Jim Dingwall was an outstanding Athlete who ran for our Club in the mid 70’s. We pay tribute to Jim and his legacy in this report. Our Round the Houses Race pays homage to Jim and we have for the last few years supplied funding to some of our Student Athletes through the Jim Dingwall Bursary which was generously given to the Club by his family.

Jim was born in Edinburgh on 30th May, in 1949.   He attended George Heriot’s School where and during that time his love of Athletics started.

By the time Jim went to Edinburgh University in 1967 he was already running the 880 yards in sub 2 minutes 02 seconds and had been third in the Scottish Schools Mile.   At University he ran with the likes of Gareth Bryan-Jones, the Wight brothers, Blamire, Logue and Andy McKean and through this Team spirit he was soon a vital member of the great Edinburgh University team.

By 1969 Jim was running under 4 minutes for a 1500m. In 1972 he joined Edinburgh AC while still at University and ran pb’s of 3:46.2 for 1500m and 14:12.8 for 5000m on consecutive days.  By 1974 he had bests for the season of 1:56.1, 3:50.2, 8:10.6 13:55.2 and 29:43.4 and in the process he won the SAAA 10000m.   Next season on the track, at his best form setting a Scottish native and all-comers record for 3000m of 7:57.8 and pb’s of 13:48 (5000m) and 29:42.6 for 10000m.

It can be seen from these figures that like Alastair Wood and Donald Macgregor, Jim had a considerable track record before turning to the marathon.   In 1976 he left Edinburgh AC and joined Falkirk Victoria Harriers and simultaneously turned his thoughts to training for and running the marathon.   His idea to run Marathons started in the early 70’s when he was racing and enjoying 1500’s and in 1972 he actually ran a late season marathon when the track season was at an end.   He ran 2:27:47 in a pair of heavy trainers and was sure then that he could do sub 2:20 with proper training.   He himself reckons that his track performances up to 5000m started to decline when he started to train for the marathon but the figures don’t exactly support this.

Jim’s first good marathon however, was on 26th October, 1974 when he was fourth in the Harlow marathon in 2:19.01.   Gentleman that he is, he later apologised to Colin Youngson who had finished eighth in 2:21:06 because he knew that Colin had been trying to break 2:20 for some time while Jim had done so with no bother at all!  In 1976 he won the West District and SAAA 10000m titles and was third for the third consecutive year in the SAAA 5000m before he went down to the AAA Marathon in Rotherham where he turned in 2:26:00.   1977 however was a real turning point in his career.   He ran 2:21:37 at Rugby, then after two hard 10000m races in three days (in one of which he set a pb of 28:55.2) he won the SAAA Marathon in 2:16:05.   His track season that year included 1500m in 3:50.6, 3000m in 8:01.1 and 5000m in 13:59.5 and he retained his West and SAAA 10000m titles.

1978 was Commonwealth Games year in Edmonton and Jim ran well enough early on with 28:45.3 for 10000m and 2:13:58 at Sandbach to qualify for the Games.   On the day of the race (11th August) he led to the half-distance “and then the roof fell in” (his phrase!)   His finishing time was a lifetime worst of 2:32:54.   However he had gone as the only Scottish representative, run in very hot conditions and given it a real go – it was not a miserable tail of the field type run although he was naturally very disappointed.

In 1979 he was fourth in the SCCU Championship and selected for the World Championships; during the summer he ran 2:20:18 at Boston in April and 2:15:45 at Milton Keynes in September.   By 1980 he was running 5 marathons in one year with second places in SAAA, Aberdeen and Bermuda and wins at Le Quesnoy and Glasgow where he ran 2:16:07.   1981 began with first place on 4th January in Israel in 2:16:19 and this was followed by 2:14:54 in London.

After being third in the SAAA 10000m for the third year he went on to be fifth in Bermuda and also in the AAA race at Gateshead in 2:15:30.   With this kind of form over the last three years he could maybe be forgiven for looking for a place in the team for the Commonwealth Games in Brisbane.   he reckoned without the SAAA selection procedures.   Like many others he was led to believe that the AAA’s race was to be the qualifying race as it had been four years earlier at Sandbach.   Imagine his dismay on learning that he was not in the team but that Graham Laing whom he had beaten at Gateshead was.   He could be forgiven for feeling a wee bit bitter.

His reply the following year was to run a lifetime best of 2:11:44 in London for the marathon where he was fifth.   On paper this was his best run but he was left without the feeling of euphoria that normally accompanies such a performance.   To explain a bit, having had a cold for the three days prior  to the race he had not slept well, and then on the day he had lost a lot of ground on the cobbles at the Tower at 22 miles.   The resulting feeling was one of frustration as he felt that he could have gone even faster although he was pleased with the time. 

Thanks to Scottish Marathon Club magazine written in 1985 by Brian McAusland