… but when was running not fun?”   

I first saw Walter, as distinct from meeting him, when I turned up for my first ever county championships at the Brock Baths in Dumbarton.   As we lined up on the Common for the start of the race, I saw this chap trotting across to the starting line with a young woman running beside him.   Younger than he was, and taller than he was, it was Dale Greig whose marathon career he whole heartedly supported, indeed when she went to run in the Isle of Wight Marathon, she stayed with Walter’s brother.    An excellent athlete on the track, over the country and on the road, a distinguished official and capable administrator, she worked with Walter on the ‘Scots Athlete’ magazine which he founded.  

When the veteran harrier movement started up, he was the man who really provided the impetus to get the movement off the ground and keep the movement going until its impetus and sheer momentum kept it going.  

Brian McAusland

However, we should look at his life in athletics and I reproduce the articles from his obituary and accompanying articles in the

Here are some comments about Walter from his obituary edition of the SVHC Newsletter of August 1993.

Walter Ross – what a sad loss this man will be to Scottish Veteran Harriers.   His generosity in providing printing services, including this magazine, prizes at races and gifts to the Ladies at Christmas will be greatly missed.   Walter was very enthusiastic about Veteran Athletics and he spread his infectious enthusiasm and love of the sport throughout many countries worldwide, as he travelled to further the Veterans movement.   He was a member of IGAL and set up world and European Championships in many countries.   Walter’s other hobby was ballroom dancing and with his wife, Winnie, would give excellent demonstrations at many of the Veterans social functions.   Walter printed ‘The Scots Athlete’ magazine in 1946 – before any other magazine in Scottish athletics was thought about.   A man before his time, indeed.

Walter was never one to complain, although towards the end of his life, he was suffering.  He still managed to travel to Birmingham to see the SVHC vest represented amongst the world’s Veteran movement.   I personally will miss our chats in his office on a Friday morning.   Often we would be discussing a problem and with his usual smile, Walter would say, “Don’t worry, it will work out all right on the day, don’t worry.”  The Scottish Veteran Harriers will never forget Walter Ross.   We are all indebted to Walter, both as a founder member of our club and for his loyalty, support and friendship over many years.   Next year we plan to have a Memorial race and we are sure that club members will turn out to give something back to the man who started it all – Walter Ross.

Daniel Wilmoth, President SVHC

The Great Enthusiast

 For the first time in years I know my telephone will not ring late tonight, previously a frequent feature of my evenings, for although I saw Walter at work every day, there would often be a late night call, an encore, an epilogue to the day’s activities; some business to discuss or just some piece of news or ‘tittle-tattle’ to impart.   The silent bell, as the day ends, speaks volumes.   More than anything it brings home to me the realisation that Walter J Ross, my long-time friend and colleague is gone, and that his voice will be heard no more.

Yet whilst mourning his death, those of us who knew him well will not lose sight of the important thing – that he did live, a life of struggle in many ways, but a life full of meaning.   He has left all who know him and associated with him the memory of a true friend for whom service was more important than success and the joy and purpose of life.   He was just 27 years old when he first published ‘The Scots Athlete’, regarded now as a great historical reference for the sport.   Just as that publication was the articulation of the young man’s vision, so the founding of the SVHC in 1970 shows he still had the same vision and vigour when he had passed his 50th birthday.   He had stayed the distance.

Walter was one of those mortals who never grows old.   He retained that youthful enthusiasm, competitive spirit and robustness of purpose that was an inspiration to us all.   His running activities took him all over the world, and when he wasn’;t competing in races he was ‘running’ them (!), the most notable being the World IGAL championships (10K and Marathon) which he brought to Glasgow in 1980.

“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm” (Emerson) was a bye-line that ‘The Scots Athlete’ carried for many years, Walter was enthusiasm personified in everything he tackled.   He was a great champion too of women’s struggle for advancement, particularly in sport.   When I helped found the Women’s Cross-Country Union in 1960, this too was Walter in the background with another of his ‘marvellous’ ideas!

I did not expect his life to end in the way it did.   Unfortunately, death is no respecter of persons or age.   As Omar says: ‘The moving finger writes, and having writ, moves on’.   It is, knowing him, a happy thought that his courage, determination and mental vigour remained undiminished to the end.   I last saw him some 36 hours before he died, when, ever the optimist, he asked me to make travel arrangements so that he could have a holiday when released from hospital!   And so, at last, farewell, dear friend.   But not to forget .. only a kind of chastened au revoir.   In spirit you are with us always!

Dale Greig

(Dale, a fine Scottish International runner, worked as secretary for the editor and publisher, Walter Ross of ‘The Scots Athlete’ and then the typed up many SVHC Newsletters.)


Having known Walter for over 50 years – even before I met my wife, Jean – it is no wonder that his passing has left me devastated.   Walter showed his pioneering qualities by launching in 1946 ‘The Scots Athlete’ to which I made a monthly contribution under Running Commentary. The magazine was well-received and travelled to many countries.   However, it was non-profit-making, and Walter’s principles wouldn’t allow him to take adverts for drink or tobacco.   Sadly, it finally closed.  

Gentle and endearing, Walter had the highest of ethical standards, especially if injustice was involved, or man’s inhumanity to man.   His optimism was remarkable despite the stress of business and later, domestic duties.   And starting up the Scots veteran athletic movement was an act of real citizenship.   Walter admired the talented elite, but wanted sport to be for all.   I’m sure many new adherents joining us for competitive or constitutional reasons do not know that this quiet, modest little chap was the cause of their new-found opportunity to enhance the quality of their lives.

From the approximate 12 apostles, the movement has now grown almost a hundred-fold.   Robert Louis Stevenson said: “To miss the joy is to miss all.”   Walter would have endorsed that.  

In almost all strata, today’s world is very professionally-oriented or, to put it bluntly, MONEY-MAD!”   But Walter, on the other hand was the supreme amateur.   The multitude of veterans who run on country roads or woodland paths and grassy verges, rejoicing in the colour and poetry and space of the great outdoors, provide a living and vital memorial to a person for whom there is only one epithet.   Unique.

John Emmet Farrell


The Scottish Road Running and Cross-Country Commission Archive is an invaluable source of Championship results.

For the 1970s and 1980s the following Cross-Country information is listed:

In 1972, the Scottish Veteran Harriers Club introduced an open championship – effectively a Scottish Championship since it was open to non-members.

                                                                      Cross-Country Championships for Veteran Women

Dundee Hawkhill Harriers Ladies Section 1932. In the 1930s, Hawks were very successful in the SWCCU Championships – but no Veterans seem to be involved.

Henry Muchamore remembers that one important thing he did with Henry Morrison and Ian Steedman in 1982/3 was to change the SVHC constitution to enable Female Veterans over 35 to become full members. However, their membership was slow to grow. Molly Wilmoth (wife of Danny) and Aileen Lusk were key in developing recruits. In late 1989, Molly Wilmoth [(nee Ferguson) a former Scottish cross-country internationalist and twice winner of the Scottish 880 yards title] became the first Female President of the SVHC, with Kay Dodson the Vice-President.

Here are a few landmarks: 

In August 1980, Aileen Lusk finished third W50 in the IGAL (World Veterans) 10k Road Race in Glasgow.

                                                                          The Glasgow 1980 World Veterans Road Races medal

(Aileen said that she used to run with Dale Greig on Thursday nights in Bellahouston Park and it was Dale who encouraged her into vets racing and trying the marathon: the first was at Inverclyde where she suffered badly on a very hot day in August 1981 but she managed to finish first W50 in 3.45.36.)

                                                                                   Left to Right: Dale Greig and Aileen Lusk

In late 1982, Aileen Lusk and Molly Wilmoth were the first two Women Vets to join the SVHC Committee. Four Female SVHC runners completed the Glasgow Marathon.

By early 1983, in the British Vets XC Championships, all Veteran Women ran with M50+ Men, over 5000m. Aileen Lusk (W50) and two younger ‘Lady Veterans’ completed the ‘Glasgow 800’ 6.6 Miles Road Race. Molly Wilmoth ran a 10k. Other Women completed Half Marathons.

A real pioneer, Aileen Lusk ‘a Scottish National mile and cross-country champion three decades ago, deservedly gained World Veteran medals for third place in both the 10k and 25k events in the W55-59 category.’ This was in the International Veterans (IGAL) road running championships (on the 15th and 16th October 1983) at Perpignan in the South of France. 

(The Scottish Athletics Archive notes the following:

Aileen LUSK (1928-)

Club: Western

Born Aileen Drummond, she was Scottish WAAA  880y champion in 1954 & 55, Mile Champion in 1953, 54 and 55, and Cross-Country champion 1954 to 1956. During 1954-1956 she ran for Scotland once on the Track and three times over Cross-Country.

1967 1 Mile  5.57.7 ranked 7th

1969 1500m  5.17.11 ranked 5th

1971 1500m  5.54.42 ranked 8th

1971 3000m  12.31.2 ranked 11th)

In 1984, Helen Fyfe, Mary Houston and Mary Marshall ran the Tom Scott Veteran 10 Mile Championship in April. Aileen Lusk completed the SVHC 10,000m track. She finished behind Helen Fyfe in the club Half Marathon but in front of three other Women; Margaret Robertson ran fast in a 1500m Time Trial.

The track season review included the following: “In the women’s events, the number of entrants is still small, but a start has been made, and next year we can expect a fair increase in numbers. In the 100 and 200, Katherine Laing gained a double; as did Molly Wilmoth in the 400 and 800; and Hazel Stewart in the discus and javelin. Aileen Lusk ran a tremendous 5000m in 22.48.6, which must be at least a British W55 best.”

                      In June 1984, Aileen recorded 45.21 to win her age-group in the inaugural ‘10K-OK’ women-only race in Glasgow

In June 1985, at Lytham St Anne’s, Aileen Lusk added another bronze medal in the W55-59 category of the 10k race which was part of the IGAL World Veterans Road Championships.

In the Christmas 1986 Newsletter, Molly Wilmoth wrote:

“As a lady veteran, a Committee Member and also the wife of your membership secretary (Danny), I decided it was about time to put the spotlight on our lady members.

From the membership roll, I see that a large percentage is female – 17 new members in the last three months alone.

So what we have to do now is get the pleasure of meeting each other.

New members can have a shyness, a feeling of wondering what kind of reception they’ll get turning up for a race, maybe a fear of being too slow to compete.

Honestly, there’s no need to worry. And from all accounts, lady vets in the north-east are discovering that fast.

One suggestion I’d like to make is that we have a meeting of females only. We could have a pack run, followed by a cup of tea and a chat.

This would let us meet one another, and discuss how we can strengthen the female numbers at veteran races.

So my message to all lady members of the SVHC is to forget your doubts and let’s meet.

If you’re interested in a Ladies Day, please give me a ring any time after six o’clock (in the evening!).”


It seems likely that from the early 1970s, taking part as guests, one or two Women Vets (mainly W35 or W40 for a start), might run in SVHC XC eventsKay Dodson remembers taking part in several, mainly in the Central Belt : for example, on 1/12/85, 30/11/86, 17/1/88, 15/1/89, 14/1/90, 20/1/91, 22/12/91.

On 19/11/79, at Lochinch, Aileen Lusk was first W50, recording 39.13 for 5 Miles.

In 1987 at Dumbarton, over a 4000 metres course, Kate Chapman of Giffnock North was first W35 in 15.06, from Susan Belford (Kilbarchan) 16.04 and Jane Murray (Kilbarchan) 16.10.

On 17/1/88 at East Kilbride, Sue Belford (Kilbarchan) was first W35; Kay Dodson (Law) first W40; and Margaret Moore (Kilbarchan) first W50.

In 1989, Kate Chapman was first W35, from Kate Todd and Jane Murray; Kay Dodson won W40; Margaret Robertson W45; and Margaret Moore W50. The distance was 5 Miles, and Men and Women raced together.

In 1991, Janette Stevenson (W40) was first home; followed by Rose McAleese (W35). Jackie Byng won the W45 category; Margaret Robertson W50; and Margaret Moore W55.

In 1992, Janette won W40 again; Janet McCall W35; and Margaret Moore W55.

At some time, probably in the mid-70s, an annual W35 contest commenced, which was part of the Scottish Women’s National Cross-Country Championships, organised by either the Scottish Women Veteran Runners Association or the Scottish Women’s Cross Country Union and Road Running Association. (Dale Greig had been Senior National Champion four times.) The Scottish Senior Women’s Cross Country Championships started in 1932, continued until 1938; then restarted in 1950.

Henry Muchamore (who was SVHC General Secretary until 1985 then Vice President for a year before becoming President in 1991; and ran for Scotland as an M50 in the 1991 Cross Country International at Ampthill), added:

The WCCU did not recognise FV age group categories (until 1984?). Only after much debate did the SCCU agree to adding one Veteran (now Masters) W35 age group in their Women’s Senior XC Championships. Now (2020) we have ALL Male and Female Age Groups included in the SAL Vets XC championships. It was a tough road to negotiate this, and in parts a ‘quagmire’ but we got there in the end.


Records are incomplete; and races often badly reported, with Veterans omitted.

 Here is what can be found in the Glasgow Herald or Athletics Weekly or the SVHC Newsletter between 1975 and 1992. (There are much better results from Season 1992-93 onwards, when proper Combined Male and Female Veteran XC Championships started.)

1974-5 on 2nd March at Dalkeith:  Norma Campbell (Blaydon H) 22.12, Noreen O’Boyle (Victoria Park AAC) 23.21, Dale Greig Paisley H 25.51, Aileen Lusk (SVHC)

(Norma Campbell was actually 46 years old.)

(This was the inaugural Scottish Women Veteran Runners Association championships, organised by Dale Greig.)

1975-6 No SWVRA result has been found, but first Veteran in the SWCCU championships was Dale Greig, closely followed by Noreen O’Boyle.

1976-7 on 5th March at Coatbridge: Pearl Meldrum (Grangemouth) 21.15, Norma Campbell Berwick AC, 22.38 Dale Greig Paisley H 23.53, Aileen Lusk, E Steedman. (The second and last result found for the SWVRA championships.) In the previously held SWCCU event on 19th February at Dumbarton, Pearl Meldrum was first Vet (and part of the winning Glasgow AC Senior team); with Dale Greig second Vet.

1977-8. There is no AW result for the SWCCU event. However, at Glasgow, in the SWCCU 4000m Closed Cross Country championship (for Scots only), Pearl Meldrum (Glasgow AC) was first Vet.

1978-9 No SWCCU results found; but on 3rd March at Strathclyde Park, in the East v West XC, Pearl Meldrum finished 5th ‘Senior’.

1979-80 On the second of February 1980 at Lanark Racecourse, the former Scottish XC International and Marathon racing star, Leslie Watson, finished a good 10th in the SWCCU championships – alas, two days before her 35th birthday!

1983-4 at Beach Park, Irvine: Palm Gunstone (Dundee) 25.48, Pearl Meldrum (Grangemouth) 26.05, Margaret Robertson (Troon) 28.10

It seems likely that this SWCCU National Championships was the first one to feature a W35 category. Further evidence which suggests that from this season onwards there was official recognition of leading Veteran finishers in Senior Championships is that, for the first time, Male Veteran winners were mentioned in the results of the: East District XC (Rod MacFarquhar of Aberdeen); West District XC (Lachie Stewart of Shettleston); and Home Countries XC International match at Cumbernauld (Brian Carty of Shettleston).

(However, the first Woman in the 1984 Scottish Veteran XC Championships, was Ina Robertson (Scottish Vets) in 44.08. She ran the whole 10k course with the Men. Not sure if this was ‘legal’ for cross-country at the time; although Women could certainly run with Men in road races like marathons.)

1984-5: Lorna Irving (ESH) was first W35 (in 4th place overall); and Palm Gunstone (DHH) second W35. (Lorna had recently won the Scottish Peoples’ Marathon in Glasgow and went on to represent Scotland and finish a very good sixth in the 1986 Edinburgh Commonwealth Games Marathon.) 

1985-6 at Irvine on 23rd February: Kay Dodson (Law and District) 25.49, Jean Sharp (Central Region AC) 26.07, Pearl Meldrum (Grangemouth) 26.48

1986-7 at Cowdenbeath: Lorna Irving (Edinburgh Southern Harriers) finished first W35 in 9th place overall 25.39; 2nd W35 was Jackie Ferrari (Pitreavie) in 26.52; and 3rd W35 was Kate Chapman (Giffnock North) in 28.48.

1987-88: on 28th February at Irvine, Heather Wisley (Fraserburgh) was first W35 (19th overall). (Heather was a former Aberdeen University squash ‘blue’ who took up running six months earlier, on reaching her 35th birthday.)

1988-9 at Irvine: Patricia (Tricia) Calder (EAC) 6th overall in 23.50, Janette Stevenson (FVH) 16th in 25.12. 1st Vet team: Giffnock North.

1989-90 at Bridge of Don, Aberdeen: Renee Murray (Giffnock N) 23.44, Ann Curtis (Livingston) 24.10, Margaret Stafford (Aberdeen AAC) 24.37. First Vet team: Aberdeen AAC.

1990-91: on 24th February at Irvine, Tricia Calder (EAC) was first W35 (7th overall); Janette Stevenson (FVH) second W35/first W40 (19th); and Jackie Byng (Irvine) third W35 (but first W45).

1991-2 Janette Stevenson (Falkirk Victoria H) 9th overall. (Christine Price, competing for Bolton, finished first Veteran in the English Cross-Country Championships.)

 In addition, there was a W35 category, especially in the West District XC. On November 24th 1985 at Lanark racecourse, Kay Dodson finished 18th overall and won her age group.

1987: Kate Chapman (Giffnock North)

1988: Jean Sharp (Central Region AC

1989: Janette Stevenson (FVH)

1990: Rose McAleese (Monkland Shettleston)

1991: Janette Stevenson (FVH)

The only East Districts XC W35 result I can find is from 1988, when Liz Buchanan (Haddington) finished first.

The very first Veterans International Cross-Country Championships took place in 1988. Find a detailed summary of this great annual fixture in the Veterans Section of Scottish Distance Running History.

The British Veterans Athletics Association (BVAF) also organised XC Championships, in which M50 men raced against all Women Veterans over 5000m courses.  For example, at Irvine on March 13th 1988, well-known Scottish International Christine Price won the W35 category, with Janette Stevenson second. Margaret Robertson won W45 bronze; and Margaret Moore W50 bronze.

Palm Gunstone  who, in the 1970s, ran three times for Scotland in the World Cross, and went on to be the 1984 National XC W35 winner, remembers that there were differences of opinion in the Scottish Women’s Cross-Country Union. Some people thought 35 was too young to be a Vet and that the qualifying age should be 40, same as the Men. They also thought the distances were too short – 3 miles was the longest cross-country for Women in the 70s and early 80s; with 4000m being the usual distance.

Palm ran what she thinks was the first SWCCU Women’s Road Race Scottish Championships (over 10K) in Glasgow in 1984. Liz McColgan won the race and Palm was 1st Vet.

Therefore, during 1975-1992, it seems that Women Vets could not race officially on the same day and at the same venue as the Men’s Scottish Veterans XC Championships over 10K. 

From Season 1992-93, under the newly-formed Scottish Athletics Federation, Women Vets had a separate race at the same venue and on the same day as the Scottish Veterans XC Champs, in five-year age groups up to W55 (nowadays, in 2020, W75).

The distance that Veteran Women raced had increased to 6k; which nowadays is also the 5 Nations Masters International XC distance, although in the Scottish Masters XC Champs the Women still have a separate race; in the International, the Women run (and ‘murder’) the over-65 Men.

Weirdly, in the Scottish Vets XC, there was a W35 category from 1993 to 2013; but from 2014 this changed to W40 and upwards. Briefly, between 2006 and 2013, there was also an M35 age group but since then, only M40 and upwards. Yet, in the 5 Nations International, there are both W35 and M35 contests! 


 In 1985, the Scottish Cross Country Union introduced a Scottish Veteran Championship (over 40, over 50 and over 60), for Men, for individuals with a single combined team race. Initially these races were held in conjunction with the Scottish Veteran Harriers Club races. (Between 1985 and 1987, the SVHC presented medals for the M45, M55, M65, M70 and M75 age-groups; then the SCCU presented these medals from the 1988 Championships onwards.) 


1971-2 William Stoddart Greenock Wellpark H 29.52 Hugh Mitchell Shettleston H 31.27 Moir Logie East Kilbride AAC 31.49

1972-3 William Stoddart Greenock Wellpark H 28.41 Charles McAlinden Babcock & Wilcox AC 29.20 Tom O’Reilly Springburn H 30.22

1973-4 Charles McAlinden Paisley H 27.47 William Russell Monklands H 28.54 William Ramage Springburn H 29.03

1974-5 Charles McAlinden Paisley H 28.52 Gordon Eadie Cambuslang H 29.41 Jim Irvine Bellahouston H 29.42

1975-6 Charles McAlinden Paisley H

1976-7 William Stoddart Greenock Wellpark H 29.07 Robert McKay Clyde Valley AC 29.27 Robert McFall Edinburgh Southern H 29.56

1977-8 William Stoddart Greenock Wellpark H 24.21 William Drysdale Law & District AAC 24.52 Tom O’Reilly Springburn H 25.04

1978-9 William Stoddart Greenock Wellpark H 33.41 J Barrowman Garscube H 34.10 Jim Irvine Bellahouston H 34.19

1979-80 Donald Macgregor Fife AC 32.27 William Stoddart Greenock Wellpark H 33.29 Ron Prior Edinburgh AC 34.11

1980-1 Martin Craven Edinburgh Southern H 32.30 Andrew Brown Clyde Valley AC 33.19 Andrew Pender Falkirk Victoria H 33.39

1981-2 Andrew Brown Clyde Valley AC 32.29 Martin Craven Edinburgh Southern H 33.08 William Scally Shettleston H 33.22

1982-3 Donald Macgregor Fife AC 34.11 Martin Craven Edinburgh Southern H 34.14 Antony McCall Dumbarton AAC 34.23

1983-4 Richard Hodelet Greenock Glenpark H 30.47 J Lachan Stewart Spango Valley AC 30.59 William Scally Shettleston H 31.57

1984-5 Richard Hodelet Greenock Glenpark H 31.22 Allan Adams Dumbarton AAC 31.25 William Scally Shettleston H 31.30

1985-6 Brian Scobie Maryhill H 44.18 Allan Adams Dumbarton AAC 45.29 Kenneth Duncan Pitreavie AAC 46.31

1986-7 Brian Scobie Maryhill H 32.32 Brian Carty Shettleston H 33.00 David Fairweather Law & District AC 33.10

1987-8 Colin Youngson Aberdeen AAC 39.14 Archibald Duncan Pitreavie AAC 39.38 Graham Milne Aberdeen AAC 39.53

1988-9 Colin Youngson Aberdeen AAC 31.36 Charles McDougall Calderglen H 31.58 Peter Marshall Haddington ELP

32.29 1989-90 George Meredith Victoria Park AAC 35.48 Colin Youngson Aberdeen AAC 35.54 Brian Emmerson Teviotdale H 36.15

1990-1 Ian Elliot Teviotdale H 31.56 Colin Youngson Aberdeen AAC 32.36 John Kennedy Victoria Park AAC 32.45

1991-2 Ian Elliot Teviotdale H 35.23 Colin Youngson Aberdeen AAC 35.32 George Meredith Victoria Park AAC 36.30


1984-5 Donald Macgregor Fife AC 31.50 John Linaker Pitreavie AAC 32.30 Ian Leggett Livingston AAC 34.03  

1985-6 John Linaker Pitreavie AAC 47.09 Ian Leggett SVHC 49.00 Martin Craven Edinburgh Southern H 49.05

1986-7 John Linaker Pitreavie AAC 34.19 Martin Craven Edinburgh Southern H 34.35 J Moses Bellahouston H 35.17

1987-8 Mel Edwards Aberdeen AAC 40.55 Roderick MacFarquhar Aberdeen AAC 41.10 Richard Hodelet Greenock Glenpark H 41.57

1988-9 Allan Adams Dumbarton AAC 32.36 Roderick MacFarquhar Aberdeen AAC 33.12 Robert Young Clydesdale H 33.18

1989-90 Allan Adams Dumbarton AAC 37.46 Ben Pearce Aberdeen AAC 38.29 Robert Young Clydesdale H 38.53

1990-1 Allan Adams Dumbarton AAC 33.37 Bernard McMonagle Shettleston H 33.56 Robert Young Clydesdale H 34.11

1991-2 Allan Adams Dumbarton AAC 37.23 Colin Martin Dunbarton AAC 37.42 Robert Young Clydesdale H 37.58


