MEMBERSHIP NOTES 24th July 2016
I am standing down as Membership Secretary and Alastair Macfarlane is standing down as SVHC Secretary in October 2016. Ada Stewart and John Softley have very kindly volunteered to take over from us, subject to approval at the AGM on 16th October.
Welcome to the 24 new and 4 reinstated members who have joined or re-joined since 17th March 2016. 40 members did not renew their subs this year, & 1 resigned. As of 24th July 2016, we have 478 paid up members, including 19 over 80, & 4 Life Members.
I regret to report the deaths of 2 ex-members. Jim Robertson from Cathcart tragically died in the Cairngorms on 2 March, 2 days before his 61st birthday. Alex Stevenson from Kilwinning died on 2nd June, aged 81.
The electronic version of the Newsletter is now the preferred option. Any member who would rather receive a printed Newsletter must contact David Fairweather (djf@ dfairweather.plus.com), if they have not already done so. Please inform David if you add or change your email address.
Please send photos, news, letters, articles, etc for the next issue To: COLIN YOUNGSON TOMLOAN, SANQUHAR ROAD, FORRES, IV36 1DG e-mail: email@example.com Tel: 01309 672398
Stewards/marshals are required for club races. The club appreciate all members & friends who volunteer to act as stewards/marshals. If you are not competing just turn up and introduce yourselves to the organisers.
Thank you to the members who have set up standing orders for membership subscriptions. Please remember to update the amount payable, & keep me informed if your membership details change (especially email addresses). If any other member wishes to set up a standing order please contact me.
CLUB VESTS Vests and shorts can be purchased from Andy Law – £18 for vests, including postage and £23 for shorts, including postage. If ordering both together deduct one lot of postage. Or, can be delivered to any of the Club races by arrangement with no postage. (Tel: 01546 605336. or email firstname.lastname@example.org)
NAME JOINED NUMBER TOWN
Arlene Lewis 01-Apr-16 2299 Partick
Jane Scott 07-Apr-16 2300 Stirling
Jeanette Craig 20-Apr-16 2301 Blantyre
Graeme Clark 23-Apr-16 2302 Fraserburgh
Chris Devine 01-May-16 2303 Loughbrickland
Patricia Allen 05-May-162304 Wishaw
Anne Marie McGregor 05-May-16 2305 Kirkintilloch
Edward McLoone 05-May-16 2306 Glasgow
Julie Wilson 12-May-162307 Inverness
Tony Golabek 01-Jun-16 2308 Alness
William Goldie 01-Jun-16 2309 Balloch
Scott Bradley 03-Jun-16 2310 Kilsyth
Richard Mair 03-Jun-16 2311 Irvine
Brian Scally 09-Jun-16 2312 Glasgow
Garry Mathew 15-Jun-16 2313 Bearsden
Alex McIntosh 15-Jun-16 2314 Kilmarnock
Kate Jenkins 20-Jun-16 2315 Peebles
Linzie Marsh 25-Jun-16 2316 Dunfermline
Nicholas Gemmell 27-Jun-16 2317 Glasgow
Scott Hyslop 28-Jun-16 2318 Philpstoun
Ian Ellis 28-Jun-162319 Dumbarton
Stuart McGeachy 29-Jun-16 2320 Campbeltown
Ross McEachern 04-Jul-16 2321 Dullatur
John Reid 14-Jul-16 2322 Eyemouth
Alex Hay 01-Apr-16 1913 Lanark
David Geddes 05-Apr-16 603 Glasgow
Jamie Reid 01-Jun-16 2038 Glasgow
Julia Henderson 29-Jun-16 1852 Helensburgh
David Fairweather Membership Secretary
GREAT SCOTTISH VETERAN ATHLETES:
(Fiona Matheson has been the most successful Scottish Veteran Harrier for several years – although one of her inspirations – Janette Stevenson – is performing equally well at present. I will sum up Fiona’s career achievements after she has answered the Questionnaire. Ed.)
Fiona Matheson battling with Joasia Zakrzewski in the 2013 Tom Scott Ten Fiona went on to win the race and also set a new W50 World Record of 58.08
NAME : Fiona Matheson
CLUBs: Falkirk Victoria Harriers
DATE OF BIRTH: 25.04.1961
OCCUPATION: Administrator NHS
HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED IN THE SPORT?
My journey into running began with Jog Scotland. It’s a brilliant initiative and starter point for people of all ages, shapes, sizes to be introduced to jogging and then, depending on your goals, running and perhaps joining a local club.
One of Jog Scotland’s mottos is walk before you jog and jog before you run. You do not need to hire any expensive facilities and it requires very little specialist equipment, just some comfy clothing and a pair of trainers. Which reminds me, on the first night of Jog Scotland I wore my old lounging about the house joggy bottoms and a pair of cross trainers that had been at the back of my wardrobe for a number of years. I did not want to go to any expense in case I did not take to it. After four weeks however I was no longer worried about not taking to it. I even treated myself to a new pair of joggers and a new pair of trainers. I loved the ‘at your own pace theme’ of Jog Scotland and of course the boost to my self-esteem, the social aspects and not to mention the huge health benefits.
