Alan Buchanan shares his running memories and more. From his first training session at Brighton AC with Roy Taylor to remembering Colin Hannant’s first night at the Hedgehoppers! Read on to enjoy Alan’s story.
Where did you grow up?
I was born in and brought up in a leafy Glasgow suburb , now surrounded by council houses from the slum clearances which have made Glasgow the attractive city it is today. I am the oldest of three brothers.
When did you start running?
In 1961 I went with a work colleague and his two friends , to watch the Scottish championships in Edinburgh. One friend was Ming Campbell, now Sir Menzies Campbell former Liberal MP, who that day broke the Scottish 440yds record held by Eric Liddell of Chariots of Fire fame. The other was Ewan Murray who years later became my Team Manager in my first Scottish International and became President of the British Amateur Athletics Board. I was so inspired I joined Bellahouston Harriers and ran my first race 3mls cross country in 1961.
When did you move to Sussex?
I moved to Sussex in January 1962 the day after my 21st birthday and joined the then Brighton AC at Withdean in February. The first person I trained with that night was Roy Taylor who 20 years later introduced me to the Hedgehoppers and 58 years later we still run together.
What made you join the Hoppers?
I found in 1966 that I had a talent as a race walker and managed to win Scottish titles, Internationals plus two Southern Counties track titles but I could see the event in decline and with the running boom in 1981 I returned to the Marathon in the first London race. In 1966 I had run 4 marathons. My best was second last of 50 finishers in 3.17! A far cry from today! Roy and I started running again together and although I am Brighton and Hove AC life member, I enjoyed it more running on the downs with the Hedgehoppers and the West Sussex Fun Run League. Indeed had the league been alive in 1966, I may not have tried walking as there were more race walkers than road runners about then.
What is the best thing about being a Hopper?
We had a great friendly group running together on a Tuesday night. Richard Fitzpatrick, Mike Airey, Barry Fairhall and Colin Hannant seem to be the last survivors. I remember Colin’s first Hoppers night with Roy and I and its good to see him back running after serious surgery early this year. We used to have a celebration buffet in the Sports Centre on a member’s 60th birthday and Stella and the committee did me proud on mine. Nowadays the age group is so much younger and predominantly female which delights me. I had a few years back in Scotland but always fitted in a Fun run race when back visiting family and saw the gradual change.
What is your favourite running memory?
In the 60’s I was a very moderate runner . My best 3ml and 6ml track times convert to 17min/5k and 35min/10k approximately and I was usually near the rear of the field. I think its wonderful today with parkrun and runners of all standards. I ran my last WSFRL at Highdown in 2018 and while I enjoyed completing it , I decided that my knee pain, age and slowness was best left to parkrun. I have so many good running memories but my best race walking memories were walking 12,885m(8ml15y) in the hour on the Hendon track in 1975 and winning for Scotland the 10km track walk at the Four nations British Isles Cup in Wales that year.
The photo above is one of Roy and I in Sussex Cross Country Champs at Denne Park Horsham in 1964. And yes, that is me, number 77 with hair!