Talking About David Lothian …

Alex Jackson

Alex Jackson, runner, oficial, administrator, Life Member of Scottish athletics, British athletics official of the year in 2008 and much more besides says:  

“Dave Lothian was a name that came to my notice in the early 1980s when I became secretary of the East District Cross Country League. He was a prominent member of the strong Falkirk Victoria Harriers team which dominated in East Cross Country at that time.    An East League meeting at Hawick around that time sticks in my mind when the Senior points totals at the meeting were 1st Falkirk VH “A” ,2nd Falkirk VH “B”, this with 6 to count. 
In more recent times its been working with Dave as one of the principal course setters at the National Cross Country at Callender Park. The National has been there since 2006,a significant element of the  success of the National at this venue is down to Dave and his team at Falkirk Victoria for being host club ” 

Stuart Easton takes the baton for Falkirk Victoria in the Edinburgh to Glasgow Relay

A former team mate of David’s and a top flight runner in his own right, Stuart Easton has this to say: 

During the 70s if my fading memory serves me well, David and I found ourselves racing each other on the track over 800m on numerous occasions……for me that was a sprint but for David it was an endurance event without doubt.  On those occasions I knew I had to be on good form to have a chance of getting ahead of him. We got on well as athletes and members of Falkirk Victoria Harriers so it probably wasn’t surprising that in 1979 we decided to set up a Specialist Running Gear Business based in Stirling…..Runsport.  At that time it was really difficult for athletes to find anywhere to buy good quality shoes and all the other stuff and we were the first retailers in Scotland to pursue this line.
To make it work we decided to offer a mobile shop service at events throughout the length and breadth of the country and David spent many Saturdays out and about flogging his wares from the Runsport Caravan and various Games Brolly Tents.  We attended cross-country, athletics and orienteering races all over Scotland.  
During those years David suffered horrible weather and awkward customers with a smile, never seeming to let anything “phase him”.   Well at least that was the case until the day he was towing the Runsport Caravan on the motorway, heading I think for Cumbernauld.   The poor wee caravan was on its last legs and just after he had joined the motorway, one of its wheels decided to part company with the rest of the caravan and the whole thing flipped onto its side, lifting the back of the van which David was driving, several feet into the air.
To summarise David as a colleague, friend and work-mate, I can honestly say that you would be hard-pushed to find someone more easy-going, honest, hard-working and reliable than David.  


Grant Plenderleith

Grant Plenderleith, one of David’s athletes pays him this compliment:

David was the man who pioneered and finalised my change in sporting direction when I returned to athletics from a lengthy period playing professional football. 

David was my fathers P.E teacher back in his teaching days so the family connection was already established. 

Through diligent planning of training sessions and knowing when enough is enough, David has helped me reached heights in my athletics career so far that I wouldn’t have ever thought would be possible…and there is still more to come. He has a wealth of knowledge and experience in the sport with a willingness learn and engage in discussions with other coaches in the international field to expand his own memory bank of the sport. Without his drive and willingness for me to succeed in the sport, I would not be in the fortunate position I am in today with my recognitions and accolades. 

We have established a balanced approach to the way we both tackle training blocks and competition phases to get the best out of every opportunity that is delivered. The mindset that David has installed in me is “always be ready, and the opportunities will follow”. 

David’s character is always admired and valued by all his athletes and fellow coaches at both club and international level. This shows the type of man he really is, a gentleman would be more accurate.” 

Leslie Roy quotes from the citation when David was nominated for Honorary Life Membership of Scottish athletics in 2017:

David has served athletics in Scotland for over 40 years, a measure of his interest and dedication to the sport.

  •  As a promising young middle distance athlete, David was originally a member of Forth Valley Athletics Club. University years as a P E student at Jordanhill saw David join Shettleston Harriers. Upon graduating as a PE teacher David joined Falkirk Victoria Harriers (FVH) and became fully immersed in the club as an athlete; the Men’s team Captain organising very successful teams in track, road and cross country competitions; coach and committee member.
  • As a talented athlete David was also a great team man, being a counter in several of the clubs National Cross Country medal winning teams of the late 70’s and early 1980’s. Cross Country relay medals were also won during this period and on the roads David managed the FVH team through an amazing period of success for a provincial club in the annual Edinburgh to Glasgow road relay which included two wins. Like many athletes David moved up the distances he competed in throughout his time as an athlete, running the inaugural London marathon in 1981 and returning a further nine years in a row.   As team Captain David has competed in every track and field event for the Club in Scottish Athletics League matches, on top of the years of dedication in selecting teams for, and attending, events the length and breadth of the country and abroad; 12 months of every year.
  • Whilst still competing at the high level, David began coaching at FVH almost immediately upon joining. As a predominately middle to long distance running club at this time with few field event coaches, David worked at hard identifying athletes and then coaching them in a number of disciplines such as hurdles, sprints, high and long jumps and throws to strengthen FVH teams in track and field competitions. Many of these athletes were pupils from his schools where David set up training groups to encourage youngsters to become involved in our sport and join an athletics club. Several of these athletes went on to win national and Schools medals and gain representative honours. Now retired, David is still heavily involved in coaching, presently seven days a week concentrating mainly on sprints, middle distances and cross country. 
  • Aside from competing and coaching David has been heavily involved in the organisational side of the club serving as a committee member for over 40 years, 20 of them as club president and maintains a continual involvement today as honorary President. David was instrumental in FVH becoming involved in organisation and administration of the annual Round the Houses 10km years more and. In the late 70’s and 80’s the club hosted a few national and district cross country championships, as well as regular East Cross Country League matches which David helped with. Since 2000 the club has been involved in hosting either an International or National Cross Country event at Calendar Park and David has been involved / assisted at them all. This hasn’t just been the on the day work, but also the hours of behind the scenes work planning, attending meetings, getting helpers and volunteers to turn up, etc. In recent years, David has been involved in the design of the course, with his input required in the minor revisions with were required from year to year. Following the change in race distances for this years championships, David made a large contribution to the redesign and measuring of the course. The incremental changes required many hours of work on the venue in liaison with all contributing partners over many months to result in a course and venue which ensured another successful championship with record breaking participation, not forgetting the challenges on the day caused by the weather.
  • On a wider front beyond FVH, David has for many years served as a Committee member of the Scottish Schools Athletics Association (SSAA) including, again, a period as the President. This service to our sport exceeds 30 years and has included convening, organising and officiating at all of the various SSAA championships, be it cross country, road or track(indoors and out). David has also for many years been a team manager on the international trips attended by literally hundreds of athletes, many of whom had their first experience of international competition and competing for Scotland before going on to even greater achievements, aided by the experienced gained on these trips.

David Lothian

Scottish athletics has had many very good athletes who went on to become coaches and/or administrators.  David Lothian is one of the very best.   He has been  top class runner with very good times at distance from 100 metres to the marathon, he has run in medal winning teams with many of  Scotland’s best ever athletes such as Lachie Stewart, Lawrie Spence, Nat Muir, Jim Dingwall, and Willie Day. as a coach he has worked with athletes of all standards from club runners to senior international standard, as an administrator he has worked on national events on the track and over the country and has  worked as an official at individual events.   He is also a man who is a good club servant – he does what his club needs him to do, and then does a wee bit more.   As a role model for the sport, you would go a long way to find a better.   We asked him to complete the questionnaire to start the profile on his beginnings in the sport and career as an athlete and the replies are below.   