HAS ANY INDIVIDUAL OR GROUP HAD A MARKED INFLUENCE ON YOUR ATTITUDE OR INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE?
A number of individuals but mainly Masters are my inspiration/influence and so many to name and apologies to the many awesome Masters out there I have not name checked, you know who you are, but in particular Janette Stevenson, Caroline Lawless, Andy Ronald, Robin McNelis, Joasia Zakrzewski, Berly Junnier, Laura Mahady, Melissa Whyte, Betty Gilchrist, Walter McCaskey and of course my husband Grant. If he had not started running a few years before me, I might not have even considered running as a hobby. Plus of course all the encouragement/help in planning for races my good friend Jim Munn has given me throughout the years.
WHAT EXACTLY DO YOU GET OUT OF THE SPORT?
So many things. Top of the list, as mentioned above, the huge health benefit, plus definitely meeting so many wonderful like-minded and inspiring people throughout the UK and Ireland. Visiting places that I might not have got around to if there hadn’t been a race on in that town/city.
WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER TO BE YOUR BEST EVER PERFORMANCE OR PERFORMANCES?
It has still got to be my first ever 10K – Round the Houses in Grangemouth. My main aims/goals at that time were to complete this in under an hour, taking out the walking part and jogging all the way, which I did and was absolutely delighted. I remember coming over the finish line, and you would have thought I had won the race, never mind position, whatever it was (which was not important) but in my mind I was a winner, as I had achieved my goals that day! Plus the added bonus of getting a spot prize from Janette Stevenson when I came over the line made it a memory I will never forget.
I am not a fan of the cold. Therefore if it is extremely cold, which is normal in XC Events, I unfortunately have a bit of a negative head on to start with! Therefore there have been a few XC Events that I have been a little disappointed with.
WHAT UNFULFILLED AMBITIONS DO YOU HAVE?
Perhaps to maybe run an Ultra event, although I have no plans at the moment.
OTHER LEISURE ACTIVITIES?
Spending time with my family/friends especially my Grandson Jack.
WHAT DOES RUNNING BRING YOU THAT YOU WOULD NOT HAVE WANTED TO MISS?
The discipline you get from the training, planning your events and setting yourself specific goals in life. If you achieve these goals, great, but if not, to continue to work hard to achieve specific goals, by exploring other ways to train by listening to others, tweaking training methods and nutrition, as there is always something that you can learn. The saying “Every day is a School Day” comes to mind, especially for my running. It has also got to be a big advantage to be able to treat yourself food/beverage wise a bit more than if you didn’t run!!
CAN YOU GIVE SOME DETAILS OF YOUR TRAINING?
My Running Group RTC Falkirk Victoria Harriers train on a Tuesday, Thursday evening and a Saturday morning. I usually make the Tuesday and Saturday Session and our dedicated, encouraging Coaches David Murray and Gordon Mitchell cater for a variety of different distances, as the Group consists of different age ranges, and individuals targeting different goals, so the training is very well structured and thought out throughout the year. On the other days of the week I run to and from my work, depending on the time factor in the morning i.e. when I manage to get out of my bed, as I am afraid I’m not someone that can bounce out of bed! I have a 4, 5 or 7 mile route to choose from, which can take me along the canal, roads or trail. On a Sunday I have a long run and the mileage depends on what I am training for at the time. Just now (February 2016) I am training for a 10 miler, and therefore my training on Sundays at the moment can be anything between 10-14 miles, depending on what the group training session has been on the Saturday.
Fiona going for a 10k personal best despite a Stirling downpour
(Such is Fiona’s modesty, no one reading her answers, above, would have any idea just how good she has been! Following are a few clues…. Ed.)
Fiona Matheson’s running career is remarkable. A late starter, and at first delighted merely that she was able to jog, considerable improvement came amazingly fast.
Despite being in the W40 age-group, Fiona was first overall in the 2005 Scottish Half Marathon in Dunfermline. Other Senior Scottish titles were won in 2010 (Half Marathon again) and 2013 (Ten Miles). She has secured other individual Senior medals in the Scottish 5k and 10k Championships.
As for Scottish Masters titles, you name it, she’s won it, in three age groups, on track (indoors and outdoors) road and country, over distances from 1500m to the marathon! Since most of us rate the Masters Cross-Country very highly, it must be stated that Fiona Matheson has been very successful, despite her self-confessed dislike of cold racing conditions. She led Falkirk Victoria Harriers to three successive team titles (2005-2007); and also won the SWCC and RRA Vets Cup, for the outright winner, in 2006. In 2007 she annexed the W45 title; in 2012, the W50 one; and in January 2016, aged 54, W50 again. Fiona has a tremendous record, when representing Scottish Masters in the annual British and Irish XC International: winning the W50 title in 2012 and 2013; and achieving individual W50 silver in 2014 and 2015.
Back in 2005, Fiona finished first in the Scottish Masters Marathon at Lochaber. In 2006 she won Lochaber again; and in 2007, the Edinburgh Marathon; as well as being first W45 in the Great North Run Half Marathon and the Great Scottish Run 10k.
