Darrell’s diary: ‘I really like racing and, to be honest, the day out, too.’

Wednesday 3rd July 2024

Darrell Hastie wins Lindsays Masters XC in Glasgow back in 2023 (photo by Bobby Gavin)

By Katy Barden 

It was mid-cross country season and Darrell Hastie was feeling disheartened: ‘I must not be cut out for this longer-distance running‘, he thought at the time.

Over a decade later and the Gala Harriers athlete – who first started running on the Border Games circuit as a 12-year-old – is a multiple national Masters champion on the road, track and cross country.

Most recently he won the Scottish men’s V40 marathon title with a superb 2:24:41 lifetime best in London.

‘I didn’t realise back then that I had to train specifically (for longer-distance events),’ he laughs.

‘Looking back now, my training wasn’t geared to running five or six miles in the mud!’

Hastie’s early running experiences were predominantly on grass tracks, but he was selected to represent the East District (U17) at the 1998/99 Scottish Inter-District Cross Country Championships at Holyrood Park in Edinburgh, his first experience of such a high-profile event.

When he left school at 16 and started working full-time in a factory his training, and in turn his performances, suffered.

It was a bitter pill to swallow when he felt he was at last ‘getting somewhere’ with the sport.

Although he didn’t ever stop running, he became disillusioned with the Border Games where he’d first made his name. By his late 20s he had a young family, but he’d also started to enjoy some success in local road races which acted as a trigger for making the move back into mainstream competition.

‘Around that time a couple of my mates had joined Gala Harriers,’ says the former Teviotdale Harrier.

‘I thought I could maybe do the same, that I could train with them a couple of times a week and do the East District League cross country and a couple of relays.

‘I really got back into it from that point. I watched them training and I thought, ‘Alright, this is how you train for a 10k or a half marathon’.’

His initial goal was to finish top-20 in the East District League and in his first individual race back – an East District League fixture in Stirling, 2014 – he finished 18th.

Later that winter he was selected to run in the Scottish Inter-District Cross Country Championships. It was a full circle moment, but this time things were different; it marked the start of a resurgence for the Kelso athlete who was growing increasingly confident with the longer distances and his transition from grass track to road and cross country running.

Darrell with two more top class Scottish Masters athletes – Grant Baillie of East Kilbride Ac (on left) and Mark Doherty of Inverclyde AC

Ten years on and Hastie, the reigning British and Irish Masters V40 cross country champion, is excelling.

While four of his personal best times pre-date his V40 status – mile: 4:21.10 (2020); 3000m: 8:31.36 (2021); 5000m: 15.11.23 (2021) and half marathon: 68:09 (2022) – his PBs over 1500m: 3:58.81; 10000m: 31:14.49; 5K: 14:57; 10K: 31:20; and 10M: 51:01 were all achieved in 2023, while his marathon best came this year.

‘The men’s Masters scene in Scotland is really strong just now,’ he says, noting that Inverclyde’s V35 Gregor Yates ran 2:21:17 in this year’s Tokyo Marathon.

‘There’s a lot of competition, especially in the V40s, and that’s what motivates me, because you have to keep at it.

‘I’m also at a point in my life where everything has aligned; the knowledge I’ve got, the time I’ve got to put into training, even my job (as a janitor). It means I can be really organised and get consistency in training.’

The London Marathon was particularly special for the 41-year-old who finished sixth V40 (overall) in addition to taking the Scottish title. He’d run 2:36:22 on his debut (2017) but he knew he could go quicker.

Striving for improvement, he noted the training that his friend and rival Mark Doherty (Inverclyde) had done for Amsterdam Marathon in 2023 and thought, ‘This looks like the kind of work I need to be doing if I want to have a right shot at it.’

Following a conversation at the 2024 Inter District Championships with Doherty’s coach Mark Pollard, a plan was set for Doherty to share advice and guide him through to London.

While the arrangements were made, none of it would have been possible without the support of his partner Julie – a fellow Gala Harrier who bought into the plan completely, cycling alongside him in training sessions and providing drinks along the way – or Doherty’s commitment to getting the programme right.

‘I felt like I owed it to them to give it everything,’ he says.

‘I never, ever, thought, ‘I’m not going out today’, it was me that wanted to do it. Running can be a selfish sport, but there are always people making sacrifices to put you in a position to be able to do your best, so it was basically that (that kept me motivated throughout the winter).’

Hastie is one of the good guys; talented but low-key, easy to be around and interested in others. His range from 1500m through to the marathon is incredible, but ultimately it’s his love of the sport and the friends he’s made – that will keep him competing for years to come.

‘I just really like racing and I quite like the day out to be honest!,’ he says in conclusion.

‘You can be quite nervous beforehand but meeting people – going for a warm-up together or having a blether with them after a race – that’s what it’s all about.’

Photo by Bobby Gavin


Tags: Darrell Hastie, Features, Gala Harriers

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