Disclaimer: I have done no research and have written this in about 8 minutes. It’s a partly tongue in cheek piece with a degree of truth designed to stimulate debate and is full of questions without any facts. Love to hear your views.
This may be a controversial statement but Scottish Athletics maybe isn’t as rosy as everyone thinks. We look at the Laura Muirs, the Calum Hawkins, the Andy Butcharts and deservedly so but despite that tip, under that water I am not convinced we have as big an iceberg as people think. OK I have been in my bed with a sickness bug and a temperature and am seeing imaginary (or are they?) Flintstones dancing on my ceiling but bear with me. Why am I so pessimistic? Well I ran at the Drumpellier 5k on Sunday where the top 6 were all over the age of 40, 4 of them (including me) over the age of 45. In its sister event, the Monklands Half marathon, the top 3 were all over 40.
The 5k was used by Motherwell AC as part of their club champs. Currently of the top 10 males in those championships 8 are over the age of 40. I did Strathclyde parkrun the other week and finished 5th. Out of the top 6 there was me in my 40s, two in their 50s, one in their 60s. Now maybe it’s just Lanarkshire. Maybe it’s just this month. Maybe I have looked at the wrong races. But where are all the promising juniors? Where are the seniors? Where are the standards?
Are we still getting it wrong bridging the youngsters across? Is there no desire for youngsters to road race any more? And barring that where are the 30+ runners? In looking at entries online recently for races I have entered why are 45 – 49 and 50- 54 the most popular age groups of entrants?
Is Scottish Athletics and running in such great shape? Are the superstars deflecting from a lessening participation of key ages? Maybe it is all about the track.
Now I look at parkrun etc and I think it is great that so many people are starting to look after themselves and run. I was one of them, giving up the cigarettes 4 years ago after a 20 year habit and it is great to see all these people coming back or into the sport. And again I agree that running doesn’t always have to equal racing. I am not for even one moment saying that everyone should race. Not at all. Running is great for the mind, for the soul, for the head as well as for the body. I totally buy into all that. But mass participation can deflect from standards. Are we building correctly on success for the youth or have we got lucky with a selection of stars at the same time?
Am I wrong? What is it like in the races that you run? Are us old fogies just made of stronger stuff or is road racing just outdated? I look forward to your replies and “constructive” comments 🙂
Note: I am doing an open graded track race next week without any speed training. I will get lapped by 10 year olds and reserve the right to change my mind 🙂
The tune, old skool big beat classic from Skint’s Lo Fis.
2 thoughts on “Battleflag – is Scottish running as good as they say?”
Running in Scotland is no longer a sport taken up my serious talented athletes. It has become a sport for the masses, where mediocrity is acceptable. From a health perspective it great, but it has given people a false perspective of what good quality running actually is. I started running in my mid 20s back in the early 80s. I ran my first marathon 9 months later in 2.43. 2 years later I ran 2.28.22. While now people look at that time and think it’s good, at the time if was nothing special. It placed me about 50th in Scotland. My 5k and 10k times were pretty mediocre as well – 15.14 and 32.10, but how would they be views now. Proper serious club athletics is dead, but as with any sport, no matter how few quality runners there are, there will always be some serious quality which will emerge. Tennis is of course another example
Let’s be positive, participation at events is up. Clubs across the country have grown, MAC being just one example of this. Ten years ago the membership at junior and senior level was much lower than today. I am hopeful that the standards will gradually improve. It is undeniable that standards overall are lower than in previous decades, the statistics show that.