Since then, Fiona has not gone back to the marathon but has concentrated on shorter distances. Between 2010 and 2014, as her power of 10 profile makes clear, she raced a fantastic amount! British Masters titles were won. In the W45 age group: 5000m (twice); and 5k. In 2011 she ventured abroad to Thionville, France, and won two W45 European non-stadia Championships: 10k and Half Marathon.
In the W50 age group Fiona Matheson has done even better. 2012 saw her win BMAF 1500m and 5000m gold medals in Derby; plus the Scottish East District Senior 3000m. In 2013, in addition to victory in the British Masters 10k in Glasgow, she triumphed again in the BMAF track championships, this time in Birmingham, winning 1500m and 5000m.
2014 was when Fiona Matheson secured perhaps her most prestigious medal. On the 25th of March, in Budapest, Hungary, taking part in the World Masters Championships, she won the W50 Cross Country title. Two days later, she was second in the World Indoors 1500m; and three days after that, second in the 3000m. A World Masters gold medal plus two silver medals in five days!
Fiona has started 2016 with a parkrun, W50 gold in the Scottish Masters XC at Forres, and first in her age group in the Senior National XC at Falkirk where at, the age of 54, she finished a meritorious 30th overall (and fourth Master, with only three W40s in front of her).
We all look forward to future triumphs (in the next age group) for Phenomenal Fiona Matheson!
GREAT SCOTTISH VETERAN ATHLETES:
(Willie Marshall had phenomenal success as a runner, especially between the ages of 50 and 70. When I won my first Scottish Vets XC title in 1988, Willie became M60 champion. We became nodding acquaintances, but he didn’t say much and, although he was well respected, I did not understand just how good he was. Well I sure do now; and can only marvel at the times he set and the titles he won. It is a real pleasure to profile him properly here. Ed.)
CLUBs: Motherwell YMCA, Clyde Valley and Cambuslang.
DATE OF BIRTH: 12.12.1927.
OCCUPATION: Invoice clerk –retired.
HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED IN THE SPORT? I saw the local Harriers at Motherwell out and about and thought I would like to do that.
HAS ANY INDIVIDUAL OR GROUP HAD A MARKED INFLUENCE ON YOUR ATTITUDE OR INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE? The runners and club officials at Motherwell were very supportive.
WHAT EXACTLY DO YOU GET OUT OF THE SPORT? I am no longer running due to health issues. However I did enjoy the fellowship, the travelling and the winning!!!
WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER TO BE YOUR BEST EVER PERFORMANCE OR PERFORMANCES? Winning my first World titles in Canada in 1994 at 10k and 25k on the road.
YOUR WORST? Anything that involved heavy cross country courses !!!!
WHAT UNFULFILLED AMBITIONS DO YOU HAVE? None.
OTHER LEISURE ACTIVITIES? As well as travelling to races, I used to enjoy many family holidays.
CAN YOU GIVE SOME DETAILS OF YOUR TRAINING? Long slow distance on the road – 50-60 miles per week. Raced every second week and that gave me the speed required.
(These answers provide interesting clues to Willie’s career but far too little detail.)
The first mention I can find of William Marshall in the records is in November 1949, when he ran the First Stage of the Edinburgh to Glasgow Road Relay. He wore the vest of Motherwell YMCA, and it is fair to say that the club struggled at that time. In the 1956 Relay, Willie ran (his favourite) Stage Five, and Motherwell improved to 12th. Marshall ran Five again, every year from 1957 to 1962 – and his club recorded the following placings: 10th, 6th, 5th, 3rd and 1st! YMCA stars included Andy Brown and his brother Alec, Bert McKay, Tom Scott, Davie Simpson and, later on, John Linaker, Ian McCafferty and Dick Wedlock. No wonder they became the top club in Scotland. During their first victory in 1962, Willie Marshall ran Stage Three and gained five places. Motherwell YMCA won again in 1963 and 1964 (with Willie running 3); and in 1965, when Willie ran Five, ended up second to the superb Edinburgh University Hare and Hounds team, led by Fergus Murray. YMCA were third in 1966 (Willie on Three). However by 1967 the bubble had burst, and they finished 16th (with Willie on Four); and in 1968 could only manage 19th, when he ran the First Stage at the age of 40. Nevertheless, William Marshall must have been very proud to have played a stalwart part in the rise and fall of such a splendid club; and to have won three gold, one silver and two bronze medals in the wonderful E to G.
Although Willie Marshall was in no doubt that road was his favourite surface; followed by track; and only then country (especially mud), he did finish 58th in the 1964 Senior National, which made him Motherwell’s fifth counter and helped to secure team bronze.
William Marshall must have continued training and racing into the 1970s. The SVHC held their first cross-country championships in 1971, when runners aged 40-49 competed in the same race and there was no M45 category. He must have looked forward to turning 50; and once this had happened, twenty years of greater success began.
In the 1978 Scottish Veterans Cross-Country Championships, William Marshall (running for Clyde Valley AC) won his first title at M50. The following year he lost a close battle with Hugh Mitchell of Shettleston. However Willie returned to the gold standard in 1980 and was champion again in 1981.
