‘Martin Hyman didn’t care what level you were at – he just wanted to help’

Tuesday 6th April 2021

Martin with Sarah Inglis at the National Road Relays in 2013 – when the Lothian Running Club took bronze medals in the Women’s race (photo supplied)

Honorary Life Members (listed on our History section)

Olympian, GB international and British Record holder, coaching guru, stalwart volunteer, a legend of our sport, a public institution who changed so many people’s lives for the better.

Just some of the descriptions and tributes which have been paid following the sad news over the weekend of the passing of Martin Hyman.

All of the above, and many more, are fitting and apt for a man who was among our Honorary Life Members and will be a huge loss to the sport of athletics and running in Scotland. He was 87.

Everyone at scottishathletics sends our deepest condolences to Martin’s family and many friends across the sport.

Trying to pull together some of the achievements and accolades is a tall order for someone with such a rich life as Martin – but it is well worth the effort for someone who so often went the extra mile for others.

Let’s start with a few reflections from Alex Jackson, who worked with Martin on so many Road Running and Cross Country Commission events and meetings.

‘Martin moved to Scotland from England to teach at Livingston in 1979 and duly joined Livingston and District AAC,’ recalled Alex.

‘In his time here his contribution to staging events, coaching, training sessions is huge and cuts across a number of disciplines of athletics including road, cross and hills.

‘On road running, he devised the National Road Relay laps at Livingston Murieston in 1988. When that venue became difficult because of traffic issues, he came up with a new venue at Livingston Almondvale in 1998. That venue then became the long-standing home of the highly-popular National Road Relays.

Martin (red hat) at the Dechmont Sunday morning sessions he loved so much (photo supplied)

‘On cross country, he led on many East Championship and League meetings at Livingston and Broxburn.

‘On the hills, he was the course designer for the  1995 World Mountain Running Championships at Holyrood Park in Edinburgh and also organised many hill races around the country. Over the years he organised numerous Junior Hill Running training weekends.

‘His Meadows Intervals training sessions in Edinburgh on a Tuesday night are legendary. Just about every Tuesday night since the early 1980s Martin was there to time these, in winter with his head-torch – like his passion for the sport – burning brightly.

‘As a coach, Martin would give as much time and enthusiasm to an International athlete as he would to a beginner. That dedication was reflected and acknowledged in 2007 when he became an Honorary Life Member of scottishathletics.

‘Above all, he was a modest man who seldom mentioned his own achievements in the sport.’

Those achievements were considerable and included a 10,000m appearance at the 1960 Olympics in Rome, a British Record over six miles on the roads, and England appearances at the Commonwealth Games. He is said to have considered himself weaker at cross country than on the track or the roads – yet he finished third in a World Cross.

Read much more here on Martin’s career as a club and international athlete.

Ted Finch of Lothian RC paid tribute to his friend’s huge commitment to grassroots sport:

‘Martin’s whole coaching philosophy was that it should be ‘athlete centred’ by giving athletes the information they needed and advice based on his experience. But the choice of activity was then up to the runner who could then reflect on and learn from that experience.

‘He was a founding member of Lothian Running Club and made a huge contribution over many years.

‘Whether it was racing, team management or event organisation, Martin’s preparations were meticulous and he expected everyone else to be as organised as he always was.

‘Outside of athletics Martin also made significant contributions to the coaching of British Elite Orienteers. The Tuesday Meadows session was initiated as part of that coaching programme.

‘He said: ‘As founder, running coach, chairman and treasurer, I tried to progress the Squad from a very low level to world class. I left when professionals were appointed to run it.’’

In his own words: ‘No one should be sad for me.’

In keeping with his many volunteer roles, Martin also somehow found time to serve on our Hill Running Commission.

‘Martin was convenor of the Hill Running Commission for a period starting in 2002 after a major fall-out between the hill running community and SAL,’ said our current Convenor, Hugh Buchanan.

‘This led to the en-bloc resignation of the previous Commission. In that role, Martin was then very influential in getting the relationship between hill running and SAL back onto an even keel.

‘I would add to Ted’s contribution that Martin was very committed to being a mentor to athletes and event organisers, drawing on his educational approach as a teacher. He also took a holistic view of athletes and would support them in many aspects of their lives beyond athletics.’

Let’s leave the last word to hill running former World Champion, Angela Mudge, who also benefitted from his experience and wisdom.

‘Martin didn’t care what level you were at – he just wanted to help. He was famous in Edinburgh for his Meadows session every Tuesday night starting at 7.55pm on the dot. He was probably at Lothian sessions seven days a week.’

Martin Hyman was originally from Jersey, the Second World War prompting a hasty retreat to mainland Britain.

His upbringing cannot have been easy as he attended 10 different schools.

‘I learned some things twice,’ he once recalled. ‘And missed out other things altogether.’

It’s abundantly clear that so many who crossed his radar will now reflect: we learned plenty.

Tags: Alex Jackson, Angela Mudge, Hugh Buchanan, Lothian RC, Martin Hyman, Ted Finch

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