Name:   David Robert Lothian 
Date of Birth:  08-09-1954
Occupation:  Retired Principal Teacher Physical Education 
Clubs:  Forth Valley Athletic Club,  Shettleston Harriers,  Falkirk Victoria Harriers 
Personal best times:   
100m. 11.30 sec,   200m. 23.00 sec, 400m 50.00 s 4 x 400m. Split 48.50
800m:   1min 55sec,    1000m : 2min. 30sec ( ash, )   1500m. 4mins exactly,    3000m   8min 27sec. 
10km.:   30min 30sec ;   half marathon 69 mins.    Marathon:  2hrs. 26min 42 sec. 
Introduction to sport: In my early teens Norrie Foster moved from Glasgow to Falkirk.   He lived a couple of doors away from me and at this time he was a GB Internationalist.   I had been doing a little cross-country at Graeme High School and took an interest in athletics.    Norrie was a definite inspiration.    I joined Forth Valley Athletic Club and gradually became very involved in the sport doing high jump and a variety of other events but eventually specialised in short middle distance under the guidance of Bob Campbell who was my coach up until I enrolled at Jordanhill College.   Main influences in my earlier days were Norrie Foster, then within a club Bob Campbell who had a very good group of Scottish Junior Internationalists over middle distance including David Clarkson and Andrew Gillespie plus others. I moved to Shettleston when I enrolled at Jordanhill College due to my link with Norrie Foster.   I remained there until finishing college.   
Development: My great love in the sport was 800
metres. In which I achieved a Scottish Schools vest when the international age group was 17-19yrs. However all practical work at College doing PE resulted in increased physical development.   I also incurred a long term ( to this day) foot injury that made it difficult and painful to wear spikes thus the increases in distance over the years. 
What did I get out of the sport: A life long love of the sport an experience of all distances being able to run until I was 42 years of age completed the first ten London Marathons ( I was told I was the only Scot to do so) Life long friendships with Jim Dingwall and Willie Day plus many others with whom I spent many hours running and enjoying a beer.   The social aspect was as important as the running.   
Another big plus was experiencing the influence that Davy Wilson had in making Falkirk Victoria Harriers successful during my running days. 
Finally from a very early stage ( after College) the desire to coach which I have been involved in for more than forty years across the whole spectrum of events, being able to pass on my love of the sport. Took ten years partly ( did club coaching in a variety of events where the club had gaps) out of the sport to coach National League and International basketball but had to get back to my love of all athletics 
Best ever performance: Tried hard but couldn’t make such a decision think the early injury stopped me achieving the level I would have liked to achieve at 800 metres.  I suppose possibly first London Marathon 2.26 not too bad for a big guy. 
Personal goals are well in the past my peak without a doubt in athletics has been the success I have enjoyed with Grant Plenderleith and the other champions and internationals I have coached. 
Just read these answers again and note some of the comments that could have been elaborated.   The one that jumps out at me was the one about having run in the first ten London Marathons.   London Marathon entries are hard to get unless you are running really well –  to get ten in a row is a testament to his ability, his consistency and the fact that there was no ‘off-year’.   While looking at the marathon, the first one on 29th March, 1981, remained his personal best but in the annual ranking lists for that year, he was 18 seconds behind Evan Cameron, 11 seconds up on Doug Gunstone and 24 up on Graham Milne.   He also appeared in the event listings for the distance in several years, with the first being in 1978 when his time of 2:35:45 saw him Scot for the distance.   It should be remembered that this was a fabulous time for road running in Scotland with 52 men in 2:30 or faster in 1981 and 62 in 1982.   
We can also look at his running in the Edinburgh to Glasgow for Shettleston where he won two medals in his first two relays.   It was never easy to get into the Shettleston eight, nor were there any ‘easy’ stages to run, but he did make the team and running on stages seven (through the busy roads into Glasgow’s east end) and three (undulating countryside) he held his place well.   In the first race the team started with Lachie Stewart on the first stage and Nat Muir on the second, and David took over from Lawrie Spence and handed over to Stuart Easton.   After finishing at Jordanhill, he moved clubs to Falkirk Victoria Harriers and represented their team five times on stages 1, 3, 4, 7 and 8, in company with such as Jim Dingwall and Willie Day.   
On the track, he mentioned his 1:55.   In 1974 he was timed at 1:55.3 on 8th June at Meadowbank behind Shettleston team mate Stuart Easton (1:55.1) in a Scottish League Meeting.   It was good enough to put him 19th in the Scottish rankings for the year.  It also ranked him above Craig Douglas, Willie Sheridan and Jim Dingwall.   He ran 1:55.7 a year later to be again ranked 19th in Scotland.   He was also ranked in the steeplechase in 1979 with the good time of 9:54.2
David also raced, like all good middle distance men, over the country.   He ran in League, District and National championships for his clubs, winning a bronze medal at national when he finished sixty fifth and last scoring runner for Shettleston in 1977/78.   After graduation he moved back home and joined Falkirk Victoria Harriers and turned out for them in  District and National Championships  in every season from 1919/80 to 1985/86.   David was a very good runner and he ran all over the country in all the classic races – from the McAndrew Relays on the first Saturday in October right through to the National Championships at the start of March – and was a consistent and valued team member.
There is however more to David than this: many would have been content with that competitive record to call it quits and walk away and retired to gentle hill walking.  Others would have put something back into the sport by doing some coaching, others would have done a bit of officiating or administration or even team managing.   David was not content with any one of the above – he has been a club committee member, a team manager, and official, an administrator, a coach and he also filled all of these positions at national level as well as being a key member of the Scottish Schools Athletic Association.  He has now been a Committee Member for 40 years + and has spent 20 of his first 40 years as club president.  David was asked how he got involved in these various aspects of the sport and he is quoted in detail below.
Like many David started his administration career at club level.   Wherever you find Falkirk Victoria Harriers you will find Davie.  I have met him at Scottish Athletics Annual General Meetings, League General Meetings, District and National Championships, cross-country races, road races and track meetings.   He is always a positive voice too – we have all attended meetings where there is always somebody who complains about the treasurer’s report, the Chairman’s opening remarks, the timing of the meeting and that is all they do at meetings, they complain.   There are others who go and never say a word – as one former President of the SAAA said, “They’re like apologies for someone who couldn’t come.”. Davie represented the club on track and field as well as cross-country committees  Davie was never like that and we can comment more on that when we look at his time as track team manager.  When asked about that and his position in the club he replied: 
“I’m not really a paper person thus the main position I held within Falkirk Victoria Harriers, committee wise was as Club President which I think I held for around fifteen years probably the only person that would give you a more accurate answer is another very good friend Andy Ronald, and in a sneaky moment when for personal reasons I was unable to attend the annual general meeting I was “elevated “ to Honorary Life President. In other words not allowed to escape!”
He is reluctant to speak about attending these saying only that he did his bit at something that was not his scene but often it was necessary for the club’s benefit It should be noted that some of the meetings he attended lasted until almost midnight and he wasn’t the only one there, but he was prepared to sit them out until a decision was reached.   
The Scottish Men’s Track League has fluctuated in standard over the decades that it has been in existence.   It was perhaps at its very strongest in the 1980’s and 90’s with George Duncan as Secretary.   George was a really hard worker and his tenure was accompanied by many very good and very active club team managers: Claude Jones at Edinburgh AC, Bill Scally at Shettleston, Colin Baillie at Inverness and several more.   At one point there were five divisions with eight teams in four of them and six in the other.   The first Division had all internationally recognised events on the programme and from 1987 there was a 10,000 metres at every second fixture.   The Falkirk team started in the League, as far as memory serves, in 1986 after a qualifying match for entry to the second Division of two.   The club really started to motor however when Davie became team manager.  He recalls these days as follows: 
“This particular position I held at a period of time when Falkirk were a force in middle and distance running, however several people in the club had a desire to see the club establish a place in the greater picture of athletics as a whole, as many athletes including myself we’re doing events we really shouldn’t have been doing for example I can honestly say that I at one time or another did every event in the Mens League, and great friends of mine Jim Dingwall and Willie Day as a partnership were witnessed throwing a hammer the day after completing a marathon!!. This had to change and did for a long period of time when a group of young guys all Scottish junior international athletes who were abandoned to South of the border came under my eye when one of them made contact as a result of being born in the Falkirk area to join the club. His name was Chris Edgar and he was ranked 7th Junior in Europe in the hammer. What a plus this was for the club and Scottish Athletics because Chris was friendly with this other collection of young Scott’s two of whom went on to complete in two Commonwealth Games for Scotland, Ian Park, hammer, Jamie Quarry, Decathlon and although they didn’t quite receive the same recognition two outstanding athletes who also did multi events Alex Greig and William Wyllie, these guys could not do enough for the club despite there many commitments down South. This combined with some home based athletes such as the aforementioned Roddy Slater and David Clelland made my team captaincy a delightful time. And this was exciting for all as Falkirk were up at the top end of a strong Scottish Men’s League that had greater stature than today in my opinion as it drew in many Scottish International athletes.”
The team certainly prospered but it was not universally accepted without argument.   This is where the comments above about Davie’s positivity at committee meetings comes into its own.  There was always debate, at times quite acrimonious, about the use of second-claim athletes.   Some years clubs were allowed to use only two second claim athletes, in other years four were allowed.   But Davie’s teams at times had three Anglos competing for them – good guys all, the officials all liked them (maybe Jamie Quarry in particular) and they got on well with other athletes.   The situation was further complicated by the fact that whereas most clubs that had a second claim sprinter, or hurdler, the Falkirk Anglos were multi event guys.  Quarry, Wylie and others could do four, five or even six events each – and often they were hard-to-fill events such as hammer, pole vault or high hurdles.   Then Davie and Douglas Gillespie came up with the expression that none of the others had heard at any time in their life.   The expression was ‘first claim in Scotland’.   They contended that since Dave Edgar did not have a Scottish club, then Falkirk Victoria Harriers was their Scottish club.   This was debated at great length and when it looked as though the other side was going to win, Davie and Douglas pointed out that clubs like Birchfield, Sale and the rest were not affiliated to the SAAA!   Therefore the athletes were only affiliated in Scotland through the Falkirk club.   They had won their point.   The combination of Davie and Douglas had worked well for the benefit of the club and the vote in their favour had the majority.  The team managed by Davie Lothian was one of the best in the land.
Development towards Schools involvement:
The Scottish Schools Athletic Association has been a well supported, well organised and highly respected organisation for as long as I’ve been involved in the sport.   There have been some very good people in the various offices: Linda trotter was a superb hard working secretary for a long time; Jim Burns and John McGhee were legendary figures at all the big meetings.   And they were big meetings: the numbers in the schools cross-country championships were always bigger than any other event or championship for these age groups, schools support the track and field championships every June to the extent that it has to be a two day event.   The SSAA Indoor championships have many entries from lots of schools taking place in a small indoor arena with races, throws and jumps going on all at the same time.  Organisation of a high level is vital.   And these are only some of the high school events – no mention has been made of primary schools championships or secondary schools relays.   Each one is a very demanding event for the people involved.   David is right in the middle of all of them: if you want to speak to him, don’t think you will see him at the championships.  He’s far too busy.   How did he get roped in for this one?   He says:
“While at Jordanhill College on the athletics front I took up the mantle of team manager in which I involved us as a team in the British Colleges Championships, which were mainly the competitive arena for the ten or so specialist PE colleges in Britain.  We had a fairly successful time just behind a couple of the big guns.   Also arranged local competition with Glasgow University where at the time one of the main persons was Frank Dick,who thought I would go on to make my career in athletics rather than teaching.   I have no regrets going with the teaching.
On finishing at college I decided to attend the annual general meeting of the SSAA –  I can remember sitting there feeling a little intimidated as at that time back in 1976/77 everything was very formal and stuffy.  You were not made immediately welcome as we make young attendees feel these days.
In my home area I was heavily involved with putting on the annual athletics events so I suppose one of my first roles was attending meetings as the rep for Stirlingshire at the time.  But as time moved along I became a regular team manager for the SIAB cross country and on occasions the track and field, so you could probably say I have been involved for 40+ years.   As well as team manager’s duties I have also had lengthy periods of time as convener for road relays both Primary and Secondary, the latter now being run as road race championships.   I started both of these events at their inception back in the early 1980’s,  I think under the guidance of a recently departed gentleman John McGhee.
One of my biggest tasks in recent years has been to be course designer and clerk of course for Secondary and Primary Cross-Country Championships plus coming up for my fourth SIAB International cross-country event to be at Calendar Park in Falkirk.   Officiating wise I do the Schools events in a variety of roles: sometimes announcer, others marksman and a variety of other tasks.
A high point in my time involved with the Schools was my two year stint as Association President, not everyone’s cup of tea but I was fair proud to hold the position.
So I am now an Honorary life Vice President.
David on the left with Olivia Vareille, Mitchell Graham and Grant Plenderleith
A role that David obviously relishes is that of coach in the club and he describes his involvement in this aspect of athletics, and how it came about, as follows.
I left college in 1976 and decided very early on that I would get involved with Falkirk Victoria Harriers:  the initial intention was to focus on my own running despite the aforementioned problems with my heel, In October of that year I began my first teaching post at Camelon High School in Falkirk this position lasted for sixteen years firstly as a teacher then principal teacher.   As I settled into the job I started to find pupils who displayed some talent for the sport and eventually Willie Day and myself decided to set up training sessions in the school a couple of evenings per week.  This continued for many years. From the school training sessions certain pupils decided that they would like to take the sport further, thus they became involved with coaching that Willie and myself were doing for the club.   Initially it was a variety of events and over the years can probably say there was very little that I hadn’t tackled, even had a go with Pole Vault!  As you can see however my early coaching was very much grass roots and during that time at Camelon did have a pupil, Bobby Baird who was an under 20 International at shot,discus and high jump. Outside the school I coached David Clelland and partially coached Roddy Slater both very good under 20 International sprinters, however as with many others the younger age groups were as far as they went due to a variety of circumstances.    So around the club I had become very involved in coaching with what I would describe myself as falling into the ‘ jack of all trades’ situation.  Very much a case if the club had a lack of coaching in any discipline I would attempt to cater for that, and also did sessions to pass on basic knowledge to other coaches
For the greatest part of my coaching career I had attended coaching delivery sessions from time to time, but really just used my Physical Education teaching qualification and knowledge that I had picked up over the years from athletes and coaches working at a high level in a variety of events, . I had no formal coaching qualifications until forced to comply when the goalposts were changed and a teaching qualification ceased to be adequate in U.K. Athletics.
So having had to move on I now have up to the Events Coach qualification, endurance.  I suppose due to lack of qualifications I wasn’t invited to coach at Schools or National coaching sessions, until this year I did the SSAA coaching day 300/400m coaching group ( at 64 years of age) enjoyed it tremendously.
Reflecting back again it was during my ten years of serious basketball coaching that I still did the bulk of my fill-in for the clubs needs coaching rather than have a long term commitment to a group.  This period of time was during my second teaching post at Denny High School.    I spent 18 years there up until I retired   At Denny I had a number of athletes who made it into Scottish Schools teams along with others I coached from other local schools
Grant Plenderleith
To bring you into my more recent years, that is from my retirement at 55 to the present day: this period of time has had the advantage of not being shared by so many other sports and interests and has allowed me to work with some very good athletes both on long sprints and short middle distance.  I suppose without doing any injustice to others a high point has been working for approximately six years with Grant Plenderleith who has had a Commonwealth Games (Glasgow) and a World Championships Indoor final (4 x 400m. ) as well as a variety of titles and medals at Scottish and British level to his name and is a pleasure to work with. The others are many:
*Gary Smith 800 metres senior age group
*Olivia Varille 400/800 metres U17 , Commonwealth Youth Games (Bahamas),
*Mitchell Graham Deaf Lympics (Turkey)I had the pleasure of going to watch them both back to back it was some trip.
I currently have working with me a number of 18 year olds who have competed for SSAA. Lewis Pentecost, Ben Grant, Fergus Rule, and a few more seasoned athletes who do a significant part of their training with me in Jade and Taylor Nimmo.   But just as important to me are many others who work hard and might just have their time to come
Then not to forget the Masters we have the ever present Andy Ronald and Craig Johnstone.    So I enjoy it all.”
A look at how the athletes mentioned above have progressed:, Grant’s athletics cv includes Commonwealth Games in 2014 in the 4 x 400m team which finished 5th in the final; At GB level he was 3rd in the indoor 200m in 2017:in the Scottish championships, he was 1st in the indoor 200m  in 2016, 1st  400m in 2015, 2nd 400m in 2017; 1st i200 in 2014, 1st i200 in 2015 and 3rd i60 in 2017.   Gary won the Scottish indoor 800m in 2008 and was third in the same event the following year,   With times of 49.49 for 400m, and 1:50 for 800 he is clearly an athlete with talent.   Olivia has pb’s of 26.2 (200m), 40.62 (300m), 56.45 for 400m, 2:09.5  (800m) and 4:45.47 for 1500m and ran for Team Scotland in the Bahamas in 2017.   That is a very wide range and at 19 she clearly has a future in the sport.   For more about Olivia, have a look at
Mitchell Graham
The first person that I ever heard use the phrase “You do what your club needs .you to do” was Eddie Taylor of Shettleston.   Davie is the living embodiment of that dictum.   He actually uses almost the exact phrase when talking about his coaching where he started as a ‘jack-of-all-trades’ and has progressed to his present level of specialism.   
“Out of all the involvement I have had, there has been a lot of pleasure, stress at times but I’m still there doing it so I must be enjoying it!
I’m not a qualified official having fought off the pressure constantly from the start team to get involved, there ain’t no spaces left in my athletics life I have to have some personal time for some beer”
and then he remembers yet another aspect of his athletcs and says: “I did have one other interesting addition to my athletics career so far.   I was a founding partner of Runsport alongside major partner Stuart Easton.   This happened in my mid twenties and had me at that time working seven days a week and still doing all the rest.So although most have been already mentioned my current status is
*Life President of Falkirk Victoria Harriers
*Honorary Life Vice President of SSAA
*2017. Honorary Life Member of Scottish Athletics.
*All of which I am very proud to be”
If you want a job done, ask a busy man: Davie is the living proof of that.   For what others think about David,  have a look  at this link
Olivia Vareille

Joe Walker

…Joe Walker, third right in the blazer with Scottish team in Iceland, 1964.

Joe started …  There’s a good article by Alastair here …

The Birth of the Scottish Marathon Club


by his son Jim Walker

Joe Walker had a very wide ranging and amazing commitment to the development, support, coordination and encouragement of others in athletics. This can be seen in a summary of his roles in that sport over his lifetime.   He had an association throughout his life with athletics and distance running in Scotland. He ran as a schoolboy at St Mungo’s Academy, Glasgow and raced until his 40’s with St Modan’s AAC, Stirling.

After graduating with a First Class Honours in Chemistry from Glasgow University he trained as a teacher at Jordanhill. He briefly taught Science at St Mungo’s Academy before moving to St Modan’s High School in Stirling when it opened in 1933. He also taught and coordinated evening classes at Stirling High School.

