60 Years of Rankings . . . Going the Distance

Thursday 8th April 2021

Liz McColgan at the launch of the Stirling Marathon a few years ago – third in our 60 Years of Rankings list (photo by Jeff Holmes)

Check out 50 Years of Rankings here

scottishathletics Historian, Arnold Black, continues his look at the last 60 years of Scottish rankings with the focus this time on the long distance events.

This covers the 5000m and 10,000m and the marathon, and the older pre-metric events of 3 miles and 6 miles.

Such distances were commonplace for the men but it was not until 1983 when the 5000m was encouraged for women, the 10,000m a couple of years later although, surprisingly, the marathon was earlier.

Leslie Watson was a forerunner of the marathon in the 1970s, but it was 1980 before the rankings covered more than one or two women.

The countdown reveals the significant prowess of distance runners from the 1960s and 1970s and through the marathon boom of the 1980s. Only two athletes this century, Andrew Lemoncello and Susan Partridge, feature in our top ten.

The men score highly and just below the men’s top 10, we find Robert Quinn, Ian Stewart, Fraser Clyne, Nat Muir and Chris Robison all amassing over 120 points.

60 Years of Rankings – Arnold Black looks at our throwers

60 Years of Rankings – Arnold Black looks back at the sprints

60 Years of Rankings – Arnold Black on ‘Over the Barriers’

Here’s the overall top ten list for ‘Going the Distance’ . . .

10= Fergus Murray & Lachie Stewart

Fergus Murray (Dundee Hawkhill & Edinburgh Southern) competed at the 1964 Olympics at 6 Miles, the 1966 Empire Games at 3 and 6 Miles, and in the marathon at the 1970 Edinburgh Games. He featured in the top ten lists between 1962 and 1974, his peak period probably around 1964 and 1965 when he led both the 3 miles and 6 miles rankings, and in the 1960s he won six Scottish titles, split equally between 3 miles and 6 miles.

Lachie Stewart (Vale of Leven & Shettleston) is famous for his remarkable 10,000m victory over the great Ron Clarke at the 1970 Commonwealth Games. He operated in a similar time period to Fergus, ranking between 1963 and 1974, but also focused on the 3000m steeplechase before fully committing to the 5000m and 10,000m, leading the rankings for both events in 1969.

9 Donald Macgregor

Don Macgregor (Edinburgh Southern and Fife) only led the Scottish marathon rankings once, in 1972, but was ranked in the top ten from 1965 to 1983. During that time, he won three Scottish marathon championships (with a further six silver medals) and one 6 miles track championship, represented Scotland at two Commonwealth Games – 8th in 1970 and 6th in 1974 – and placed 7th in the 1972 Olympic Games marathon.

Andrew Lemoncello

8 Andrew Lemoncello

Fife AC’s Andrew Lemoncello was a Scottish and British steeplechase champion who competed in that event at the Olympic Games.

His steeplechase performances are not included in this event group but his performances from 5000m to Marathon across 2004 to 2017 are enough to take him into eighth place.

He won five Scottish and two British titles in these events and topped the 5000m/10,000m rankings in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2009. He led the marathon rankings in 2010 and 2011 before returning to be our leading 10,000m runner in 2013 and 2014.

7 Peter Fleming

Bellahouston’s Peter Fleming (and latterly Racing Club Edinburgh in all its guises) first appeared in the 1982 marathon rankings in 8th place in 2:19:40. Some 22 years later, he ran 2:24:02, which ranked him six places higher!

In the interim, he led the marathon rankings five times between 1993 and 1999, having earlier been our top 10,000 metres man in 1987 and 1990. His range extended (in this event group) from sub-14 5000m to a marathon best of 2:13:33.

6 Susan Partridge

One of only two women in the top ten and the highest-placed athlete to have run most of her races in this century, City of Glasgow/VP-Glasgow and Leeds athlete Susan Partridge was ranked in the top ten from 1500m through to the marathon.

She first appeared in the 1998 5000m rankings but found her niche at the marathon, an event in which she led the Scottish rankings on seven occasions and competed at the European Championships, two World Championships and two Commonwealth Games.