When he turned 60, for four years he had no close rival, and (representing Motherwell YMCA once more) won four successive Scottish Veterans XC championships (1988-1991). Between 1993 and 1996 (running for Cambuslang) Willie reigned supreme and won another four titles, in the M65 age group. In total, he had collected an amazing 11 individual gold medals in this prestigious fixture!
An unusual race participation for William Marshall took place in November 1993 at Lord Trehearne’s Estate outside Cardiff, when he ran for Scottish Veterans in the annual Five Nations International Cross-Country. The Scottish M60 team: Hugh Gibson, Willie Marshall and Pat Keenan (who packed well in 5th, 6th and 8th) won silver medals.
David Marshall, Willie’s son wrote:
“My Dad had been successful before M50, picking up prizes in many events. However after this, more momentum was gained.
Between the age of 50 and 55, he won medals at Scottish and British level, especially on the road and track.
An even greater change was in 1984, when he became European M55 10k road champion in Switzerland. The same year he won the British M55 1500m.
In 1985, he won the British Vets M55 5000m title.
Other highlights included the following.
1988: he won the M60 British Veterans cross-country at Irvine, after a close battle with Bob Belford (a World Vets 5000m bronze medallist). Then he was first in the Scottish Vets track M60 800m (2.33.0) and 1500m (4.55.3). Other victories included the British M60 road 10k and track 5000m championships.
1989: he broke M60 World Indoor records for 1500m (4.49.5) and 3000m (10.18.6), while winning British Indoor titles. The same year he won the European M60 10k on the road; as well as the British Vets 5000m and 10,000m on the track; and 10 miles on the road.
1990: he was first in the British M60 10 miles road, 5000m and 10,000m track.
1993: he set another World record (M65) in winning the Scottish Vets 3000 Indoor in 10.32.28. He also won the British 5000m, setting a British record. Then he was first in the M65 European 10k Road championship in the Czech Republic; as well as winning the Half Marathon the following day!!!!!
1994: he won the World Vets M65 10k and 25k titles in Canada. In addition he was first in the British Vets indoor 3000m.
1995: he was first in the M65 European 10k in Spain (37.14); and also victorious in the Half Marathon (1.23.37), again on the following day. Earlier that year, he had won the M65 British cross-country title at Irvine.
1998: he won the World M70 10k road in Japan; and broke the World record in the British indoor 3000m. In addition he was first in the Scottish M70 Indoor 1500m and 3000m; and the Outdoor 5000m.
1999: in the British Vets track, he won M70 titles at 5000m and 10,000m
2000: he won the M70 World 10k road title in Spain (39.57).
(Willie winning the 2000 M70 10k Road title in Spain.)
(As anyone who has competed from M50 to M70 will be only too aware, Willie Marshall’s list of titles and very fast times will be almost impossible to match. What an inspiration and formidable challenge for future Masters athletes in those age-groups! His development is interesting: from a club member who trained lightly; to a good club runner who avoided too much mileage but raced frequently for speed-work; to a brilliant veteran, who continued to train steadily and also to race at all distances from 800m to 25km. ‘Train, Don’t Strain’ was the philosophy behind Long Slow Distance. Not a bad notion for anyone wishing to run well after 50?)
Bert McKay, who was a very important influence on the success of Motherwell YMCA, said: “Willie seemed to be a very light trainer but took part regularly in fast pack runs at the club on Tuesdays and Thursdays. He was a nice man, quiet and apparently frail but obviously much tougher than he looked. I remember one particular 5 mile road run I had with Willie just a week before one E to G. I was in good form but could not drop Willie at any time during the run! He was a lot better than he showed when he was younger.”
Peter Duffy (who was a good hill-runner and also won a medal in the Scottish Marathon) said: “I was a team-mate of Willie’s at Motherwell YMCA. On the road he was too fast for me and had a beautifully smooth, flowing style. When I was a club member, he only trained on his own and did not run at all on Sundays, due to strong Christian beliefs. He was respected for this and his fine running in the E to G.”
George Black (who has recently broken the British M75 20 miles record) wrote:
“I remember Willie Marshall well. When I started running he was my target.
Remember first time I beat him was a 2 mile at Glasgow Green I was please although 11 years older than me!
One small anecdote. I was competing in a Yorkshire Vets 5K track championship when that fine runner, Gerry Spinks of Bingley, approached a group of us and asked for our assistance in his attempt to better the British Record for the event.
I asked who held the record and he replied, “some Scots guy.”
I correctly suspected it was Willie Marshall so my response was less than cordial.
He failed in his attempt. I think it likely that Willie still holds the British Road 10k record for M70 (which he set at Grangemouth).
I don’t suppose he will remember me but convey my regards.”
David Fairweather wrote:
“I knew Willie quite well. He was always quiet and unassuming, and seemed to train very slowly, but still produced the speed when it was needed in races.