In 1949 he transferred to a role in Technical Education Coordination in the West of Scotland and progressed to become Chief Officer of SCOTEC, the Scottish Technical Education Council.    He was awarded an OBE in 1969 for his work in Technical Education.

St Modan’s Athletic Club
1933 – Founder and President of St Modan’s Amateur Athletic Club, Stirling
Scottish Schools Association
1933-49 Member of the Executive of the Scottish Schools Amateur Athletic Association and in 1949 he became an Honorary Vice President
1937-39 Member of the Executive of the Stirlingshire County Schools’ Sports Association
1936-48 Founder and Hon. Secretary of the Stirlingshire and Clackmannanshire Branch of Scottish Schools Amateur Athletic Association
Scottish Marathon Club
1944 Co-founder of the Scottish Marathon Club
1946-49 Honorary Treasurer
1949-61 Vice President
1962-69 President of the SMC
1969-81 Committee member
1972- Honorary Vice President
Scottish Amateur Athletic Association
1948-82 Grade 1 Judge of Track, Jumps, Throws and Marksman
1950-53 Member of the Executive
1952-53 Minute Secretary
1964 Vice President
1965 President of the SAAA
1976-82 Honorary Life Member

All these commitments ran alongside helping his wife Cath bring up a family of six children. One of their agreements was that when the children were young that he put them to bed at six before going out to meetings or to train, much to the unpopularity of the older children. All of the family helped out at some time in the tasks and errands associated with athletics and running. However his enthusiasm and commitment to athletics must have rubbed off on two of his sons.
His eldest, Joseph Q Walker, co-founded the Strathclyde University Athletic Club and was their President in 1965. His youngest son James ran for Bellahouston Harriers and Edinburgh University.

Joe Walker’s enthusiasm for athletics took him to two Olympic Games. At the 1936 Berlin Olympics he told the story of Hitler leaving the arena when Jesse Owens won the 100 metres. He also attended and helped at the Marathon at the 1948 Olympics in London, a much reduced but welcome event in the aftermath and recovery from the Second World War.   Joe, amongst his many other roles, had a long association with Bridge Of Allan Highland Games. He encouraged them to convert from a professional gathering to becoming an amateur event, which they did in 1957. This broadened the games and aimed to encourage amateur athletes in Scotland. He served as Director of the Games for many years and in 1977 was the Games Chieftain.

Following Joe Walker’s death his wife Cath donated a cup in his memory to the Scottish Marathon Club to be presented annually for an outstanding contribution to marathon running.

A few of the available photos and achievements of Joe Walker running are shown next along with his influence on Joe McGhee, Commonwealth Games Marathon Champion in 1954, concluding with some recollections of his athletics involvement.

Joe third from the left can be seen setting off below on the 14 mile road race at the Glasgow Police Sports at Hampden.

Joe Walker achieved a standard medal in the Perth to Dundee Scottish Marathon Championship in 1948 when he was 40.

Joe McGhee, who won the 1954 Commonwealth Games Marathon in Vancouver taught and ran with Joe Walker at St Modan’s. In a radio interview after his Vancouver win Joe McGhee recognised the support, influence and encouragement Joe Walker had given him in his athletics career. There was a lot of controversy and media comment at the time on Jim Peters’ collapse from dehydration and that he did not finish. Joe Walker spoke out saying that Joe McGhee had won the race by modifying his pace to take account of the heat of that day. Interestingly when Jim Peters and Joe McGhee met at the London Marathon in 1996 the Evening Standard interviewed them together and quoted Jim Peters saying “Joe is the man who deserves every credit for having won on that terrible day. He was and remains the winner”

Joe McGhee himself taught and encouraged Mike Ryan who went to St Modans. After Mike emigrated to New Zealand in 1963 he won bronze at the 1966 Commonwealth Games Marathon in Jamaica behind Scottish gold medallist Jim Alder. Mike also won bronze at the 1968 Mexico Olympics Marathon and said as he was running he thought of the influence of Joe McGhee had on him.

Joe Walker’s son James accompanied his father as a teenager to many road racing, track and championship events as well as on the Highland Games circuit.

Some of James’s notable memories include attending the 1965 AAA’s Championships at White City during Joe’s SAAA presidential year. He recalls watching Ron Clarke the gentlemanly Australian, so outstandingly breaking the three mile world record that night. He was intrigued that Fergus Murray, Edinburgh University, finished sixth running in bare feet in that race!   Afterwards at the team hotel his father introduced him to Harold Abrahams the 1924 Paris Olympics 100 metre winner. Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell were central to the later Chariots of Fire film which Joe had greatly enjoyed.
In one of the Edinburgh to Glasgow ultra-long distance races Joe was the referee. There was some concern long after all the other runners had finished that one runner was unaccounted for. As the referee, Joe was told that there had been a cyclist accompanying the runner who had taken him in for tea at his house during the race. Joe then retraced the route to try to find the runner. He came across him in Springburn and he told him that all the timekeepers and officials had gone home and he was disqualified. This was despite the very vocal support to the runner from the crowd of men emerging from a local pub!
At the 1970 Commonwealth Games James remembers the euphoria when Lachie Stewart ‘set the games alight’ in overtaking Ron Clarke, Australia, in the home straight to win the 10,000 metres. Joe organised the Marathon at the Commonwealth Games which was a very successful event with Ron Hill, England winning from Scotland’s Jim Alder.

Joe’s role on the 1970 Commonwealth Games Athletics Technical sub-committee and as organiser of the Marathon was recognised in the Official History Book copy he was given. It was signed by Willie Carmichael Director of Organisation, Rab Forman Athletics Organiser and Ernie Walker, 1970 SAAA President.

In 1966 Joe was the Technical Official for the Scottish Athletics Team competing against Iceland. The memorable story he told of that trip was of the night Dougie Edmunds a heavyweight Scottish thrower was refused entry to an Icelandic restaurant because he was improperly dressed, he was wearing a kilt!

Joe Walker is on the right wearing a blazer

Appendix 1

(Extracts from the Scottish Marathon Club Minutes and records by Colin Youngson who received the JF Walker award from the Scottish Marathon Club in 1990)

A review of the SMC minutes available show that for many years, Joe was present at every SMC AGM and committee meeting, unless SAAA meetings clashed.

He was a delegate on the SAAA sub-committee to decide who won the annual Donald Robertson memorial trophy, for the most-deserving Scottish marathon (or ultra) runner of the year.

By 1961, Joe was organising the SAAA Track 10 Miles Championship and the SAAA Marathon Championship.

In 1966, Dunky Wright became Commandant of the Scottish team for the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Jamaica. Despite Jim Alder winning the Commonwealth marathon, rather oddly the Robertson Trophy was presented (five votes to four) to Gordon Eadie, for winning the Manchester to Blackpool ultra.

By 1967, arguments rumbled on for several years about whether or not to accept Alastair Wood’s 2.13.45 European record marathon time in Forres 1966. (This was accepted in 1967 by the AAA and Athletics Weekly; and in recent years agreed by the prestigious American Road Running Statisticians to be the 1966 fastest time in the world; but was never ratified by SMC or SAAA.)

In 1968, along with his son James, Jimmy Scott and David Bowman, Joe walked the planned course for the SAAA Marathon held at Grangemouth in both 1967 and 1968. They rolled out a measuring wheel of one yard circumference; and found the turning point and the whole course to be accurate.

In 1971, the minutes make clear that Joe had been convener for the SAAA marathon championships for many years – he continued to fulfil this important responsibility until 1972. By then, his club had changed to Stirling AAC.

By 1977, Dunky Wright (1976) and Jimmy Scott (1977) had died, and Joe delivered an eloquent tribute to his old SMC friends. John Softley became Secretary/Treasurer.

At a committee meeting in November 1979, reference was made to the first Glasgow International Marathon (held on 14th October). This had been “very successful, due to the hard work of Mr J F Walker, in organising officials and the course”.
The last minutes in this journal were for a committee meeting on 23rd February 1981. Joe Walker reported that the 1981 SAAA Marathon would no longer be on the usual out and back course from Meadowbank Stadium. The police and local retailers had objected.

Appendix 2
Joe Walker can be seen in the photo of the inaugural muster run of the Scottish Marathon Club in 1944, in their 1984 magazine which celebrated their 40th Anniversary. It records Joe’s account of the club’s inception and challenges that runners faced in those early days.

“This year sees the fortieth anniversary of the founding of the Scottish Marathon Club so it is perhaps an opportune time to recount the story of the birth of the club. The SMC has grown numerically from a handful of enthusiasts in 1944 to around 500 members at the present time and I am sure that many newcomers will be interested to hear of the environment in which the club was conceived and the problems of being a distance runner during the War. This article has been based on one written by John Softley in 1978 and on more recent material supplied by founder member Alex McDonald.

But first let’s hear how the late Joe Walker remembered the early days as he wrote in 1978 – ‘the first meeting of the Scottish Marathon Club was held on 14th February 1944 in the Central Halls, Bath Street, Glasgow. My recollection of the important occasion was that I travelled by train from Stirling to Glasgow and because of the war, the black-out restrictions and the dim light in the railway carriage it was impossible to read. Travelling in the evening from places outside Glasgow was difficult and this affected the attendance. There was no difficulty in deciding to form a club but there was considerable discussion of the conditions of membership. It was finally agreed that all applications for membership must be first claim members of other clubs and must have experience of running in road races over 10 miles. The objective of the club was very quickly decided – to foster marathon running throughout Scotland – thus the name of the club followed logically – the Scottish Marathon Club as against the Scottish Road Runners Club. As a consequence of the club’s objective it followed that the club would bring pressure to bear on the SAAA to organise a Scottish Championship Marathon Race. This was done when the first of the annual championship races was held in 1946 from Falkirk to Old Meadowbank, Edinburgh. The race was won by Donald MacNab Robertson (Maryhill Harriers) with a time of 2: 46:02. At the first meeting of the Marathon Club Duncan McLeod Wright, Maryhill Harriers was appointed Chairman and Roddy Devon, Motherwell YMCA, Secretary and all others present were members of the Committee. Unfortunately the Minutes of the very early meetings of the club no longer exist nevertheless they would not tell of the background to the club’s formation, something which I hope will interest younger members. Duncan McLeod Wright, one of Britain’s outstanding marathon runners, competitor at the 1924, 1928 and 1932 Olympic Games (finishing fourth at the latter Games), winner of the first Empire Games Marathon in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, in 1930, won one of the qualifying marathon races to be used for selection for the 1936 Olympic Games and was advised that it would not be necessary to compete in any of the other selection races to gain his place in the British team. Because of his age he decided to retire from competitive athletics.

When the Second World War began in 1939 he was appointed Sports Officer to a Home Guard Battalion and as a consequence became interested in keeping himself fit. One of the ways of doing this was to gather together persons who were interested in cross country running in the winter and road running in the summer. The enthusiasts for road running came from all over the West of Scotland and muster runs were held in Glasgow, Stirling, Greenock, West Kilbride, etc. From his business contacts he knew many persons responsible for campaigns to collect savings for the war effort in different parts of the country and he was able to coax the organisers of these campaigns to have a road race incorporated into their publicity arrangements. eg Stirling, Hamilton, Bridge of Allan or encourage sports promoters to incorporate a road race in their Sports Programme (eg Shotts, Lennoxtown, Kilbarchan, Milngavie and Port Glasgow) or help to have road races such as Perth to Dundee revived.

The heavy programme of muster runs and races each year soon wore out the soles of our sandshoes (gym shoes) which were the athlete’s normal footwear. The replacement of these shoes required the purchase of new ones but the biggest problem was that one was required to surrendered in addition clothing coupons. Each person’s annual supply of clothing coupons was very limited and it was difficult to spread them over the normal clothing requirements without having to allocate some for additional needs. As the War wore on it became more and more difficult for each athlete to allocate coupons for sandshoes and thus road running would soon have ceased for the duration of the War. However Duncan managed to obtain for us replacements for our worn out sandshoes – the standard issue having brown canvas uppers with a very thin rubber or composite sole and heel. To protect the heel Jimmy McNamara who was the oldest member of the group and a full time member of the A.R.P. obtained a supply of the pads used to reinforce the worn by Fire Brigade personnel. The pads had to be amply smeared with Vaseline otherwise the friction between the heel and the pad generated so much heat that the heel became badly blistered and if the blister burst the material of the pad adhered to the skin with very painful results.
From the foregoing it can be readily appreciated that the friendship which existed amongst the group of road running enthusiasts during the War years had naturally a desire to form a club which would enable road runners of the future to have the same kind of friendship. As you will have gathered the late Dunky Wright was a man much admired by all and Alex McDonald takes up the story in the same vein….”there is no doubt that the resuscitation of athletics in Scotland in the middle war years was due to the dynamic enthusiasm and drive of the one and only Dunky Wright. In 1943 he chaired a meeting to be called in Glasgow for representatives from all clubs which were still operative in the Midland and South Western Districts and, as a result, the ‘temporary’ Scottish Cross Country Association was ‘constitutionally’ formed. ‘Temporary’ because it had pledged itself to disband as soon as the SAAA and NCCU resumed command and ‘constitutionally’ because its chief constitutional aim was to present Scottish Athletics in a healthy a state as possible to the post war era. Perhaps the most positive indication of its success lies in the fact that in 1946 Scotland was in a position to host the first post war international cross country championships at Ayr Racecourse.