1971-2 Andrew Forbes Victoria Park AAC 34.35 Tommy Harrison Maryhill H 35.09 Walter Ross Garscube H 35.40

1972-3 Walter J Ross Garscube H 34.03 Gordon Porteous Maryhill H 34.10 Tommy Harrison Maryhill H 34.43

1973-4 George Martin Springburn H 31.12 R Clark Wallace Shettleston H 31.51 Jim Geddes Monklands H 33.14

1974-5 Tommy Harrison Maryhill H 33.41 R Clark Wallace Shettleston H 34.22 1975-6 Cyril O’Boyle Clydesdale H

1976-7 Ronnie Kane Victoria Park AAC 31.38 Cyril O’Boyle Clydesdale H 31.42 George Martin Springburn H 38.51

1977-8 William Marshall Clyde Valley AC 25.39 Ronnie Kane Victoria Park AAC 26.49 John Clark Clyde Valley AC 28.51

1978-9 Hugh Mitchell Shettleston H 35.04 William Marshall Clyde Valley AC 35.27 D Clelland SVHC 38.06

1979-80 William Marshall Clyde Valley AC 35.55 Tom Stevenson Greenock Wellpark H 36.37 Peter Milligan Clydesdale H 36.42

1980-1 William Marshall Clyde Valley AC 35.15 William McBrinn Clyde Valley AC 35.53 David Cleland SVHC 36.51

1981-2 William Stoddart Greenock Wellpark H 33.30 William McBrinn Clyde Valley AC 34.35 William Marshall Clyde Valley AC 35.30

1982-3 Alastair Wood Aberdeen AAC 37.11 William McBrinn Clyde Valley AC 37.18 Tom O’Reilly East Kilbride AAC 37.42

1983-4 William Stoddart Greenock Wellpark H 34.04 Tom O’Reilly Springburn H 34.56 William McBrinn Clyde Valley AC 35.08

1984-5 William Stoddart Greenock Wellpark H 33.30 William McBrinn Clyde Valley AC 34.32 James Milne Edinburgh AC 34.40

1985-6 William Stoddart Greenock Wellpark H 48.41 Pat Keenan Victoria Park AAC 50.38 Hugh Gibson Hamilton H 53.35

1986-7 Jim Irvine Bellahouston H 35.22 Hugh Gibson Hamilton H 37.39 D Fraser Bellahouston H 37.47

1987-8 Jack Maitland Lochaber AC 44.01 Jim Morrison Aberdeen AAC 44.24 Jim Irvine Bellahouston H 45.12

1988-9 Jack Maitland Lochaber AC 35.42 James Irvine Bellahouston H 35.53 Henry Muchamore Haddington ELP 37.01

1989-90 John Linaker Pitreavie AAC 39.17 Ian Leggett Livingston AC 39.34 George Armstrong Haddington ELP 41.57

1990-1 Donald Macgregor Fife AC 34.21 John Linaker Pitreavie AAC 34.55 Ian Leggett Livingston AC 36.40

1991-2 George Armstrong Haddington ELP 40.40 R Rotchford Springburn H 41.11 G Angus Dundee Hawkhill H 41.15


1984-5 Tom Stevenson Greenock Wellpark H 36.22 Tom Kinsey Maryhill H 36.52 G Lawson Maryhill H 37.31

1985-6 William McBrinn Shettleston H 51.17 S McLean Bellahouston H 56.00 William Russell SVHC 57.47

1986-7 William Stoddart Greenock Glenpark H 35.53 William McBrinn Shettleston H 36.09 Hamish Scott Perth Strathtay H 38.00

1987-8 William Stoddart Greenock Glenpark H 43.36 Hugh Gibson Hamilton H 44.07 Sandy Robertson Troon Tortoises 47.08

1988-9 Hugh Gibson Hamilton H 36.25 William McBrinn Shettleston H 36.42 William Gauld Carnethy HRC 38.10

1989-90 Hugh Rankin JW Kilmarnock AC 39.18 Hugh Gibson Hamilton H 41.11 Owen Light Troon T 42.01

1990-1 William Gauld Carnethy HRC 37.53 Jim Irvine Bellahouston H 38.51 Steve McLean Bellahouston H 39.29

1991-2 Hugh Rankin JW Kilmarnock AC 38.36 Hugh Gibson Hamilton H 41.00 Bert McKay Ayr Seaforth AAC 42.42


1971-2 J Emmet Farrell Maryhill H 42.18 Ron Smith SVHC 43.10 George Taylor Shettleston H 43.19

1972-3 Herbert Smith Maryhill H 36.57 J Emmet Farrell Maryhill H 37.21 George Taylor Shettleston H 39.02

1973-4 J Emmet Farrell Maryhill H 31.47 Gordon Porteous Maryhill H 33.14 Herbert Smith Maryhill H

1974-5 Gordon Porteous Maryhill H 35.14

1975-6 Gordon Porteous Maryhill H

1976-7 Gordon Porteous Maryhill H 34.55 Gavin Bell Bellahouston H 38.51 Tony Else Edinburgh AC 39.58

1977-8 Andrew Forbes Victoria Park AAC 29.14 Gordon Porteous Maryhill H 29.18 J Emmet Farrell Maryhill H 29.30

1978-9 J Emmet Farrell Maryhill H 41.32 James Youngson Aberdeen AAC 43.40 Walter Ross Garscube H 45.31

1979-80 Andrew Forbes Victoria Park AAC

1980-1 David Morrison Shettleston H 41.28 J Emmet Farrell Maryhill H 41.33 Gordon Porteous Maryhill H 41.40

1981-2 Gordon Porteous Maryhill H 41.26 David Morrison Shettleston H 41.39 Andrew Forbes Victoria Park AAC 42.37

1982-3 John Clark Clyde Valley AC 42.57 George Kynaston Aberdeen AAC 45.32 Gordon Porteous Maryhill H 45.32

1983-4 Thomas Kelly Shettleston H 42.36 Tommy Harrison Maryhill H 42.38 J Emmet Farrell Maryhill H 42.45

1984-5 John Clark Clyde Valley AC 40.50 J Kelly Falkirk Victoria H 42.28 Bill Adams SVHC 43.24

1985-6 Murray Scott Haddington ELP 62.44 John Clark SVHC 63.23 David Anderson Greenock Wellpark H 69.43

1986-7 William Temple Unattached 40.37 Ben Bickerton Shettleston H 41.34 Andrew McInnes Victoria Park AAC 42.28

1987-8 William Marshall Motherwell YMCA 47.55 W Templeton SVHC 50.12

1988-9 William Marshall Motherwell YMCA 37.04 William Gillespie Falkirk Victoria H 40.43 Anthony Hannah Moray RR 45.39

1989-90 William Marshall Motherwell YMCA 42.43 Hugh McGinlay Falkirk Victoria H 55.45

1990-1 William Marshall Motherwell YMCA 38.07 S Lawson Maryhill H 41.43 William Gillespie Falkirk Victoria H 42.55

1991-2 William Stoddart Greenock Wellpark H 40.21 S Lawson Maryhill H 46.23 John Elphinstone SVHC 48.16


From 1981-84 the SCCU did not present medals for this category, but the SVHC may have. Unfortunately, there are no records available.



1986-7 Tommy Harrison Maryhill H 47.47 David Anderson Greenock Wellpark H 49.56


1988-9 Tommy Harrison Maryhill H 49.05

1989-90 William Marshall Motherwell YMCA 42.43 Hugh McGinlay Falkirk Victoria H 55.45

1990-1 Hugh McGinlay Falkirk Victoria H 45.42 1991-2 William Gillespie Falkirk Victoria H 49.27 Robert Dempster Maryhill H 58.44


1978-9 Roddy Devon Clyde Valley AAC 59.54

1979-80 J Emmet Farrell Maryhill H

1981-2 Herbert Smith Maryhill H 47.27

1982-3 J Emmet Farrell Maryhill H 46.07 1983-4

1984-5 Gordon Porteous Maryhill H 42.28 David Morrison Shettleston H 42.46


1986-7 David Morrison Shettleston H 45.02




1990-1 Tommy Harrison Maryhill H 56.50

1991-2 Tommy Harrison Maryhill H 83.00


1984-5 J Emmet Farrell Maryhill H 45.14

1985-6 J Emmet Farrell Maryhill H 68.09

1986-7 J Emmet Farrell Maryhill H 51.43


1988-9 David Morrison Shettleston H 46.46



1991-2 Gordon Porteous Maryhill H 55.42













Alex Wilson’s Historical Profiles

Alex Wilson as a runner was an enthusiastic member of Fife Southern Harriers and is now an authority on the history of running and foot racing going back over the centuries.   A good writer who does detailed painstaking research his biographical profiles of his subjects not only detail their athletic careers but give some insight into their personalities.   They also tell us quite a lot about the world in which they moved.   A typical article might give us the races in which they ran, how they were organised, maybe a bit about the training they did, about the principal rivals; they often tell us about the promoters or about challenge matches or a bit about society at the time as a way of putting it all into context.   Beautifully constructed and a pleasure to read, they have been brought together on this page for ease of consultation.    The line drawing at the top is of Paddy Cannon who is one that is most frequently read on this site.   To read about any of these men, just click on his name below the photograph.


There are also quite a few where Alex provided the bulk of the historical information, along with many contemporary photographs or line drawings such as those of Robert Burton, Jimmy Duffy ,Arthur Robertson, CB Mein and others.  

We also have a couple of pages with some of the photographs sourced by Alex or from his own collection, assembled over many years.

Alex Wilson’s Gallery 1: the half milers                  Alex Wilson’s Gallery 2: the milers  

Alex Wilson’s Gallery 3: Distance Runners   Alex Wilson’s Gallery 4: All Round Endurance Runners


The early history of the Edinburgh to North Berwick race.

William “Cutty” Smith

A cut above the rest

William “Cutty” Smith

by Alex Wilson


19th-century Paisley was not only an industrial powerhouse of a town, the most populous in Scotland, but also home to some of the greatest Scottish professional foot racers of all time. Some of these names may not be familiar today, long forgotten names that would have been known to our great-great grandfathers, names such as “Cutty” Smith. Smith was a native of Paisley, the eldest of 12 children born to William and Isabella Smith on 27 December 1846. The year of Smith’s birth also heralded the birth of the travel industry, when Thomas Cook from Leicester organised his first trips for well-to-do sightseers to, of all places, Scotland. 173 years later his long-running business went bust while I was putting together the material for this biography. Like most Scottish families the Smiths were far from well-to-do. Smith’s father was employed as a card-cutter at a shawl factory in Paisley, where the making of shawls had been big business ever since Queen Victoria – the fashion icon of her day – had first been sighted wearing one in 1842.

The censuses, which have been conducted every ten years in Scotland since 1841, give us snapshots of those who have long since died as well as useful clues. In 1861 the Smiths were to be found living in a tenement at 5 Brown’s Lane in Paisley. The building has miraculously survived the waves of urban redevelopment that have swept over Scotland in recent times erasing forever much of the original character of old towns like Paisley. In fact, it is now something of an underground attraction thanks to a graffiti mural of the late Paisley-born rock deity Gerry Rafferty gracing its gable end. The adjacent property is identified on old street maps as a shawl factory, which was probably where Smith snr. and jnr. were employed. The building has since been converted for residential use and the handlooms that once echoed within these walls are now museum pieces, silent witnesses to the past. It being the custom back then to follow in one’s faither’s footsteps, Smith also joined the ranks of the card-cutters. His job was to transfer intricate designs to punch cards which were used on Jacquard looms to create fabrics with the famous “Paisley pattern”.

Quite how Smith came by his unusual sobriquet is unclear. In Scots “cutty” translates to short, stumpy or diminutive, as in “cutty stool”. Well, Smith tipped the scales at 8 stone 12 lbs. (56 kg) and stood just under five feet six inches tall (1.67 m), diminutive today but not in 1870. A “cutty” is also Scots for a fast-moving, scrawny rodent with long limbs: the common hare. See the connection? To confuse matters, a “cutty” was also a short-stemmed clay pipe popular then among tobacco smokers, but that seems an unlikely source for his name. Could “cutty” simply have been a vernacular reference to his occupation? It’s anyone’s guess!

Smith not only had a distinctive moniker but also a distinctive running style for it appears that he ran on the flat of his foot with a fast, low stride and some forward lean. There was nothing stylish about his running style, but style doesn’t necessarily win races today, and didn’t then either.

On 21 May 1869 Smith contested his first notable race at the Stonefield Recreation Grounds in Glasgow. It was a three-mile handicap promoted by the Glasgow Pedestrian Club. He started from a mark of 330 yards but failed to make much of an impression. Two months later, however, he took on the reigning Scottish 10-mile champion Willie Park (not to be confused with the famous golfer) in a three-mile handicap at Kelvinside Recreation Grounds and won easily off 100 yards in a time of 15:33.5. In those days, news spread by word of mouth almost as quickly as it does today through social media. By the summer of ‘69 he was toeing the scratch mark at Highland meetings.

This old town plan of Paisley shows the house and the shawl factory in Paisley where Cutty Smith once lived and probably worked, while the pictures below show how they look today.

The subsequent summers would fly by in a blur of races as Smith skipped from one meeting to the next in relentless pursuit of prize money. These were heady days for the professional runner, when a buoyant economy brought increasing prosperity and opportunities galore to those with the wherewithal seize them. In a dog-eat-dog world where even the smallest competitive edge could make all the difference, hitherto neglected aspects such as training volume and intensity, post-training massage and diet became increasingly important. There was no such thing as a training manual in those days. This meant that trainers purported to be knowledgeable in the arcane science of physical conditioning were much sought after. In fact, no self-respecting “ped” was ever what we would term “self-coached”. Smith was trained by Jock Lindsay, a diminutive Glaswegian taskmaster about whom little is known, but it may be assumed that he trained his charges to within an inch of their lives. Another well-known trainer of the time, Harry Wyatt, professed to “work off all the adipose tissue” of in runners in his care so that there was, quote, “nothing left but muscle and sinew”.

Smith’s first big match was on 8 October 1870, when he raced Willie Park at Greenhill Cricket Ground, Paisley, for £30 and the “Ten Miles Championship of Scotland”. 3,000 “Buddies” braved cold and windy weather to witness their new distance-running sensation take on the Scottish champion. They would be rewarded for their efforts when Smith romped to victory over the veteran Glasgow ped by about 250 yards in 57:30.0. By now it was clear that if Smith could run this fast on a grass track in bad conditions, he could aspire to greater things. Even at this early stage of his running career, Smith seems to have had a penchant for injecting sudden and frequent bursts of pace with the sole purpose of exhausting and/or demoralising his opponents. It was to become his trademark tactic. Sometimes it and worked sometimes it backfired. Some may recall that Brendan Foster employed such a strategy in the 5000 metres final at the 1974 European Championships. To see some snippets from this race, click on this this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIumqbnwokc&t=11s.

The 1871 census, the next snapshot of Smith’s life, records that he is unemployed and living with his 21-year-old wife Margaret next to his parents in a tenement building on Love Street. This census was enumerated in early April, which of course was during the off-season for the professionals who competed on the Highland Games circuit. Without having to spend 60 hours a week cutting cards, he could of course devote himself entirely to training. By the same token, his winnings from the previous summer had to last until the next season, but these were no doubt substantial enough. On 1 July Smith got the summer off to a good start by soundly defeating Willie Park and Jemmy McLeavy in a three-mile flat race on grass at Greenock in 16:30.0. The Greenock Telegraph reported that “Smith, of Paisley, who came in first, showed some beautiful running.” It was not long before Smith was ready to take it to the next level. On 16 October 1871, he made his first appearance in London, in a four-mile handicap at the Lillie Bridge Ground, one of the meccas of 19th-century pedestrianism. Starting as a nobody from the 550-yard mark, he produced a sterling performance and won by 150 yards in 19:25.0. By defeating 28 other runners, including a few well-known peds into the bargain, it had taken him less than twenty minutes to get his name on the board, as it were.

Despite his promising success at Lillie Bridge at the end of the 1871 season, 1872 was to be a quiet year for Smith. Outside of the Highland meetings, he contested only three major races. The first of these was at the Queen’s Birthday Meeting at Powderhall on Thursday 23 May. Here he ran off 95 yards in the mile handicap and took the first prize of £10 ahead of Willie Park and Bob Hindle. He followed this up on 24 August with a second-place finish in the six-mile championship at Powderhall, where he finished in second place, 350 yards behind Jemmy McLeavy in an estimated 32:38. Finally, on 30 September, he placed third in the one-mile championship at Gateshead Borough Gardens Grounds behind Hindle and McLeavy in an estimated 4:34.4.


In 1873 and 1874, Smith eschewed big races and matches and confined his appearances to Highland meetings, the number of which was increasing steadily from year to year. Such was the proliferation of Highland meetings by now that on some weekends Smith had a choice of multiple options. The summer of 1874, for instance, saw him in action in Highland meetings at Kilbirnie (200 yards, 1 and 2 miles), Greenock (1 and 3 miles), Wishaw (1 and 2 miles), Paisley (1 and 2 miles), Forfar (880y and 1 mile walking match), Whitburn (1 and 2 miles), Galashiels (1 and 2 miles), Kilbarchan (mile), Leith (mile), Couper Angus (1 ½ and 3 miles), New Cumnock (3 miles), Clackmannan (880y and 2 miles), Alloa (mile heat + final) Pollokshaws (4 miles), Methil (1 and 2 miles), Springburn (half mile and mile), Dumfries (1 and 2 miles), Bridge of Allan (1 and 2 miles), Cupar (1 and 2 miles), Birnam (500y three-legged race) and Ardrossan (1 and 2 miles). If anything, this list is incomplete. However, it gives a good idea of how busy Smith’s typical summer racing schedule was. The Greenock Telegraph, in its report on the 1874 Greenock National Games, commented: “The three-mile race (handicap), for which Wm. Smith, Paisley, Park, and several other peds were entered, was the one that caused the most enthusiasm. From the first it was thought that Smith would be the successful man, and so it turned out. Smith is still as fleet as ever, and steps it very quickly, without losing that vigour which is noticeable in many of these “professional” men. Starts of different lengths were given to the whole of Smith’s opponents, but one by one he passed them, and came in a winner with the greatest of ease.” Wherever he competed on the Highland Games circuit, as a star attraction Smith invariably took home a share of the prize money, though rarely more than five pounds in total. Of course, he had to pay his travel expenses, and his coach and any attendants would also have taken their cut. Yet he had no trouble earning several times an ordinary labourer’s average weekly wage (30 shillings, give or take) in a single afternoon. In order to pull in as big a crowd as possible and thus maximise revenues, the hosting communities were always looking to attract well-known sportsmen to their annual meetings: the more famous, the better. In keeping with the general business rule that a happy customer is a regular customer, the handicap races at the Highland meetings were typically framed in such a way that the “cracks” had a reasonable to good chance of winning outright, or at least making the prize list. To conserve his energy, Smith rarely did more than necessary, and when he won, he often did by a margin of no more than 20 yards. The handicaps at key venues such as Powderhall Grounds in Edinburgh or Lillie Bridge Grounds in London were of course a different matter altogether. They usually had a much bigger single-race purse and were framed more rigorously, that is to say more objectively. As such, it was not uncommon for a leading ped to finish well down the order and go home empty-handed. Of course, peds were risk takers by nature, and the potential upside would have outweighed the potential downside in their eyes. This was the case with an open handicap at the Queen’s Park Recreation Grounds in Glasgow on 3 October 1874, a race in which Smith celebrated his biggest payday of the year – a first prize of £13 in the two miles off 30 yards.

In 1876 Smith began to include more big races and matches into his racing schedule, a change of heart motivated presumably by pecuniary considerations. The 1870s saw a plethora of enclosured running tracks opening throughout the British Isles, several of them in Glasgow alone – such as Springfield Recreation Grounds. Here, on 29 April, Smith took on Willie Park in a 10-mile race for £30. Smith had conceded the Glasgow veteran a start of 440 yards but was in such fine fettle that he caught his opponent before the halfway mark and won by half a mile in 55:41.0. To rub salt in the wound, he also broke Park’s Scottish record of 56:19.75 set eight years earlier at the former Stonefield Recreation Ground. Two weeks later Smith returned to Springfield to compete in another 10-mile race, this one being the grand-sounding “Great Ten Mile Race for the Championship of the World”. The contest was to be decided between himself, George Hazael, London, and Alick Clark, Glasgow, with prize money of £50, £15 and £5 for the first three. Hazael was evidently “in the pink” for he set a fast pace from the start and forced Clark to call it quits after only a mile. Having said that, Clark had probably expected to come third anyway! Smith held on to Hazael’s coat tails for as long as he could, but he too was forced to retire, albeit after eight miles. Hazael won unchallenged in an outstanding time of 52:05.0, only 39 seconds outside the world record set by the famous Seneca Indian Lewis “Deerfoot” Bennett in 1861. On 23 September, after a long summer of racing, Smith appeared in a four-mile handicap at the Powderhall Grounds in front of about 5,000 spectators. The proprietor, Mr. Charles Robertson Bauchope, had offered a silver champion cup plus £25 for the winner. Instead of yards, the starts were allotted in minutes and seconds – just like in a modern biathlon pursuit race. All competitors therefore were required to complete the full distance. Anyone breaking the world record of 19:36.0 was to receive a bonus of £50. A sovereign was also to be given to each of the competitors who completed the distance in under 21 min. 30 sec. and an outrageously generous 5 shillings to everyone who “competed the distance without stopping”. The Sportsman takes up the story from here: “Punctually at five o’clock the bell rung for the big race, betting on which had been freely indulged in throughout the afternoon. Those most in demand were Smith, of Paisley, and Bailey, of Sittingbourne, who were each supported at 7 to 2. The others were accorded prices ranging from 6 to 1 to 20 to 1… Out of an entry of thirty, twenty faced the starter. There was loud cheering when it came to the turn for the two favourites to be dispatched, and for nearly half-way the race was a fine one. After that, however, the local novices, who had never attempted so long a journey before, were in difficulties, and the scratch men overhauled them with astonishing rapidity. Till three miles and a half had been covered Smith and Bailey raced abreast, but in the last two circuits the Sittingbourne man came right away and won cleverly by a score yards; time 20min 38sec.” The adjusted times were 21:01.0 for Bailey and 21:05.4 for Smith, who took home £5. McLeavy, who started from scratch, finished third but was disqualified for “jumping the gun” (he had started no fewer than eight seconds too early!).

Even in the autumn of 1876 Smith refused to let up – quite the opposite in fact. On 7 October he outstripped a good field including McLeavy in a three-mile handicap off 100 yards at the Vale of Clyde Grounds in Glasgow. A fortnight later, he defeated John Beavan from Camberwell in a 10-mile match for £30 at Springfield. Then, on 16 December, he entered a challenge cup race at Springfield Grounds over a mile – not a distance he was known to excel at. The Edinburgh Evening News sums it up nicely: “The race was for a silver challenge cup, value £15, with £15 added money, the second to receive £4, and the third £1. The twenty-six competitors toed their respective marks, and a capital start was affected. In the home straight, W. Smith, 70 yds. start, rushed to the front and came in an easy winner by four lengths; Eldred, of Glasgow, 80 yds. start, was second, ten yards ahead of Taylor, Glasgow, 115 yds. Time, 4 mins. 24 secs.” No one would have been more surprised by this outcome than Smith, who would probably have been the first to admit that he wasn’t much of a miler. This race having been run under challenge cup rules, he had however only taken the first step to outright ownership of the cup. He had to win it twice, including the handicap, the winner to be penalised ten yards and to run every six weeks if challenged for not less than £15 a-side. The following week, Smith made the long journey south and spent Christmas of 1876 at a London hostel in preparation for a 10-mile handicap on Boxing Day at Lillie Bridge for prizes worth £50. Smith had been given a start of 1 min. 30 sec., with only McLeavy behind him on scratch. The Sporting Life reported merely that Smith had taken the lead in the last mile and secured the £30 first prize ahead of J. Tester and Blower Brown. Another £10 was divided among those who ran the 10 miles within the hour (eight in all). Smith’s time of 53:22.0 was the fastest in Britain that year and a significant improvement on his own Scottish record.