I remember asking him if he would run at the 1993 Masters Cross Country International in Cardiff. He said he wasn’t a XC runner, and didn’t think he was good enough! However I persuaded him to run and (at the age of 65) he finished 6th M60, a few seconds behind Hugh Gibson and two places in front of Pat Keenan, helping the team to win silver medals.”
I was given a kaleidoscope for Christmas. One of those great childhood toys that resembles an old fashioned telescope. When you hold it against the light and rotate the tubes, coloured plastic or glass fragments arrange themselves randomly in as many different patterns as snowflakes under a magnifying glass. Perhaps the subject matter of dreams and memories arise from similar random electrical stimulation inside the brain.
I’m sure that I’m not the only runner to experience the arrival of these unannounced and intense flashbacks of training runs and races, liable to replay at any moment throughout the day or night. But why should some experiences recur so vividly, and often be so enjoyable?
Any important race is usually preceded by a period of planning and living the training schedule. Fear and anticipation, sometimes with interrupted sleep patterns, can vary in intensity right up to the moment the gun is fired or klaxon sounded. Apart from morale-sapping injury or colds, that part of the experience is fairly uniform, but then comes the stuff that might stay with you for years afterwards.
That initial rush and jockeying for position, trying to find your place among the expanding rush of bodies, and to view the action taking place around you. An early connection with a rival or training partner may establish the pattern for the whole race. The duel may begin early, or be one of those long episodes of slip-streaming attrition right up to the line, or the epic last effort sprint to the tape, summoning unknown resources.
I haven’t run many track races, so running on varied surfaces – narrow paths, tracks, hills, streams or ditches – usually provides a large part of my own memory backdrop. Shoe-grabbing mud or sand, twisting forest trails, exposed tree roots, flailing branches, bracken, briars, nettles, hills that reduce you to a walk with hands on knees for upward progress, finally deteriorating to clutching heather, grass and branches, anything to maintain upward progress. And then there was the famous Glen Nevis cross country race which led through a sheep fank and involved jumping over a very dead curly-horned tup.
Then there is that moment when you run out of hill and start levelling out or begin a long sweeping descent. One pressure is off but another one is turned on. The need to lengthen stride, to read the terrain further ahead, judge turns and skids, all of the anticipation and judgement required of a downhill ski racer. That awful occasion knowing you are falling face forward, with no chance of recovery but impact and pain, miraculously avoided by a forward roll back, on to feet, leaving no more than gravel rash in the small of your back! Or striving to complete a long trail run against a setting sun dipping behind an enclosing mountain ridge, with advancing twilight creeping over your shoulder.
You hit level road after a leaping and twisting downward descent, when sudden gravity and terra firma still the rush and energy seeps back into tired legs. The ditch or stream when dry feet are irrevocably sacrificed, as wet slush and mud come shin high, the first snow chilling inside your shoe, while you try to circumvent water ice.
Of course minimalist or light weight clothing allows skin to meet rain, hailstones, wind and sun, and also subtle changes in temperature through hollows and under trees. Perceptions can be heightened even more, while running in the dark with scents of wood smoke, peat or coal combining with alarming sounds from deer or livestock on quiet country roads. All seem to contribute to the runner’s sensory palette – or should that be palate?
I suppose that the ability to move freely across the surface of the planet is one of those basic human rights that we all cherish, alongside freedom of speech and freedom of worship. Running is the ancient and original way to exercise that freedom, and to connect with terrain, without depending on the relentless crutch of mechanical interference. Perhaps one explanation for this visceral enjoyment is even its ability to awaken the primitive pursuit animal within us all and to enjoy the sociable interaction of running in a hunting pack?
But of course all these can be normal everyday events but then, somehow, the intensity and effort generated by running seems to heightens every sensory experience. So, at the end of the day, perhaps that is why they all add up and conspire to form the rich pool of images, which so often steal unbidden into our dreams and day-time musings.
By Alex Sutherland.
BRITISH AND IRISH MASTERS INTERNATIONAL CROSS-COUNTRY HISTORY (CONTINUED)
1991: Aberdeen, Balgownie Playing Fields.The event was run on 3rd November, over a smooth, grassy, undulating course. A committee, led by Mel Edwards, secured funding from Hydrasun. Consequently, free Scottish vests were given to Scottish runners; and two formal meals were supplied, the night before Sunday’s race; and afterwards, when prizes were presented.
The four nations were allowed to run not only A but B teams. This experiment was never repeated. England’s Sally Young was first woman home and the W35 gold medallist. Christine Price finished first Scot and was second W35. She had support from Janet McColl (5th W35) and Rose McAleese (11th W35), so that the Scottish team finished second to England. There was a very tight finish in the W40 race, with Janette Stevenson 3rd (W40 silver) only four seconds behind the victor, Pat Gallagher of England. The Scottish W35 team won silver.
Roy Bailey (England B) achieved a surprise victory over his own A team; and prevented runner-up Tony Simmons from winning for a fourth successive time. Brian Emmerson (Teviotdale H) was first Scot in 5th, with his team-mate Ian Elliot 8th. Scotland A finished third, behind the two English outfits. The Scottish M60 team was second, led by frequent World Veterans champion Bill Stoddart (individual silver).