Let me make it clear that the SCCA did not of itself give birth to the Scottish Marathon Club but it was the members of that Association – again with Duncan Wright in the driving seat – who created the SMC on February 14th, 1944. The first muster run was held from Pollokshaws Baths on 7th April 1944 and the second from Auchmountain Harriers’ (my club) pavilion in Greenock on 28th April 1944.

When I joined Auchmountain Harriers aged 17 in the 1929/1930 cross country season the ‘old timers’ of the club declared that if a runner trained oftener than three times a week he was in grave danger of going ‘stale’. This theory had of course been exploded in the outer world and Dunky Wright was I think the first Scottish disciple of Paavo Nurmi who pioneered fast even paced running and more – much more – concentrated training but only the great ambitious enthusiasts imbibed in that practice at that time.

During the War most of us were fortunate if we could indulge in three training sessions a week and many were too tired by overtime working to attempt it. After the War of course the Zatopek standards of dedicated perpetual slogging, the individual study of body building for the job in hand and of artificial film loops with sensible diets, etc, etc became musts for the ambitious athlete whose twice a day, six days a week training became commonplace.

One wonders what one missed? In ’33 aged 20 I ran 10 miles at Hampden under 55 minutes, took half a minute off that in ’38 and was only 20 seconds slower in ’46. What might I have done with today’s training and knowledge?

But I thoroughly enjoyed it all the way and met a host of great guys like Duncan Wright, Jim Morton, Joe Walker, Roddy Devon, Jimmy Scott, George Pickering, Jimmy McNamara, Andy Blair to name but a few. Friendships such as these are far richer prizes than things that glitter. It would have been nice to have climbed some higher mountains but the Scottish Marathon Club was – and I know still is – as great a friendship club as it is an athletic club and long may it continue that way!”


Joe telling Jim Dingwall that he had finished the 1977 SAAA marathon


Jim’s Story: Stroke

Jim suffered his stroke last year just as the season was coming to a peak.   He had contributed so much over the years and was a kind of talisman for the team.   His nature was always one of getting on with the work and enjoying doing it.   True to form he was back attending the next race – asked the hospital for a Saturday pass so tat he could do it.   Some guy!   Here is his own story of the year and the stroke incident.

“Training the cross country team was interesting as we had a bunch of kids that wanted to train hard and listened what the coaches were telling them. A few weeks before the State championships the varsity girls approached d Carol and I, asking “why Summit never performed well at Nationals.“   We told them that most of the kids take off on Thanksgiving vacation to Hawaii, Mexico or skiing, and when they return to school they are out of shape.

We told them that if you want to perform well at Nationals providing you qualify you need to ask your parents to postpone your vacation and stay in Bend and train. We gave them a few days to come back with an answer. All the girls informed us that they would be in Bend during the holidays and wanted to train for Nationals.

I had another health scare where I nearly kicked the bucket. One night I was watching TV when all of a sudden the room started spinning and I couldn’t see.   I thought, “Oh shit here comes the big one.” Carol was playing Bunco with friends at another location. I managed to find my phone, called Carol – that call went to her answering machine. I then tried to call my next door neighbor to no avail as I couldn’t see his number. I knew where 911 was on the phone which I called, told the dispatcher where I lived and thought I was having a stroke. While talking to the lady I started feeling sick and made a bee-line for the kitchen to throw up in the sink. As I could not see I ran into the kitchen table which knocked me on my arse. I managed to get up and make it to the sink. While throwing up I could hear the ambulance’s siren. I was still throwing up when help arrived. They put me in gurney asked me some questions and gave me an IV.   

Next thing I knew I was in hospital and a doctor asked if he had permission to give me clot buster. I said yes. Next thing I knew a friend was with me in the Intensive Care unit and said to me that if someone asks who she is tell her she is your niece. I guess I was in ER Care for 3 days before being transferred to Intensive Care. I had suffered a massive cerebral hemorrhage on the right side of the brain where the clot was lodged.

Carol was at the hospital same time as me as Fred my neighbor when he saw the ambulance at the door called his wife to tell Carol to get home immediately. Seemingly when I tried to call she had turned off her phone because parents were calling her about their kids, and since she was having a night out with her friends she did not want to talk to parents.

One evening while in Intensive Care I had to go to the bathroom. After I had finished doing my business I tried to stand up and down I went hitting my head in the wall. I called for help and my daughter Amy opened the door and went running for a nurse. Between the two of them they managed to get me back to bed. Seemingly I was not to be left alone but when the nurse stepped out for something, down I went. I was rushed to have a scan, and when the results came back the bleeding in my brain had stopped. Being me I said to the Doctor that hitting one’s head on a wall might be part of the recovery process.

The first week I had to attend rehab and could hardly do anything. I couldn’t walk up or down 4 stairs without help. I was on a tether when they had me walking. I was hopeful without help. I made my mind up that I have to get out of this place.

Each day I was getting stronger and the medical staff kept asking what I wanted to do. I replied it is simple, “get me out of here.”

The Wednesday before the District Cross Country Championships which were being held in Bend. I told the medical staff it was imperative that I be allowed to attend the Champions. On Thursday they had me walking outside on the grass with a walker to see how I navigated grass and obstacles. I passed with flying colors. The staff had a meeting and decided to give me a pass to attend the meet as long as I had someone keep their eye on me.

I was picked up from the hospital by a good friend, Aaron Gordon who took me to the races. When I arrived I was enlightened to see Olivia Brooks an athlete whom I trained and now attends the University of Colorado. It was great day as Summit won all four races.

Aaron took me back to the hospital where I had to have a nap. Next day I had a battery of tests which I had failed seven days ago. This time I passed with flying colors scoring 35 out of 36. One of the tests was to stand on one leg then repeat with eyes closed. I never ever thought I would be standing with my eyes closed, on one leg, and I wasn’t even drunk.

After the tests there was a meeting with the doctors and Physical Therapy staff that I could home tomorrow. Thank goodness, I am out of here. Hospitals are great for taking care of you and getting you back on your feet. I like my own bed and surroundings and really dislike getting wakened up every hour. I know it is a necessity but if you don’t get sufficient sleep you are no use to anyone.

Even though I was delirious at times that when asked what the workout was for the runners, I could always come up with a workout they had to do. Most times I don’t remember her asking, but what I said was documented and the kids did the workout.

Carol was there every day helping me get around, cajoling me to behave myself and slow down. Amy my daughter for driving from Portland offering moral support and attending to my needs. Heather my daughter in Houston for calling every day and giving me words of encouragement. I would not let Heather fly up from Houston as I told her I will be up and about as I am going to beat this thing. I told her to visit when I was out of hospital which she did. I must thank all the people that showed up at the hospital to give me hell and good wishes. The Physical Therapy staff that brought me back from a physical wreck to near normal. Some people tell me that this will never happen as I don’t know what normal is.

I was discharged around lunch time on a Monday and showed up at the hills later to watch the team do the workout which I had prescribed earlier. It was an emotional moment for all and reminded them to focus on the task at hand which was to qualify and place at nationals. I wasn’t too worried about winning State as we had Jesuits number.

2018 – National Champions

The night before the State championships Carol invited Peter Thompson to give the runners a motivational speech which was a hit, and even today some of the team talk about the inspiration that received from the talk.

I kept the level of workouts at a high level and only eased up the week of nationals. I didn’t change the training protocol at all. Damian Olsen was in charge of taking care of developing the runner’s body strength through a regime of exercises developing core. Carol took care of the logistics, Dave Sjogren and Brendan Layden helped me monitor the workouts that I had developed. We had a good support team which one needs on the journey to compete well at a National level. We won state over Jesuits by 39 to 68 points. Fiona won the title and probably would have broken the course record if she didn’t have a hiccup the last 300 meters

The following week we headed to Boise for the Regional Championships where the top two team attend the National Championships. I told the girls to run as a team and we will be on the Dais. The girls won fairly easy with a score of 54 to 106 over Jesuit.

 Carol and I asked Stacey Hager one of our assistant coaches if she would be in charge of the team at Nationals which she accepted. Carol had to attend the USATF national convention. I couldn’t handle another championship where you are dictated as to where to go and what time you had to be there. At my age I am not too keen on following a regimented procedure.

I said I would show up the night prior to the race and would be there for the team on race day. I received a ride to Portland. Dave dropped me off at the hotel where I met up with Stacey and discussed the plans for tomorrow.

I rode the bus with the teams, and when we arrived at the race course. I went and walked the course noting where the water and mud was on the course. I returned to the holding area where I spent some time with the team before the start. At the start I told them where all the tough parts were on the course and said, “Run you usual race and with 1 kilometer from the finish, hit it and you will win this thing.” On leaving I looked at their faces and could see they were ready.

When I heard we were the leading team at 1 & 2 miles I said to myself there is no way we can lose this race as our team doesn’t start racing until 1 mile to the finish.

I headed towards the finish and stood at the bottom of the hill which is about 300 yards from the finish. As one of our runners approached the hill I would shout out “150’s.” (We do 150’s every workout.) Watching them take off I knew we had it in the bag.

After the race seeking out the kids I rounded them up and told them job well done. I was approached by an official and told to head to the awards stage with the team. The girls asked me “Well, how do you think we finished?” I replied, “We won the f*****g championship.” The organizers had three teams on the stage and they go through the drama of introducing the third team and then the second team and when that is done everyone knows who won.

We were announced as the winners with 120 points with North Napierville second with 186 points. We had went from leading by 16 points to 66 over the last mile. We were the first team from west of the Mississippi to win the nationals with a team that will be back next year to defend.

I was tired and emotionally drained and informed Stacey and Dave I am going home. They can attend the awards ceremony for Carol and I. Later we were to find out that we were announced as coaches of the meet.

It was amazing how many coaches would ask me “How many miles are the kids running?” Response, “Don’t know we run for minutes not miles.” Or the question, “How far are your tempo runs?” Response, “Don’t do any as we are only racing 5000 meters and there is no need for them.”

Dave Turnbull who is Summit’s head track coach gave me a ride home. When I entered the house, I opened a beer and smiled saying out loud, “We did it.”


Summit 2018: Carol’s Review



The Summit high school girls’ varsity cross country running team as a group early in the season approached coaches Carol and Jim McLatchie and said that every one of the girls is committed to staying and training together in Bend over Thanksgiving break to prepare for Nike Cross Nationals (NXN). This was the first time every runner committed to train together over Thanksgiving break and it showed a true commitment to the team and the belief that this could be a special season. A successful cross country season is made up of consistent hard work and key milestones along the way. Committing to train with the team 100% was certainly one. An additional significant event that occurred late in the season was when coach Jim McLatchie suffered a stroke which necessitated lifesaving treatment in the ambulance and the emergency room at the hospital, multiple days in the critical care center, and additional days and nights in the hospital rehab center. Jim had a lot of visitors and while he couldn’t remember
every person who came to see him and sit by his side, every day he told coach Carol McLatchie, his wife, the varsity team’s workout for that day. Jim was recovering quickly after some days in the rehab center and he talked his way into being let out of the hospital for part of the day to attend the district cross country meet at Central Oregon Community College.   Jim’s commitment to the team is such that being in the hospital wasn’t going to keep him from thinking up workouts and attending every race possible to help the team; even if it meant he had to agree to having a person shadow him the whole time to make sure he didn’t fall and had to  return to the hospital right after the race. The Summit girls won the race, qualified for the State meet, celebrated with hugs all around, and then prepared for the next training day. There are certainly key moments that stand out during a season that make it a memorable season. There are also the daily workouts, races, and recovery days and while these days may not get the spotlight they build on the day before and are what make a great team. A successful season is created by showing up every day, putting in the hard work, and enjoying the process. And, when it does happen, it certainly helps to really come together as a team and commit to achieving something that is impossible to achieve as individuals.
On Saturday, December 1st 2018 our Summit high school’s girls’ cross country running team, running as the team name Central Oregon, won Nike Cross Nationals (NXN) in Portland Oregon. Summit is the first team west of Minnesota and only the second team outside of New York to win NXN. Summit’s (OR) team’s score was 120 (runners 1-5), North Naperville (IL), the second place team’s score was 186, and Wayzata (MN), the third placed team’s score was 207. Every team that raced at NXN put in a lot of hard work, dedication, and training to make it to NXN. Summit’s goal is to put in the hard work that will help our team be competitive in every race we enter and it was a great achievement to win a National Championship. Cross country is a team sport and our coaching staff and runners have benefited immensely from coaches across the country and the world who have selflessly shared their training knowledge.

We are sharing our 2018 season training plan and we hope that high school runners and coaches find it interesting and find some things that will work for their teams. Our hope is that  coaches continue to share their knowledge to continually improve the sport of cross country that we all love. Please, if you have ideas to share to help improve our team and running community,  let us know.

Before we get into the meat and potatoes of our 2018 training program we want to present a general overview of the coaching support we have, the environment we are fortunate to train in, and additional things we hope you find of interest.   Also, many who read this will likely be well versed in how cross country running races are scored. For those who may not know, in a varsity cross country running 5K race each team can enter seven runners and the top five finishers on each team score points for their team. As an example, the first place finisher in the race scores 1 point and the tenth place finisher in the race scores 10 points. The goal is for the team to score the lowest amount of points.