Smith kicked off the 1877 season on New Year’s Day at a chilly Vale of Clyde Grounds, where he finished third in the four-mile handicap off 90 yards in 20:42.5. It was a good performance for this time of year and indicative that he was keeping himself in shape for an imminent – albeit improbable – defence of the mile challenge cup. The second race for the “Mile Handicap Silver Cup” was in fact decided on Saturday 24 February 1877 at Springfield Recreation Ground, where Smith faced no fewer than five challengers, each man having paid £15 into a sweepstakes, making in all £75 in addition to the cup. Having been penalised 10 yards for his earlier win, Smith on this occasion started from the 60-yard mark, his chances diminished. However they forgot to tell Smith, who caught the last of the runners in front of him at the apex of the last bend and uncorked an inspired sprint that carried him to victory by 10 yards in 4:37.25 ahead of a young William Cummings. Having won the challenge race twice in a row, the silver cup became Smith’s absolute property. Financially, it was by far his biggest win to date.

On 2 June, Smith took on Peter Simpson in a four-mile match for £40 at Shawfield Recreation Grounds. During the previous two seasons, the Edinburgh runner had figured prominently in the east and south of Scotland and built a formidable reputation, having already beaten Smith in the previous year in an open two miles at Kelso. This time, however, Smith would turn the tables on his east-coast rival. The North British Daily Mail reported: “There was a fair attendance on Saturday to witness the four-mile race between Wm. Smith, Paisley, and Peter Simpson, Edinburgh, for the sum of £40. They alternately led to the last quarter of a mile, when the pair got level and ran alongside each other till about 180 yards from home, when Smith began a tremendous spurt and won by 20 yards. Time, 20 min. 58 secs.” To make the most of his good form, Smith returned to Shawfield four weeks later to defend his title in the Ten Miles Championship of Scotland against McLeavy. On paper at least, Smith was no match for McLeavy at distances up to four miles, but over 10 miles they were thought to be closely matched. The surface was rutted following mid-week trotting races, but that didn’t deter Smith from scorching through the first mile in 5:02. He then proceeded to inject a spurt every half mile and took care to not let the pace slip, leading through four miles in 21:03, five in 26:36 and six in 31:58. At one point McLeavy appeared to crack, but the Alexandria ace rallied and closed the gap again before sprinting past Smith on the home straight to win a thrilling contest by two yards in 54:10.0. Arguably Smith had done himself more harm than good with his spurting tactic, always a dangerous strategy against such accomplished a performer as McLeavy. On 7 July, despite a busy schedule of Highland meetings during the summer, Smith found the time to take on Glasgow’s Paddy Corbett in a 10-mile match for £30. He had conceded this opponent half a mile and would probably have caught up with him had he not lost one of his spikes, forcing him to retire at seven miles. Then, on 23 August, Smith made his first appearance in the famous Red Hose Race at Carnwath in south Lanarkshire. This race, a half-mile dash through the village, is today the oldest in the United Kingdom and the second oldest in the world, dating all the way back to 1508. However, a win it was not to be, the coveted  red socks going to Edinburgh’s half-mile specialist William Mann.

On Saturday 20 October, Smith took part in yet another four-mile handicap against a strong field in front of 2,000 spectators at Springfield Recreation Grounds. He had received a 15-second start and was one of the bookmakers’ favourites at 4-1 against. In a thrilling contest he caught the race leader George Cameron 200 yards from home and sprinted to victory in a time of 20:24.5. If you add his start, his net time was 20:39.5. There was also some drama when Alex McPhee, Paisley, father of 1920 Olympian Duncan McPhee, pushed James Bailey (Sittingbourne) off the track at 2 ½ miles. As the runners came into the home straight, the referee stepped onto the track and removed McPhee amid loud cheering and banished him from the ground for six months. Rioting was not uncommon at professional meetings as such events tended to attract a highly volatile element with a dangerous inclination to drink and gamble. To avoid crowd trouble, fraud of any kind had to be seen to be sanctioned with an appropriate measure of severity.

Having confirmed his good form, Smith signed articles for a match against Jemmy McLeavy to decide the 10-mile championship for £50 and a champion belt. The race was supposed to take place at Shawfield Recreation Grounds on 10 November but failed to materialise when Smith contracted gastric fever and was forced to forfeit, giving McLeavy the luxury of a walk-over. Thus ended the 1877 season.

The 1878 season began with the sensational news that the famous M.P. and sports patron Sir John Astley would be bankrolling the world’s first six-day “go-as-you-please” race in which the competitors could run or walk at their leisure. The event was to take place at the Agricultural Hall in London’s Islington district on Sunday 18 March. The total prize money was to be £750, and the winner was to receive a champion belt worth £500 plus an additional £100 in prize money.

Smith had no experience of ultra-long distances, but like his compatriot Jemmy McLeavy, he was drawn like a moth to the flame by the mouth-watering prize money. After recovering from the illness that had beset him in late 1877, he began the extensive preparations for the upcoming six-day race. As early as February he was already looking for races to test his form. On 2 March he challenged Jemmy McLeavy for the Ten Miles Championship of Scotland and £30. The match, which was decided at Shawfield Recreation Grounds, was not much of a contest though as Smith broke clean away from McLeavy at five miles and won by half a lap in 54:42.0. Poor McLeavy suffered not only a heavy defeat but also had to endure the jeering of his so-called “supporters”. A week later, they met again at Shawfield Grounds for an 8-hour “go-as-you-please” race. For both of them it was the first real endurance test before the upcoming Astley Belt race just nine days in the offing. The two opponents alternated between walking and running. After 6 hrs. 40 min. the race was discontinued due to the onset of bad weather, Smith winning by 4 miles having covered 39 miles (62.8 km).

The six-day Astley Belt race began on the scheduled date in the presence of a huge crowd. Two tracks had been constructed from brick gravel, sand, tan bark and earth. One, 7 laps per mile, was for the British and Irish entrants while the other, 8 laps per mile, was for foreign entrants (which meant that the American Dan O’Leary had the track all to himself). Each competitor had his own trackside cubicle equipped with a bed and a stove, very basic. Smith was up against 17 other competitors of varying abilities and experience and immediately showed that he lacked the latter by taking an early lead, covering 9.1 miles in the first hour, 20 miles in 2:24:22 and 23.45 miles in 3 hours. This was of course a suicidal pace, and after only four hours (28.1 miles) it began to take its toll. As fatigue set in, he could only watch as his more experienced rivals overhauled him one after another. In the end, he wound up 13th with 198 miles on the scoreboard – 322 miles fewer than the winner, Dan O’Leary.

This engraving from Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News is believed to depict Cutty Smith.


In the run-up to the Islington six-day race Smith had ramped up his training quite considerably. Although the hoped-for success had failed to materialise, the gruelling contest had taught with valuable lessons and insights into the realm of six-day racing, not to mention providing him with a good endurance base for the coming season. His first opportunity to test this theory came on Monday 13 May in a six-mile championship sweepstakes against Hazael and McLeavy for £40 in front of 2,000 spectators at Springfield Recreation Grounds. The race featured heavy betting with odds of 6 to 4 against McLeavy, 2 to 1 against Smith and 4 to 1 against Hazael. According to the Glasgow Herald, it unfolded thus: “Postponements as a rule seldom do well, but that of Springfield Grounds the change the change on Saturday till yesterday evening proved an exception as fully 2000 assembled to witness the six-mile championship race between William Smith, of Paisley; James McLeavy, of Alexandria; and George Hazael of London – the prizes being £50 and £10. The men looked well, and before they started the betting ruled 6 to 4 on McLeavy, 2 to 1 agst Smith, and 4 to 1 Hazael. The lot got away well, Smith and McLeavy alongside each other, travelling about two yards in advance of Hazael; but after going 700 yards Smith dropped to the rear, and on passing the referee for the first time McLeavy led by two yards, Smith last eight yards in rear of Hazael. After going half-a-mile Hazael showed signs of distress, and fell far behind. At the finish of the three miles the Londoner retired, when about 400 yards in the rear. McLeavy showed the way till the close of the next quarter, when Smith put it on and came up alongside the leader, and the pair ran for fully 100 yards locked together. Coming up the straight, Mac shook the Paisley representative off, and led at three and a-half miles by six yards. In the succeeding lap Smith shot past, and was never afterwards in danger – in fact, he held such a lead that McLeavy, at five and a-half miles, seeing his chance hopeless, gave in. Smith, therefore, finished, alone. Time – 1st mile, 4 min 44 ¼ sec; 2nd mile, 9 min 56 ¼ sec; 3rd mile, 15 min 20 ½ sec; 4th mile, 20 min 41 sec; 5th mile, 26 min 3 ½ sec; 6th mile, 31 min 29 ¼ sec.” This performance, which was just a shade outside McLeavy’s Scottish record of 31:28.0 set in 1872, was the fastest time recorded in the world that year. The six-day race had not been a fruitless exercise after all, for the extra work he had put in during the winter had clearly done wonders for his running at the shorter distances he favoured. It almost goes without saying that McLeavy was intent on securing a rematch race against Smith and the chance to avenge his defeat. On June 8, they met again in a six-mile race at for £25 a-side at Springfield Recreation Grounds. The Sporting Life reported: “McLeavy had been taking his breathings at Bothewell, while Smith trained on the ground. During the last few days rumours were circulated that McLeavy had broken down, which caused Smith’s friends to lay 3 to 1. The proprietor got the men to their marks in good time, the rain coming down in torrents for about ten minutes. Smith went away with about five yards’ lead, and in this manner they finished the first mile in 4 min. 47 sec. At no part of the race would McLeavy try to get to the front, despite the frequent rushes of Smith. When the men had got about three miles, they were like a pair of darkies, covered with mud, with McLeavy still in the rear; in this order they continued until coming into the straight for home, when a splendid race took place, McLeavy winning by about two yards in 31 min. 34 ½ sec.” The mile splits were: 1M – 4:47, 2M – 9:52, 3M – 15:10, 4M – 20:35, 5M – 26:19. So there it was. McLeavy had levelled the scores again.

A few days later Smith headed south to London to compete in the British 10 Mile Championship at Lillie Bridge. The stadium was home to the country’s best cinder track. It was also one of the longest tracks in the British Isles, measuring 586 2/3 yards per circuit. Sir John Astley, that great patron of the sport, had promised the winner a champion belt worth 50 guineas and a medal worth £5 plus a third of the “gate”. The bookies made Smith their favourite ahead of George Hazael, Deptford, William Shrubsole, Cambridge, James Bailey, Sittingbourne, and Charlie Price, Kensington. Though a good race was in prospect, the public was clearly of a different opinion as the attendance was much less than expected. Smith led for the first three miles and then gave way to Price for the next three miles before regaining the lead at seven miles. The race was finally decided when Smith injected a burst of pace that carried him to victory by 50 yards in 53:42.5 ahead of Bailey (53:53.0) and Price (53:58.0). The mile splits were: 1M – 4:45, 2M – 9:56, 3M – 15:13.5, 4M – 20:45, 5M – 26:06, 6M – 32:05, 7M – 37:14, 8M – 42:49, 9M – 48:27. Smith, however, did not enjoy being the British champion for long, as he was unable to raise the necessary stake when Hazael challenged him on 15 July. Consequently, he was compelled to default and hand over the belt to Hazael.

George Hazael

Having ruled out a defence of his British 10-mile championship, Smith entered the 50-mile British Championship sponsored by Sir John Astley at Lillie Bridge on July 15. The race was for a challenge belt worth £50 and cash prizes totalling £35. However, attendance was again low – only 400 spectators came. The race started quickly, as Hazael had bet on completing the first 10 miles in under an hour. The Deptford runner immediately took the lead and covered the first five miles in 27:02 and the first 10 miles in 56:35. At 15 miles, he was still well ahead in 1:27:38, but then he lost a lot of ground during the next 5 miles, allowing Smith to make up half a mile and get back on level terms. With his opponent going through a bad patch, Smith moved ahead in the 20th mile, which he completed in 2 hrs. 10 min, and kept the pace ticking over to 25 miles, where the standings were: 1 – 2:50:22, Cutty Smith; 2 – 2:51:22, James Bailey (Sittingbourne); 3 – 2:53:50, Harry Vandepeer (Sittingbourne). Although blissfully unaware of his feat, Smith had become the first man to run 25 miles in under three hours. However, his race came to a grinding halt at 30 miles when he suffered a bad attack of leg cramp, and a resurgent Hazael bounced back to take the title in 7 hrs. 15 min.

During a busy summer, Smith won, among other things, a one-hour race in Forfar on 9 August, with a distance of 10 ¼ miles, and a traditional “basket-and-stone” race ahead of David Livingstone at the Springfield Grounds on 17 August. In the Scottish Six-Mile Championship at Springfield Grounds on October 12, however, he trailed home second 115 yards behind Livingstone in a time of around 32:13.

So that was it for 1878, a year which, despite the disappointment of the six-day race, had nevertheless been his best yet, a year which had seen him claim several major victories, notably the 10 Mile Scottish Championship and the British Championships over 6 and 10 miles, as well as setting a “world record” for 25 miles.

When six-day racing boom hit Scotland in 1879 Smith was one of several prominent peds to move up. First and foremost, there was the prize money, not least thanks to the popular novelty value of this new racing format. Then there was the fact that these contests were staged indoors during the winter, which was otherwise the lean season for most peds. The popularity of six-day races was so great that promoters all over the country were vying for the attention of the best peds. Smith immediately saw his opportunity. Since George Hazael, Alick Clarke and Jemmy McLeavy, among others, had likewise switched to six-day races, 1879 was to be a year largely devoid of long-distance championship races over the usual distances from 4 to 10 miles. In early January 1879, Smith was one of the 15 starters of a 48-hour go-as-you-please at the Aberdeen Music Hall, where the first prize was a gold medal and £10 in cash. When the race started on Thursday evening, the hall was packed to the rafters with spectators. The track was a dizzying 22 ½ laps to the mile, so competitors were asked to overtake on the outside and change direction every hour. For some participants, 50 miles was sufficient, as it entitled them to have their entry fee returned. However, Smith, who took the lead early on, had other ideas. By covering 92 miles in the first 24 hours and 66 ½ miles on the second day, he ultimately won by seven miles from Joe Leith, a local cattle drover with no foot racing pedigree. In late March, Smith joined forces with Jemmy McLeavy in a 24-hour walking match against Peter McKellan (Edinburgh) at Shawfield Recreation Grounds. Both Smith and McLeavy had to walk for 12 hours at a stretch, while the 45-year-old ex-soldier, an acclaimed heel-and-toe specialist, was to walk the whole distance alone. Smith was first up and covered 55 ¼ miles in the first 12 hours but was unable to keep up with McKellan, who was four miles ahead. McLeavy managed 53 miles during the allotted time, but the aggregate effort of the pair proved enough to defeat the amazing McKellan, albeit only by two miles. Although neither Smith nor McLeavy was particularly proficient at walking, their training would most likely have consisted of a mixture of running and brisk walking in primitive running shoes that afforded next to no shock absorption. To capitalise on the popularity of endurance running at the time, the Aberdeen Highland Games Organising Committee included a five-hour “go-as-you-please” for a first prize of £5 5s in their programme of events on Saturday 19 July. Once again Smith emerged as the winner after having covered 35.1 miles. But he had to dig deep to fend off Daniel McLeod, a young cartwright from Elgin. When the meeting resumed three days later, Smith shared first prize in a one-hour walking race, covering 6¼ miles (about 10 km), which would still be a respectable achievement for a runner today. Towards the end of the year, as he gained more and more competitive experience and developed his basic endurance, Smith tried his hand at six-day races again. In his first six-day race of the winter, a 72-hour race (12 hours per day) at Wolverhampton’s Agricultural Hall, starting on 14 November, he finished in second place with 357 miles behind Sam Day and took home £30 prize money. Making his debut in fourth place was George Littlewood from Sheffield, who nine years later would set a fantastic six-day world record of 623.6 miles in New York. A month later, Smith entered another 72-hour race for a first prize of 50 pounds at Cooke’s Circus in Dundee. The Cookes were a family of circus artists who operated circuses around the country. The Dundee venue was opened in early 1878 on a site behind the Queen’s Hotel in Nethergate. The luxuriously appointed building was 37 metres long, 24 metres wide and 18 metres high and could seat 3,500 spectators. The ceiling was decorated from wall to wall with oriental tapestries, and for the comfort of the guests there were upholstered seats and velvet floors. Lighting was provided by two rows of gas jets and six stylishly arranged chandeliers. The race was run on a raised tan bark track measuring only 50 yards a lap or 35 laps to the mile. The entrance fee was two shillings per day for the reserved seats, one shilling for the promenade and sixpence for the gallery. To cut a long story short, Smith repeated his performance from Wolverhampton with 358 miles, but it was easily enough to win him the race on this occasion.

Just a fortnight after his win at Dundee, Smith returned to Aberdeen to contest the Scottish Six Day Championship at John Henry Cooke’s Royal Circus on Bridge Street, a decade-spanning event that began on 29 December 1879 and concluded on 3 January 1880. Being the Scottish championship, only bona fide Scots were eligible to compete. There were 16 entries and the winner was to receive a handsome champion belt and £20 in cash. The champion belt was hand-crafted from black velvet trimmed with red silk and mounted with five plates of solid silver. A male figure running was engraved on each of the two side pieces with a handsome border of rose, thistle and shamrock. The two front clasps contained the arms of the City of Aberdeen and “Bon Accord” and the massive centrepiece bore the inscription “Six-days’ Long Distance Champion Belt of Scotland”. The track was tiny at 43 yards per lap or 41 laps to the mile, so the lap counters had to be on their toes lest they miscount. But as tiny as the track was, it was not as small as the track at Perth Drill Hall, a nausea-inducing 43 laps to the mile. One of the participants, James Robson, was actually a Scouser, but his hopeless attempt at a Scottish accent gave him away and he was disqualified. He protested to little avail, claiming he was from Berwick-upon-Tweed. Smith was the bookies’ favourite and took the lead early on. By alternating between running and walking he made 66 miles in the first 12 hours. Then on the second day he covered 64 miles, on the third day 63 miles, on the fourth day 59 miles, on the fifth day 49 miles and on the last day 45 miles. In the end, he won by a huge margin of 27 miles with a total distance of 347.9 miles. By popular request of the spectators who chanted “Put it on”, Smith embarked on a lap of honour proudly displaying the championship belt.

On 28 February 1880 Smith took part in his fourth 72-hour race in as many months at Newcome’s Circus in Glasgow, but this time he failed to reproduce the form he had shown towards the end of 1879. With a total score of 337 miles, he had to settle for third place behind Edinburgh’s George D. Cameron (aka Noremac) and Peter McKellan, who made 357 miles and 348 miles respectively. With the six-day craze now in full swing, Smith did not have to wait long for the next competitive opportunity to come along: a 72-hour go-as-you-please at the Edinburgh Royal Gymnasium on 29 March. There were eight participants competing for total prize money of £70 and the winner was to receive £40. The track measured a 125 yards per lap or 14 laps to the mile. Suffice to say that Smith was unlucky: during the first two days he suffered not only constipation but also unbearable pain in his right leg, necessitating the application of a cast. Despite all this, he still managed to cover 158 miles before finally discretion prevailed over valour. Consequently, he played no part in the best 72-hour race ever, a thrilling encounter in which Noremac triumphed over Davie Ferguson in front of a home crowd with a sensational score of 384 miles.


On 8 May Smith was back in action at Springfield Recreation Grounds, where the main attraction was a ten-hour “go-as-you-please” featuring Smith, Noremac and Davie Ferguson. The race was held in hot and dusty conditions, which caused the participants (eight in all) great difficulties, so it was discontinued by mutual consent after 9 hrs. 25 min. Smith took second place with 59 miles (95 km) behind Ferguson (61 miles / 98 km), but ahead of Noremac. On 21 June Noremac and Smith again were to the fore in a 26-hour six-day open-air race at the recently opened Aberdeen Recreation Grounds. The winner was to receive £40 and the runner-up half that amount. Both Smith and Noremac were evidently in fine form. Despite covering 34,875 miles in the first 4 hours (equivalent to a marathon pace of 3:00 hours), Smith was unable to shake Noremac off. In the end Noremac won with 204.6 miles to 201.2 miles for Smith. Third- placed Harry Mundin from Hull (180 miles), and fourth-placed David Ferguson from Pollokshaws (165 miles) were, reported the Aberdeen Weekly Journal, “pupils of Smith”, who “expressed himself pleased with their success”.

Shortly after that, Smith completed an extensive schedule of Highland Meetings, highlights of which included a 3-hour “go-as-you-please” in Aberdeen on 17 July and a 6-hour “go-as-you-please” in Kendal on 3 August. In the former, Smith won narrowly from Daniel McLeod by covering 25 ½ miles (41 km). Unfortunately, he was not so successful in Kendal against the likes of George Cartwright and George Mason and dropped out of the race after covering just over 36 miles (58 km). In Smith’s defence, it is worth noting that there were only 16 days between these gruelling multi-hour contests, and in that time he managed to complete no fewer than seven races between 1.5 and 4 miles.

Courtesy of Islington Local History Centre


In the meantime it had been announced that there would be another six-day race (a 72-hour race) at the Agricultural Hall in Islington, from 6-11 September. There were to be very valuable prizes on offer, plus a champion gold medal from Sir John Astley. Smith’s entry was accepted and at 11 a.m. on September 6 he lined up against 28 other competitors. The starting list read like a who’s who of six-day racing. On day 1, he covered 33.3 miles in the first 5 1/2 hours and after 12 hours he was in 11th place with 65.4 miles. The second day, however, marked the end for Smith and dashed all hopes of a share of the prize money. In the end the victory went to George Littlewood, who won emphatically with 406 miles. Smith’s protégé Harry Mundin finished fourth.

In 1881 Smith vanished completely from the scene. It was reported that he had gone to America, as had his great rivals George Hazael and James McLeavy. Unfortunately, I was unable to find any records of any races Smith may have done in the USA nor can I give any information about his activities or whereabouts. The lack of data would however suggest that his visit to the USA was hardly successful. In 1882 he returned to Scotland and continued his running career at the age of 35.

After a handful of low-key races Smith marked his return to big stage on 1 September 1883 with a 10-mile match against Davie Livingstone for £30 at Shawfield Recreation Grounds. Both men had been quiet for a long time. Livingstone hadn’t run a 10-mile race for three years since losing to Willie Cummings at Lillie Bridge. The interest in this clash between these two greats of the Scottish pedestrian scene was correspondingly great. As the Paisley Gazette reports, Smith did not disappoint: “Notwithstanding the disagreeable weather on Saturday afternoon, there was a good attendance at Shawfield Running Grounds, Glasgow. The principal attraction was a ten-mile race between D. Livingstone, of Tranent, and W. Smith, of Paisley, the latter getting 250 yards of a start…Betting opened 6 to 4 on Smith, but even money was obtainable before the start. Livingstone had at the end of the first three miles taken in about fifty yards of the concession given to Smith. He then appeared very “soft”, and not in a condition for the long journey. At the end of the fourth mile, the Paisley man had recovered his lost ground, and thereafter Livingstone never had a chance, and was distanced so rapidly that, at the conclusion of the eighth mile, Smith had nearly placed a lap between them. At the finish of another lap, Smith passed Livingstone (Smith 8 ½ miles, Livingstone 8 ¼ miles), the former going as strong as a lion, while the latter was about used up. They travelled in company until Livingstone had concluded his ninth mile (Smith 9 ¼ miles) when he called a halt, having run so far in 49 mins. 5 secs. Smith continued his journey alone, and, moving along in his own peculiar style at a rare speed, finished the ten miles with a magnificent spurt, and apparently not the least distressed, in the very good time of 53 mins. 11 ¾ secs., which, considering the ground was in a very bad condition after the thunderstorm, is a remarkably clever performance. His time for the full distance would be about 5 secs. under 54 mins.” Given the circumstances, it was an astonishing achievement.

On 13 October Smith returned to Shawfield to compete in a 10-mile handicap for a total purse of £20. He faced, among others, against Livingstone and Paddy Cannon from Stirling, a rising force in Scottish pedestrianism. 3,000 spectators turned out to watch the action. Livingstone was virtual scratch with a start of 300 yards, then Smith at 400 yards and Cannon at 440 yards. The following report appeared in Sporting Life: “A good start was effected, McCallum, the limit man, showing the way for a mile and a half, when Muir went to the front, closely followed by Newton. McCallum dropped off after completing three miles and a quarter, and at this juncture Newton took first position, which he kept till five miles and a quarter had been traversed, when Cannon rushed past him, Newton retiring at five miles and a half, leaving Smith in second place. On coming up the straight for six miles Smith spurted, and wrested premier position from Cannon, amidst cheers by the onlookers. This place he kept, and at eight miles then men were running in the following order: – Smith, Cannon, Livingstone, Gardner, and Evans, the others having dropped off. Smith, running in splendid form, continued to improve his position, and at the finish came up the straight in grand style, and looking full of running, 100 yards in front of Cannon, second, Livingstone, about 700 yards behind, being third; Gardner, fourth, a good distance behind Livingstone, and Evans fifth. Time of the winner (off 400 yards), 52 min. 15 sec.” A rough calculation suggests Smith would have gone the full 10 miles in about 53:30, which would have been just outside his lifetime best. It was as if he had rolled back the years. Cannon would also have gone under 54 minutes had he completed the full distance.