1992: the event took place in Northern Ireland for the first time, at the Valley Leisure Centre, Newtownabbey, County Antrim, outside Belfast, on 31st October. The Republic of Ireland ran as Guests, which was to cause controversy later, when M45 team positions were calculated!
A report in ‘Athletics Weekly’ stated that “143 men and 58 women faced a challenging course, consisting of a number of small hills and several soft muddy areas caused by recent heavy rain.” During the races, cold winds blew and more rain fell.
England’s Ann Turrington won the women’s race. Sandra Branney was first Scot in fifth, and with Janet McColl 8th and Rose McAleese 9th, the Scottish W35 team won silver medals.
Bob Treadwell (England) defeated Tony Simmons (Wales). The first Scot to win an age group in this prestigious fixture, former Scottish marathon champion Colin Youngson (Aberdeen AAC), had his best-ever run as a veteran to finish sixth overall and first M45 (by 63 seconds). Cameron Spence (M40) was ninth and Archie Jenkins 11th so that, along with George Meredith and Brian Howie, the team won M40 team silver.
The Scottish M45 team (Youngson, Terry Dolan, Colin Martin and Bill Adams) won gold by one point, from Wales and England. The event organiser, Jim Harris, was very happy to hand the medals over to fellow Celts. However the excitable English team manager, distraught that England had only won all six of the other age-groups, asserted repeatedly that, if Eire had been taken out of the results, then England would have won by a single point! Nevertheless, the four Scots still possess those treasured medals. Colin Y and Archie J celebrated with Guinness in a famous Victorian gin palace: the Crown Liquor Saloon, Belfast. That weekend, opportunist Colin also sold 80 copies of his book “Running Shorts”.
Colin Youngson wrote: “Having been second five times in M40 British Veterans events, I wanted to try extra hard to win something at M45. So far, 1992 had been fairly successful for me: second in the Scottish Vets cross-country; and winning Scottish M40 titles at the Lochaber Marathon and Tom Scott 10. Training did not go over 60 miles per week but usually included time-trials and pushing very hard up road hills. I raced quite frequently, including 1500m (4.17), 3k (8.59), 5k (15.33), 10k (32) and half marathon (71). The last two weeks before Belfast I eased down and refrained from ‘celebrating’ my 45th birthday. During the race, along with my old rival Cammy Spence, I stayed near the back of the leading pack then, up the last hill into a headwind, ‘sat’ on the previous year’s overall winner, Roy Bailey, before somehow managing to out-kick him downhill – and was absolutely delighted to perform well in an important event. It was the only time I ever punched the air as I crossed the finish line! Later I was to win British M45 titles at 10k, marathon and cross-country.”
Archie Jenkins wrote: “I have been involved in this wonderful event since 1992, twenty-one times as a competitor, and on the other occasions as a reserve – and once as the announcer. Not only is it special competitively, involving quality fields, but also socially, involving team camaraderie, and annually meeting up with friends, old and new, from each of the five competing countries. Sadly, in the case of English runners Jimmy Bell and Ken Moss, with whom I had many a battle in my age group, they are no longer with us.
Socially, memories spring to mind of: Andy McLinden`s hangovers; acting as translator to the English for the legend Bobby Young; and having to follow, okay voluntarily, Colin Youngson on his post-race real ale pub crawls (although Doug Cowie may be less happy about those memories).
Over the years it has been great to see Scotland team stalwarts such as Ian Stewart, Brian Gardner, Andy McLinden, Pete Cartwright and Jane Waterhouse (apologies to the others not mentioned) who all persevered over the years to eventually and regularly pick up individual medals. On the ladies` side, Hazel Bradley for one always makes herself available for selection. I also appreciate the hard work of team managers, initially Danny Wilmoth, then Davie Fairweather.
Personally, with the M65 age group looming in the not too distant future, it would be great to continue the feat of competing in every age group from M35 up. Admittedly the M35 was a fluke in Dublin 2010, stepping in as a spare reserve! Physically, however, this is going to take a lot of effort, including a loss of old age weight.
My own competitive memories, include finishing 8th in the M40s in my first run (wearing a Grimplex Scottish vest) at Newtonabbey in Northern Ireland and first Scot in the age group, initially after looking like I was only going to be a reserve. This started a long unbroken series of selection. In the 1992 run, I was in fact third Scot behind M45 winner Colin Youngson and Cameron Spence. My purple patch was the first two years as a M45, placing 3rd in Ballymena in 1998 and retaining this 3rd position one year later in the infamous St Asaph`s race in Wales, where if you were not involved in the leading group, you were held up queuing at a kissing gate – fortunately I was in the top ten throughout! Post-race, Trudi Thompson knocked on my hotel room door to join her for a five mile run – that would have been the better option, instead of listening to my football team get well and truly gubbed. Over the years, nine team medals were won, including the special gold ones in 2001 and 2007, beating the English. Long may this tremendous race continue and hopefully, in the future, Scottish Athletics may provide the team kit, just like most of the other countries do, and non SVHC club members may decide to join and make Scottish teams even stronger.”