Summit cross country benefits from having over 80 runners on the team and a large number of coaches who help supervise workouts. We have 10 coaches, some split salaries, and the majority volunteer their time. We want to thank our coaches for their dedication to our high  school runners, Carol McLatchie (head coach), and assistant coaches Jim McLatchie, Chris Shunk, Damian Olson, Stacey Hager, Dave Sjogren, Brendan Layden, Carrie Carney, J.D. Downing, and Kari Strang.   Our high school runners train in one of three training groups. Black group, silver group, and green group. All groups are co-ed and they are based on current running ability. We have a 4K time trial at the beginning of the season to place runners into their appropriate ability running groups. Our fastest girls and boys train in the black group and this year the black group was made up of 32 runners. Some runners moved down groups and some up groups during the year based on their race times. Many parents are very involved in supporting our team and a great way they help with team bonding is by hosting team dinners.


We are fortunate to live in train in Bend, Oregon and many of our parents are athletes so our runners have grown up in the outdoors and being active. Bend is at 3,623 feet elevation and we usually have sunny days and moderate temperatures.
Month High / Low (°F) Rain
July 82° / 47° 2 days
August 81° / 46° 2 days
September 74° / 39° 1 day
October 62° / 33° 3 days
November 48° / 28° 4 days
We train on the surfaces we race on. We have an 800 meter grass loop at our school; a rectangle around soccer, baseball, and softball fields. Our school is a half mile from dirt running trails. The hills we run on are dirt and we fortified one long hill with crushed stone for level footing. We have a track and we mainly use it for 150 meter pickups at the end of practice, but otherwise it is rare that we train on our track during the cross country season.   These past two years we have suffered from smoky summers, smoky days during preseason, and smoky early season practices which has forced us to train indoors due to air quality advisories. We run in the school hallways and lift in the weight room.


Captains and Team Attendance

Captains are chosen at the beginning of the year by their peers voting for them and coaches also have input. Captains help out in numerous ways. One main way is in taking attendance every day at practice by having clip boards and each individual runner is responsible for checking in with them and being marked present. If a runner misses practice they have to contact head coach Carol McLatchie and let her know the reason. Committing to training and being accountable are keys to success. 
Training During the “Off-Season”
We collect the email addresses for every runner on the team and they are sent a monthly calendar with the dates and details of practices and races. Calendars are also posted on the team website, During the winter we have practices on Sundays at Drake Park and while these are open to everyone on the team, the majority of the runners who show up are varsity runners. We do have runners from other local high school attend these training sessions. We also have a winter track program were a number of our runners will run, lift in the weight room, and often attend a couple of indoor track meets. During the spring season the majority of our varsity runners run track and train for the 800, 1500 and/or 3,000. During the summer we hold captain practices and we meet three days a week to train. Coaches and parents are in attendance as their summer schedule allows.

Moving from 5A to 6A this year   Moving from 5A to 6A our team did pretty much the same workouts, but we made the workouts tougher. This year we increased our captain’s practices in the summer from two days per week to three days per week.  

Annual Team Camp:   We hold an early season team camp at Scout Lake near Sisters, OR for three days of running and team bonding. We have team easy runs, a competition running up to the top of Cache mountain where the top 10 girls and boys receive a prize, and the final day we a three person team relay that includes running and swimming. We also have a parent cookout night where all parents are invited to grill, eat, and spend quality time with each other and our team. 

4K Time Trial to Choose Training Groups: We hold a 4K team time trial at Drake Park and based on runner’s times they are placed into the black, silver, or green running groups. Runners of similar ability train together to get the most out of their training. Runners are often motivated to improve and we allow them to run themselves into different groups during the XC season. We invite parents and former runners to cheer on the current team and enjoy each other’s company.
In Season Workouts:  Every workout should have a purpose and the coach should be able to articulate the purpose for every workout.

Weekly Workouts (General)
Monday – Hills workout. Strides.
Tuesday – Easy run (45-60 mins.) Strides. Core workout. Weights.
Wednesday – Grass workout (800 meter loop). Strides.
Thursday – Easy run (45-60 mins.) Strides. Core workout.
Friday – Easy run (30-40 mins.) Strides.
Saturday – Race
Sunday – Easy run (45-60 mins.)
Additional Morning Shakeout Run
For some top and motivated runners they will run 30 mins shake out in the morning
during the week. This year we had 2-3 runners on the girls varsity team doing these easy early
morning runs.
Workouts are Modified as Needed

As a principal, workouts are not set in stone, they can change due to weather and race schedule. Also if a runner is sick or tired their workout will be either cancelled or adjusted as needed. We have no problem telling a runner to cut the workout short if they can’t sustain their target pace, if they become injured, or another significant reason.

Every Practice
Every practice Monday through Friday starts with a warm up run (800 meters), drills (see list for drills), and after the daily workout has been completed, finishes with strides which are 4 x 150 meters where each runner progresses progress up to race pace or faster. The 150s at the end of every practice are very important because it trains our runners to know that when they are  tired after a workout, and at the end of the race, they can still run very fast and we let them know in a race they should be passing people or not getting passed.

Daily Team Warm Up and Drills
800 meters easy warm-up run
Forward Skip – 50 yards
Backwards Skip – 50 yards
Side Shuffle with arm swings – 50 yards
Backwards run – 50 yards
Knee Pulls – 6
Quad Pulls – 6
Toe Touch – 6

Side Lunges – 5 yards
Regular Lunges – 10 yards
A-Skips – 4 X 20 yards
B-Skips – 2 X 20 yards
“Old School B-Skips” – 2 X 20 yards – good for fast days: provides good range of motion
to warm-up hamstrings
High Heels – 2 X 10 meters
Tip and Gos – 4 X 100 meters (catch breath between sets)
On an Easy Run Day
On an easy run day we will do a plyometric session in addition to the warm up.

Tuck Jumps or Box Jumps
Regular Bounding Progression
Speed Bound
Tippy Birds
Plank Rolls
Windshield Wipers
Leg Throws
Balance Toss w/ Med Ball
Push Ups

We meet each runner where they currently are in their ability to lift weights and not every runner will perform the same weight lifting routine. We have coaches teach lifting techniques and we have coaches in the weight room to monitor for correct form.
Here is the list of the main lifts we do. Sometimes we’ll throw in other things to change it up, but not often. The lifts are in the order we do them, but we do different combinations depending on the time of year. Warm up is usually a good morning/front squat/press/deadlift complex with a light bar or PVC pipe. On more dynamic days we’ll do box jumps before our power cleans or deadlifts.
Power Clean
Hang Clean
Push Press
Split Jerk
Half Squats
Step Downs
Step Ups
Overhead Lunges
Dumbbell Lunges
Stranding Military Press
Shoulder Swings

Hill Workouts (Monday)
For hill workouts, we ask our co-ed runners to run at 90-95% effort. We train on two hills that are about a .5 mile from our school and our team can run to these hills. One hill we run is 500 meters to the top and we have it marked off in 100 meter segments. We instill in our runners that we run past the top, not just run to the top. The second hill is Overturf Butte, a loop that is, depending whether we are running clockwise or counterclockwise, 365 meters uphill and 425 meters downhill, or 425 meters uphill and 365 meters downhill. In a workout we will mix up the direction; for example 6 clockwise and then 6 counterclockwise


Easy Runs (Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Sunday)
Easy runs are 1.5 – 2 mins. slower than race pace. For example, if race pace is 6 min. miles, then an easy run is at 7.5 – 8 min. mile pace. We will have girls run with boys if their recovery run speed is similar. We don’t have our runners do tempo runs because we believe easy days are very important to recover from hard days and we believe that it is very difficult to get high school runners to do tempo runs in groups that are specific to their individual speed.  
We try and have co-ed runners of similar abilities run together on their easy runs, but we know that some runners will choose to run in groups that are above their easy pace and they are in essence doing a long tempo run or a hard run which may compromise their training and ability to fully recover from hard training days. This can be a recipe for injury or burnout and one that we try to avoid. Easy should be easy, recover days are ways to consolidate all the hard training that was done, and easy days are when the body repairs itself and grows stronger.
We do get questions asking if our team does tempo runs and our grass workouts are the closest we get to tempo runs and probably some runners are doing tempo on “easy days” because they are running with a group of faster runners and they don’t know how to run easy or think it is helpful to have easy runs. This will wear runners out and it will show up in their practice and race performance.

Grass Workouts (Wednesday)
At the beginning of every grass day workout we put runners in co-ed groups based on similar pace and depending on the workout tell them to run at either 80% or 90% of their race pace. The total distance of the grass loop is 800 meters. Specifically, the length of the grass we run on is long, there is a 10 meter hill, that leads to a 200 meter slightly downhill asphalt section, and the remaining grass section of 400 to 600 meters are a mix of wet to swampy grass due to the sprinkler system and a drainage issues on the outer grass fields.

Choosing the Team for Race Day
Coaches meet in the days before a meet to decide who will run varsity and submit the names of the seven girls who will race varsity. The team mostly picks itself by their race results from their prior race. We sometimes have runners who run a great J.V. race and race themselves onto the varsity starting seven. But, coaches have the discretion to decide the final varsity team for the upcoming race because a number of factors can be at play in deciding who will run varsity this week; including if a runner was sick, injured, had a bad race, or any current circumstance that factors into who should race varsity in the upcoming race. This is also a good time for the coaches to check in with each other about how all the training groups are going and how they are doing personally as well. We try and look out for our runners and our coaches wellbeing.

Race Day
On race day coach Jim McLatchie will walk the course and tell our team where all the holes, wet spots, and dangerous corners are located. If Jim has any concerns about holes or dangerous parts on the course he shares this information with the race organizer to try and make the course safe for all runners. He then meets with the varsity runners tells them the race strategy for the day.  An hour before the race the varsity girls will go for a group warm up run. Fifteen minutes before the race the team will go to the starting box and start their drills and strides. Coaches will be at the start with baskets to take warmups and other clothing back to the tent. If it’s a cold day coach Carol McLatchie will have olive oil on hand to give to the girls so they can rub it on their exposed skin to keep themselves warm at the start of the race. As the race progresses the skin heats up and the layer of olive oil “sweats” off.   Coaches are strategically placed around different parts of the course to yell out split times, encouragement, and sometimes that all important “go now” (if you can) directive. At the end of the race the girls return to the team tent to put on warm clothes, hear some encouraging words from teammates, coaches, and parents, and then they are off together for either the awards ceremony and/or their team cooldown. Finally, it’s time to pack up the tents and gear, get on the bus, and because we usually race out of town, get food at a grocery store before the bus ride back over the mountains.

Races in 2018 and Race Strategies
Our varsity girls team raced 10 races this season. We had 7 races on our calendar including districts, then our 8th race was State, 9th race was Nike Cross Regionals (NXR), and 10th race was Nike Cross Nationals (NXN). All season long the whole team really cheered each other on. We trained for our early season and mid-season races by training at today’s race pace; the current pace our runners were racing at. Then we cranked up the training in late season for State, NXR, and NXN training at goal pace, which we call “winning pace” the pace coaches think each individual girl will be capable of racing at.
We trained through State and NXR, meaning that we didn’t taper during this time. The evening before the State meet, Peter Thompson, a coach for over 50 years, talked with the girlsand boys teams. He reminded them that they had already put in all the hard work in their training and that it was important tonight and tomorrow morning “to keep the lid on the kettle”, to control and contain their emotional energy – until it was time, at the gun, “to let the lid off the kettle and put all the hard work and ’emotional steam’ to work during the race”. Following State, the athletes carried this thought into NXR and NXN.   From NXR to NXN we tapered one week before NXN where we eliminated hills, eliminated weights, and tapered overall running. An important point to highlight is that to go to NXN and race our best we needed our team to commit to staying in Bend and training with the whole team over Thanksgiving break. That conversation started well before State. Runners and parents recognized this great opportunity to be competitive at State, NXR, and NXN. Our whole team trained together for the first time over Thanksgiving and it ultimately showed in our NXN
race results.

Our NXN race strategy was to go out quick, but not too quick. To believe that we can win this. We put in the hard work and on the start line it was, again, time, “to take the lid off the kettle”. And, at the 4K mark it was the time to go for it all, in the final 1K.
Annual Soccer Game
And importantly, we have a yearly end of season tradition where we play a soccer game on the turf field because Jim McLatchie is a huge soccer fan, it’s Scotland vs. USA, and it’s awesome.   Sharing with our Running Community We have had a number of cross country great seasons, this season was very special, and we are already putting in the work daily for the upcoming track and cross country seasons. We have fun because we see the progress and improvement in every runner who works hard. It is fulfilling as a runner to improve and as a coach to see the improvement. Our hope is that sharing our workouts will provide you with some ideas to incorporate into your training and racing plans.

Our hope is that you will also share your training and racing plans with our team and additional teams so that high school cross country runners can continue to develop and improve. Here is a calendar listing every workout for our 2018 season.