Cannon and Smith appear to have established a working relationship, with Smith acting as the trainer and advisor. Smith’s vast experience on and off the track would have been very valuable to Cannon, who derived his fitness from hard manual labour on a farm near Stirling and the occasional training spin. In 1888, under the guidance of Smith, Cannon would set outright world records for 3 and 4 miles of 14:19.5 and 19:25.2 respectively.

Paddy Cannon was a protégé of Cutty Smith

This sums up the most important years in Cutty Smith’s long career as a professional runner. After 1883 his performances would gradually decline, but nonetheless he continued to enjoy considerable success at the Highland Games until the early 1900s, when he was well over 50 years old. After his golden years as a runner were over, Smith, it appears, returned to his old profession of card cutting. Together with his winnings at the Highland Games and his coaching work, he was able to keep his head above water. In 1891 he was living with his parents and his three daughters at 2 Phillip Street in Paisley. Ten years later, he was still living at the same address with two of his daughters and a boarder, a Mrs. Muir, at fruit preserve maker. He himself had become a widower in 1886 when his wife died from the effects of an abscess. During his sporting career Smith had been a prolific competitor, winning countless handicaps on the rough and ready grass tracks at Highland Games meetings throughout the country. But the true measure of an athlete’s greatness is the mark he leaves in the history books. Among his greatest triumphs were the Scottish 10-mile championship in 1870 and 1878, the winning of a silver mile challenge cup in 1877, the British six-mile and ten-mile championships in 1878 and the winning of a handsome championship belt in a six-day race at Aberdeen in 1879. Needless to say, he set a few records along the way: two Scottish records over ten miles and a “world record” for 25 miles eighteen years before the “Marathon” race was conceived. He also coached and dispensed his advice to an indeterminate number of other runners, most notably Paddy Cannon, whom he guided to long-standing world records for three miles and four miles in 1888.

On the evening of 7 December 1907 Smith left his two daughters at home and went out, perhaps for a few drinks in the pub. But he did not return and was reported missing by his daughters. All attempts to find him were unsuccessful. A few weeks later his body was found washed up on the banks of the River Cart, about 400 metres from Barnsford Bridge near Inchinnan. What had happened? Had he stumbled and fallen into the river and perished in the icy water? Had he been inebriated? There was no evidence of foul play, and a coroner’s inquiry returned a verdict of death by “supposed drowning”. He was 60 years old.


Smith’s best performances

1 mile


Gateshead 30 September 1872
2 miles 9:52.0+ Glasgow 8 June 1878
3 miles 15:10.0+ Glasgow 8 June 1878
4 miles 20:35.0+ Glasgow 8 June 1878
5 miles 26:03.5+ Glasgow 13 May 1878
6 miles 31:29.25 Glasgow 13 May 1878
10 miles 53:22.0 London 26 December 1876
1 hour 10M 598y (16640m) Sittingbourne 16 February 1878
20 miles 2:10:00+ London July 15, 1878
25 miles 2:50:22+ London 15 July 1878

Thanks to Peter Lovesey for stats and Mark Aston at the ILHC.

Note: Alex Wilson who wrote the above profile of Cutty Smith has also contributed many other very good accounts of runners, their life and times, to the website.   All well worth reading they include Paddy Cannon, Robert McKinstray, Frank Clark, Alex Haddow, Alex Duncan, John McGough, PJ Allwell and J Wilson.   All written to the same high standard, all with fascinating illustrations, just click on the names to be taken to the individual items.





                                                                             Tom O’Reilly winning the 1958 Scottish Steeplechase title

(In three successive Newsletters, starting in July 1992, Tom O’Reilly, who was a very fine Scottish International athlete not only as a Senior but also as a Veteran, wrote in marvellously described detail about this epic adventure. It is well worth re-typing and demonstrates the adventurous spirit of so many runners.)

 11.00 a.m. Friday 18th May 1984. The stays clinked lazily against the mast as the Golden Rule rocked gently in the wash from the Ferry Claymore as she swept across Oban Bay to start her run to Coll, Tiree and other islands of the Hebrides.

Lying on deck in the warm May sunshine, listening the babble of English and Scottish voices and the cries of the ever-present gulls. It was hard to imagine that in a few hours’ time I would be starting out in what, for me, that was to prove to be the hardest race which I had ever taken part in.

It had all started some months previously when Dave McKirdy (East Kilbride) had been approached by Bert Higgins, one of our Rolls Royce workmates, who had asked Dave if he would like to take part in the Scottish Three Islands Peaks Race. Bert already had his sailing Crew of three, and was on the look out for two runners to bring the team up to a maximum of five. Dave, who has a great love for Boats and sailing, jumped at the chance and when Bert asked if Dave knew of another runner, I was in.

We had our first get-together in Bert’s house where we met the rest of the team. Bert was the owner and Skipper of a 30 foot fibreglass Yacht: the Golden Rule. He, along with Dave (Tigger) Lovelock and Bernie Curran, would do all the sailing, while Dave McKirdy and I would do the running sections.

It was decided we would have a couple of training weekends away on ‘The Golden Rule’ to get the feel of it, and to reconnoitre the Island Peaks we would be running over, especially on Goat Fell.

The months leading up to the race were spent gathering our kit together (thermal clothing, waterproofs, maps, compass, torches, sleeping bag, survival bag and all the other items that we had to carry with us on our runs, since they could mean the difference between life and death on the remote mountain sections. In the week prior to the race, we had what seemed to us at the time a major set-back: Bernie Curran had to withdraw from the team, and Bert had to phone around to try and fix up a last-minute replacement. Our new crew member was Mat Mathieson from East Kilbride, who was to prove a first-class team member and an excellent companion.

It was decided that Bert and Tigger would sail the Golden Rule from her mooring at Loch Craignish up to Oban on the Thursday and have her ready for the start of the race on the Friday. Dave, Mat and myself would travel up on the Friday morning along with Dave’s brother Gavin, who had kindly offered us the use of his car.

Now, here we were at Port Beg on the south end of Oban Bay, from where the runners started out on the first leg of the race, with all the provisions on board, and the Scrutineers having been over the boat, checking the life-raft, distress flares and a dozen and one other things.

At 2.00 p.m. all the runners went ashore to warm up for the 2.30 start and the yachts left to take up station just offshore at the north end of Oban Bay, with a crew member from each yacht on shore, ready to row their respective runners out to the waiting flotilla, when they had completed the first and shortest of the runs.

In no time we are lined up, 36 runners all eager to be off, with all our thoughts about what lay ahead of us. The pistol cracks and we are off on 160 miles of sailing and 50 plus miles of running. We run 50 yards and turn left down a narrow side street, then on to the Railway Pier, very rough underfoot, wide gaps between the planking, wire hawsers over power cables, watch your feet, lorries loading fish for the south, bemused tourists, dodge the lorries, dodge the tourists, the pace is still fast, sharp right round the pier buildings, almost on the promenade, sharp left off the pier, the pavement is crowded, onto the road, up into 2nd place, don’t feel too bad. A policeman ahead stopping the traffic for us, we turn into Argyll Street to start the climb up to McCaig’s Folly, another 70 yards and we are on the flight of steps known locally as Jacob’s Ladder, 144 steps in all and very steep, halfway up now, in 3rd place, breath rasping in my chest, sharp left then sharp right, at last the end of the steps, onto the road, still climbing steeply, another two runners pass me, don’t panic, almost down, in about 7th place now, off the path onto the road, still some runners on the way up, Dave is not one of them, he must be at my back, on the steps again, down this time, not so bad, watch your ankles, soon on the seafront, about 600 yards to run to the shore, vault the railings, jump down onto the sand, higher than I thought!

Tigger is in the dinghy with the oars ready, I clamber up past him to the bow, Dave is right at my back, he pushes off and jumps in, Tigger is rowing like mad for the Golden Rule. Almost there, Bert and Mat have the sails up ready to go, grab the stern rail, get on board quickly, throw the oars below, pull up the dinghy and deflate it, we are off, 3rd yacht away, not bad for two cold Vets, our run has taken 9 minutes 15 seconds, the deck is a hive of activity. Dave and I get below out of the way, dry off and don warm clothing, then go back on deck to see the small armada of yachts strung out behind us with their multi-coloured sails, bright in the afternoon sunshine with Oban receding in the background.

We track round the north end of Kerrera Island into the Firth of Lorne and point our bows for the Sound of Mull. What a fantastic panorama: to the north Ben Nevis and the Glencoe Peaks, all still crowned with snow; to the east Ben Cruachan; to the south the Bens of Jura; and closer to hand Duart Castle, Ardtornish Castle, Dunolloe Castle, and the sea as blue as the Mediterranean.

Soon we are through the narrows between the southern tip of Lismore Island and Duart Point with its Castle (a stronghold of the Clan McLean) and we are starting the run up to the Sound of Mull, past the Ferry point at Loch Aline. We are still in third place and the wind is holding, we should make our jumping off point about 6 p.m.

We check over our kit to make sure all is in order. Salen Pier is now in sight, the yachts Memec and Chips have landed their runners, and Quail is nearing the Pier, with Easta Amelia not far behind us, White Lightning has lived up to her name, overtaking us in the run to the Pier. Tigger has the dinghy on deck and is inflating it with the auxiliary pump, the yacht Boadicea is chasing hard, but we should hold them off.

The time is 6.10, we are almost there, Dave and I stand on the deck with our packs on, shivering in the evening chill. Tigger swings the dinghy over the side and into the water, then climbs down with the oars, followed my Dave and me. Bert holds the Golden Rule on course; when we sweep past the pier, Mat casts the dinghy off and we are rowing for the shore about 20 yards away. The dinghy grounds and we quickly scramble over seaweed slippery rocks up to the pier.

The Scrutineers wish to check over our kit, then we are soon running up the road to Salen Village and the 4 miles to the start of the Ben More path. It is good to get on the move again, thankful for the warmth that exercise brings.

Once clear of Salen, we see that we are about 600 yards behind the team in front. When our quarry turn off onto the Ben More path, we have closed the gap to about 50 yards. When we make the turn, we find the path is very rough and boulder-strewn but we are making good time. In about one mile the right-hand fork leads down to Little Loch Ba. We take the first right hand fork and turn up into Glen Clachaig. It’s then that we get our first view of Ben More, rising to 3169 feet above the head of the glen. Another mile and we have to ford the Clachaig River and start the climb up onto the exposed saddle linking Cruachan Dearg and Ben More.

After the free running of the last six miles, we have to adjust to twisting undulations as the little path climbs ever higher. Once on the saddle, we are entranced by the views from this vantage point, but we have to turn our attention to the long boulder-strewn scree slope of Ben More. This will be the hardest part of the climb. It is on this section that we feel the cutting edge of ‘Never Silent’ (the Vikings’ name for the wind) and stop to don our gloves and tracksuits. At last the point is reached where we have to start our traverse along the mist-shrouded ridge that leads to just under the Ben More Summit. This is as near to rock climbing as I want to get! The fact that we are on the lee side of the ridge means that we are getting some protection from biting wind – and we are thankful for small mercies.

At last the end of the ridge; just the short sharp scramble onto the summit; we find the Summit marker almost immediately and punch our check card. My euphoria on reaching the top robs me of all discretion and prudence. Instead of checking map and compass, I chose a long sloping shoulder that looks familiar and start down. Dave, who is on my heels, is not so sure regarding my choice and voices his doubts.

When we break out of the mist, the terrain that unfolds below is unfamiliar, we stop and check the map and compass, then have to retrace our steps back to the summit. On reaching the summit we again check our bearings and start down, this time in the right direction, my mistake had cost us places, time, energy, our euphoria has given way to dejection.

The run down off the top is long and rough over a large boulder field, where progress is slow and dangerous, then into knee-high grass. We are thankful to reach the Dishig Burn, where we quench our thirst. This is the first drink we have had since crossing the Clachaig River some hours ago, and helps to raise our spirits somewhat, as we were on the point of dehydration.

The ground we are now running over is very marshy and the last mile is a squelch down to the black ribbon of road bordering the shore of Loch Na Keal, with its little island of Eorsa, dark against the backdrop of hills.

The light is starting to fade as we climb over the fence onto the road and start the last 7 and a half miles to the pier at Salen, but the long run on the hill has taken its toll, my pack starts to cut my shoulders and my legs are heavy. With four miles still to go I can’t run any further and have to walk. Dave carries my pack for me and I stumble on like a drunken man, my mind filled with thoughts of the four peaks still to do; how can I tell the other lads in the team that I have nothing left to give, mentally or physically?

The time is now 11.15 p.m. and very dark, when we hear the sound of running footsteps, we look behind with some apprehension, but quickly realise the sound is coming from ahead of us. Out of the gloom appear the two runners from the yacht Sea Rowan just starting out on their run, my heart goes to them, they must have missed the wind and tide to be this late. I hope that they make it off the hill okay in the dark.

We round a bend on the road, and at last see the lights of Salen twinkle in the darkness, what a wonderful sight, not far to go now, we soon pass through the now silent village and turn onto the road down to the pier. I manage to run the last 400 yards, the familiar frame of Tigger looms out of the gloom, we call out ‘Golden Rule’. His torch stabs the darkness and he calls out ‘Watch your feet, the pier is in a bad state of repair!” The tide is out and the Golden Rule is about 15 feet below the level of the pier and we have to slide down the stays of the mast on to the deck, our run has taken 5 hours 27 minutes.

The expression on the faces of our sailing crew tell us they are concerned about our condition, and we tell them we are just glad to be back on board. Within seconds of landing on deck we are underway, heading down the Sound of Mull for the Island of Jura and her Bens.

Dave and I make our way down to the sanctuary of the cabin. Bert comes down to ask if we want any food but we have no thought of eating. All we want to do is drink and rest. Our sleeping bags have been left unrolled and I am soon in my bunk. My thoughts, as I fall into a deep sleep? Can I overcome my fatigue in time to run the three Bens of Jura?


 On the second day of our Three Islands Challenge, I awake to the sun slanting through the hatch of the Golden Rule and the sound and smell of frying bacon pervading the cabin.

The ever-cheerful Mat has breakfast on the go, and insists I have mine in my bunk. After about six ham-and-sausage rolls and about three mugs of coffee, I’m ready to face the world. With some apprehension, I swing out of the bunk but, to my great delight and amazement, I’m neither stiff nor sore. I can only think that nine hours sleep – and having to walk the last four miles of yesterday’s five hour ‘run’ – may have helped my legs.

Dave McKirdy is already on deck, seemingly unaffected by our excursion up Mull’s Ben More. His marathon training is standing him in good stead. The sailors, Bert, Mat and Tigger, look remarkably fresh for men who’ve been on the go for more than 24 hours.

Dave and I now learn that, while we slept, our sailing crew had four times fought their way up to the tidal-gate at Pladda Isle, only to be swept back. At the fifth try, they made it through. What a team!

We have some sunny hours relaxing on deck before tacking down the Sound of Luing, past the Straits of Corrievrechan and the fearsome whirlpool – and into the Sound of Jura.

A first sign of habitation is the lonely House of Barnhill, where George Orwell completed his last great work ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’.

When we’re half-way down the Sound, our three Bens start to show in some detail. We study them through the binoculars. Then, when level with Lowlandman’s Bay, start to get our running gear ready. The Golden Rule swings round the little isle of Eilean n Gabhar, and heads for Craighouse Pier.

It’s in good order, with a ladder down to water level, so no need for a dinghy.

The time is exactly 5 p.m. Dave and I are up the ladder and onto the pier before the lads can tie up. A quick scrutiny by the officials, then off on the one and a half mile road run to Jura Forest.

On the road, I manage to hold the pace. But once we climb over a wall onto the moor, my pace starts to falter. For the rest of the day it will be a battle to keep going.

Clearing Jura Forest, we are reminded that Jura means ‘The Island of the Deer’ as a fine stag breaks cover and races away ahead of us. Our ground now slopes up for one and a half miles to two cairns silhouetted on the skyline.

When we reach them, the ground falls away in front. And there, rising from the moor like three primeval pyramids, are Beinn a Chaolais (Holy Mountain), Beinn an Oir (Mountain of Gold) and Beinn Shiantaigh (Mountain of the Sound).

Our three Bens of Jura.

We leave the high ground of the twin cairns and start the run down Glen Asdale to the little lochan where we’ll strike hard right up the steep loose scree of Beinn a Chaolais.

This is an exhausting climb that will take over the hour. Soon we are bent double, face close to the rocks, pack heavy on shoulders, sweat running, feet slipping in the scree.

We stop to catch our breath. The scenery that unfolds below is fantastic, and helps to give us relief from the climb’s tedium.

At last we reach the summit, and are greeted by members of the Parachute Regiment who ensure team’s safety on the peaks and will call out search and rescue helicopters if need be.

We hope there will be no need!

We punch our race check-card at the trig point and start our descent, when over to the right we see another runner coming up. A bit of a shock, as we thought we were well ahead of the next team.

The runner stops and looks back down the mountain, as if for his partner. He then removes his pack and starts back down the scree slope. His mate must need help: it’s sensible and prudent that partners run together.

 The scree that made life so difficult on the way up is now a great help – we virtually ski down!

On the floor of the glen we stop for a drink , then head for Beinn an Oir, locating a little cleft we’d earmarked as the best route to the top. It will also help to conceal us from the team behind.

The climb is long but no unpleasant, and we are almost at the top when we see the team at our back leaving the summit of Beinn a Chaolais. We soon reach our summit, punch our check-card, exchange a few words with the peak’s Paras and start down again.

Dave, in the lead, looks over his shoulder to make sure I’m okay, then calls out and points overhead …….

I look up and there, soaring on broad outstretched wings, is a Golden Eagle. How fitting, to see the king of birds on this peak, the Mountain of Gold.

In the glen, we quench our thirst at a lochan, where a white mountain hare bounds away ahead of us with great leaps. (In all, we see about six before reaching the foot of our last climb.)

The deer, the hares and the eagle all help our spirits on this, the longest of our Three Island runs.

From the foot of Beinn Shiantaigh, the least difficult of today’s peaks, we take a narrow green gully that all the runners will use. Once, when we look back, the pursuing team are just leaving the top of Beinn an Oir. We’re holding them!

On the top, we go through the ritual of check-card and Paras, then start down through a long boulder field. Progress is slow and frustrating, until we hit rough grass down to the Corran River – and find a deer trail.

The next two miles of twisting and undulating path, down to the road at the Three Arch Bridge, are the best bit of running we’ve had.

Now there’s only three and a half miles of road to Craighouse Pier but, after nearly six hours’ effort, I’ve just about had it.

Soon, Dave offers to take my pack. I decline and, in the deepening mist and dark, we see the Craighouse lights. One of the first buildings in the village is the school, surprisingly ablaze with lights.

A ceilidh is in full swing, and the strains of Gaelic melody mingle in the still night air with the sound of waves breaking on the shore.

Oh, how we envy the revellers! But we have only half a mile to run now, and we can see the mast-head lights from the yachts at the pier.

Suddenly, the tranquillity of the evening is shattered. A shrill cry rings out behind us ‘Almaviva! Almaviva!’

The girls running for the yacht Almaviva have come from nowhere. They’re only about forty yards behind us, and are shouting to alert their crew.

Dave and I look at each other in disbelief. We’ve been running for over six hours, over wild moorland, over mountain peaks, over five miles of road. Are we going to lose our position in the last half mile?

My reaction is ‘No way!’ Dave’s is a bit stronger.

Still quite fresh, he ups the pace but, in my exhausted state, I have to dig for the last dregs of willpower.

My pack slaps my back as I stumble on, into the last bend on the road, slightly uphill to the Jura Distillery and onto the pier.

The girls have closed on us.

I try to quicken my pace, but my legs have a mind of their own, and refuse to work. I still try to quicken the pace.

At last, the end of the pier. The ladder down to the Golden Rule. We’ve made it. What an experience!

And one that left us to ponder if next year the organisers will put a check-point marker at Three Arch Bridge……


Bert is at the tiller, Tigger is on the bow line, Mat is on the stern line. Skipper Bert calls out ‘Let go, forward!’ And the bow starts to swing away from Craighouse Pier.

The time is 11.17 p.m. Our three Ben run has taken six hours and fifteen minutes, but the day isn’t over.

The channel out of Craighouse Bay lies between the headland of Rudha na Caillich and the north tip of Eilean na Gabhar. A buoy in mid-channel marks  a rock we must avoid.

Bert swings to port to give it a wide berth. Dave and I go below to turn in. Suddenly Golden Rule crashes to a stop – we’ve hit the submerged rock!! Shocked silence. Then running feet pound the deck overhead.

Tigger jumps down into the cabin and pulls the cover off the engine. It roars into life; Bert engages reverse and gives it the gun.

Golden Rule shudders and swings but is held fast.

Another yacht, Quail, offers assistance. Now TWO engines in reverse……and Golden Rule eases off the rock.

Bert waves Quail his thanks, and Dave and I go below again, leaving our sailing crew to the long hours of darkness before Day Three dawns …..


The mountains of Mull and Jura behind us, Golden Rule is heading for Arran on the last stage of our Three Islands sail-and-run race.

There’s just one more hill-run for Dave McKirdy and me…..up Goat Fell and back.

The only trouble is, there’s no wind to get us to Arran. Our crew of Mat, Bert and Tigger are drifting with the current at about one knot! Troll Marathon is about half a mile in front. So is Almaviva, with her all-woman crew, but closer to the Kintyre shore, seeking some wind.

With Arran seeming an eternity away, what can we do? ‘Row for it,’ says skipper Mat. ‘Get the dinghy oars.’ And so we set off, determined to close that half mile gap.

Within minutes, Troll Marathon have THEIR oars out – they must have been watching us!

For a full hour, that gap stays the same, then it starts to close, and by midday we’ve drawn level. Half an hour more and we pull ahead!

Mat and Tigger take our mainsail down, and reef on a windseeker, but for another hour we take turns at rowing, before the windseeker lives up to its name and starts to tug and swell as the forecast westerly strengthens.

Almaviva is away ahead, but we’ve left Troll Marathon behind. When our mainsail goes up again, at last we can lay down those oars, have some food and fix our blisters.

With a good swell running and the wind on our stern, Golden Rule bucks and ploughs through the peaks and troughs of the waves.

But after the longest sail of the race, it’s 11 p.m. as we enter Brodick Bay, and see the shark-tooth shape of Goat Fell outlined in the last light of the dying day.

Almaviva is at anchor, so her runners are still on the hill. Tigger gets our dinghy over the side and takes Dave and myself in to shore, close to the beach bonfire, where the scrutineers are waiting to check out all the runners. When the dinghy grounds, Dave and I leap into the shallows and, with the waves foaming around our ankles, sprint for the figures by the fire.

Scrutiny over, we race across the sand and over the Cnocan burn’s little wooden bridge. Then it’s 100 yards of road and sharp right into the grounds of Brodick Castle.

Another 400 yards and we’re in an avenue of rhododendrons. The branches link overhead, forming a long dark tunnel, but my headband torch stabs the darkness of our arboreal passage, and we follow a rough path, then a set of steps cut in rock.

Dave has kept his torches off, in case my batteries run out, but the first deer fence looms out of the darkness and we find the stiles into and out of a stand of pine trees.

The lights of Brodick are far below, and loneliness is made more acute by the evocative calling of crickets in the undergrowth.

 What are we doing here, running up a Scots mountain at midnight?

In answer, we turn our thoughts and bodies to the task ahead, breast a rise in the little path – and are confronted by two bobbing, dancing spots of light, like incandescent fireflies.

It’s the girls from the Alviva, on their way back down. When we pass, we exchange encouraging words, then the girls are soon lost in the night.

A night that now gets misty as well as dark, making the last steep climb to the top more difficult and dangerous.

 In the boulder field halfway up – and some boulders are as big as a house – visibility is down to a yard or two, and we make our way around or over by feel as much as by sight.

How we wish Goat Fell would live up to its translation from the Norse – Peak of the Winds – and blow away this clinging, opaque mist of ours.

Beyond the boulder field at last, on the final bit of path to the summit, a sudden updraft of wind tells us we are too far right….and on the edge of the drop into White Water Glen.