Doug Cowie wrote:
“My honest opinion is that I enjoyed my earlier ones the best. Most of us travelled by coach, which I felt made for a better team spirit – apart from my first selection in 1993. The bus travelled all the way to Cardiff, arriving at 9pm. 30 minutes after the end of the race (and a visit to the supermarket for 4 cans of Murphy’s stout) we were on our way home, to arrive back in Glasgow at 1.30am! All the way, there and back, I really felt like an outsider! The only people I remember giving me the time of day were Andy McLinden and his Hamilton team mate Hughie Gibson. In 1994 we travelled to Sunderland by bus, but I felt better, since I had George Sim and Graham Milne for company.
In 1995 we were off to Dublin in a bus that we had to push-start every time. We even had to push it off the boat. It was a thrill that year to meet (and beat) Tony Simmons.
Doug with the great Tony Simmons
George, Graham and I gave the night ‘do’ a miss, opting to go into town! The taxi driver who took us in said he would pick us up at 11pm, at the same place he dropped us off – and he was as good as his word. On our return to our hotel in Malahide we were invited to join the Irish Cycling function which was taking place. George’s wife’s cousin Alistair McClennan was head coach!!! Joe Dolan was performing, which was a great end to the day.
For me Wales, England and Ireland was repeated in each age group – I never ran in Scotland or N Ireland, since they were at the wrong end of age group for me.
I particularly enjoyed the two or three hours after the race in the company of Colin Y, Archie J and Ian Stewart, either watching a 5/6 Nations rugby match or sussing out a new ale! We should be ever indebted to Lynn Marr for her taxi duties.
I remember being in a pub in Navan, watching Ireland against England, and the locals being quite amused by the guy in a Scottish tracksuit wearing his newly swapped Irish vest!”
Ian Leggett wrote: “After the demise of the prestigious Edinburgh to Glasgow Road Relays this annual event in November is a must goal for us old codgers. The fixture is circulated around each different participating country and this year it will be organised in Scotland.
My first introduction was in 1988 with only three home countries taking place; now, with the two Irish countries added, it has become more International.
I’ve been fortunate enough to formulate life-long friendships from this event, as normally the circulation of personnel through the age groups has been constant, with the exception of the English teams who, with their greater depth in numbers, seem to be able to change their line-up regularly.
The Scottish team’s kit always seemed to be inferior to that of the other nations, maybe because of the 50 shades of Blue, which is dark compared to the bright Green of the Irish, the radiant Red of Welsh and the White of England ( who by the way receive sponsorship from Sport England).
It doesn’t mean that the Scottish teams haven’t performed well, because we have had some very notable victories in the past and will have in the future.
I would like to remark on two memorable events that have stuck for ever in my memory and both, coincidentally, were in Ireland.
The first event was in NAVAN in Southern Ireland, in 2000. We had a long trip by bus and arrived in the middle of a rain storm at 10 o’clock at night. The bus stopped in the dark outside this ivy-covered Country Manor stuck in the middle of nowhere. The arched wooden entrance door looked as if was out of the Rocky Horror Show or the Addams Family and, with the torrential rain belting down, all that was missing was the forked lightning as the door creaked open and we were ushered into the main reception area.
This was an old fashioned library of old dark oak shelves up to the ceiling. The lighting was pretty dim and the heating consisted of a one-bar electric fire. Our beds were in dormitory style, as this used to be a Convent at one time. It was certainly very Spartan but we managed to put out a sterling performance in the race.
The second experience I want to relate to was in NEWTONABBEY just outside Belfast in 1992. It was during the times of the unrest In Ireland and the security forces were still operational in Northern Ireland.
Our accommodation was in the centre of Belfast, in the Europa Hotel and, as we slept in our rooms, suddenly in the middle of the night we had a helicopter with searchlights scanning our hotel and, as the bright lights swept across our window, we wondered what was coming next. Thankfully it passed on.
In the morning we had a warm-up run planned and, while running through the streets of Belfast at that time in the early morning we encountered British soldiers crouching in doorways, with their guns at the ready, and also on side streets complete with combat gear. Black cabs were everywhere: they were the only way to get around as no buses were allowed into the centre of town. We encountered the barricades and every store had its own security guards prominent outside its doors.
The races themselves were all well organised and the Northern Ireland contingent were full of the best Irish hospitality. I returned home with admiration for their bravery and fortitude in face of the situation they were in.
These are just memories for me personally. Others will have many stories and memories attached to this event and long may it continue. I am always proud to pull on the Scotland Vest whenever I can.”
1993: The course was outside Cardiff in Lord Trehearne’s Estate, on dry grass and featured a short but very stiff hill. Archie Jenkins remembers the ‘Saga bus trip on the way down from Glasgow’, with older team members requiring relief at every service station.
Doug Cowie, Andy McLinden, Gerry Fairley, Ian Seggie, Bob Young, Steve Dempsey, Chris Price, Archie Jenkins, George Meredith, Allan Adams, Margaret Robertson, Ian Donnelly, Ron Smith, Bob Guthrie, Brian Campbell, Andy Stirling.