From left – Jim McLatchie, Jasper Fievet (SO), Stella Skovborg (JR), Isabel Max (JR), Teaghan Knox (FR), Fiona Max (JR), Kelsey Gripekoven (JR), Azza Borovicka-Swanson (JR) and Stacey Hager 

Full Year 2018 Training Schedule, Every Single Workout




Saturday, December 1 2018, NXN Nike Cross Nationals, Glendoveer Golf Course, Portland, OR
1. CENTRAL OREGON (Summit) team score 120
Time spread between runners 1-5 (17:29-18:42 = 1:13)
2. North Naperville 186
3. Wayzata 207
Central Oregon (Summit) 11, 42, 67, 77, 96, 134, (7th runner did not finish due to illness, this
race includes unattached runners)
2018 NXN Champions – Central Oregon (Summit High School)
Athletes Coaches
Fiona Max (JR) Carol McLatchie (Head coach)
Teaghan Knox (FR) Jim McLatchie
Kelsey Gripekoven (JR) Dave Sjogren Stacey Hager
Isabel Max (JR) Kari Strang Damian Olson
Azza Borovicka-Swanson (JR) Brendan Layden Carrie Carney
Stella Skovborg (JR) Chris Shunk J.D. Downing
Jasper Fievet (SO)
Head Coach
Carol McLatchie
Carol and Jim McLatchie
High School Girls Cross Country
Coach of the Year – Oregon
“The key is team and a part of that concept includes the teamwork between
coaches. Jim has been coaching for over 64 years and we have been married for
over 35 years. Prior to that I ran, with Jim as my coach for 5 years. My name is
listed as ‘Head coach’, but Jim and I operate as a team, so the credit should go to
Jim, myself and the rest of our team, including our athletic directors (Gabe
Pagano and now Mike Carpenter), principals (Alice DeWittie now Michael
McDonald), Dave Turnbull (Head track and field coach) and close friends and
parents that are always there for us and the athletes. Summit’s mascot is the
‘Storm’. 2018 was our ‘Perfect Storm’, for our team of coaches and a team of
girls and boys that all came together for one huge goal: to win the Oregon state
XC meet and NXN. Go Storm! I am so proud of you all.”
Carol McLatchie
2018 USTFCCCA National High School Girls Cross Country Coach of the Year


Photos by Stacey Hager, Peter Thompson, Kari Strang and John Swenson
Andy Fleming, April 2019

Ricky Dunbar


Ricky Dunbar

There was a public debate at one time in the 1960’s as to who was Scotland’s fastest sprinter.   Some said WM (Ming) Campbell and some said Ricky Dunbar.   Each runner was said to be happy to face the other but it was not to be.   Why not?   Because Ricky was a professional athlete and so Campbell was not permitted by the SAAA to race against him for that reason.   It was a pity because they were both very good indeed: a friend who was a professional runner at the time spoke of Dunbar coming into the arena after a ‘prep’  looking like superman.   Campbell had ‘done the treble’ (100/220/440 titles on the same day) at the Scottish championships.   But that’s the way it was.   

Dunbar was trained by Jim Bradley, world famous sprints coach from Edinburgh and, as the picture above shows, he was still racing and winning races at the age of 77 in 2017.  Note too the red silk vest and shorts – all Bradley’s runners were said to race in that kit.    Martin Flanagan wrote an article for the Sydney Morning Herald in May 2017 about Dunbar and starts by describing the man’s appearance before he ran in the New Year’s Day races at Burnie in Tasmania in 1967.   The article is well worth reading and starts with the following description of Dunbar: 

“That year the feature event in the athletics is the Australian championship, to be fought out between local runner Basil Burley and Ricky “The Flying Scotsman” Dunbar. I’m still young enough to be taken by the hype and my eye, having located Dunbar, remains on him. There is something about the man’s athletic style that I find arresting. He is handsome in the Nordic manner, blond hair and brown skin. He wears a sky blue tracksuit with a big white thistle on the back. He runs in red, he ripples with athleticism. I remember his bounding starts, always from the back mark.   I met Ricky Dunbar again this week after an Age reader, Patrick Ford, sent in a portrait of Dunbar – at the age of 77 and in his red running gear – for the Archibald prize. It’s titled simply, Still Running. Because he is.”


Ricky Dunbar’s story begins back in Edinburgh where as a youngster he took part in every sport available to him but with his ability he was bound to be noticed.   He was spotted by Jim Bradley (there is a profile of Jim on this website – just click on his name to read it.   Bradley invited him to come and compete at a meeting but when he turned up, he found the number of people about quite daunting and and left.   

He did go back and, like all runners, amateur as well as professionals in the early 60’s, racing on all sorts of tracks – grass as well as cinder.    

In 1962, Rick Dunbar was second in the 120 yards New Year Sprint, held at Newtongrange off a mark of six and a half yards to Carl Harrison who was off 7 yards.   He returned in 1963 to win the race off a handicap of 4½ yards and the Glasgow Herald Report read:   “RF Dunbar (Edinburgh) yesterday won the 120 yards handicap at Newtongrange.   Dunbar had been favourite from the start and he was unbackable at 8 – 1 on for the final.   Bookmakers concentrated on making a market without Dunbar, laying 5-4 against D Campbell (Ballingry) to finish second.    In addition to taking the first prize of £250, Dunbar backed himself substantially some time ago at the long odds of 14 – 1.   Dunbar who has been in strict training for three months was in the final for the third time in four years.   He was second in 1960, and again last year.   In a cross-tie, Dunbar beat S Hogg (Cardenden) who had returned the best time in the heats.   In the final Dunbar, back marker off four and a half yards, had caught the rest of the field by half distance, and won by a yard and a half in 11.39 seconds, the fastest time of the meeting.   Hogg gained consolation for his defeat when he won the 80 yards handicap.”   

His own memory of the race as told to Flanagan was slightly different.   I quote:   “In 1963, he won the biggest event on the British professional running circuit, the Powderhall. I ask him if he remembers the race. “I remember every race.” He thought he came up too quickly, always a mistake, but knew he had them by the 90-yard mark. The average working man’s annual wage in Scotland was then £700. He won £250. He had £50 on himself at 10 to 1. His stable won £10,000 in total. The bookies had to hand out notes saying they’d pay later. Betting on yourself was also part of the game. “Oh, yes!” he says.”

The report and his own remarks tell you a lot about professional racing –

  1. The long preparation time for a single big race, One professional athlete that I spoke to at the time described the preps that the athletes did and spoke of Dunbar coming to Newtongrange and ‘he looked like superman when he stripped off – his skin glowed’.  
  2. the importance of betting and
  3. the possibility of making seriously big money by backing yourself.

Dunbar went on to become the British professional sprint champion as did his stablemate Dave Walker.   One professional athlete that I spoke to at the time described the preps that the athletes did and spoke of Dunbar coming to Newtongrange and ‘he looked like superman when he stripped off – his skin glowed’.    There was also talk at this time of matching Dunbar with the top British amateur sprinter WM Campbell and although Campobell was said to be willing, the SAAA put the kybosh on it and refused to sanction the contest.  

In 1964 Dunbar was unplaced in the 120 yards, if he did indeed run in it, but was third in the 80 yards where he ran off a marl of only half a yard to be beaten by Farquharson of Hawick, off six and a half and Sharkey of Cowdenbeath, also from a six and a half.   The report in the Glasgow Herald in 1965 said simply that he was beaten and did not mention him other than that he was not mentioned.    The story is probably that he was handicapped ut of it.   

How good was he?   There is information that in 1964 he equalled Ming Campbell’s fastest for the year – running on grass.    It is a claim that does not seem to be substantiated anywhere but then how about this one?   Although the track used for the annual Morebattle Games is on a grass grazing field, one of the most notable performances was the breaking of the British Native 120 yards. record on 8th August, 1965 by Ricky Dunbar. His time from scratch was recorded by three timekeepers at 11.42 seconds.   There have many very good times run on that track in that field, but this one is evidence that he was indeed a top class athlete.   Then there was the time when like the time Ricky ran 8 yards inside evens up the cinders at Saughton Enclosure. 

Why then did he not ever run as an amateur?   Flanagan tells us that as Ricky Dunbar saw it, the problem with amateur running, away from the glamour meets, is that the same person wins all the time.   Professional running has handicapping.  “It gives you a challenge every time you run.” In Scotland, he once gave a runner 17 yards’ start over 120 yards; in Australia, the biggest margin he gave away was 14 yards over 130 yards.”   Nevertheless, the amateur selectors were the ones who picked the teams for the big meetings: a reinstated Dunbar would have been eligible for Empire, European and Olympic selection.   

Bradley was a key figure for him – from the intensely practical – eg running in winter wearing gloves with the fingertips cut out so they didn’t get wet and freeze when he put his hands to the ground to take his mark – to the big career changing move to Australia.  .It was after he won Powderhall that Bradley advised him to go to Australia.  It was a better climate, he’d have a longer career and he’d run faster. In Australia the big money races are all called ‘Gifts’.   He won his first four Gifts after making the move – in Castlemaine, Daylesford, Echuca and Maryborough. By the time, he got to the really big one, Stawell, he was on scratch and chasing runners 12 yards ahead of him.  In all his years, he never made the final of the Gift at Stawell.  He did, however, win Australian championships and, in 1968, at Moorabbin, finished third in the Professional Championship of the World.   He himself says his two biggest wins in Australia were in the 100 metres Masters’ event at Stawell which he won in 1980, off a handicap of 1 ½ metres, and again in 2011, at the age of 70, off 22 and ¾ metres.   He is still running – there is film of him running at the Ballarat Gift 2018 master 300m in 2018 that you can see on this one minute clip on youtube:

He is still a very good athlete – one that his family and  his country can be justly proud of.


Two Minutes for 880 yards

The four minute mile by a Scot was in 1970 and a long battle it was, but the half distance in half the time – a half mile in two minutes – is rarely if ever referred to.  The runners on this page were the men who hacked the time down after T Moffatt of Montreal AC set the first official Scottish record of 2:00.75 in June 1883.   

R Mitchell (St Mirren FC and Clydesdale Harriers)   W Malcolm (Morton FC and Clydesdale Harriers)

RS Langlands (Clydesdale Harriers)

Another good standard half miler of the time was   MCC Seton 

Robert Mitchell

Picture from Alex Wilson

Mitchell’s first season at the top was that of 1888/89 and in the Kilmarnock FC Sports on 4th May, 1889, he won the half-mile and the Glasgow Herald had this to say: “The half mile race proved an interesting event, Mitchell (St Mirren) kept his distance all round, and slightly increased it in the straight.   Blane, scratch, was second. ”   He followed this with  victory in the Abercorn Sports 880 yards (confined to the district of Paisley)  one week later in 2:13.4.   He continued to run well and in the SAAA Championships at Hampden Park on 22nd June, he won the  880 in 2:01 for his first major title. 6th July saw Mitchell in action at the Rangers and Clydesdale Harriers Sports at Ibrox and running in the 600 yards: “Great interest was centred on this contest as it was given out that Mitchell  would attempt to break the record.   This he failed to do and for that matter failed to finish at all.   When three men made their efforta great race ensued for 100 yards, but Mitchell could not stay the pace and gave up 40 yards from home.   Logan and Blair ran a punishing race, the Vale man winning by a yard from Blair.”   The result as published:  1.   J Logan, Vale of Leven; 2.  T Blair, Queen’s Park;  3.  R Mitchell, St Mirren.  Time: 1:19.6.   

A week later, 13th July, and Mitchell was competing in the half-mile at Falkirk FC Sports at Brockville.   Result:  1.  R Mitchell (champion, St Mirren FC and CH);  2.  A Marshall (ex-champion, DAFC);  3.  GM Thomson (CH).  Time: 2:07.6.   The St Mirren FC Sports were held over two Saturdays with the first session being held on 20th July and was largely a day of confined events plus the preliminaries of the four a side football tournament.   However the event of the day was another 600 yards race with the principals being Logan, Blair and Mitchell.   On his home turf of Westmarch in Paisley, Mitchell was a different runner to the one who had failed two weeks earlier.    The report on the race read: This event did not come off until after the finish of the football competition.   When the three well-known athletes – Logan, Blair and Mitchell – came out, there was considerable excitement among the crowd which was unusually large for a preliminary day.   As they toed the mark, the men were loudly cheered.   The inside of the track was secured by Logan.   Blair went to the front at once, and passed the post for the first time leading by two yards, Mitchell second and Logan last.   In the back stretch, Logan passed Mitchell,   On entering the straight all three were together, and then Mitchell dashed to the front and led home, easily six yards in front.   Blair was second and Logan third.   Time:- 1 min 16 3-5th sec.   This is the second time that Mitchell has covered the record.   He received a fine ovation from the crowd, and was carried into the dressing room.”   A prolific racer, Mitchell contented himself with winning the confined 100 yards at the second day of the St Mirren Sports the following week where, running from scratch he was timed at 10.4 seconds.   The reason for the easier week might be found in his performance on 3rd August at Ibrox in the joint Rangers/Clydesdale Harriers meeting where he broke the 600 yards record.   The comments in the Glasgow Herald’s Notes were that the day had suited him – the air was on the sultry side – but he ran a magnificent race and “but for the task imposed upon him by the handicapper, he would not have broken record; it drew him out as he has not been drawn in any of the scratch races with Blair and Logan.   In this race the handicapping was very fine, the finish being so close and exciting that those who saw it are likely to refer to it for many a day to come as an historic race.   Mitchell only wants to be drawn out in the half mile as he was in the 600 yards on Saturday and he will beat the record established by Moffat of the Montreal Athletic Club some years ago.   For weeks, Mitchell ha studiously avoided running in the western district half mile handicaps.   The last handicap he took part i in the district was an evening meeting at Hampden Park; and though he then considered the task beyond his powers, he romped home a winner by 20 yards.   Mitchell should bear in mind that handicaps were instituted for two main purposes – firstly to give all a chance; and secondly, to make good men accomplish good time.”   As for the race, there were eleven starters, first across the line was J Russell (Clydesdale Harriers) off 26 yards, second was Mitchell (scratch) and third was John Blane (CH, 13 yards).   Blane had been a cyclist and football player who set a Scottish record (4:30.2) for the mile in 1888.  