Quickly, we take corrective action, and try not to OVER-correct. Then, as I peer ahead, my torch picks out what seems to be a rock outcrop above and we start to make for it.

I turn to speak to Dave, and a white shape looms out of the mist.

It’s the trig point on the summit. We have almost walked past it and over the edge. And I shudder at what could have happened to us if I hadn’t turned to speak. After all, it was on this summit in 1889 that one John Laurie murderously pushed his walking companion Edwin Rose off this very crag.

Dave and I have come within a few feet of plunging on to the rocks that had been stained with the blood of Laurie’s victim.

 Our escape has unnerved us both. All that we want now is to get off the summit.

We punch our check-card, stop to get orientated and, with the mist at its worst, ease down the granite boulders of the Cyclopean Walls.

At one point, on the flat expanse of rock, we edge forwards on our backsides with our packs dragging behind us. Then we reach the end of the slab and find – a sheer drop!

It could be six feet or twenty feet, we can’t tell. We just know we have to retrace our backside scramble, to find a better way down.

We do, of course, or I wouldn’t be here writing this. And the mist does lift, or rather we break out of it with a whoop and a scamper, and greet our deer fence like an old friend.

The two stiles, the rhododendrons, the steps, the castle, the road. Our elation knows no bounds, and in no time our hill-shoes are drumming on the planking of the little wooden bridge over the Cnocan, and we’re back aboard Golden Rule for the final sailing leg to Troon.

This was almost an anti-climax. Becalmed again, we had to make our arms and aching shoulders row again. And, at 10.20 a.m. in Troon Harbour, when Bert struck the spinnaker, it fluttered to the deck as if to lie amid our hopes and aspirations.

Yet we remembered our lung-bursting dash up to McCaig’s Folly in Oban; the dehydration and fatigue on Mull’s Ben More; the three Bens of Jura from the high ground of the twin cairns; and our resourceful, ever-cheerful sailors, who’d have carried Golden Rule to the finish if need be.

Did it matter if now there were no cheering crowds, no official groups, no bands playing?

No! Because as if by magic, three figures appeared on the sea wall above our heads: Bert’s wife Fiona, Dave’s wife Bett; and my own wife Margaret.

Cheering wildly, jumping up and down, waving their arms in the air.

We found out later that they’d come to Troon the day before to welcome us in, and had taken turns all night keeping watch for us.

What a fantastic sight they made.

And soon, over a pint or three in the Troon Yacht Club, the toasts were to the Golden Rule and her team, beaten but not broken; and to the girls, God bless them, what would we do without them?




SVHC: Selection of Newsletter articles

The SVHC Newsletter was published (three times a year) between the early 1970s and 2020. Here is a selection of articles and reports, which should provide a flavour of the publication and insight into the expanding Veteran (or Masters) Movement, which has succeeded in encouraging so many men and women to exercise, participate and compete, long after they ceased to be youngsters. The Scottish Veteran Harriers Club enables men and women (if they become fit enough) to compete for Scotland in any of the Masters five-year age-groups from 35 to 80 plus. All runners simply enjoy training, taking part in club and other events and doing their best on the day. Please not that a series of fairly complete individual Newsletters, from 2012 to Spring 2020, have separate posts on this website. Note also the selection of covers from the 80s, 90s and 2000s; and ‘SVHC: Beginnings in the 1970s and 1980s’.

Unfortunately, it has proved impossible to include most tables of results; or indeed every inside-magazine photo; since the original work was pdf, which does not allow copy and paste duplication. Back and front cover colour photos have been included, however.

There are many aspects of these Newsletters to interest and give enjoyment to fans of running and athletics: not only race reports but also memories, profiles, experiences, meditations and historical reviews. 

September 1983

Christmas 1983: article by Ian Steedman

The inaugural Alloa to Bishopbriggs 8-Man Road Relay took place on Sunday 25th March 1984. Full results:

Alloa to Bishopbriggs 1985

April 1987 – (Shortened) article by Henry Muchamore.

“After a testing 10 kilometres race at Musselburgh Racecourse on February 8th 1987, it was Brian Scobie of Maryhill Harriers and the Pitreavie trio of Ken (or Archie) Duncan, John Linaker and Bill Ewing who graced the winners’ enclosure.

Congratulation to Brian on retaining the SCCU Veterans Cross-Country Championship title; and to Pitreavie for taking the team prize back to Fife for the second year in a row.

The sun shone brightly on the 220 runners who lined up across the course and charged in a multi-coloured mass, down the first furlong. A flat course, yes, but a very tough one as the long uneven grass took its toll on the legs.

After the first 5k circuit, defending champion Scobie had already taken charge, and was looking comfortable, 50 yards clear of Shettleston’s Brian Carty and the diminutive Dave Fairweather of Law.

As Scobie went past the grandstand, where his marathon protegee, Veronique Marot, was watching, the time-keeper’s watch showed 15.57 for the first 5k.

Chasing the first three at this stage were Allan Adams and Colin Martin of Dumbarton, Duncan of Pitreavie and Rod MacFarquhar of Aberdeen.

Second time round, and down that long finishing straight, it was Brian Scobie all the way in 32.32, stretching his margin to a clear 28 seconds over Carty, who bravely held off the unrelenting challenge of Fairweather, ten seconds behind in third place.”

John Linaker was first M45, from Martin Craven (ESH) and John Moses of Bellahouston. Jim Irvine (Bellahouston) won M50, from Hugh Gibson (Hamilton) and Davie Fraser (Bellahouston). Bill Stoddart (Greenock Wellpark) was first M55, in front of Bill McBrinn (Shettleston) and Tom Stevenson (Greenock Wellpark).

The M60 category victor was William Temple from Galashiels, from Ben Bickerton (Shettleston) and Alex McInnes. David Morrison finished first M70 and made clear that he is back to form from injury. John Emmet Farrell was second M70.

The team contest was very close: Pitreavie’s Ken Duncan finished 4th and his team-mate Linaker 10th; while Aberdeen’s MacFarquhar and Don Ritchie were 6th and 9th. Bill Ewing of Pitreavie (now 44 but looking ten years younger) just made it and ensured team victory. He took 15th, beating Aberdeen’s Mel Edwards (hill-runner extraordinaire) by TWO SECONDS. Dumbarton (Colin Martin 5th, Allan Adams 8th and Ian McWatt 32nd) clinched third place medals.

                                                        Left to right: Archie (or Ken) Duncan, Phil Shave, John Linaker, Bill Ewing.

All in all, it was a competitive and convivial afternoon. The event was jointly convened by the SVHC and the SCCU, in conjunction with East Lothian District Council.”

March 1988

June 1988

March 1990


Tricia Calder is establishing herself as one of the best all-round women distance runners in Scotland. Her recent performances on the road and at cross-country have been outstanding, but it is on the hills that Tricia really excels. She is the current Women’s Hill-Running Champion, having scored the maximum possible points in the 1989 Scottish Championship races. She was also a member of the Scottish Women’s team at the World Cup Hill Races in France last summer. (She contributed to GB team bronze medals in the 1988 and 1990 World Mountain Running Championships; and was also Scottish W35 XC Champion in 1989.)

Tricia tell us about herself and her running career:

“I ran a bit of cross-country and school sports, but the thing that started me running again at the age of 30 was the challenge of the marathon. A friend of mine had already completed one and I thought, like hundreds of others, that maybe I could do it. My first marathon was Edinburgh, which I finished in a time of 3 hours 25 minutes in 1983. My longest training run had been about 11 miles, which then I thought was a long way. Crossing the line after my first marathon was the greatest feeling. Mind you, an hour later I couldn’t have run for my life. But I was hooked. The next year at Edinburgh the times was 3 hours 2 minutes; and my PB for the distance is 2 hours 48 minutes set in Dundee.

My training would be a coach’s nightmare! I don’t keep a diary. Although I can see the benefits, I just don’t seem to have time. I never run with a stop-watch (don’t have one). I try to keep some sort of schedule to my training, although it can be difficult between everything else. I know my fellow women athletes will know what I mean. I used to stop completely between November and February. The reason for this was a horse called ‘The Divider’. My father bred him and I broke him in as a two-year-old. I have always been involved with racing, having ridden point-to-point when I was young, free and had no brains. I’m now old, married and still have no brains, so I run on the hills instead.

I have had a permit for the last 6 years to train racehorses under National Hunt rules (over jumps, not on the flat). If any of you have ever had anything to do with stock, especially racehorses, you will know that they take a lot of time to look after. They are four-legged athletes. It was quite handy being fit, particularly going to Ayr Racecourse. The odd time the horse did have a bad run, I could be found running in the opposite direction to the angry punters. Ask Danny Wilmoth about that one!

Getting back to running, Peter Marshall persuaded me to start running in the hills. I don’t know whether to be grateful or not. 1988 was my first season and I found the hills very challenging and never boring. You are usually trying to stay upright in a Force 10 gale or find a checkpoint in pea-soup fog. There are a few bonuses though: great friendships and some of the best countryside to run over and enjoy.

Having never been great at planning ahead, the only think I would like for the future would be to stay injury-free, to run in the World Cup hill-running team again – and I would like to run the Everest Marathon.

March 1991

July 1992

December 1992

September 1994


Set in 1996                                                                                      THE OLD VETERAN’S TALE

In February 1996, after the refreshment stop at Perth, old Charlie Kane (the team manager) settled in the mid-bus tale-telling seat before the vehicle continued towards Glasgow.

“So far, we’ve heard stories mainly about the 1980s and 1990s. From my perspective, you lot have have certain advantages: training knowledge, healthy diet advice, better shoes and tracks, shorter and less difficult cross-country courses, more health and safety. I know that running is often a hard sport for anyone who takes it seriously, but let me talk about how it was when I was much younger.

From the mid-1940s I studied History at Glasgow University. The Hares and Hounds kept winning the Scottish Unis XC. They seemed a cheerful bunch so, when I was 20 in 1946, I started training and gradually became fitter, despite lacking real talent. Yes, that makes my age now 70 – not 95 as some of you think.

The Scottish National at Lanark Racecourse in 1947 was a real challenge! Until 1962 we had to run a whole ten miles – not merely seven and a half or 10km. The really bad winter made it impossible to train properly on treacherous frozen slippery surfaces. All the football fixtures were cancelled but we carried on. After an overnight snowstorm, the Youths trampled out a trail for the Seniors and Juniors, who raced together. It was heavy going but I struggled on and was pleased just to finish, with quite a few even slower. After half a mile, we never saw the leaders again. Andy Forbes of Victoria Park AAC won both Junior and Senior titles. I noted that his club was second in the team contest, having won the Youth award. They were based at Scotstoun Showgrounds, near my family home. When I graduated and became a History teacher, it seemed a good idea to join Vicky Park, even though it seemed very unlikely that I could ever make the first team.

After the Second World War, rationing continued for several years. No one could be fat then. Some had problems digesting dried egg and getting hold of enough food to sustain them. Runners lucky enough to be ‘possibles’ for the 1948 London Olympics received food parcels from South Africa, courtesy of the AAA.

Training was different compared to nowadays. At Vicky Park we ran together on Tuesdays and Thursdays – about seven miles a night. There might be a slow pack and a fast pack, each one with a ‘Pacer and a ‘Whip’ – you can easily guess what their job titles meant. A good deal of wisecracking could be heard, especially when the fast pack whizzed past (with me hanging on at the back for as long as I could). Most of the session we ran steady/hard, with a ‘burn-up’ near the end. On Saturdays, if there was no race, a pack might cover fifteen or even eighteen miles over road and country, followed by tea, buns and a sing-song to the music of mouth organs. Sometimes we drank hot Bovril (like watery Marmite) and ate cream crackers or a pie. No pub sessions back then! For a while, VPAAC changed for Saturday sessions at the West of Scotland dry-cleaners in Milngavie. Getting the mud off our legs wasn’t easy. On Sundays, some went for a long hike. Only marathon men like Dunky Wright and Donald Robertson actually ran on the day of rest. Most of us managed 30 or 40 training miles per week. Our legs suffered impact injuries from wearing thin plimsolls or tennis shoes like Dunlop Green Flash.

For most of the 1950s the battle to be top Scottish distance running club was between us and Shettleston Harriers, with Vicky Park having the edge, winning six National team awards and seven Edinburgh to Glasgow Road Relay titles. The best I did was scraping into teams that secured National and E to G silver medals in 1955. Just to train with the top men was a joy – and the club had a good social side. I remember with pleasure the free feed (sponsored by The News of the World newspaper) after the E to G at the posh Ca’d’Oro restaurant in Glasgow. Bacon and egg plus fish and chips, plus a sweet, ice-cream, coffee and a generous piece of cake. Yes, in those days, cake was more important than cash prizes!

Cross-country courses could be really tough. The National was held at Hamilton Park Racecourse, but even that flat, soggy trail had its dangers, for example steeplechase barriers with barbed wire holding them in place. VP raced in the Midland District championship, which for several years took place at Lenzie in the grounds of a Mental Hospital – ideal for mad runners. The Dunbartonshire County race featured deep mud to plod through and uphill fences to struggle over.

My club’s greatest achievement was winning the team title in the 1952 English National Cross-Country Championships. We travelled by train to Birmingham and our six counters won by fourteen points from Bolton United Harriers and Manchester AC. Our stars were the first Scottish outfit to win the English event in the 76 years of its existence. I was so happy to have raced round respectably to join in the celebrations! 

For a few years I increased my weekly mileage, dabbled in Highland Games Road Races over weird distances and did quite well in the 1954 Scottish Marathon Championships from Cloch Lighthouse, Gourock to Ibrox Park. However, in 1956 (from Falkirk to Meadowbank, Edinburgh) on a warm, humid day I suffered badly from blisters, slowed a lot and, after limping painfully round the track well down the field, decided to retire from racing. After all, I was 30 years old!

Yet, after moving to teach in Aberdeen, I did keep reasonably fit, just going out for a solo run twice a week, or cycling a few miles, while concentrating on work and family. In 1972 the first Scottish Veterans XC Championships took place, and since then I have enjoyed taking part with other old stagers, moving up the age-categories, while helping out at Aberdeen AAC. It’s a great sport, but do try to reach a peak and set personal bests by your early thirties, because, try as you might, you will all get slower due to age and knackered limbs.

August 2001

April 2002

August 2002

December 2002

December 2002

April 2003

August 2005

August 2005

April 2006

August 2007

April 2011

September 2011


SVHC: Newsletter Cover Selection 1980s and 1990s


December 1981: one sheet of paper, printed on both sides.

October 1982

December 1982: three sheets/ six printed sides, stapled together

Spring 1984

August 1985: a proper magazine. 3xA5, folded to make six printed sides, with photos on the front cover and a in the central spread.

Christmas 1986: more inside photos appearing.

September 1986









MEMBERSHIP NOTES 14th March 2020


We regret to inform you that Jack MacLean passed away on 23rd Jan 2020 aged 90. Jack was a founding member of the SVHC.

James Munn, another SVHC stalwart who was based in Chorley for many years, passed away in Dec 2019, aged 86.

 For those who have not already renewed membership, payment is now overdue.

Standard Membership £20
Non competing Membership £10

Over 80 Membership Free

Welcome to the 21 new and 7 reinstated members who have joined or re-joined since 23rd November 2019. As of 14th March 2020, we have 533 members, including 28 over 80 & 4 Life Members47 have not renewed their membership.


We are desperately looking for a volunteer to take over the preparation & editing of the Newsletter, otherwise this will be the last edition.

The electronic version of the Newsletter is now the preferred option. Any member who would rather receive a printed Newsletter must contact David Fairweather (djf@dfairweather.plus.com), if they have not already done so.

Please inform David if you add or change your email address.

Please send photos, news, letters, articles, etc for the next issue to:


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


Thank you to the members who have set up standing orders for membership subscriptions. Please keep me informed if your membership details change (especially email addresses. Standing order details: Bank of Scotland, Barrhead, Sort Code: 80-05-54, Beneficiary: Scottish Veteran Harriers Club, Account No: 00778540, Reference: (SVHC Membership No. plus Surname). Stewart2@ntlworld.com 0141 5780526

By cheque: please make cheque payable to SVHC and send to Ada Stewart, 30 Earlsburn Road, Lenzie, G66 5PF.


Vests and shorts can be purchased from Andy Law – £18 for vests, including postage and £23 for shorts, including postage.  If ordering both together deduct one lot of postage.  Or, can be delivered to any of the Club races by arrangement with no postage.

(Tel: 01546 605336. or email lawchgair@aol.com)


2533 Stuart McCandless 20-Oct-19 Glasgow
2534 Robert White 20-Oct-19 Glasgow
2538 Lorna Brown 29-Nov-19 Grangemouth
2539 John Weir 05-Dec-19 Kenilworth
2540 Mandy Williams 06-Dec-19 Stirling
2541 James McLaughlin 19-Dec-19 Rutherglen
2542 Jennie Jackson 02-Jan-20 Kilwinning
2543 Andrew Brown 06-Jan-20 North Berwick
2544 David Murray              14-Jan-20 Cumbernauld
2545 Elizabeth Short 22-Jan-20 Lennoxtown
2546 Ewan Paton 28-Jan-20 Bristol
2547 Michaela McLean 29-Jan-20 Kirkcaldy
2548 Heather Anderson 31-Jan-20 Fife
2549 Andrew Fish 01-Feb-20 Peebles
2550 Stephen Golder 06-Feb-20 Kilmarnock
2551 Andrew Anderson 12-Feb-20 Glasgow
2552 Bryce Aitken 29-Feb-20 Kirkcaldy
2553 Sandra Aitken 29-Feb-20 Kirkcaldy
2554 Philip McCaig 06-Mar-20 Glasgow
2555 Euan Craig 11-Mar-20 Cumbernauld
2556 David Shaw 13-Mar-20 Glasgow
1805 Henry Curran 18-Dec-19 Paisley
1809 Kirsty Baird 23-Dec-19 Linlithgow
2272 Neil Smith 23-Dec-19 East Grinstead
2331 Brendan Lynch 08-Jan-20 Falkirk
2362 Iain Reid 06-Feb-20 Giffnock
2370 David Stirling 20-Feb-20 Glasgow
2446 Michelle Slater 06-Mar-20 Buckie

Ada Stewart

Membership Secretary



23rd January 2020. Jack MacLean of Bellahouston Harriers died, aged 90. He became ill over the weekend and passed away in Ayr Hospital. His running profile is at www.anentscottishrunning.com/jack-maclean/

Here is an extract. Do read the full profile of this popular, well-respected runner.

“In running circles, Jack was known throughout Scotland He was a member of the Scottish Marathon Club, the British Marathon Runners’ Club and a founder member of the Scottish Veteran Harriers Club. A versatile athlete, Jack ran all distances from 880 yards up to marathon, ultra and the Ben Nevis race. He even won a medal, as part of an English team, for walking. 

The club in which he has been most active has been the Scottish Veteran Harriers Club, of which he was the last surviving founder member.   The other members of the group were Walter Ross of Garscube Harriers, Jimmy Geddes of Monkland Harriers, George Pickering, Roddy Devon of Motherwell and Johnny Girvan of Garscube. How did that come about?

After the Midland District Cross-Country Championship at Stirling University in 1970, Walter Ross spoke to me.   He wanted to form a veterans’ club with a minimum age of 40 years, and paid me the compliment of being one of the enthusiasts of the game.   The committee was formed of Walter and six others, and we held our meetings in Reid’s Tea Room in Gordon Street with a regular starting time of 7:00pm.   We all put forward our ideas and Walter drew up a constitution.   In the beginning the age groups went up in ten-year intervals.

 I organised the very first Veterans race.   It was in Pollock Estate on Saturday 20th March, 1971.   We had very few officials at that point: Davie Corbet of Bellahouston started the race and shouted the times to George Pickering of Renfrew YMCA.   I had laid the trail in the morning with markers of wee pegs with paper attached.   33 runners started and 32 finished.   As I worked in the “Daily Record”, I arranged for a reporter and a photographer to attend.   There was a wee piece in the Daily Record about it. The race was run over about 5 miles and the winner was Willie Russell of Shettleston.   He was followed by Hugh Mitchell, Willie Marshall, Tommy Stevenson, Willie Armour, Chic Forbes, Jack MacLean and Andy Forbes in that order. 

  Within a year we had 1000 members from the whole of Scotland.   Internationally we had great success as a small country.”   

 In Memory of J. Munn my Friend and Mentor (4.12.33 – 21.11.19) 

I first met James a number of years ago through a clubmate, Hugh McKinlay, who mentioned that he would introduce me to James, as he kindly arranged a number of places for Masters in the Great Scottish Runs in Glasgow, which James painstakingly organised for Masters until 2018, when he eventually handed the reins over but wanted to be kept in the loop until 2019.

I immediately took to James as he was a runner himself and had many interesting stories about Masters over the years. His memory – to recall various races, individual times and performances – was astounding.

James ran himself well into his late 70’s and then in his 80’s challenged himself in race walking.

Over many years of my running, James showed an enthusiastic/excited interest in what races I was doing and suggested how it might be possible at times to push myself a bit more!

Last year we met up in Falkirk for  a chat and lunch and James was eager to show me his plan for me in the W60-64 age category, which at that time felt many, many months away, but he was always so well organised and had obviously put a lot of effort into this piece of work, which must have taken time to research and put together.  I wasn’t to know of course at that time it was going to be the last time I would see him.  This piece of work my friend so thoughtfully completed is now something that I have to remember him by and hopefully, in his memory, manage to execute successfully at least one or two of the many challenges that he was hopeful I could achieve.

I truly hope that James realised what a huge asset he was to me. He will always remain in my memory and be part of my life.

Fiona Matheson 

 Hugh McGinlay added the following:

Dale Greig and James Munn

I was one of two SVHC members to attend the funeral of Dale Greig, the other a member of Garscube Harriers. I expected more from the Glasgow area.

Dale not only enriched athletics, she also enriched my athletic scene personally, as did Jim Munn, who died in December 2019.

He worked in secret his wonders to perform, neither seeking nor expecting recognition.

For some reason he chose me to be respected, as he did many others, originally a trio: Gordon Porteous, David Morrison and I, since greatly extended.  We were invited guest runners for The Great Scottish Run with all accrued benefits.  He also took a personal interest in all my races, and wrote evaluating them. Looking back through old magazines, I note that he made quality contributions and, as an athlete, he participated with creditable performances.  He race-walked the Glasgow Marathon just to participate.

The things great men do live on long after they are gone. Thank you, Jim Munn.

I am now officially disabled: can pool/gym train but The Great Outdoors, for me, is now no more.


This edition will be my last as editor. If no one volunteers to take over, the Newsletter will cease to exist, which would be a real shame.

I have overseen the creation and publication of 21 magazines – and feel that new blood is needed. It has been a very enjoyable task, with lots of assistance from Karen Connal, our computer expert; and contributions from so many SVHC members, especially David Fairweather.

After Spring, I will continue to help my successor (if asked) by suggesting material or people to email etc. The new editor will not be unsupported, when she or he works on the Autumn edition and puts her or his own stamp on a fascinating and satisfying project, which receives so much positive feedback. Please consider yourself for the post! (Joint-editorship with a partner would also be possible.)

Colin Youngson


At Hogmanay, Teviotdale Harrier Alastair (Sammy) Walker, the 2018 World Masters M60 10k Champion, and surely now one of the all-time greatest SVHC runners, posted the following on Facebook:

“Goodbye 2019 it’s been a blast!

Masters V60 Golds in:

European 10k Road
European 5000m track

British and Irish International Cross Country
British Cross Country
British 10k Road
British 5k Road
British 5000m track

Scottish Cross Country
Scottish Short Course Cross Country
Scottish 5k Road
Scottish 10,000m track (New record)
Scottish 1500m (Championship record)

BMAF Male distance runner of year

Scottish Masters Athlete of year

and tomorrow we go again in 2020!”

He started the 2020 racing year with the Scottish 3000m Indoor Championship on 3rd January, finishing 1st V60 in 9.51.36, only 8 secs slower than Andy Brown’s 1994 Scottish age-group World Record.

Alastair contributed the following article:

2019 – That was quite a year!

From hills not half a mile from my house in February for the Masters Cross Country to the glitz of the Hilton in Glasgow 2019 was a year to remember.

Pick a stand-out occasion in the year says our esteemed editor and write about it for the newsletter. There have been so many in 2019. Scottish Athletics Masters Athlete of Year, BMAF Distance Athlete of Year, a Scottish V60 best for 10,000 metres at Carluke (who decided to build a track on top of a hill?) British and Scottish V60 titles on track, road and country. Aintree glory. Did he say he wanted one memory or twenty?  One it is, then.