The top Scottish performance was by Christine Price (formerly Chris Haskett, of the famous Dundee running family). This experienced international athlete won the W40 title. (She first represented Scotland, aged 17, at the 1970 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh.) All of the Scottish women had good runs, with very close packing, and special mention should go to: Janet McColl (3rd W35), Sue Roger (2nd W50), Margaret Robertson (11th W40), Rose McAleese (9th W35), Ann Nally (6th W50) and Irene Gibson (8th W50). (Irene’s father was the great John Suttie Smith). The W50 team won silver medals.
Christine Price working for her W40 gold medal
In the men’s race, Gerry Fairley started fast but eventually Archie Jenkins came past to finish first Scot (8th M40) with Gerry 11th. Ian Seggie was 13th M45; Bob Guthrie and Bobby Young 7th and 9th M50; and Hugh Gibson, Willie Marshall and Pat Keenan 5th, 6th and 8th in the M60 race – finishing second team.
1994: Silksworth, Sunderland. The course was very muddy. Since the Scottish team arrived shortly before the start, the women had to change on the bus. Janette Stevenson was 2nd W40. With Sandra Branney third and Rose McAleese fifth, the Scottish W40 team won gold medals. Jackie Byng was 3rd W50 and her team (Mary Chambers and Ann Nally) won silver.
The Men did less well on this occasion. Archie Jenkins was first Scot (tenth M40). Allan Adams was ninth M50, with Bobby Young tenth and Bernie McMonagle 11th. In the M60s, Hugh Gibson was fifth and Stuart Lawson tenth.
1995: Dublin, Malahide Castle. “We met at Queen Street Station for the journey by coach to Stranraer for the ferry. In Malahide accommodation was at the Grand Hotel, which was old-fashioned and rambling but pleasant and comfortable.”
On race day the weather was cool and the course flat, firm and fast. In the Open Race, Team Manager David Fairweather was first M50 and Tom O’Reilly first M60.
In the Women’s Race, Maggie Sinclair was 8th W40, Kate Todd 8th W45 and Jackie Byng 4th W50.
The Men’s Race featured a contest between Eire’s Gerry Kiernan and England’s Nigel Gates, which the latter won clearly. First Scot home was Charlie McDougall (3rd M45); closely followed by George Sim (5th M45); then Jim Robertson (16th M40); and Archie Jenkins (18th M40). Next was Archie Duncan, who ran a stormer to finish 2nd M50, ahead of such notable M45 runners as Harry Matthews and Tony Simmons. Bobby Young was 6th M50.
A battle went on, between Peter McGregor (M45), George Black (M55) and Hugh Rankin (M60). George came through to win that little contest and secure M55 silver; Hugh did even better to win the M60 race. He was supported by Jim Irvine (6th) and Henry Morrison (7th) to win M60 team gold, beating England on count-back.
Archie Jenkins recalls that it was a lovely day and, afterwards, the Guinness was very refreshing. An excellent dinner dance was the first evening function since Aberdeen.
1996: Irvine, Beach Park. This tough, undulating grassy course had been used for several Scottish XC championships as well as the 1995 British Veterans one. Former GB marathon international Lynn Harding ran brilliantly to win the W35 title and lead the Scottish team to gold. Sonia Armitage did really well to place 4th. With Trudi Thompson 9th, the Scottish W35 team beat England to win gold medals. Consistent Jackie Byng was 6th W50.
In the Men’s race, Gerry Gaffney was first Scot (6th M40). He was backed by Keith Varney, Archie Jenkins and Brian Gardner, to win team silver. Colin Youngson finished 5th M45, but was slower than the superb Dougie Gemmell (third Scot home and M50 individual silver medallist). George Black did very well to be third M55. Hugh Rankin won M60 silver, and his team (John Gormley and Henry Morrison) also finished second.
1997: Ballymena, Sentry Park. The night before the races, the hotel dance went on until one a.m. and then drunks bellowed in the car park. It was important not to be upset by lack of sleep. There was a one-mile loop to be circled, undulating and rather muddy on bends. Trudi Thompson, GB ultra-marathon runner, was first Scottish woman, in a fine second place overall. Jackie Byng ran well to be 6th W50.
In the Men’s race, teams from the five countries lined up in pens, waiting for a countdown to the start. The hooter caught everyone by surprise. Everyone rushed downhill to the first sharp right-hand corner. Some idiot running in bare feet skidded straight on and was never seen again! Athletes charged on recklessly, as the course twisted and turned, rose and fell. The big hill felt harder on the second lap – and for the men there were five to get round. Keith Varney was first Scot; Archie Jenkins 3rd M45; and Colin Youngson third M50 with his team (including Bobby Young, Dougie Gemmell and Davie Fairweather) winning silver medals. The banquet was very good, followed by a demo of Irish dancing and lots of Guinness. The legendary 1972 Olympic Pentathlon champion, Mary Peters, handed out the prizes.
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Sun 14th BMAF Marathon Championships Ballacloan Stadium, North Shore Road, Ramsey, Isle of Man, IM8 3DX
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26th Oct – 06th Nov World Masters Track & Field Champs Perth, Australia November 2016
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