One week later in the Morton Sports at Cappielow, Mitchell qualified for the final of the 100 yards with  a time of 10.4, but was unplaced.   He then went on to win the half mile from scratch from J Logan of the Vale of Leven (15 yards) in 2:02.2.   On 19th August he won both heat and final of the 100 yards at the West of Scotland Sports – the latter from JR Gow of Rangers in 10.8 seconds.   Passing up on the 880 yards, Mitchell ran in the second Heat of the 440 yards handicap where “when passing the pavilion stand he collided with another of the runners and could not persevere.”   

We can leave summer 1889 there – it had been a good year for Mitchell with his first SAAA title and a Scottish record to his credit when he went into winter ’89/’90 heading optimistically for 1890.

Comment has been made on his busy racing programme and this is evidenced by the entry by his name in the Clydesdale Harriers Handbook at the end of the season.   After noting his address in Ferguslie Street, Paisley, it noted that he had won 13 first prizes, 2 seconds and 2 thirds.   He had also won a silver medal which the club gave to members who won a championship racing under the club’s name and another for running 2:01 for 880 yards. 

1890 and Mitchell did not take part in the first session of the Abercorn Sports on 10th May: he must have run in the second session on 17th but we only know because he won the Consolation Race at the end of the meeting from TW Young, a very good sprinter from Clydesdale Harriers.   He was uncharacteristically quiet for several weeks and a hint of why that was case appeared in some comments on the Queen’s Park FC Sports of 7th June, 1890:  “the 600 yards scratch race was looked upon as one of the events of the meeting.   Both Mitchell and Logan had kept themselves fit for it, and as Mitchell held the record it at 1 min 15 3-5th sec, the contest excited great interest.   The race was run at a due pace throughout, Blair of the QP winning on the tape by a few inches, but the time was 5 1-5th secs slower than Mitchell’s record.”   The finishing order was Blair, Mitchell and Logan “after a desperate struggle.”   They were clearly well matched over that distance with all three having won a close fought scratch race.   The SAAA Championships were held at Powderhall on 21st June and Mitchell faced miler John Blane in the 880 yards.   The race went as expected with Blane taking the pace out hard, Mitchell sitting in and coming past to win by six yards in  2:03.2 for his second consecutive championship victory.   

One of the high-spots of Mitchell’s career came on 19th July when in the first day of the St Mirren FC Sports, he won a half-mile race, confined to Paisley, in which there were ten runners  and won in a new Scottish record time of 2:00.4.   The previous record was recorded by T Moffat of Montreal AC who in Edinburgh in June, 1883 ran 2:00.75.   There were several very good half-milers in Scotland at this point and the chase for the sub-two half mile was on.   Hopes were high for an improvement on this at the second day of the club sports a week later and, in the handicap 880 yards, two watches were kept solely on him.   He finished fourth in exactly the same time as the previous week which as the report said, “established his new record.”   With the championships over, a new record for the half mile set and equalled, his season was pretty well over.   He did compete at the Celtic FC Sports on 9th August where he won his Heat of the 100 in 10 seconds but did not feature in the results of the final.   

Another good season and anther Scottish record.

1891 The Glasgow Herald on 11th May in their column headed ‘Special Notes on Athletics’ began:  The popularity of football knows no bounds.   Despite the many counter-attractions , fully ten thousand persons assembled in Celtic Park on Saturday to welcome the Renton who made their first public appearances since being reinstated.   The amnesty granted by the Scottish Association has been fully taken advantage of, and as on Saturday there were three of Renton’s old slaves – Hannah (Everton), Lindsay (Accrington) and Harvie (Sunderland) –  in the team that faced the Celtic.   The village lads stripped on the field …”   Football always comes into the question but there were several athletic meetings that day – the Glasgow Police Sports, the Glasgow Academical Sports and the big one waas the Clydesdale Harriers Sports.   Here there were 21 runners in the half mile and Mitchell, running from scratch could not “collar his man” and finished third.   A week later, at the second day of the Abercorn FC Sports Mitchell was out in the 220 yards where he won his Heat in 24.4 off 7 yards and finished second in the Final.   In the West of Scotland Sports on 23rd May he ran in the half-mile (won by Walter Malcolm) but he was unplaced.   

June is always the big month for athletes with the SAAA championships looming towards the end of the month.   The traditional start in June was the Queen’s Park FC meting but Mitchell was not to be seen there.   Indeed he was not seen until the 20th of the month when he won the 880 yards at the Scottish championships to make it three-in-a-row with the only trouble coming from Walter Malcolm who was comfortably beaten in the end.   Wining time was 2;03.2.     In the first day of the St Mirren Sports on 18th July, he ran in the confined 880 yards but could not get through the field.   The following week at the second day of the Sports, he did not compete at all.   The first Saturday of August was the Rangers Sports and the comments were that he had run in the 880 yards smoothly and with more ‘dash and gameness’ than at any time in the season.     However, although unplaced he was timed at 2:03.4.   

In 1892, he appeared in the first day of the Abercorn FC Sports on 16th May where he ran in the 880 yards confined to Paisley and won from scratch in 2:06.   The following week, 23rd, on the second day of the Abercorn Sports, he ran in the open 440 yards handicap and although he qualified from his Heat, was unplaced in the final.   Then on the final Saturday of June, he was second in the open 440 yards handicap, running from the same 6 yards mark as the previous week,  at the Vale of Leven Sports.  This led up to the SAAA championships held at  Carolina Port, Dundee  on 25th June.  Mitchell won the half mile for the fourth consecutive year in  2:05.2 from Walter Malcolm.

The Clydesdale Harriers Sports were held on 2nd July in 1892 and Mitchell entered and won the 440 yards handicap from 6 yards in 52 seconds, while Malcolm won the 880 yards.   In the St Mirren Sports first day on 22nd July, Mitchell won the 440 yards confined, but although he started from scratch and was clearly the best man in the field of 15, he gave up entering the home straight.   The first two were running for 45 and 68 yards respectively.   A week later, on the second day of the sports, he won the 100 yards confined to the club, but the anti-climax for the spectators was the open handicap half mile.   Read on “About 40 competitors came out.   The race had the novelty of the appearance of R Mitchell, the champion, and his great rival Malcolm of the Greenock Morton club.   The two rivals, who started from scratch, were soon in the crowd of front men, but it was absolutely impossible to get through them.   In the second half both half milers gave up, Malcolm retiring first.   The result:- 1st Hugh McCabe, Beith FC, 58 yards;  2nd Abraham Russell, Maryhill Harriers, 46 yards; 3rd James Quate, Ayr FC and CH, 30 yards.   Time:- 1 min 58 1-5th sec.”

In the Rangers Sports on 6th August Mitchell ran in the 440 yards handicap where he finished second in his Heat ( 6 yards) and was third in the final.   The report on the Celtic Sports the following week began:“The opening of the new ground f this powerful athletic organisation marks a new epoch in the athletic prowess of Scotland.”  New ground  opening = top class runners.   That was certainly the case for the 100 yards with Willie Maley himself running (7 yards), Hugh Barr (6 yards), and Mitchell (9 1/4 yards) and a total of 10 heats.   Mitchell was unplaced in the final which was won by Bradley of Huddersfield and Salford Harriers.   There was quality all the way through the meeting which was peppered with invitation events for runners and cyclists alike.   The Morton FC Sports were held on the third Saturday in August but Mitchell did not turn up at that one and the season was over at that point.   


1893 started with the Morton Sports on 29th April – Morton FC held sports meetings at either end of the summer season and they were very popular with the athletes.   At this one Mitchell ran in the 220 yards and qualified for the final where he was unplaced, and the 440 yards where he was third in the final after winning his heat.   At the Abercorn FC Sports on 20th May, Mitchell was once again competing in the 100 yards where he won his heat in 10.8 from 6 1/2 yards but was unplaced in the Final.   He was not forward in any other event that day.   Mitchell did not seem to be racing as much as in previous years for reasons that were never laid out in the popular Press – this was also true of the SAAA Championships held at Hampden ; on 17th June.   The half mile was won by Walter Malcolm from J Hindle by a yard and a half.   As far as club affiliation was concerned, the Clydesdale Harriers Renfrewshire Section had been given its independence but he remained connected to Clydesdale Harriers Headquarters District No 5.  He must have been paying the sub or he would have been struck off the list.   At this point he was CH for the Harriers Sports, St Mirren for the football club’s sports and Ch & StM for most other events!   In 1893 he did not compete in the St Mirren Sports at the end of July, the Rangers Sports at the start of August or the Celtic Sports two weeks after that.   His summer was effectively ended at that point.   

In 1894 on 19th May, at Abercorn Sports, Mitchell was out in the 220 yards where he was 1st in Heat (23.4) but only second in the Final On 2nd June, at the QPFC Sports,  his event was the 880 yards handicap which he won from 16 yards, half a yard in front of Robert Langlands (who would be the first Scot to break 2 minutes for the 880 yards, in 2:02.6 and also finished third behind the talented  Rodger of Maybole in the invitation 600 yards.   Came the SAAA Championships he was second in the 440 yards to  Downer.    The Glasgow Herald reporter commented that “Mitchell, who was fancied, was Downer’s strongest opponent, but he drew up six yards from the tape when he saw Downer was winning.”     He also turned out in the 880 which he won in   2:05.4  “R Mitchell Abercorn FC, easily put the half mile to his credit in 2 min 9 3-5th sec”   Note that he was listed this time as a member of Abercorn FC (another Paisley team) and not St Mirren: under the rules of the time he was still a Clydesdale Harrier and at times entered or was reported as such.   A single week later, 30th June,  running under the Clydesdale Harriers banner, he won the half-mile at the Clydesdale Harriers Sports at Ibrox Park in 2:01.6 by half a yard from Maybole FC’s J Rodger, running in the colours of West of Scotland Harriers.   It had been another successful year in terms of national medals won and opposition scalps lifted, but it was another short one, if we are to go by how often he appeared in the second half of the season.   In fact he did not appear in the prize lists of any of the major Saturday games or sports, as in the previous year nor only did he miss the weekend sessions of Rangers or Celtic Sports, he did not even appeara at the supplementary meetings.   And it was on to 1895.

The Scottish Amateur Athletic Association was very powerful in the east of Scotland but not so in the west.  Clydesdale Harriers was by far the strongest club in the west with five sections in Glasgow and affiliated sections in Lanarkshire, Dumbarton, Renfrewshire and other areas.   There was a dispute between the Association and Clydesdale and a parallel body to the SAAA, the Scottish Amateur Athletic Union, was set up with membership largely but not exclusively from the west of the country.   Each body had their own meetings and their own championships – Clydesdale was the main body in the Union and there had been a big meeting in Paisley on 18th May, as in other centres of population, where St Mirren, Abercorn and the other clubs in the area decided to follow the Union.   It was at their championships on 22nd June that Mitchell won his final national medal.   

The Glasgow Herald  preview of the meeting read – “If R Mitchell of Paisley enters for this event (220 yards), he stands an excellent chance of winning it, and as for the quarter there is no one within several yards of him; while if he were possessed of more body than he is, we would pin our faith in him not only to win these two events, but also to carry the half mile.” 

Mitchell did run in the half-mile but there were only two competitors, himself and RS Langlands of Clydesdale – and the pace set by Langlands was such that his opponent dropped out – Langlands went on to win in the time of 1:59.8 which was the first time that two minutes had been beaten in Scotland.   It was 0.6 sec faster than Mitchell’s best ever, and 0.4 sec better than Walter Malcolm, who had died earlier that year, had run.   Mitchell also ran in the 440 yards and finished third, the race being won by Roger of Carrick Harriers.       

His season was was really at an end, and in fact he would never, ever be as good as he was.   The countdown to the 2minute half mile had been begun by Moffatt of Montreal AC in June 1883 with 2:00.75 and Mitchell had brought it nearer with his 2:0.4 in July 1890.   The next baby step would be taken By Walter Macolm, Morton FC and Clydesdale Harriers.   Mitchell was a great competitor who had packed racing schedules in his early days with a range of events from 100 yards to the half mile, and ended his career with five SAAA titles to his name – by the Association’s centenary in 1982 only one man (Duncan McPhee) would have equalled it and none bettered it.


 Unfortunately though his career ended in disgrace.   The SAAA was formed in 1883 and the Amateur code was very strictly enforced and adhered to.  The 1890’s were fraught with abuses of the rules and there were investigatory committees set up in 1893 and later to investigate these.   On 6th October, 1898, one such committee recommended that several athletes be disciplined: three for impersonating other runners in a meeting in Ireland, three for being involved in that offence and for betting  betting.and three including Mitchell, Roger of Maybole and Blackwood of Johnstone for betting.   As a result this excellent athlete was suspended indefinitely.   