European Masters Athletics Championships at Jesolo, Italy

Time away and financial constraints meant that I targeted the 5000 metres on the track and the 10k road race, which were taking place on the 13th and 15th September 2019 respectively. In both I reckoned my main rivals would be the Swede Torre Axellson and the Dutchman Jaap Stijjart based on the times both had declared (does anyone ever put their correct times down?) So, with both these names entrenched on my mind and on my hate list ha ha, I arrived in Jesolo on 11th September. After a couple of days registering and chilling (wrong word in that heat) with Colin Welsh and John Thomson, fellow Scots and friends, the day of the 5000 arrived.

The 5000 was being held at the track at Eraclea, which was six miles from Jesolo. Boarding the free shuttle bus, I immediately recognised “The Swede” (thank you Google images) and, after avoiding eye contact all journey, we arrived at the track around 4 pm for a 6.30 race. Found some shade before starting what little warm-up that was required. As ever, warmed up in my Scottish Masters tee shirt.

Finally race time. Had decided to sit in for few laps but the pace was so pedestrian that I took it on from lap 2. As if to script, I drew my two rivals away from the rest and by lap 4 we had drawn well clear of the field. Feeling fairly comfortable I made my move on lap 8 and ‘felt’ my two rivals fall behind. After holding it together for the final few laps, gold was mine in 17.08 with Axellson 23secs adrift and Stijjart a further 7 secs back

Amazing buzz! Flags up poles, National Anthem and loads of friendly chats with my new best friends Torre and Jaap plus their wives and kids. Raucous bus journey back to Jesolo with Ireland’s Brian Lynch, who had won the V65, then out on the town with Colin and John for pizza and copious pints of Moretti.

The next day I headed into Venice for a day’s sight-seeing with Colin and John. Beautiful place but so busy. Then back to Jesolo to get ready for the next day’s 10k road race.

Sunday arrived, another scorching hot day and 10k time. Got taxi to the start in central Jesolo and thought myself lucky that I hadn’t decided to do the half marathon, which was two laps of the 10k course. As usual, I was there way too early and mingled with the mass of other athletes from all over Europe till was finally race time. All ages were present at the start in a mad free for all. Had a quick chat with Claire Elms (going for her umpteenth medal of the championships) and had a look around for Torre Axellson who again was going to be my main rival in the V60.  Surprisingly, he was nowhere to be seen. Gun went off and we were away. Shouts of encouragement from Colin and John standing with suitcases on their way to Airport.  I settled into a 35 min pace which I knew, barring a big turn up, would win me gold.  Course was flat but heat made it tough. Shout of congratulations from Archie Jenkins half mile from home and that was it. Another victory. Time was 35.28 and runner up was indeed my Swedish friend, invisible at the start, who was a minute behind.

Medal presentation was in a packed town square. After sitting through an endless array of national anthems there I was again on the podium.  Very happy days.

So 2020 has dawned and, as I write this, I have had a stinker at Johnstone and battled through the mud at Falkirk ……………  Oh for those summer days of 2019!




Scottish Athletics contributed a fine article:

“Ross Houston has savoured a couple of great moments when racing in the west of Scotland during a lengthy career.

Eight years ago he featured in a Scotland team, led by Derek Hawkins, which claimed a memorable and historic victory over England in the Home Countries XC International at Rouken Glen Park, on Glasgow’s Southside.

Two years later the Central AC stalwart represented Scotland again in the marathon at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

The playing fields of McMaster Community Centre in Johnstone will now have a place in his affections, too, after he claimed a first Lindsays Masters XC gold two months after turning 40.

‘It is my first Scottish title in cross country after about 26 years of trying,’ grinned Houston, after winning by a single second in 28.05 for the 8k course.

A GB international in ultra-running since Glasgow 2014, he had to work for the win in Johnstone almost every stride of the way – after a superb run by Central AC team-mate, Scott Brember.

Brember had to settle for V45 gold in second place with Grant Baillie of East Kilbride, who had been in the leading group of three well into the third and final lap, in third (V40 silver).

‘Scott has pushed me all the way there and Grant had a really good run, too,’ said Ross.

‘These guys are well used to cross country and to the Masters XC Champs. I’ve had a couple of years where, while not stopping running altogether, I’ve been doing other things with the kids and so on and not really racing.

‘I came back at the East Champs just a few days after my 40th birthday. There were muddy sections today and twists and turns that made it harder than it looked. And at times you were running into those really strong winds but it developed into a really good race with the three of us clear.

‘I am racing at the National XC at Falkirk in a couple of weeks. It’s important for Central AC as we chase ten-in-a-row at Senior Men that we maybe have 10 guys really battling for the top six counting places. If I run at my best I might be close to the top six for Central but in some ways I’d hope not.’

Brember had won the V40 race at Hawick last year – the first V45 to do so. He won in a sprint finish on that occasion but Houston just edged ahead of him before the last 400m or so.

‘I did manage to get ahead of him coming off the final hill but as we turned round onto the pitch for the last section, Ross got a little bit of a lead,’ said Scott.

‘He’s a very fine athlete and I’ll settle for V45 gold. It was an honour to win the overall race last year and be second this time.’

Cambuslang dominated the V40 and V45 races as they took places four, five, six and seven in that race just behind the top three – landing team gold thanks to the efforts of Kerry-Liam Wilson, Iain Reid, Ben Hukins and Kenny Campbell. Second team was Corstorphine AAC, with Giffnock North AC third.

The impeding ‘doom’ of Storm Ciara, of course, didn’t deter hundreds of Masters athletes.

Women’s race winner Heather Anderson of Fife AC had to work really hard to hold off the challenge from Angela Mudge of Carnethy in a battle that raged throughout the race.

‘The winds were strong and in certain points, running into it was really tough, but I enjoyed it,’ said Heather.

‘I’ve come through from St Andrews and there were the weather warnings but it never crossed my mind not to come here. Of course not.

‘I am late to racing, only in the last couple of years really, and am more used to hill running. This is me really making a start in terms of cross country but having been on the hills I was well aware of the challenge that Angela would present.’

Angela Mudge took the V45 gold in her first Masters XC race for half a dozen years, well clear of V45 Scottish Internationals Jennifer MacLean and Megan Wright.

Angela said, ‘It might be my first and last, I am just warming up for hill races to come,’ she said, with Claire Gordon of Hunters Bog Trotters finishing third overall and W40 silver medallist, with Ruth Fraser-Moodie third W40.

Frank Hurley of Cambuslang Harriers won the M65 and above race with the 1-2-3 completed by Tony Martin of Falkland Trail Runners and Andrew McLinden of Hamilton.

There were no fewer than 18 finishers in the M70 race and the beauty of watching these from the side-lines is noticing athletes who are making huge contributions to their clubs and the sport in other roles – like Pat Kelly at Law and District, Des Dickson at Cambuslang, Stuart Irvine at Garscube and so many others.

*Big thank you once again to our Road Running and Cross Commission and all helpers for making the Lindsays Masters XC happen at Johnstone.”

Other results included the following:

The top W40-50 team award went to Hunters Bog Trotters, with Giffnock North obtaining silver medals and Lothian RC bronze.

W50 victor was Sue Ridley, who has had such a long and successful career. It was so good to see her racing really well once again. She was just in front of Mary McCutcheon, with Melissa Wylie third.

Carol Moss triumphed in the W55 division, well clear of Mary Western and Yvonne Crilly. Isobel Burnett retained her W60 title, with Innes Bracegirdle second and Margaret Martin third.

Ann White, our stand-out W65 athlete, held off Jeanette Craig and Susan Linklater. Sheila Strain won W70 gold.

The team title for W50+ went to Edinburgh Athletic Club, in front of Fife AC and Giffnock North AC.

M45 silver medallist was Kerry-Liam Wilson and Steven Campbell received bronze.

In the M50 category, Stevie Cairns won, not far in front of David Gardiner, with Perth Road Runners’ David Knight third – he led his team to M50-60 victory, in front of.Cambuslang Harriers and Shettleston Harriers. First M55 was Chris Upson, from David Eckersley and Nick Milovsorov.

The legendary Hill and Cross-Country International Colin Donnelly finished well clear in the M60 category, in front of his distinguished Cambuslang team-mate Eddie Stewart. Charlie Haskett ran strongly to secure third place.

M70 winner for the third year in a row was Alex Sutherland, after a close battle with his International team-mates Robert Marshall and Norman Baillie.

Alex wrote the following on Facebook. “Fraser Clyne (journalist and former British Marathon International) got in touch with me for some comments after the race so I sent him the following.

“Haven’t got your phone number but as you know part of the challenge of cross-country running is that every course is different, usually showcasing the local landscape and topography and, when you add Scottish winter on top of that, the outing and event can be anything but predictable!

Johnstone was a good parkland venue with challenging short hills made doubly so by the forerunner of Storm Ciara’s gale-force winds catching us, fortunately just before the rains commenced.

Even when I tried the old trick of tucking in behind another runner, like wild geese do when flying in close formation, there was little respite, but when you turned a corner it was as if someone released the hand brake on your car! The other factor, which we had in abundance, was the soft wet ground which as you know saps strength, and then your energy seems to run out of your legs, robbing them of any bounce.

But this is all part of the peculiar challenge of cross-country running, which also has the effect of levelling the playing field, when Masters runners compete against younger faster competitors in difficult conditions. Old age, cunning and determination can sometimes outwit youthful talent!”


Fife AC veteran George Black marked the start of 2020 with a World age group best performance at the Portobello Promathon.

The popular road race is over the four-mile distance and Black came home in a remarkable time of 30:10, thus improving on the M80 World best which is listed at 37:45 on the ARRS site.

Adrian Stott has reported that George, who only started running in his 40s, plans to take on the Scottish 5k Champs in May and the British Masters 10k.


Scottish Athletics reported:

“It would be stretching the truth to say that the Scottish 3000m Champs, staged within the GAA Miler Meet at the Emirates Arena, was awash with some of our bigger names.

There was absolutely no shortage of ‘stalwarts’ of athletics in Scotland dotted around the indoor venue on Friday evening, however.

That complimentary label could justifiably apply to many of those present in various roles – Officials, volunteers, coaches and parents – as more than a few well-kent faces enter another decade.

Or to a host of our Masters medallists, too, with Cambuslang Harrier Kerry-Liam Wilson laying claim to quite an achievement as he closed off his V45 years with a fifth successive age group gold for the 3000m indoors. With all of those runs under 9:17.

As always, the Masters categories were keenly contested – with stalwarts out in force.

The names will be familiar but the achievement is precious each and every time. The aforementioned Kerry-Liam, for example, rightly proud to note that all five of his winning runs from V45 to the age of 49 have been under 9:17.

Among the other gold medallists were:

M40 Leon Johnson (Edinburgh AC); M50 Stephen Allen (Motherwell AC); M55 Guy Bracken (North Shields); M60 Alastair Walker (Teviotdale Harriers); M65 Frank Hurley (Cambuslang); M75 Bobby Young (Clydesdale Harriers).

W40 Jackie Etherington (Cambuslang); W45 Karen Kennedy (PH Racing); W50 Julie Wilson (Inverness); W55 Fiona Matheson (Falkirk Vics).”


Masters Track and Field Update by Mike Clerihew

New Scottish Masters best performances were set in January by Darren Scott (St. Helens Sutton) in the M50 60m recording a time of 7.52s at the Sale Harriers Open in Manchester eclipsing the late Alasdair Ross’s 7.61s from  2004 and Paul Forbes (Edinburgh) broke Alastair Dunlop’s M60 800m best of 2m 20.19s from 2015 with a time of 2m 18.84s at the Scottish National Open at the Emirates Arena on 18th January after narrowly missing it at the World Indoors in Poland last year.

Alastair Walker (Teviotdale) was the only athlete to set a Championship best at the National 3000m Championships at the Emirates on 3rd January when he won the M60 race in a time of 9m 51.36 bettering Andy Brown’s 9m 54.02s from 1993.

There was some success for Masters athletes at the Scottish National Championships at the Emirates on 26th January with W35 Mhairi Porterfield (VP Glasgow) winning the shot with a throw of 13.10m, W35 Philippa Millage (VP Glasgow) placing second in the 800m in a time of 2m 08.54s and W35 Gillian Cooke (Edinburgh) winning bronze in the pole vault with a clearance of 3.14m

Scottish Masters Track and Field Championships and Combined Events Championships

Five Scottish Masters best performances and 15 Championship bests (with another being equalled) were recorded at the very competitive Masters Championships held in the Emirates Arena over the weekend 1st/2nd February. 

Masters bests were set by George Black (Fife) winning the M80 800m in 3m 32.03s and the 1500m in 7m 17.64s, Bob Masson (Aberdeen) won the M70 pole vault with 2.67m, and Linzie Marsh (Pitreavie) won the W40 high jump with 1.44m.  Bobby Stevenson (Ayr) won the M65 long jump with 4.87m which, if ratified, betters John Charlton’s British record of 4.86m.  George, Bob and Bobby’s performances were also Championship bests.

Other Championship bests were set by Mary Barratt (Loughrea) with 11.71s in the W60 60m hurdles, Ian Horsburgh (Central) with 7.28s in the M40 60m and 22.48s in the 200m, Kathleen Stewart (North Shields) with 40.90s in the W80 200m and 1m 32.56s in the 400m, Ian Broadhurst (Wrexham) with 63.75s in the M65 400m, Andrew Lewis (Harrow) with 5.97m in the M50 long jump, Paul Guest (Yeovil) with 5.36 in the M55 long jump, Frank Stewart (Derry) with 9.64m in the M80 shot, Peter Fryer (Derry) with 1.68m in the M35 high jump and Melanie Garland (Kidderminster) with 9.09m in the W55 triple jump.  Melanie also equalled the existing cbp with 1.30m in the W55 high jump.

In the combined events competition M55 Ron Todd (Central) won the Steedman Medal as best Scottish male placing second in the Masters heptathlon with 4245 points behind M60 Peadac McGing (Dundrum) with 4489 points.  W45 Amanda Broadhurst (2690 points) won the pentathlon from W40 Katheen Ballard (North Ayreshire) with 2306oints. 

Well done to all competitors with my apologies to anyone I have missed. 

Updated best performance lists are published in the Track and Field section of this site.  Any new record performances should be notified to me (mikeclerihew@yahoo.com).  No documentation is required as I undertake my own research.

Philippa Millage and Darren Scott in Outstanding Form

Philippa Millage (VP City of Glasgow) took over a quarter of a second off her own W35 British record in her heat of the 800m at the British Indoor Championships in the Emirates Arena on 22nd February with a time of 2m 05.70s.  In the final the following day she recorded a time of 2m 07.27s which was good enough to win the bronze medal – a great achievement at age 39.

At the Sale Harriers meeting on 23rd February Darren Scott (St. Helens Sutton) set new Scottish Masters best performances in the M50 category with 7.47s in the 60m, lowering his own time, and 23.88s in the 200m. Very well done to both athletes.

British Masters Indoor Track and Field Championships and Winter Throws Competition

The event was held at Lee Valley, London over the weekend 7th/8th March and produced several notable performances for Scottish athletes with forty-three medals being won over the two competitions and two Scottish Masters best performances set in the Indoor championships.  Darren Scott (St. Helens Sutton) improved his recently set M50 60m best with a time of 7.41s finishing second and Jacqui Etherington (Cambuslang) won the W40 800m in 2m 23.66s bettering Sonia Armitage’s best from 2004. Jacqui also won the 1500m in a time of 4m 58.70s.

Also indoors gold medals were won by Claire Cameron (VP-Glasgow) in the W60 shot  (9.88m), Linzie Marsh (Pitreavie) in the W40 high jump (1.40m), Andrew Brown (Dunbar) M40 1500m (4.11.70), Paul Forbes (Edinburgh) in the M60 800m (2.20.02), Douglas Graham (Edinburgh) in the M40 pole vault (4.00m), Graham Lay (Southampton) in the M40 shot (12.62m), Brandan Lynch (Falkirk) in the M70 60m (8.82s), Jim Sloan (Annan) in the M75 shot (9.29m), Mike Tarawsky (Dundee) in the M45 400m (57.55s) and Steve Whyte (Thames Valley) in the M55 shot (12.97m).

In the outdoor throws competition Claire Cameron won gold in the W60 discus and silvers in the weight throw and hammer, Graham Lay gold in the M40 discus and javelin with silver in the weight throw and hammer, Stephen Leek silver in the M35 javelin as did Allan Leiper in the M55 event, Jim Sloan won gold in the M75 discus, David Valentine (West Suffolk) gold  M60 weight throw and silver in the hammer and Steve Whyte won golds in the M55 hammer and weight throw.


(The Donald McNab Robertson Trophy)

1958 Alex MacDougall: although Hugo Fox, a former cyclist, won the Scottish Marathon in 1958 (arriving in the lead at New Meadowbank to discover a six-foot spiked gate still locked, but climbing over, without impaling himself, to finish in 2.31.22), and Alex McDougall (Vale of Leven) entered through the newly-opened gate to record 2.32.35, it was Alex who was awarded the Robertson Trophy. This was because, although Fox, Harry Fenion and Alex all represented Scotland in the 1958 Cardiff Commonwealth Games Marathon, in almost unbearably hot conditions only Alex McDougall finished – a fine 7th place in, against very strong competition. Alex also won the season-long SMC championship.

1959 Hugo Fox: Gordon Eadie (Cambuslang Harriers) remembered this race, from Falkirk to New Meadowbank. Hugo Fox, the holder and a good judge of pace, raced into an early lead from the start. By half-distance, he was several minutes in front; but, by twenty miles, runners dropped away from the chasing pack and Gordon found himself alone in second, and closing on the leader. However, “Hugo was one fox who wouldn’t be caught and finished on the track to win by almost a minute”: 2.28.27 to Gordon’s 2.29.22. After a long discussion of several road race results, the SMC committee voted to nominate Hugo for the Robertson Trophy (rather than Andy Brown of Motherwell) and consequently the SAAA presented Hugo Fox with the prestigious award.

1960 Gordon Eadie: Gordon had been the 1959 SMC champion. He retained this title in 1960, narrowly from John Kerr (Airdrie Harriers). In the Scottish Marathon to Meadowbank, on a particularly hot sunny day, Gordon started cautiously and ran an even-paced race, making steady progress, and passing the leaders in later miles, to win convincingly in 2.36.40 from John Kerr. Gordon Eadie received the Robertson Trophy.

1961 John M Kerr: John, a former cyclist, was a strongly-built runner with a low but very powerful running action. The Scottish Marathon – yet again, Falkirk to Edinburgh – was held in very warm conditions. Four English runners turned up and sounded very confident. However, the heat got to them, and John Kerr won in 2.36.06, from Bill McBrinn (Monkland Harriers – 2.37.32). John won the SMC championship as well (and retained this in 1962); and was a unanimous choice to receive the Robertson Trophy.

1962 Alastair J Wood: was one of Scotland’s finest International athletes, who had won Scottish Track titles (3 miles in 1957 and 1959; 6 miles every year from 1958-1961). He was Scottish Native Record holder for both events. In Cross-Country, running for Shettleston Harriers, he became National champion in 1959; and was an excellent seventh in the International Championships at Hamilton Racecourse in 1960. Then in 1962, by now a member of Aberdeen AAC, Alastair took part in the Scottish Marathon, which started and finished at New Meadowbank, via Dalkeith and Cockenzie. The course was hilly, with a headwind on the way back, but Alastair broke away at 18 miles from Andy Brown (who later dropped out) and won, well clear of John Kerr, in a Championship record of 2.24.59. In July, Wood ran splendidly in the AAA Marathon to finish second to Brian Kilby; and then represented Great Britain in the Belgrade European Marathon. Kilby won, with Wood a meritorious fourth. After such a superb season, Alastair Wood was bound to receive the Robertson Trophy. 

1963 Ian Harris: The favourite for the Scottish Marathon was Jim Alder (Morpeth Harriers and EAC), the famous Geordie Scot. He had won the 1962 Scottish Cross-Country title, and represented Scotland in Belgium and GB in Barcelona, as well as setting a new record in the Edinburgh to North Berwick 22. The course for his marathon debut was out from and back to Anniesland in Glasgow. Jim was well clear early on, but the long uphill stretches wore him down. Although he was three and half minutes in front at 20 miles, he slowed dramatically and only just held on to second place after Ian Harris (Beith Harriers and the Parachute Regiment) swept past. Ian won in a good time of 2.25.23, over six minutes in front of struggling Jim Alder, who learned a lot from this experience. Harris, a Scottish International cross-country runner in 1961, when he had also won the Beith Harriers New Year’s Day event, raced well in hill races like Ben Lomond and Ben Nevis (4th in 1963). Ian Harris was awarded the Robertson Trophy.

1964 Alastair Wood: The redoubtable, satirical Ally Wood, who inspired a generation of good Aberdeen distance runners, secured the second of his six Scottish Marathon titles on a slightly easier course, which finished at New Meadowbank but went out through Portobello and Musselburgh to the turn at Aberlady. Wood was not content to win, but pushed hard to reduce his own Championship record to 2.24.00. Despite Jim Alder finishing third in the AAA event, Alastair was awarded the Robertson Trophy.

1965 Alastair Wood: This Scottish Marathon was a tough one – a genuine head-to-head between the reigning champion and a future one. The course was a switchback out and back to Westerlands in Glasgow. Donald Macgregor (Edinburgh Southern Harriers) lived and worked in St Andrews. In March, he had run for Scotland in the Ostend Cross-Country International. Then he had lost to Alastair Wood in the Dundee 10; but gained revenge by winning the SAAA Ten Miles Track title in front of the Aberdeen man. In the Marathon, these rivals ran together until 19 miles, when Donald became tired and Wood drew away to win in his third Championship record (2.20.46), from Macgregor (2.22.24). Later in 1965, Fergus Murray (ESH) won the Shettleston Marathon in 2.18.30, with Wood second in 2.19.03 – the first sub-2.20 clockings in Scotland. In May 1964, Dale Greig (Tannahill Harriers) had set an inaugural Women’s World Record by completing the Isle of Wight Marathon in 3.27.45, and in 1965 the SMC made her a Life Member; but Alastair Wood retained the Robertson Trophy.

1966 Gordon Eadie: There were three outstanding candidates for the Robertson Trophy this year. In July, Alastair Wood achieved a European record 2.13.45 in the Inverness to Forres Marathon. This was eventually ratified as the 1966 World’s fastest marathon time. In Kingston, Jamaica, in very hot conditions, Jim Alder produced a wonderful run to win the Commonwealth Games Marathon for Scotland. Gordon Eadie had finished second behind Charlie McAlinden in the Scottish; but showed real strength by winning two ultra-distance races. The first was gaining revenge on Bernard Gomersall, the Englishman who had won the 1965 London to Brighton 52 (when Gordon was third). In July 1966, Gordon beat his rival by nine minutes, winning the Liverpool to Blackpool 48 and a half miles race, recording 5.00.22. Then he set a new record time of 4:41:27 in the Edinburgh to Glasgow 44. In addition, he became SMC champion. After a vote between Alder and Eadie, which ended up five to four in favour of the latter, Gordon Eadie was awarded the Robertson Trophy.

1967 Alastair Wood: In the AAA Marathon at Nuneaton, near Birmingham, Scots finished first (Jim Alder 2.16.08), second (Alastair Wood 2.16.21) and third (Donald Macgregor 2.17.19). The Scottish Championships were held in Grangemouth Stadium, and Wood secured his fourth marathon title, on an out and back course, in 2.21.26 from his Aberdeen clubmate Donald Ritchie (2.27.28). The Robertson Trophy was regained by Alastair Wood, who won it for the fourth time.

1968 James N C Alder: On several occasions, the Robertson Trophy was presented to a runner who had almost won it the previous year or the one before. Jim Alder (who must have been very close indeed to receiving this honour in 1966 and 1967) was well clear at the top of the Scottish rankings in 1968, with a time 2.14.14 in the Polytechnic Marathon. He also recorded 2.16.37 when he finished a fine third in the AAA Marathon in Cardiff. This performance ensured GB selection for the Mexico City Olympic Marathon. Unfortunately, the high altitude forced even this toughest of competitors to drop out. Nevertheless, it was crystal clear that Jim Alder fully deserved to be presented with the Donald McNab Robertson Memorial Trophy.

1969 Jim Alder: There could only be one winner of the Trophy: the holder, Jim Alder. In the AAA he was third in 2.18.18; and was selected to race for Great Britain in the European Championships Marathon, over the notoriously hot and hilly course from Marathon to Athens. Jim fought his way to a bronze medal in 2.19.05. Consequently, he was a unanimous choice to retain the Robertson cup and plaque.

