I wrote a letter on behalf of the club, and its members, to Martin’s wife, Margaret, after his passing. The Club offered to send flowers or a donation to a favoured charity in his name but, typically, Martin wanted a very minimal funeral and Margaret preferred that he might be remembered in some ongoing club event. Your committee is discussing just that with early thoughts being around our annual Trail race which takes place at Dechmont Law and in the woods – an area special to Martin of course. More details to follow.
No need I think to write a long factual obituary to the man – these have been done very well online and most recently in the Scotsman. Enough for us all to consider that he ran an Olympic 10k final in 29.05 and ran under 14 minutes for 3 miles – faster I think than anyone currently competing in Scotland now – 61 years later. A top table athlete – at at a time when there were many.
I prefer to think of the man who, at both Livingston and Lothian, led and inspired generations of runners and athletes – me, my son and my granddaughter all among them. Others will recall his tireless efforts across hill running, orienteering and the epic long running Meadows sessions. Many will recall how ‘direct’ he could be in communications and his maddening insistence on every little thing being done correctly and as planned.
Probably his loss will be deeply felt by senior club members – past and present – to whom things like Ambulance Station Miles, Craigshill three quarters and Hooter sessions are meaningful. Also, anyone who experienced the shock and fear of a lift in his car anywhere. The many kids over the years who were introduced to athletics in a safe and pleasant outdoor environment with no pressure or stress to do anything they didn’t want to do.
Many will not realise the time and meticulous effort Martin put into making training and competing so straightforward that we could all just go out and enjoy our sport. I know he also contributed generously and without fuss from his own resources to help youngsters in families who couldn’t afford perhaps a pair of good trainers , membership or entry fees .
I knew the man for 35 years and loved and respected him – he is as inspirational and principled a person as I have ever met.
Lothian Running Club was established by Martin on principles, around inclusivity and fairness – that will remain a tangible legacy.
Christmas 2019 I got a simple card from him completely out the blue – the one and only one ever I think. In it he quoted Dylan Thomas in recognition of me ( and the others of my vintage) still hirpling around Cross Countries and park runs in the snow and rain. I return the compliment now.
And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Thanks Martin and good bye – may you and Margaret always have tatties for the soup !