Copyright 2021 - Dundee Roadrunners

Margaret Robertson

I started running in the Spring of 1982 at the ripe old age of 35 ñ already a veteran.  At the time I was running with my husband Dave.  Our first race was the Blairgowrie Half Marathon which was one of the hilliest halfs in Scotland.  That should have put me off but I am still running or at least jogging today 26 years later.  


On that first race I met up with Dave Roy who was one of the founder members of the Dundee Roadrunners and I joined the club the following year.  Through running I discovered a hitherto unrecognised and untapped fiercely competitive streak in my nature.


In 1983 I competed in the first Dundee Marathon and many more were to follow.  Nowadays most people start running short distances and build up to marathons as they grow older.  Along with many of the ìMarathon Boomersî of that time I started with marathons and eventually raced shorter distances.


That first marathon in Dundee I completed in 3 hours and 47 minutes.  In 1987 I came second to club mate Jane Carroll in 3 hours and 9 minutes.  My last marathon in Dublin I completed in 3 hours and 4 minutes at the age of 47.  I always found marathons the biggest and best challenge but years of road running takes its toll and like many others I now do far more of my training off road.


But back in the 1980s and 1990s it was inspiring taking part in Roadrunner training nights when over 50 runners of all abilities left Lochee Baths streaming down the High Street or along Ancrum Road on runs including the monthly 3 hills 10 mile run which interspersed hard effort with fun and banter.  There was always someone to run with and someone ahead to catch.  The women soon developed a particularly strong team which lasted over a period of at least 10 years and won races at different distances all over Scotland.  The men in the club were always highly supportive which was in no small way responsible for the success of the ladies team.  Women were never treated as second class citizens in the Roadrunners which I realised was not always the case in other running clubs.  We were soon competing with and beating ladies teams from some of the old established running clubs in Scotland.


Training with the Roadrunners soon brought my race times tumbling down.  It was very hard work (character building) fighting to stay with faster runners for as long as possible on the longer runs as well as putting in lung bursting and muscle burning effort on hill and speed sessions.  However apart from some injuries I thrived on it gradually increasing training to 6 days a week and even training twice a day when building up to a marathon and regularly including track work in my schedule.  I definitely come from the ìno pain no gainî school of running.


As well as competing in open races in Scotland some of us including Irene Gibson and Sue Roger in my age group competed for Scotland against England, Ireland, Northern Ireland and Wales in the yearly Home Countries veteran cross country championships winning quite a few team medals.  I competed in every veteran age group from 35 years onwards apart (so far) for the over 60s but thereís still time?  My most successful of the cross country events was when I came 3rd overall and first in the over 45 age group at the Scottish Vets Cross Country championships at St Andrews in January 1993.  I was only beaten that day by Sandra Branney and Jeanette Stevenson two of Scotlandís best ever women veteran runners.  But it was also a successful day for the club with Sue Roger first over 50 and Alison Strachan second over 40.  The ladies team was third overall behind Fife and City of Glasgow.


Over the years I have run races over all sorts of terrain from mountain marathons in Switzerland to 1500 metre races on the track and enjoyed the variety that they brought, the places I saw and the people I met.


My best half marathon time was 1 hour 22 minutes and 30 seconds at Inverness in 1993 giving me the fifth fastest half marathon time for my age group in Britain that year.  My best 10k time was 37 minutes 19 seconds at Dornoch albeit on a downhill course although I did a few 10ks just over 38 minutes including when I won the Dundee 10k in 1993 in a time of 38 minutes and 7 seconds.  1992 to 1994 were my best years and I was first lady at half marathons in Black Isle, Dundee, Elgin, Glen Clova and Lochleven and 10ks at Dundee, Dornoch, Edinburgh, Glenrothes and at the Hawks 10k. I also won the Ceres 8 mile race and the midweek Fife series 3 times each around that time. 


Although I remember the races I won individually it is the team victories that really stand out.  Dundee Roadrunners women won team prizes at Inverness, Elgin and the Black Isle.  These teams included Muriel Muir, Gill Hanlon, Val Fyall, Harriet Johnston, Alison Strachan, Sue Roger and me.  They were great team events and at one time in the early 90ís we were taking 3 bus loads of runners up to the Inverness Half Marathon all wanting to see if our hard winter training would be rewarded by new PBs and celebrating or drowning our sorrows after the race.  These were great social and team building events.  Many friendships were built and have lasted over the years.  None of us would have succeeded to the extent that we did without the encouragement and support of club members.  But it was not only in straightforward running events that we won team prizes.  In 1990 Sue Roger, Toni Respinger (as she was then) and myself won the first ladies vets team prize at the Highland Cross which is a 50 mile duathlon race (20 miles on foot, 30 miles on bike) from Kintail on the west coast of Scotland through Glen Affric to Beauly on the east coast.  I was encouraged to run the race after seeing it on TV filmed on a beautiful sunny day.  Unfortunately the year we entered it was damp and drizzling but still a great experience.


Running with the Roadrunners has brought me many rewards.  As well as turning me into a much more confident individual it has provided me with many valued friends who have been a great source of support through the ups and downs that life brings to all aspects of our lives.


Although I no longer train with the club partly due to doing most of my training off road I keep up with many of my former team mates and wear my Dundee Roadrunners vest with pride at the back of races.  I also keep an eye on race results so come on ladies keep the tradition going and get the Dundee Roadrunners team back out there.    

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