1970 Jim Alder: This was a very important year for Scottish Athletics with the Commonwealth Games at Meadowbank in Edinburgh. The Scottish Marathon was the team trial. Jim Alder won in a championship record of 2.17.11, with Donald Macgregor second just three seconds behind and Fergus Murray third (2.18.25). These runners were selected as Scotland’s representatives in the Commonwealth event; and Jim Alder was chosen as the ‘Mystery Man’ to enter the stadium, complete the relay from Canada, and hand the baton to Prince Philip, as the official signal to declare the Games open. In the Marathon, England’s Ron Hill smashed the European record with 2.09.28, but Jim Alder (who had won gold in Jamaica 1966) battled in, exhausted, to secure a valiant silver medal in the Scottish National record of 2.12.04. Murray was seventh (2.15.32) and Macgregor eighth (2.16.53). For decades thereafter, this remained the fastest marathon ever run in Scotland. There was no doubt that Jim Alder would receive the Robertson Trophy for the third successive year.

1971 Alex S Wight: The Scottish Marathon rankings were topped by Alex Wight’s marvellous 2.15.27 victory in the Edinburgh to North Berwick Marathon, not far in front of his brother Jim (2.15.43). In the AAA Maxol Marathon, Jim Alder finished sixth in 2.15.43, but was 22 seconds from qualifying for the GB European Championships team. In ultra-marathons, Alex Wight won twice: in the Edinburgh to Glasgow 44; and the Two Bridges 36, by more than five minutes. (In 1972, he was to break the Two Bridges course record with 3.24.07.) He also won the Clydebank to Helensburgh 16. Consequently, Alex Wight was chosen to receive the Robertson Trophy.

1972 Donald F Macgregor:  In June’s Maxol Marathon (and British Championships), Donald Macgregor finished third in a personal best 2:15.06, and thus qualified for the British Olympic team. In Munich, he surpassed even this performance. Timing his effort brilliantly, he came through to seventh place (, the highest achieved by a Scotsman in any 1972 Olympic final. Furthermore, he was less than four seconds behind the illustrious Ron Hill, who seemed severely shaken when Donald appeared at his shoulder. Donald Macgregor was chosen unanimously as the most deserving of Robertson Trophy recipients.

1973 Don Macgregor:  In 1973, events were inevitably less exciting, but the Scottish Marathon Championship served as a trial for the Christchurch Commonwealth Games team. Donald remembered the race as tough but he did not have much difficulty winning in 2.17.50, 34 seconds in front of Jim Wight. They were both chosen to compete in the Commonwealth Marathon. Despite Aberdeen AAC’s Rab Heron topping the Scottish rankings with 2.17.07 (set in winning the Edinburgh to North Berwick Marathon), Donald Macgregor retained the Robertson Trophy.

1974 Don Macgregor: In January at Christchurch, New Zealand, a fast-finishing Donald Macgregor produced another fine race – 6th in the Commonwealth Games. This was to be his best-ever time – 2.14.15. After a respite period and period and a second build-up, later on Donald reflected that winning the Scottish Marathon in June 1974 was probably the easiest of his three victories (1973, 1974 and 1976). He recorded 2.18.08, in front of Rab Heron (2.19.18). Two other fine performances that year took place over a difficult course at Draveil, near Paris, where Alastair Wood became World Veteran Marathon Champion; and Dale Greig (aged 37) won the very first IGAL World Championship Women’s Marathon. Nevertheless, there was no doubt that Donald Macgregor should, for the third successive time, be awarded the Robertson Trophy.

1975 Colin J Youngson: Jim Wight (EAC) had run very well to win the August 1974 Two Bridges 36 (3.26.31); and followed that with victory in October’s Harlow Marathon (2.16.28). Since the Trophy decision was often made by the end of September, Wight’s Autumn flourish might well have led to the award in 1975. Sandy Keith (EAC) and Colin Youngson (ESH) often ran hard 20-mile Sunday sessions together, but were serious rivals. Colin finished in front of Sandy in the EU 10 and did so again when he won the Drymen to Scotstoun 15, but Sandy was peaking for the Scottish Marathon and getting stronger – he won the tough Fort William 10. In the Scottish, on a very warm day, Sandy charged off into a slight headwind but Colin sheltered right behind. After the turn, they ran side-by-side. Colin broke away at 19 miles, but Sandy was still dangerously close at Meadowbank. Youngson’s time was a new championship record (2.16.50) and Keith’s a personal best (2.17.58). Subsequently, both ran in small GB teams and finished second in International Marathons: Colin in Berchem, Belgium; and Sandy in Enschede, Holland. Then, too late for consideration, Sandy Keith won the Harlow Marathon in 2.16.12, which topped the Scottish rankings. However, Colin had finished a close second, and first Scot, in his ultra-marathon debut – the Two Bridges 36 – in 3.29.44, and this performance probably tipped the balance, so that Colin Youngson received the Robertson Trophy.

1976 Alexander B Keith: This year there was no doubt – Sandy Keith was the top Scottish Marathon runner. (Colin Youngson had trained too hard and suffered sciatica; although he was to win two more Scottish titles in 1981 and 1982.) The big race was the AAA Olympic trial on a hot day in hilly Rotherham. Sandy finished 6th in 2.19.02 (which topped the Scottish rankings) having hung on as long as possible to the three men (Barry Watson, Jeff Norman and Keith Angus) who were selected for the Montreal Games. Sandy had to content himself with another British vest in a foreign marathon. On 31st July he was victorious in the marathon at Noordwijkerhout, Netherlands, in 2.21.43; and, up to 1979, was to run subsequent events for GB (and Scotland in 1982). Furthermore, his Harlow victory in October 1975 was extra evidence to ensure that Sandy Keith was awarded the Robertson Trophy.

1977 Jim Dingwall: The Scottish Marathon this year was to be the fastest until 1999. Once again, it was over the usual Meadowbank course on a warm day. The main man was that charismatic schoolboy 100 metre sprinter turned Scottish or British International middle-distance, cross-country and road runner Jim Dingwall (Falkirk Victoria Harriers) – the ‘Guv’nor’ as he was known at Edinburgh University – or ‘the Head Waiter’ as he was cursed by those who had suffered his famed ‘kick’ to the finishing tape. In the AAA event at Rugby in May, Jim had finished a good eighth. A personal best 10,000m (28.55) two weeks before the Scottish (which was held at the end of June) showed his good form. Confidently but uncharacteristically, Jim led from the start, and by halfway was leading with Sandy Keith and Willie Day (FVH). Dingwall surged away at 15 miles and won in a championship record of 2.16.05 (topping the Scottish rankings), from his team-mate Day (2.17.56). Soon afterwards it was time for celebratory beers at the Piershill Tavern, near Meadowbank Stadium. Jim Dingwall was a certainty to receive the Robertson Trophy.

1978 Jim Dingwall: In mid-April, Jim Dingwall displayed fitness by winning the Clydebank to Helensburgh 15. The AAA Marathon at Sandbach took place in May and Jim managed 2.13.58 (top of the Scottish rankings) for 5th place and selection to represent Scotland in the Edmonton Commonwealth Games Marathon. Sandy Keith ran 2.18.15 and was unlucky not to be chosen. Unfortunately, Jim suffered during the flight to Canada and his training was seriously affected. Nevertheless, he led to halfway, and then hung on bravely to the leading pack, before having to drop away after 25km. Yet Jim Dingwall was the unanimous choice to retain the Robertson Trophy.

1979 Alastair Macfarlane: After a year of injury-free training, a sensible blend of mileage and short or long repetitions, Alastair Macfarlane (Springburn Harriers) showed ominously good form in April, winning the Clydebank to Helensburgh by over a minute, and, shortly afterwards, setting his fastest time for 5000 metres. In the Scottish Marathon at the end of May, a pack of six reached halfway, after fighting into a slight headwind. After the turn, suddenly the pace of the return journey became extremely fast, and athletes were dropped until Macfarlane, Macgregor and Youngson were left. After 20 miles, Alastair was out on his own and, with five miles to go, knew that he would not be caught. Relaxed and fresh, he won in a personal best (2.18.03), from Donald (2.19.15) and Colin (2.19.48). Deservedly, Alastair Macfarlane was presented with the Robertson Trophy. However, in 1979, things were changing for Scottish Marathon runners, with the introduction of inaugural Aberdeen and Glasgow Marathons, which would be emulated by several others around Scotland. With the possibility of prize money on the horizon, plus more expenses-paid ‘trips’ to International Marathons, the ‘Serious Amateurs’ would be replaced by ‘Semi-Professionals’, and the Scottish Marathon Championship would seldom, in future, be significant in deciding the recipient of the prestigious Donald McNab Robertson Memorial Trophy.

1980 Graham Laing: Top of the 1980 Scottish Rankings was John Graham (Clyde Valley AC) who finished a marvellous third (2.11.47) in the New York Marathon – held too late for Robertson Trophy consideration. The Scottish Marathon in June was, alas, to be the final one similar to the fast 1970 Commonwealth Games course. A strong following wind on the outward journey caused problems on the return. Young Graham Laing, an athlete of great potential from Aberdeen AAC, eased away up Wallyford Hill and reached the turn in 66.46, well in front of Alasdair Kean (Derby) and Colin Youngson, who were together in 67.08. On the way back, while Youngson sheltered behind Kean, Laing kept increasing his lead, as they battled the strongest wind they had ever encountered in a marathon. Youngson moved into second at 17 miles but Graham won ‘easily’ in 2.23.03, with Colin timed at 2.24.56 and Alastair Macfarlane 2.27.21, followed by the very tired Alasdair Kean. The race had been sponsored by a butcher, so Graham won £100 worth of meat for his freezer. Not even a chop for the others, however. Elsewhere, Jim Dingwall had won marathons at Le Quesnoy and Glasgow (2:16:07). Yet it seemed fair that the talented, improving Graham Laing, already twice a Scottish International at 10,000m, should win the Robertson Trophy.

1981 John E Graham: Having moved to Birmingham in 1979, joined Birchfield Harriers and produced a Scottish National record at New York in late 1980, John Graham improved even more in 1981, when he won the inaugural Rotterdam Marathon in a startling 2.9.28 – a time then only beaten by six other athletes in history. Second in the 1981 Scottish rankings was Graham Laing, with 2.13.59, when fifth in London. John Graham had represented Scotland in the IAAF World Cross-Country Championships four times: once as a junior (1975); and thrice as a senior (1977, 1978 and 1980). In 1978, he had twice broken the Scottish Native Record for 3000 metres steeplechase, ending up with 8.39.3. Now he was piling in many miles of incredibly tough training. Over the year, this averaged 115 miles per week, including track work. Before a marathon, John endured six weeks of even heavier mileage; followed by six weeks of faster work. Undoubtedly, John Graham raised Scottish Marathon standards immensely; and, of course, became a Robertson Trophy winner.

Leslie Watson (London Olympiades), a former Scottish International track and cross-country runner, won the British Championship Marathon in 2.49.08.

1982 John Graham: His marathon racing career (1980-1987) coincided with boom years for the marathon. He competed for GB or as an invited athlete all round the world and received marvellous hospitality and prize money. He met and formed friendships with great runners past and present, from Herb Elliot to Frank Shorter and Steve Jones. In 1982, representing Scotland at the Commonwealth Games in Brisbane, John raced boldly but suffered from a cruel stitch (an old problem due to a scarred stomach muscle) and finished fourth in 2.13.04. Graham Laing ran very well for seventh in 2.14.54. To finish the season, John Graham ran 2.10.57 in New York; and retained the Robertson Trophy.

1983 Jim Dingwall Back in 1982, Jim had been 5th in the AAA race at Gateshead in 2:15:30, nine seconds clear of Graham Laing, who, along with John Graham, was selected to run the Commonwealth Games Marathon instead of Jim, due to lack of Scottish team funding. How did he respond to this setback? In January 1983 Jim won the Hong Kong Marathon (2.15.48). Then, in the London Marathon on the 17th of April, he ran the fastest time of his life: 2.11.44, securing fifth place and bronze in the British championships. On paper this was his best run, but he was left without the feeling of euphoria that normally accompanies such a performance. To explain, having had a cold for the three days prior to the race he had not slept well, and then on the day he had lost a lot of ground on the cobbles at the Tower at 22 miles. The resulting feeling was one of frustration as he felt that he could have gone even faster although he was pleased with the time. He also ran Laredo, New York and Bolton in 1983; and after that continued to represent GB in marathons. Looking back, Jim reckoned that his best ever performance had been winning the 1976 San Silvestre Villecana road race in Madrid, since to defeat four Olympic finalists came as such a lovely surprise. For the third time, Jim Dingwall was presented with the Robertson Trophy.

1984 Don Macgregor In 1983, Donald had won the first Dundee Marathon in 2.17.24, the fastest time of the year by a British Veteran. In 1984, aged almost 45, he won Dundee again in 2.18.41. After his birthday, he smashed the British M45 record in the Glasgow Marathon with 2.19.01. Donald, the 1972 Olympian, had been World Veteran Marathon champion in 1980; and also coached the Scottish Marathon squad. The fact that Donald Macgregor received the Robertson Trophy suggests that the SMC/SAAA selectors had become fully aware of the flourishing Veteran/Masters movement and were not automatically nominating the fastest Scot of the year.

The 1980s were dominated by John Graham and then Allister Hutton, which meant that other really good marathon men seldom won the Trophy. In 1984, Fraser Clyne (Aberdeen AAC) finished second at the US Marathon Championships in Sacramento in his fastest ever time of 2:11:50. He had run for Scotland: five times in the World Cross; and had Scottish vests for 3000m Steeplechase, 5000m and 10,000m. Fraser, hampered by a lower back problem, still finished tenth in the 1986 Edinburgh Commonwealth Marathon, and often represented GB, as well as (between 1992 and 1997) winning five Scottish Marathon titles. Fraser Clyne, along with Peter Fleming (Bellahouston) must be the best male Scots never to receive the Donald McNab Robertson Memorial Trophy.

1985 Allister Hutton: In 1975, aged 20, Allister had won the Scottish Junior Cross-Country title. He was National Senior Champion in 1978 and 1982; and had a record ten appearances for Scotland in the IAAF World Championships. At 5000 metres, he recorded his best time, 13.41.45, at the age of 26. Four years earlier he had run 28.13.09 for 10,000 metres at a mere 22 years old; but it took almost another ten years before he finally broke a barrier to record 27.59.12. Thirteen of the top fifty Scottish 10,000 metres performances were his. Allister competed in three consecutive Commonwealth Games for Scotland during his career, starting in 1978. In 1985, he finished his third marathon in London, third in the race (and the British Championships) behind Steve Jones and Charlie Spedding, in a Scottish National record time of 2.09.16 – a mark which was to endure for 34 years. This excellent performance justified completely Allister’s years of Spartan concentration on maximising speed and stamina before switching to the classic distance. John Graham ran 2.9.58 when he was second in Rotterdam; and 2.12.55 in Chicago, but Allister Hutton had to be chosen as the winner of the Robertson Trophy.

Aberdeen AAC’s Lynda Bain (who in 1983 had been the first Scottish Women’s Marathon Champion, and retained this title in 1984) finished London in 7th place, with an excellent 2.33.38, a new Scottish National record.

1986 John Graham: In the Edinburgh Commonwealth Games Marathon, the holder – Australia’s Rob de Castella – zipped casually through the first ten miles in 49.27. He then increased the tempo, covering the next five miles in 24.10 with only Scotland’s John Graham (who that Spring had run 2.13.42 in Rotterdam) for company. The big Lanarkshire man was keen to pick up a medal after finishing fourth four years earlier in Brisbane, but paid a heavy price for trying to stay with the tough Australian. De Castella continued to power away and went on to win in 2.10.15. Graham ran out of steam and was overhauled by another Australian (Steve Moneghetti 2.11.08) and Canada’s Dave Edge (2.11.18). John had to settle for fourth place in 2.12.10. It was little consolation to win the Robertson Trophy for the third time.

Allister Hutton had been third in London again (2.12.36) and won a British Championship silver medal.

For Scotland, Lorna Irving (Border) was a very good fifth in the very first Commonwealth Games Women’s Marathon (2.36.34).

1987 Lindsay Robertson: Although Scottish Athletics records are patchy, it seemed likely that John Graham would have received the Robertson Trophy for the fourth and final time. He topped the Scottish rankings with 2.12.32 when securing bronze in the British Championships in London. Sadly, John considered this time ‘slow’, reduced his training mileage and eventually stopped racing. Amazingly, John Graham once held nine of the best twenty Scottish marathon times. Although the Scottish Marathon Club proposed John Graham for the Trophy, the SAAA over-ruled in favour of Lindsay Robertson (EAC), who won the Frankfurt Marathon that October, recording his fastest-ever time of 2.13.30. During his career, he ran seventeen sub-2:20 marathon races; won Edinburgh twice and the Tiberias Marathon in Israel three times. Lindsay ran several good races representing Scotland (or GB in the European or World Marathon Cups). He raced all over Europe plus New York and Seoul in South Korea.

1988 Allister Hutton: Sixth place in London, in a very good time of 2.11.42, made sure that the Robertson Trophy returned to Allister Hutton. Sheila Catford (Leeds) ran very well to record 2.33.44. Allister and Sheila topped the Scottish ranking lists.

1989: Allister Hutton (ESH) or Lynn Harding (Houghton). These two athletes might have shared the Robertson trophy, after topping the Scottish rankings, Allister with 2.12.47. Lynn finished eighth (British Championship bronze) in London, clocking an excellent time of 2.31.45, breaking the Scottish National record, which had been set in 1985 by Lynda Bain (Aberdeen AAC). Scottish selectors were now taking Women’s performances very seriously, and into consideration when it came to awarding the Robertson Trophy. Between 1976 and 1982, Leslie Watson (London Olympiades), a Scottish International on track and country, had topped the Scottish Women’s marathon rankings six times. She became an extremely popular competitor in umpteen British city marathons; and also set records in the London to Brighton ultra; and the World’s fastest time for 50 miles. Then Lorna Irving and Lynda Bain ran marathons for Scotland and Great Britain. Sheila Catford and Lynn Harding followed suit. Before long, Liz McColgan would become the top Scottish marathon runner, more highly rated than any contemporary Scottish male.

1990 Allister Hutton: There could only be one athlete considered for the Robertson Trophy this year: the British Marathon Champion, Allister Hutton.

Here is the official London Marathon history online report: “The tenth London Marathon saw the first British men’s winner since 1985 when 35-year-old Allister Hutton left a quality field far behind after dispensing with the services of pacemaker Bill Reifsnyder of the USA at 14 miles. In poor weather, Hutton maintained his form to the line, winning in 2:10:10. He was in such good shape that he even asked the early pacemaker Nick Rose to speed things up after only10km. The real race was among the chasing pack but Italian Salvatore Bettiol and Spaniard Juan Romera proved stronger than the rest to finish second and third. Romera set a new Spanish record with 2:10:48. Pre-race favourite Belayneh Densimo, the world record holder from Ethiopia, dropped out after 14 miles.”

Seldom has a television broadcast seemed so fascinating to Scottish viewers; seldom has time (and distance) taken so long to pass. Yet Allister showed no sign of distress: his style remained controlled and his face composed. However, the long, long straight of The Mall seemed an eternity to him – both agony and ecstasy as he lived out the dream of leading such an important event in front of so many rivals and spectators. Eventually he crossed Westminster Bridge first, still twenty seconds ahead, in 2.10.10 – a really dramatic Scottish victory in the English heartland.

Back in 1984, awesome runaway victories in the Morpeth to Newcastle and AAA Half Marathon had convinced Allister to try the marathon seriously. During his career, he ran well in London (five times), Chicago (twice), Oslo and New York; and in 1990 created a significant piece of Scottish (and British) Athletics History.

Sheila Catford won a bronze medal in the British Championships with a time of 2:36:42.

1991 Donald A Ritchie: Later voted the World’s finest ultra-distance runner of the 20th Century, Donald was aged 47, when he won the 1991 West Highland Way race and the AAA 24 hours title, before being awarded the Robertson Trophy. In 1992 he was victorious in the very first Scottish 100km event at Heriot Watt University, the British 100km at Nottingham and his third consecutive 24 hours AAA championship. Scottish Athletics presented him with the George Dallas Memorial Trust Trophy.

N,B. Paul Evans topped the Scottish marathon rankings in 1991 (2.12.53) and 1992 (2.10.36). Evans was born in Springburn but based in Suffolk. He was identified as a 1994 Commonwealth Games prospect but in 1993 ran a road race for England at Bamburgh Castle, then notified the Scottish CG team manager that he intended to continue competing for England. None of his later times featured in Scottish lists, even when he won the 1996 Chicago Marathon in 2.8.52.

1992 Liz McColgan: Suffice it to say that Liz McColgan (nee Lynch) of Dundee Hawkhill Harriers was one of Scotland’s greatest all-time athletes, world-class on track, country and road. Do read her full profile on the site Scottish Distance Running History, under ‘Elite Endurance’. She concentrated on the marathon between 1992 and 1998, setting very high standards which have never been equalled by a Scottish woman. In 1992 she won the first World Half Marathon title; and also the Tokyo marathon in a Scottish National record of 2.27.38 and was a clear choice to receive the Robertson Trophy – the first woman to do so, but certainly not the last.

1993 Liz McColgan: She finished a fine third (2.29.37) in the 1993 Flora London Marathon in 1993 and retained the Robertson Trophy. Then she was injured and, by 1995, had been told that she might never run again, since years of hard training were taking their toll, causing chronic pain in back, knee and foot. Yet her doctors probably didn’t realise who they were dealing with: this was Liz McColgan!

Top male Scot in the 1993 marathon rankings was Peter Fleming (Racing Club Edinburgh) with his fastest-ever time of 2.13.33 in San Sebastian, Spain. Peter also led the way in 94, 95 and 96 and enjoyed a long, successful, lucrative 20-year road running career, not only in Britain but also predominantly in the USA. Aged 22, he had won the 1983 Glasgow Marathon for Scotland (leading his team to victory over the other home countries) but, between 1987 and 1990, concentrated on increasing speed at shorter distances. The result was a 1991 marathon in 2:14:17. GB marathon ranking positions for his best time each year were 7th in 1993, 8th in 1994, 6th in 1995 and 9th in 1996. Peter Fleming won several significant American races as a Veteran.

1994 Trudi Thomson: At the age of 35, Trudi Thomson (Pitreavie AAC) raced very frequently. By early June 1994, that year she had already won the Scottish veteran cross-country, half marathon and marathon titles, as well as finishing third in the UK Inter County 20 miles championship at Corby; and fifth in the Two Oceans (Indian to Atlantic) 35-mile race in Cape Town. At the end of June, Trudi represented Great Britain in the World 100 km championships at Lake Saroma in Japan. There she had the race of her life to take the silver medal, recording 7 hours 42 minutes and 17 seconds, a Scottish National record. Trudi also won her third Two Bridges 36 Miles in a much faster time than before, a record 4:06:45. Victory in the Edinburgh to North Berwick 22.6 miles produced another course record of 2:15:31. After such a marvellous season, Trudi Thomson was the outstanding candidate to receive the Robertson Trophy.

1995 Lynn Harding:  In the European 100km Championship. Lynn won individual silver in the excellent time of 7.52.23, leading the Great Britain team to silver medals as well. Back in 1989, she had set a new Scottish marathon record of 2.31.45 in the London Marathon; and also ran for Scotland in the 1990 and 1994 Commonwealth Games Marathons. Lynn Harding was the last definite recipient of the Donald McNab Robertson Memorial Trophy.

1996 Liz McColgan: In soaring heat, Liz McColgan won the Flora London Marathon (2.27.54), becoming British Champion. The official report included the following: “Norway’s Anita Hakenstad, who was chasing a 2:30:00 Olympic qualifying time, formed an early breakaway alliance with Russia’s Firaya Sultanova and Estonia’s Jane Salumae and the trio left the women’s elite pack far behind. Hakenstad forged ahead in mile 10 and passed the half way point alone in a personal half-marathon best of 73:31. At this stage she was 2 minutes clear of Liz McColgan and was to stay in the lead until the 20-mile point. Chasing hard, McColgan did not gain sight of the fleeing Norwegian until 30km but, thus encouraged, the Scot quickly closed the gap and by the finish was over 2 minutes clear of the emerging Kenyan, Joyce Chepchumba. Defending champion, Malgorzata Sobanska from Poland, salvaged something from a lack-lustre run by taking 3rd place from Angelina Kanana of Kenya with a late rally. The bold Hakenstad, although suffering in the closing miles, was rewarded with a full marathon personal best in 5th place.”