Susan Partridge at the London Marathon

5 Jim Dingwall

Jim Dingwall, mainly associated with Falkirk Victoria, first appeared in the top ten rankings in 1972 as a 1500m runner, yet that same year he was already running a sub-2:30 marathon.

He led the marathon rankings in 1977, 1978 and 1979 while also being a top-five ranked 10000m man. He won three Scottish 10000 metres championship races in the mid-1970s along with the 1977 Marathon title and competed for Scotland in the 1978 marathon. In a lengthy career, he was still a top-10 ranked marathon runner in 1990, 18 years after his first appearance.

4 Alastair Wood

Alastair Wood ran for Shettleston, Aberdeen, Cambuslang and the RAF, first appearing in the top ten in the 3 miles in 1957 and bowing out (from the top 10 at least) 18 years later.

He led the 6 Miles rankings in 1959 and 1961, but in 1962 turned to the Marathon, topping the rankings and earning selection for both the European Championships and Commonwealth Games that year. He won ten Scottish championship titles, six of them at the Marathon.

Such was the depth in the marathon at the time, his 2:28:35 in 1980 only ranked him 25th, while his 2:33:35 at the age of 49 in 1982, earned 76th spot in the rankings. In 2011, such a time would have ranked in the top ten.

3 Liz McColgan

Dundee’s Liz Lynch emerged on the world scene at the 1986 Commonwealth Games when she won Scotland’s solitary athletics gold medal at Meadowbank, but she had already featured in the top ten rankings since 1981 at 800m, 1500m and 3000m.

The development of longer track races for women was tailor-made for her and between 1985 and 1998, she topped the event rankings at either 5000m, 10,000m and marathon on 19 occasions, winning a further Commonwealth 1000m gold in 1990 (as Liz McColgan) and World 10000m gold in 1991. She has competed at three Olympic Games and four World Championships in a sparkling career.

2 Jim Alder

Like Lachie Stewart, Morpeth’s Jim Alder included the steeplechase in his repertoire in his early years before achieving his greatest successes as a marathon runner.

He won Commonwealth gold at the marathon at the Jamaica Commonwealth Games in 1966, combined with a 10,000m bronze, won bronze in the European marathon in 1969 and then silver the following year at the Edinburgh Games.

From fifth place in the 6 Miles rankings in 1960, he still featured in the top ten as late as 1977, having topped the 6 Miles/10,000m rankings four times and the marathon lists on six occasions.

1 Allister Hutton

First ranked in 1974 in both the 5000m and 10,000m at 20 years of age, Edinburgh Southern’s Allister Hutton achieved that dual-event ranking 11 times in his career.

He led the 10,000m five times between 1980 and 1986, competing on the track for Scotland at three Commonwealth Games, before developing into an outstanding marathon runner.

He is the only Scottish athlete to win the men’s race at the London marathon – Liz McColgan is the only Scottish woman – and he was the top-ranked marathon runner each year between 1988 and 1990. He also led the 1985 rankings, his London time of 2:09:16 standing as a Scottish best until bettered by Callum Hawkins.

Allister Hutton leads Nat Muir at the 1982 Scottish Champs (photo courtesy of John Scott)

Here are the top 10 points scorers on the men’s and women’s distance lists:


1 Allister Hutton, 253 points

2 Jim Alder, 244

3 Alastair Wood, 213

4 Jim Dingwall, 208

5 Peter Fleming, 193

6 Andrew Lemoncello, 158

7 Donald Macgregor, 157

8= Fergus Murray, 156

8= Lachie Stewart, 156

10 Andrew H Brown, 153


1 Liz Lynch/McColgan, 224 points

2 Susan Partridge, 200

3 Karen Macleod, 154

4 Kathy Butler, 136

5 Hayley Haining, 132

6 Stephanie Twell, 127

7 Sandra Branney, 123

8 Trudi Thomson, 102

9= Collette Fagan, 101

9= Beth Potter, 101


Tags: Allister Hutton, Arnold Black, History, Liz McColgan

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