#SALtogether reasons to be cheerful . . . and why unity will be key in 2023

Friday 6th January 2023

Athletes from Stornoway and North Uist AAC get together for joint training session on Harris last week

By Peter Jardine, Head of Communications

In the midst of the Festive break, you may have missed the picture displayed above across our channels just as 2022 drew to a close.

It’s from the first-ever joint cross country session organised by the North CC and RR Commission to take place in the Western Isles – with athletes and coaches pictured at Northton Beach on the island of Harris.

Remarkably, 25 folk (and one dog) made the trip on Thursday 29 December to train together at the remote but splendid Northton location, just as other sessions were taking place in far-off Forres and Inverurie.

Members of Stornoway RAC and North Uist AAC combined with the clear goal of raising overall standards and there were even a couple of athletes who travelled to Harris from Benbecula.

We understand runners trained on the machair and sand dunes alongside Highland cattle and, at one stage, had to dodge a burnt-out car being used as a skip. Afterwards, the Temple Café at Northton opened specially to serve those at the session.

Organiser Willie MacRury said: ‘Don’t be fooled by the smiles in the picture, they soon disappeared as that dark cloud in the background came in just as we started the first rep and we had driving sleet for the duration of the session.

‘That’s the way we sometimes have to do it in the Western Isles in winter! Seriously, it was great to get the first session staged and we are very hopeful it will grow from here with more athletes from both clubs now keen to be involved.’

We feature the Harris session simply to demonstrate it as a wonderful example of what we like to call the #SALtogether approach. That’s where and when different athletics groups (or clubs, coaches) seek to work together for the greater benefit of the sport.

In challenging times – and news about Grangemouth stadium just prior to Christmas is alarming and may well be replicated at other facilities as councils struggle with budgets – a willingness to pull together may well be even more important for our sport in 2023.


David Cooney of Cambuslang (pictured receiving cross country trophy from Leslie Roy)

Cambuslang stalwart ‘flabbergasted’ with Honours recognition (Rutherglen Reporter)

Less than 48 hours after that North session, West club Cambuslang Harriers were celebrating Honours List recognition for one of their own as past president David Cooney landed the British Empire Medal.

David will receive the accolade for ‘services to athletics’ after volunteer work with the club which spans five decade. David has served on the Cambuslang committee for 49 years and two spells as president span 33 years.

So the Honours recognition was spot-on for a Cambuslang legend and it was great to see many celebratory messages on social media.

As Kevin Newberry put it on our Facebook page: ‘A true legend in the world of Scottish club distance running.

‘I first met David in the 1980s and his enthusiasm for the sport and his dedication to Cambuslang Harriers is the same today as it was back in the 1980s.

‘A lot of quality runners have crossed their path with David and I think they will agree they are better for it.’

If that’s the perfect summary for David Cooney then we do feel equally it could apply to many others across the sport.

In fact, it is no exaggeration to say athletics in Scotland is founded upon dedicated individuals working in key volunteer roles to help and complement those in paid roles.

Some might call that . . . #SALtogether.


Paul Forbes pictured at the Monument Mile Classic meet in Stirling (photo by Bobby Gavin)

Finally, on a same-but-different theme, we know the Athletics Trust Scotland Young People’s Forum are excited about their first conference, coming up in Glasgow in March.

But don’t for a moment suggest that the event is restricted to those from the ages of 12-23 – although of course that is the key audience.

The YPF are making plans for an athlete panel to attend for a Q and A session at the conference on Saturday 11 March and one of the first to be invited is M65 World Masters champion (and triple Commonwealth Games athlete) Paul Forbes.

When we emailed Paul to ask him to attend and confirm that the YPF were very keen to draw on his experience, his reply came back almost as swiftly as his latest 800m run . . .

‘I am absolutely thrilled to be asked to come along to the YPF conference and have no hesitation in accepting,’ said Paul.

Further details and how to sign up for the YPF Conference are coming soon.

All signs are it will be another great example of . . . #SALtogether.




Tags: ATS Young People's Forum, Cambuslang Harriers, David Cooney, North District CC and RR Commission, Paul Forbes, Stornoway

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