In the Autumn, Liz McColgan finished first in the BUPA Great North Run, but had again been left disappointed at the Olympics.  McColgan had chosen the marathon but, just days before, while preparing at her base in Florida, she suffered an insect bite. The poison entered her system and she was never herself, finishing sixteenth in the Games in Atlanta. There is no doubt that, had it been presented that year, she would have received the Robertson Trophy.

1997 Liz McColgan:  In 1997 she was so close to successfully defending her London Marathon title, losing by one second to Kenya’s Joyce Chepchumba, who took victory with virtually the final step of a memorable race. But McColgan’s time of 2:26:52 was a personal best and a new Scottish National record.

Top male Scot was David Cavers (Teviotdale Harriers/ Border) who ran 2.16.18, probably in Rotterdam. Between 1990 and 2000, he represented Scotland four times for road running (10km, half marathon, ten miles, marathon) and nine times for cross-country, including the 1990 Home Countries International, which Scotland won, plus British championships and World Trials. Cross-country was his main strength: six East District titles; and amazing consistency in the Senior National. Between 1989 and 2001 he was second, fourth twice, fifth twice, seventh, eighth twice, ninth, tenth twice, twelfth and fourteenth.  Dave’s silver medal in 1999 was won at Beach Park, Irvine, when he was defeated by Bobby Quinn but finished in front of Tommy Murray, Phil Mowbray and Tom Hanlon.   When he was fourth in 2000, the three in front were also very high-quality GB Internationals – Quinn, Murray and Glen Stewart.

1998 Liz McColgan:  Once again, Scotland’s best marathon runner finished second in the London Marathon with 2.26.54; and should have been awarded the Robertson Trophy for the fifth time.

Dave Cavers improved his personal best to 2.16.06 in Rotterdam. He was selected to compete for Scotland at that year’s Commonwealth Games. Unfortunately, this took place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, which proved extremely hot, humid and totally unsuitable conditions for long distance running. Dave was also unlucky to contract a virus and did not finish the race. However, by November 1998, he had recovered in time to win the Derwentwater ten miles road race in Kendal. Dave Cavers continued to run cross-country until 2008 before retiring after an outstanding career.

1999 Simon Pride:  Born in Swansea, he represented Wales in 800m and 1500 metres as a youngster and was in the same Schools’ International team as World Champion hurdler Colin Jackson. His promising running career took a back seat after he left school to join the Army at 17. Four years later he moved to Fochabers in Moray, Scotland. An industrial accident almost ended his running but, once he recovered, advised by Donald Ritchie (the World 100km Track record holder) he found international success in the world of ultra-distance running. His first 100K in 1996 produced a Scottish Championship bronze medal. The following year he was ninth in the European Championships and by 1998 he had a top six finish in the World Championships to his credit (6:59:38). In March 1999 Simon Pride came close to breaking the world record for 40 miles track when winning the well-respected annual event in Barry, Wales, with a time of 3:53:55 which was a race record. The Keith and District athlete’s greatest triumph came in May 1999 in France, where he won the World 100km title with a UK and Scottish road best of 6 hours 24 minutes 05 seconds. In an exciting last 10K he prevailed over the Frenchman Thierry Guichard by a mere 21 seconds! Simon received the John Jewell Medal for 1999 which is presented annually by the Road Runners Club for the most outstanding annual road running performance at any distance from 10K upwards by a British athlete. In addition, he was Scotland’s Athlete of the Year; and would have been certain to win the Robertson Trophy

2000 Lynne MacDougall: 1984 Olympic 1500m finalist Lynne MacDougall (City of Glasgow) concentrated on road running after a very successful track career, winning Scottish and AAA titles. In 2000 she topped the Scottish rankings with 2:38:22 from second placer Trudi Thomson’s 2:40:40. Lynne’s time was set when she was first British female runner to finish in the London Marathon which meant that she was the UK Women’s Marathon Champion.

Simon Pride, who had decided to take a rest from ultras, won the Dublin Marathon in 2.18.49; and also the Scottish Marathon at Lochaber, breaking the course record. Running on his own for almost the whole way, he took advantage of perfect conditions to stop the clock in 2:21:17.

2001: Alan Reid won the Anglo-Celtic Plate, running for Scotland in the Home Countries International, and became UK 100km champion. The Peterhead AC athlete won the Two Bridges 36 in 1999; and the Speyside Way 50km in 2000. His other ultra-running achievements include: Gold (2001), silver and bronze medals in the British 100km Road Championships, the Scottish 50km title in 1999 and 2000 and winning the Barry 40 miles track race in 2001. Naturally he was a GB International and deserved to win the Robertson Trophy.

Lynne MacDougall: Despite appearing on no fewer than five Scottish all-time ranking lists, Lynne in 2001 stuck to road running, where the ability, that had made one of Scotland’s best ever at distances from 800m to 5000m on the track, indicated that she was certainly one of the best of her generation on this surface too. Lynn topped the Scottish lists at 10 Miles (55:28 when winning at Carlisle in November), half marathon (74:24 when finishing in fifteenth in the Great North Run at South Shields in September) and in the marathon (with 2:37:40 at London in April). She won the Scottish 10,000m with a time of 34:41 and it was her second national title at the distance with the first being in 1993 when she was timed at 34:28.

Simon Pride ran a very good personal best of 2.16.27 when he finished the London Marathon in 17th place.

2002: Lynne MacDougall improved her personal best with 2.36.29 when second in Seville but was subsequently injured and did not race in the Commonwealth Games.

Simon Pride represented his adopted country, Scotland, in the Manchester Commonwealth Games marathon in 2002, finishing sixteenth. Earlier he had won the Belfast Marathon.

Jamie Reid (Law and District) was Scottish Marathon Champion in 2002, 2003 and 2007; and won the Scottish 50km in 2004. In 2002 he topped the Scottish rankings with 2.21.46.

2003 Simon Pride (Metro Aberdeen RC) topped the rankings when he ran 2.18.52 for 5th place in Dublin. He had always maintained not only endurance but also speed in his training – long mile intervals with short recoveries, and tempo runs or fartlek, often on undulating forest tracks. After a brief return to ultra-running when he finished third in the 2004 European 100K Championships in Faenza, Italy, Simon reverted once more to shorter distances.  His marathon victories included: Belfast, Dublin, Lochaber and the Loch Ness event. He was Scottish Marathon Champion four times, in 2000, 2001, 2004 and 2006 (variously representing Keith, Metro Aberdeen and Forres Harriers).

2004: Kate Jenkins: Running for Carnethy Hill Running Club, Kate won the Scottish Marathon championship (always when it was held as part of the Elgin Marathon) four times (1997, 2000, 2003, 2007).  In 2007 and 2011, she was first in the Scottish 50km. In the West Highland Way Race, Kate Jenkins set a Women’s course record of 17:37:48, in 2000, when only one man was faster. She was also victorious in this arduous event in 1999, 2003, 2004 and 2006. Kate, usually accompanied by her spaniel, won the Speyside Way 50k in 2000, 2002 and 2004. Surely these achievements made her a likely winner of the Robertson Trophy?

Topping the Scottish Marathon rankings were Susan Partridge (City of Glasgow) with a time of 2.41.44; and Simon Pride (Metro Aberdeen) with 2.19.42.

2005 Hayley Haining: On 17 April the marathon career started for a woman who had started out running fast 800m races as a twelve-year-old. In the Flora London Marathon, Hayley clocked an outstanding 2:35:23, which led to her selection for the Great Britain World Champion team. In Helsinki, on 14th August, Hayley raced to a personal best of 2:34:41. The British team, led by the champion Paula Radcliffe, won bronze medals. On 2nd October Hayley competed in the World Half Marathon Championship in Edmonton, Canada, and finished 24th in 73:39.

Top of the Scottish rankings was Kathy Butler (Windsor), with an excellent 2.30.01 in Autumn when 7th at the Chicago Marathon. However, after such a superb season, Hayley Haining (Kilbarchan) would have been a worthy winner of the Robertson Trophy.

2006 Kathy Butler: ran even faster, with 2.28.39 when 9th at the Chicago Marathon. Born in Edinburgh, she was British 10,000m Champion in 2004 and 2005. Kathy represented GB in the 2004 Athens Olympics and finished 12th in the 10,000m. In 2003 she ran in Liverpool, leading a winning Scottish team in a cross-country match against England. Kathy also competed for Scotland in the 2006 Commonwealth Games 10,000m, finishing seventh. She deserved to win the Robertson Trophy.

Hayley Haining: In the Melbourne Commonwealth Games Marathon, another good run saw her finish ninth in 2:39:39, one place and 20 seconds ahead of Scottish rival Susan Partridge.  Hayley’s second marathon of the year was the Adidas Dublin Marathon where 2:31:51 was another personal best.

2007 Hayley Haining: She produced yet another fastest time when finishing sixth at the Berlin Marathon on 30th September with a time of 2:30:43. This topped the Scottish rankings and she should have regained the Robertson Trophy.

2008 Hayley Haining: After two fast half marathons, Hayley competed in the Flora London Marathon on 13th April: it turned out to be another personal best, a silver medal in the British Championships and an Olympic Qualifying time of 2:29:18, having gone through the half marathon in 73:56. It was the official qualifying race and she was second Briton behind Liz Yelling and had the time. BUT – and it was a very big but – Mara Yamauchi had already been selected and World Champion Paula Radcliffe had not run because she was injured and the selectors had to keep her in mind. Paula decided to run in the Beijing Olympic Marathon, although her performance was not good by her own high standards. Hayley was unlucky not to take part.

In the Scottish rankings, Hayley topped the lists for the 10K with a time of 32:24 run in Cardiff (second was Kathy Butler with 33:43 run in Cape Elisabeth, USA), for the half marathon with 70:53 in the Great North Run (second was Kathy Butler in 74:52 run in San Jose, USA) and the marathon with 2:29:18 (second was domestic rival Susan Partridge with 2:41:40). Hayley’s racing year ended with the New York City Marathon in 12th place, clocking 2:35:11. She should have retained the Robertson Trophy.

2009: Martin Williams (Tipton) topped the Scottish Men’s rankings with 2.18.24.

 Hayley Haining ran 2.36.08 in the Berlin Marathon.

2010 Andrew Lemoncello: The Fife AC Olympic steeplechaser ran a very good 2.13.40 when he was 8th in the London Marathon and became British and Scottish Champion.

Susan Partridge: The Leeds City athlete ran 2.35.57 to become Scottish Champion in London and secure British silver. She was selected for the GB team in the Barcelona European Championships Marathon and contributed to team bronze medals.

Perhaps both of these athletes should have received Robertson Trophy plaques.

A very good ultra-distance runner, Ellie Greenwood (Vancouver Falcons), became 2010 IAU 100 km World Champion in Gibraltar; and led GB to team gold as well. She was born in Dundee, but spent most of her childhood in England. She moved to Canada after graduating from university to work for a ski tour operator. Ellie lives in Vancouver, Canada, but races for Great Britain, although she has never run for Scotland.

2011 Susan Partridge: In the London Marathon, she ran 2:34:13 (a personal best) and secured bronze in the British Championships. Susan was picked for the World Championships in Korea. Although the temperature there was extremely hot, she finished a very good 24th (first GB athlete); and should have received the Robertson Trophy.

Andrew Lemoncello obtained a British silver medal 2:15:24 in the London Marathon, but his time (2.15.24) was slower, since his training had been affected by an Achilles tendon injury.

2011 Craig Stewart: The Forfar Road Runner won the Anglo-Celtic Plate International 100k race in 7.01.36, leading the Scottish Men’s team to victory over the other Home Nations. Craig should have been awarded the Robertson Trophy.

Hayley Haining ran 2:35:10 in the New York City Marathon.  

2012 Freya Murray-Ross: The Edinburgh athlete produced an excellent 2:28:12 in the London Marathon and won British Championship silver. In the London Olympic Marathon, she ran a good well-paced race to be first Briton in 44th place, recording 2.32.14. Freya was victorious in six Scottish cross-country championships; and, in the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games, represented Scotland in 5000m and 10,000m. She thoroughly deserved to win the Robertson Trophy.

Derek Hawkins (Kilbarchan) ran a fine first marathon, clocking 2:14:04 in Frankfurt to top the Scottish Men’s rankings.

2013 Susan Partridge: The Leeds-based athlete (who had been born and educated in Scotland) recorded her fastest time (2:30:46) when she was 9th in the London Marathon and became British Champion. In the Moscow World Championship Marathon, Susan came through very strongly to finish an excellent 10th and third European. She should definitely have regained the Robertson Trophy.

Derek Hawkins: The Kilbarchan man became British Champion by running 2.16.50 in the London Marathon. Although he was selected for the GB World Championship Marathon team, he decided not to go, preferring to continue training for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014.

Hayley Haining secured a bronze medal in the British Championships with 2:36:56.

2014 Derek Hawkins: He had been Scottish Cross-Country Champion in 2011 and 2012. Derek ran very strongly to record 2:14:15 and finish 9th – and first Briton – in the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games Marathon. He should have shared the Robertson Trophy with Susan Partridge, who was sixth in the Commonwealth Games race, with 2.32.18.

Hayley Haining ended her very successful racing career with 13th place in Glasgow. Aged 42, Hayley became Scotland’s oldest Commonwealth Games athlete.

Ellie Greenwood regained the IAU 100km World Championship in Doha. She has broken numerous course records, including those for the Western States 100, the Canadian Death Race, the JFK 50 Mile Run and the Knee Knackering North Shore Trail Run. She was the first British woman to win (in 2014) the 90 km/54 miles Comrades Marathon in South Africa; and has a 100km personal best, set in 2010, of 7:29.05.

2015: Ross Houston: The Central AC athlete won the prestigious Anglo-Celtic Plate 100km (the Home Countries International contest) – and became UK Champion – in an excellent record event time of 6.43.35. Ross had been Scottish Marathon Champion at Inverness in 2011 and 2012. He should have been awarded the Robertson Trophy.

Topping the Scottish marathon rankings were: Susan Partridge, with a very good time of 2:31:31; and the promising Callum Hawkins (Kilbarchan) with 2:12:17 when 12th in Frankfurt.

2016 Callum Hawkins: The very talented young Scot became British (and Scottish) Champion when 8th in the London Marathon, in a personal best of 2:10:52. In the Rio Olympics, despite roasting temperatures, Callum performed marvellously to achieve 9th place in 2.11.52. He and his older brother Derek were both trained by their father Robert. Callum would certainly have won the Robertson Trophy.

In London, Derek Hawkins ran 2:12:57 for bronze in the British Championships. He was chosen to represent GB in Rio but, hampered by injury, was forced to struggle bravely to the finish.

Tsegai Tewelde of Shettleston (formerly Eritrean) was second Briton at the London Marathon in 12th place with a time of 2:12:23. Although this earned him a place in the Great Britain team for the Rio Olympics, he did not manage to finish in the men’s marathon.

Freya Ross became Scottish Marathon Champion in London with a time of 2.37.52.

Ross Houston created a new Scottish 50km Championship record (2.56.37).

2017 Callum Hawkins: performed superbly to finish fourth in the London World Championship Marathon, clocking his fastest-ever time of 2:10:17. In Japan, Callum created a new Scottish National Half Marathon record, winning in 60 minutes exactly. Previously, he had competed for Scotland in the 10,000 metres at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games in the men’s 10,000 metres, finishing 20th. Callum was Scottish Cross-Country Champion in 2014 and 2017. Undoubtedly, he should have won the Robertson Trophy.

2017 Robbie Simpson (Deeside Runners) became Scottish Marathon Champion in London, with a time of 2.15.04, which secured a British Championship silver medal and qualified him for the 2017 World Championships Marathon, as well as the 2018 Commonwealth event. Unfortunately, injury prevented him from taking up his place at the World Championships but he bounced back to be at his best at the Commonwealth Games.

Susan Partridge became Scottish Marathon Champion in the London Marathon, clocking 2.37.51.

2018 Rob Turner: The Edinburgh AC athlete won the Anglo-Celtic Plate 100km and became both Scottish and UK Champion. Scotland’s Men defeated the other Home Countries to win the Team award.

Robbie Simpson: He had run his first marathon in 2016, finishing 18th in the London Marathon with 2.15.38. Previously Robbie had competed in mountain running events, having been a silver medallist at the 2014 European Mountain Running Championships and a bronze medallist at the 2015 World Mountain Running Championships. Robbie competed five times at the European Mountain Running Championships and five times at the World Championships. He won the Jungfrau Marathon in 2016 and 2018. In very hot conditions at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Marathon, Robbie judged his effort brilliantly and came through to secure a bronze medal in 2.19.36.

Perhaps both of these fine Scottish distance runners should have received Donald McNab Robertson Memorial Trophy plaques.


Sophie Mullins (Fife AC) became the very first Scottish woman to win the Anglo-Celtic Plate (along with UK and Scottish titles).

Steph Twell delivered a new Scottish Record for the Women’s marathon with a superb run in Germany. She clocked 2:26.40 to finish eighth in the Frankfurt Marathon – with that time 12 seconds quicker than Liz McColgan’s time from 1997; and well below the 2:29.30 qualifying time for the Olympics being asked by British Athletics. Steph is now fifth on the all-time British list. She also set a new Half Marathon personal best of 68.54, a time only beaten by Liz McColgan on the all-time Scottish list.

Callum Hawkins ran brilliantly, and very hard, to secure 10th place in the London Marathon, creating a new Scottish National Record 2:08:14.  He won British Championship silver behind Mo Farah. (The previous Scottish Record was set by Allister Hutton, 34 years ago!)

Callum’s performance guaranteed a place in the team for the World Championships in Doha and thrust him into contention for one of the three GB 2020 Olympics spots, since he finished well inside the qualifying time.

He said: “It was really tough. It was windy about three quarters of the way around. I had a funny moment when I hit 40km but managed to get myself back together. It’s a good stepping stone for whatever I choose towards the end of the year. Hopefully it will be the World Championships and perhaps I will be pushing for a medal and be in even better condition.”

Callum came so close, with a fantastic fourth place in the World Championship Marathon. He was awarded the trophy for Scottish Athletics Male Athlete of the Year. Subsequently, he was pre-selected for the GB 2020 Olympic Marathon team.


From Ray Aiken

In April 2019 I joined 6 cyclists for a bike tour of Palestine.  Our arrival in Bethlehem coincided nicely with the Palestinian marathon. I knew that both the distance and hilly terrain were beyond my current ability but I thought I might manage the 10k. Another cyclist called Mike had entered for the family 5k fun run but agreed to join me if I’d do the 10k. He wondered given his current injury status if he’d manage the 10k. I wondered if I could. What an experience.

Here’s what I wrote about the 10k:

Don’t think I’ll forget that 10k in a while

I came for a cycle.

On the 22nd March the day after arrival

The Palestinian marathon took over.

Running for me has lessened and taken longer with age

The surface now generally grassy and soft

5 kilometres has been the longest for a long while

Now I was going to attempt 10k on a hilly tarred terrain

Even thought of a full 26 miler

Graham finally and in retrospect mercifully nailed that one on the head

keeping my feet on the ground.

 Mike upgraded from 5k

We were going to start together

On warm sunny weather.

He thought I might finish ahead

With previous injuries he might not finish.

I was asked about pace

Suggested somewhere between 5 and 6 mins per k.

Thinks I, can you even do that now, Ray?

 We were well back in the crowd at the start

Shuffled along as we crossed

Dodging in and out over the line

Picking up speed and then slowing down

As others ran or walked across our path

or right in front


 Well over 6 minutes for the first kilometre

Ideas of a 5 minutes per k out the window.

With the next sub 6 mentally set the target as an hour in total

I kept Mike informed with info from Garmin.

He reminded me it wasn’t all about time.

A timely reminder.

 Up hills and there were many

he went ahead or maybe it was me that dropped back.

Downhill the reverse.

We worked well together.


and giving compliments.

 What a party atmosphere

Music, laughter and song

With slogans on posters

Advised not to run into the wall.

Young and old

Great spectator support

Encouraged by others for just being there.

 After 5 k I became quite convinced we’d do it.

If injury didn’t set in

We were sure to fin…..ish.

 We reached 10k in just over 57

There was still that steep hill

Going up it Mike picked up the pace

I’m not too far behind

Just over one hour for over 10k.

 Elated to have done it

To be part of such an occasion

I’m on a high

I’ve run in some big races

But can barely recall

Finishing with such elation.

 The chap on the loudspeaker

Thanked us all

52 nations represented in freedom of movement

We ran feeling part of a cause

One day to walk, run freely


No borders

I’ve started supporting a Marathon Cause.


I think the marathon winner, Quentin Guillon, has written a great article which captures the pathos and magnificence of the event I was privileged to see and participate in. It’s worth a read:  


                                                            Frank Hurley (M65 gold) leading Tony Martin (M65 silver)


                                                  Heather Anderson (W40 gold) outsprinting Angela Mudge (W45 gold)

                                                                              Sue Ridley (W50 gold medallist)

                                                    Claire Gordon (W40 silver) moving clear of Ruth Fraser Moodie (W40 bronze)

Honorary President:




25 Speirs Road

Bearsden, G61 2LX

Tel: 0141 9420731



Immediate Past President:





30 Earlsburn Road,

Lenzie, G66 5PF

Tel: 0141 5780526

Honorary Secretary:


202 Archerhill Road


Glasgow, G13 3YX

Tel: 07850 070337

Honorary Treasurer:


Euphian, Kilduskland Road

Ardrishaig, Argyll

PA30 8EH

Tel. 01546 605336


Membership Secretary:


30 Earlsburn Road,

Lenzie, G66 5PF

Tel: 0141 5780526




106 Braes Avenue

Clydebank. G81 1DP

Tel.0141 5623416


Committee Members:


Flat 3/1, 57 Clouston Street

Glasgow G20 8QW

Tel. 0141 9466949


6 Kintyre Wynd

Carluke, ML8 5RW

Tel: 01555 771 448


12 Powburn Crescent

Uddingston, G71 7SS

Tel: 01698 810575










17 Woodburn Way, Balloch

Cumbernauld G68 9BJ

Tel: 01236 728783


 Eddie McKenzie

Little Haremoss,

Fortrie, Turriff

Aberdeenshire, AB53 4HR

Tel: 01464 871430



Whitecroft, 5 Gareloch Brae

Shandon, Helensburgh G84 8PJ

Tel. 01436 821707


4 St Mary’s Road, Bishopbriggs

Glasgow G64 2EH

Tel. 0141 5633714

BMAF Delegates

To be appointed

Ada Stewart

SAL West District Delegate

Willie Drysdale

SAL Delegate at AGM

To be appointed


Ada Stewart


George Inglis

FIXTURES 01 2010/11




Covid-19 virus. All events up to at least end May are cancelled or postponed. It might be much longer.

March 2020

Sun 15th – Sat 21st

Postponed until 10 – 17 January 2021  
European Masters Indoor Track & Field Championships
Braga, Portugal

April 2020

Sun 5th Postponed

Tom Scott 10 mile Road Race

Water Sports Centre, Strathclyde Park,

Sun 19th Postponed

British Masters 10k Road Championships,
Grangemouth Stadium



May 2020

Wed 5th Cancelled

Snowball Race 4.8 miles

Coatbridge 7:30pm

Changing at Lochview Golf Driving Centre

Sat 16th Cancelled

British Masters Road Relay Championships
Sutton Park Sutton Coldfield

Sat 30th   TBC

Bathgate Weslo Cairnpapple Race

2:30pm £3 entry

June 2020

Wed 3rd   TBC

Corstorphine 5 Mile Road Race

Turnhouse Rd, Edinburgh, 7:30pm

Sun 21st  TBC

BMAF 5K Champs, Horwich

Wed 24th  TBC

SVHC 5K Champs

Sea Scouts Hall, Miller Street,

Clydebank, 19:30

July 2020

Sat 4th  TBC

SAL Masters 5000m Track Champs Greenfaulds High School, Cumbernauld

Sat 11th TBC

SAL Masters T&F Champs

Scotstoun Stadium  TBC

Sun 19th  TBC

BMAF Half Marathon Champs

Redhill, Surrey

August 2020


We are trying to replace theGlasgow 800 10km road race with a 50th anniversary race up the Rest & be Thankful. Check SVHC website tor further info.

Sat 29th  

SA Masters & SVHC 10000m Track Champs
Ravenscraig Stadium, Greenock

September 2020


Masters Cross Country Trials

Tollcross Park, Glasgow


Web site: www.scottishmastersathletics.webnode.com