Robert S Langlands

The quest for the first two minute half mile by a Scotsman had been steadily chopped down over the years: Robert Mitchell of Clydesdale Harriers and St Mirren FC had cut it to 2:00.4, Walter Malcom of Clydesdale Harriers and Morton FC got it down to 2:00.2 – and Langlands had the honour of being the man who finally broke the barrier.

Robert S Langlands from Dumbarton was one of four Langlands brothers who were significant members of Clydesdale Harriers at a local level.    The Langlands family is well known in Dumbarton and it is significant enough for their family history to be well documented in the local Library.   Their father, George, had come from Dundee to be Postmaster in Dumbarton and had four sons from his first marriage.   Robert, born 1870, was the oldest followed by Sam, 1871, George, 1874, and William 1876.   They all did well in life with Sam being Chief Inspector of Lighting for Glasgow Corporation and George being a notable marine engineer and manager of Beardmore’s in Dalmuir then of Barclay Curle’s.    Robert himself was a surveyor for Lloyd’s of London and worked in London and Cadiz – this would probably account for the shortness of his athletics career – he was 25 when he set the record and just setting out as a professional man.   RS Langlands first appears as a club member in season 1892/93 when his brother Sam  was local Assistant Secretary and George was local vice captain.   He is not recorded in the club records as having won anything that year    He started off running cross country and in February 1894, along with W Robertson, DW Mill, E Kelly, J Stavert and J McGowan, he was a member of the team which won the Scottish Junior Cross Country Championship at Hamilton; he was also awarded a time badge during the summer season although it is not clear from the records what it was for.  In 1894/95 his youngest brother William had increased the family membership to four.

His real claim to fame was that he was the first Scotsman to run under two minutes for the 880 yards.   As with all these barriers, there were many who were attempting to be first – including his club mate Robert Mitchell, (pb 2:00.4) originally a St Mirren FC football player from Paisley who was the main rival, and Walter Malcolm (pn 2:00.2) who set Scottish records at 880 yards and 1000 yards.

The first note of Langlands racing the half mile was on 2nd June 1894 when at the Queen’s Park FC Sports, he was second to Mitchell.   Mitchell’s handicap was 16 yards while Langlands was running from 20: he was beaten by half a yard with the winning time being 2:02.6.   It was a close race with the third placed runner – G Gourley, Ayr FC, off 27 yards – another half yard behind.    He was back at Hampden at the end of July when on the 26th of the month he ran in the half mile handicap at the first annual Glasgow Charities Sports.  He was again second: running from a mark of 12 yards he was beaten by John Milroy (Maryhill Harriers (30) and James McLaren, Clydesdale Harriers, (37) in ‘a good race’ which was won in 1:58.2.   The Clydesdale Harriers handbook for 1894/95 tells us that in summer 1894, he won three first prizes, three seconds and three thirds.   

In 1895, feeling victimised by the SAAA, Clydesdale Harriers formed a parallel amateur athletics body – the Scottish Amateur Athletics Union – which held its own races and championships.   Many clubs, including Rangers FC, Celtic FC and most of the clubs in the west of Scotland as well as a number from the east,  resigned from the SAAA and joined the new SAAU.   The result was that in 1895 and 1896 there were two sets of national championships.

1895 started for him on 20th April when he was second in the half mile at  the West of Scotland Cricket Club Sports at Hamilton Crescent.   Langlands, running from 12 yards, was beaten by J Barclay of Whiteinch Harriers (46 yards) in a close race won in 2:00.8.    On 1st June Langlands won the half mile at the annual Vale of Leven Football Club Sports off 10 yards in 2 minutes dead with clubmate W Robertson second.   His brother George was third in the handicap mile behind A Hannah and W Robertson.    On 22nd June 1895, the SAAA championships and the SAAU Championships were both held in Glasgow on the same day.   At Ibrox Park the SAAA event was won by MCC Seton in 2 minutes 5.4 seconds but at the SAAU Championships held at Hampden Park, Langlands won in the time of 1 minute 59.6 seconds – the first time that the two minute barrier had been broken by a Scotsman.     The race is reported in John Keddie’s Centenary History of the SAAA thus:

“It was another Clydesdale Harrier, Robert Langlands, who finally broke through the 2 minute ‘barrier’ in Scotland.   He achieved this at the breakaway SAAU Championships at Hampden Park on 22nd June 1895.   His winning time was 1 minute 59.6 seconds and apparently the pace was so shattering that no other competitor finished the race!   It is perhaps odd to think of a 2 minute barrier today, but one can picture the excitement created by such an occasion.   This was a real milestone.”

Milestone or no, the local ‘Lennox Herald’ headed their coverage 

“A Dumbarton Pedestrian Breaks a Scottish Record”

the article continues “The first championship meeting under the auspices of the new Scottish Amateur Athletic Union which was formed recently following a split in the Scottish Amateur Athletic Association, took place at Hampden Park on Saturday.   The most noteworthy performance of the meeting was theHis brother George was third in the Mile handicap behind A Hannah and W Robertson.  breaking of the Scottish Half Mile Record by R Langlands, Dumbarton.   Rodger of Maybole did not turn out and Langlands’ only opponent was the previous holder of the record, R Mitchell of Paisley.   The pace set had apparently been too much for the Paisley man who dropped off after covering nearly two thirds of the distance.   Langlands continued to run in splendid style and finished inside Mitchell’s record by four fifths of a second.   The performance was a capital one and as Langlands has youth on his side and probably something to learn through further experience we look to him eclipsing Saturday’s feat before long.   His brother George ran very pluckily in the Mile race at the same meeting and finished second to W Robertson of Clydesdale Harriers.”  

It was reported a week later that he would be awarded a special badge for the feat.   

Where Mitchell had been a 440/880 runner, Langlands was championship material at 880/Mile distances. It is interesting that the pace set by the stronger man was too hot for the 220/440/880 runner  the  who held the Scottish record for 600 yards.   Mitchell had joined the club before any of the Langlands family and in season 1888/89 he had won 13 first prizes, 2 seconds and 7 thirds.   He was a seasoned campaigner before Robert came on the scene.   Unfortunately his career ended in disgrace: In 1898 he was permanently suspended for betting as part of an investigation carried out by the SAAA.     The last word on Langlands in the club records is in season 1899/1900.   As indicated above his career as surveyor then took him to London and Cadiz in Spain.   Nevertheless he was the first inside two minutes and

“This was a real milestone.”


Walter Malcolm

Picture from Alex Wilson

In the quest for the two minute half mile, Malcolm was a key figire.   Mitchell had brought the record to 2:00.4 and Mlcolm took it a fifth of a second nearer with his pb of 2:00.2.   Unfortunately he died very young just when he was in his prime as a racer. The following obituary appeared in the Glasgow Herald on 29th April, 1895:

“Athletics are considerably poorer by the death of Walter Malcolm of Greenock Morton FC.   When he was but 19 years of age he won the Clydesdale Harriers Mile Novice handicap and three years later was the half-mile champion of Scotland.   Such rapid progress has few parallels even in these days of athletic phenomenons.   Though he often figured in 220 and 440 distances, it was in longer distances that he excelled and has left his mark in the records of Scottish pedestrianism.   He holds the native records for the half mile and the 1000 yards.   His time for the latter is 2 min 31 sec.   Both Rodger and Mitchell once or twice attempted last year to reduce it but failed.   Whether Malcolm indulged too much in athletic exercise we do not care to say, but it is noteworthy that just as he was at his height, he contracted an illness which developed to such an extent that he was compelled to give up the idea of ever running again.   It was thought with care he might recover, but this was not to be and he died at the age of 34.   He wore his honours most unobtrusively, and his whole bearing on the track and off it was in consonance with his chivalry which is naturally associated with amateurism.   He was widely popular among all connected with athletics.”

Walter Malcolm first appears as a Clydesdale Harrier in season 1890/91 when he won two first prizes, two seconds and two thirds.   This was the first year that there was a Greenock Section as opposed to a more general Renfrewshire Section, and he was appointed the Local Captain of the club.   It was fitting there for that he won his first race of the year in the Greenock Morton Sports on 25th April when took the half-mile handicap.  Nearer the SAAA Championships, on 23rd May in the West of Scotland Harriers Sports at Hampden, he won the half mile (13 yards) in 2:02.6.  The second placed man was off a mark of 46 and Malcolm ‘won by a breast’, ie on the tape!   Two weeks later, June 6th, he was not quite sharp enough from 10 yards to catch JB Morrison of Edinburgh (18 yards) and finished second, beaten by a yard.   Then came the big one: the SAAA championship held at Hampden on 20th June.   He was unfortunate to come up against Robert Mitchell of Clydesdale Harriers who had won the title in each of the previous two years and was going for the treble.   Given that Malcolm, although very talented, was a comparative novice, he was beaten by Mitchell who ‘won well’ in 2:00.4 which was a Scottish record – one which Malcolm was destined to break two years later.      A fortnight later, on July 4th, at the Clydesdale Harriers Sports, Malcolm was second again – this time to a Dunfermline Football Club man, JG Mackie off 46 yards.  There was another second in a handicap sports when he competed at Kilmarnock on 25th July off 5 yards and just could not catch Alex Mitchell of Clydesdale who was running from a mark of 46 yards.   He did not appear the Rangers Sports at the start of August, nor at the Celtic Sports on 8th August – reason?   The Greenock Morton Sports were held on the latter date and he was very busy there.   He ran in the heat (1st) and final (unplaced) in the 100 yards, was third in the 440 yards running from Scratch, third in the Mile (Scratch) and there was no half-mile on the programme.   He had started the season running as a Clydesdale Harrier and changed to running under the Morton name from the Scottish championships.   It was not unusual for athletes or other sportsmen to have several clubs: no sport demanded exclusivity at that time and it was possible, as, for example, John Blane was for a time to be listed as CH, AFC and KC for Clydesdale Harriers, Ayr FC and Kilmarnock Cycling Club.

In season 1891/92 he had improved competitively insofar as he won five first prizes, six seconds and four thirds over the summer 1892 season: he did not ever appear in the cross-country results and probably spent the winter playing for Greenock Morton FC.   As in 1891, his first meeting was on 30th April and was the Morton FC Sports.   He ran in their colours.   In the 440 yards open, he won his heat in 56.4 sec, but was unplaced in the Final.   On 21st May, at the Abercorn FC Sports in Paisley, he was back racing the quarter nile distance and finished third .   The Queen’s Park Sports on 3rd June were interesting.   The final of the half-mile was won by R Mitchell, running from scratch under the St Mirren banner, with Malcolm, also from scratch, and J Ball of West of Scotland tie-ing for second.   The places were decided then by the toss of a coin which placed Ball second and Malcolm third.   They were only two yards behind Mitchell.   Then in the SAAA Championships held at  Dundee Mitchell again won the half mile, making it four in a row, with Malcolm second.   The winning time was 2:05.8.     Malcolm’s big moment of the season came however on 2nd July in the Clydesdale Harriers Sports when he was second in the 880 yards, running from scratch in 2:00.2 for a new Scottish record.   The winner was running from 36 yards.   Mitchell and Malcolm came head to head over 880 yards again on 30th July in the St Mirren Sports at Paisley.   There wre 40 men started in the race with both Malcolm and Mitchell starting from scratch.   Itr didn’t take them long to get into the crowd (Glasgow Herald description) in front of them, ‘but it was absolutely impossible to get through them.’    The winning time was 1:59.2, neither was in the first three who started respectively from 55, 45 and 38 yards marks.   In the Rangers Sports on 5th August, Malcolm won his Heat of the 440 yards but was unplaced in the Final.   On 20th August the Morton Sports were held at Greenock and this time the only race that Malcolm ran in was the 880 – Mitchell was absent.   Of the 17 entrants, there were only nine starters and Malcolm was quickly in among them: the race was really between him and JJ Watson, of Ayr FC (18 yards), and Watson won by a few yards from Malcolm and Jack Wright, Clydesdale Harriers off 22 yards.   Winning time: 2:02.4.

The following year, 1892/93, Walter Malcolm won the same total number of prizes as in the previous summer (15) but were notably upgraded to six  firsts, seven seconds and  two thirds.      The season started at the Morton Sports on 29th April with a double victory: he won the 880 yards handicap 2:06.4 and went on to win his Heat and the final of the 440 yards in 54.8 (Heat time 55 seconds).   A month later at the Abercorn FC Sports in Paisley on 20th May, he won both Heat and Final of the 440 yards off 8 yards in 51 seconds.   XX At the West of Scotland Sports at what must have been his favourite track (Hampden) on Monday, 12th June,  Malcolm broke the national 1000 yards record with a time of  2:21.o.   He now held two Scottish records as he headed into the SAAA Championships.   They were held at Hampden on 17th June Malcolm fulfilled expectations when he won in  2:01.8 after trailing Hindle of St Mirren FC until 50 yards from the tape to win his first national title.      Finally, in the Morton Sports at Cappielow, Greenock, on 12th August he ran in the 600 yards scratch invitation race and finished second to J Rodger of Maybole FC – a very quick 440/880 runner who had never got the beating of Malcolm in any half mile race.   

He raced in summer 1894 and was awarded a Clydesdale Harriers gold badge for a good performance but his racing career was basically finished by then and he died early in 1895.    He had been an excellent athlete and had played his part in hacking the 880 yards time down to the two minute barrier.