Katharine Merry

Today, I have a nice little interview with Katharine Merry, thanks so much to her for getting back to me and responding so quickly to me. She played a big role in what many believe to be one of the biggest races of the last 30 years, winning a bronze in that race. Nowadays Katharine is found on Fighting Talk, my favourite podcast as mentioned in one of my previous blogs. She is a really funny contributor and would make it onto my ideal Fighting Talk line up along with Dougie Anderson, Henning Wehn and Justin Moorehouse.

I’m not sure if I have mentioned it before, but I was at the Olympics in Sydney, Kirsty certainly gets fed up with me talking about it and my brother doesn’t believe that I was in a crowd of around 1.5 million in Sydney Harbour the night of the closing ceremony for the fireworks. I could have went to the closing ceremony – and kind of wish I did so I could have seen Kylie Minogue’s version of “Dancing Queen”

Yeah, that would have been great rather than being squashed against a shop window in the CBD of Sydney!

Another memorable moment of the Olympics was the women’s 400 metres hurdles. Cathy Freeman was the great Australian hope of the Games, she lit the Olympic Flame and was being held as a symbol of reconciliation and hope for the future as a proud indigenous Australian athlete, beloved by all sections of the Australian public. Indeed, in the run up to the race one of Freeman’s main competitors pulled out, Perec of France was injured I think but a lot of people thought she couldn’t take the pressure of what was shaping up to be THE main event of the Olympic Games. Here is the race:

Lane 3 is what we are looking at here! Katharine Merry ran a great race to finish 3rd and win an Olympic medal in one of the most famous and highly anticipated races ever, what an achievement to have on your running CV. A bit of local interest here, Katharine Merry ran her 60 metres personal best in Glasgow – I would assume at the Kelvin Hall, a track I graced with little success when Gladiators referee John Anderson heavily criticised my long jump technique as aa 10 year old boy! One other thing I have found is that Katharine has appeared on Ninja Warrior UK, I wish I had known that before I sent her the questions over, a valiant attempt here:

So, to the interview, it was so nice of such a successful, busy and decorated athlete to take the time to answer my questions for this blog, in aid of the RNIB, she has joined Liz McColgan on my list of “Good Guys” for sure!

1 – ST – How did you get into running when you were younger?

KM – “Aged 10 my father was still a competing athlete in veteran athletics as it was then. He was an English Schools TJ medallist but he was still sprinting. That coincided with my neighbour Mr Price, who was a PE teacher, at a school saying I looked quick so I should try running! So I did and joined Rugby AC.”

2 – What role does running currently play in your life?

“Actively running plays no role in my life at the moment. I retired 13 years ago in 2005 and did no running or any exercise for 12 years. Last year in May I was asked to be a Duracell Bunny Pacer for the GNR… I agreed and started running again. I built up my training in May from 1 mile to running the half marathon in September. I loved it…. but I haven’t run or done any exercise since! I will get back into it soon but at the moment working on sport is the closest I get to any activity!

3 – What was your most memorable race?

“Obviously the Olympic 400m final in Sydney 2000 was the biggest race and changed my life. It was my first full year of 400m running and I won an individual Olympic medal and ran under 50 seconds. To be involved in one of the most iconic Olympic races ever is great with 112,000 people in the stadium.
But memorable races also include when I won gold at the European Junior Championships in 1993. Memorable and special to me as I made my first appearance for GB & NI aged 13! Therefore I did 2 World Junior Championships and a total of 3 European Junior Championships … it took me until that 200m final in 1993 to win a gold after several silver and bronzes!

4 – Most iconic running memory as a fan?

“Witnessing Usain Bolt race in 2008 at Beijing Olympics. As I work in broadcasting now I am at the meetings working and therefore have a trackside seat, commentators or infield host seat to some great stuff! Including Bolt’s 1st world records in 2008. Amazing ..
When younger the LA 1984 Olympics my confirmation I wanted to do athletics. I was just into the sport and was transfixed by these Games and seeing Brits Coe, Thompson and in particular Kathy Cook win a bronze over 400m 😁”

5 – Who is your 2nd favourite Scottish athlete of all time? I will just assume your number 1 is Tom McKean, i loved that guy!

“Big Tom McKean fan! Only in January saw Tom as he’s a policeman at Glasgow Airport! He looks exactly the same and was great to see him… *a picture below!! outside of Tom I’m a fan of what Yvonne Murray achieved and in recent times Mrs Doyle and Miss Muir!”

6 – Top training tip or advice you would give a slightly overweight man who may be going through a midlife crisis by entering the London Marathon!

“Listen to your body.. don’t stress if you miss or have to adapt your training due to any issue… illness, injury or work etc! Get the miles in the tank but don’t stress or worry about adapting if you have too.
Enjoy and be rest assured you will get around!

7 – Do you have any embarrassing running moments or funny running stories?

“Not apart from the time I wore some new Nike running knickers at a big TV Grand Prix meeting and them going straight up my backside when the gun went…. and having to run the race with them in the wrong place! … apart from that no! *always test your gear before you race!”

8 – Do you ever take part in parkruns and if so how important do you think they are to the recent resurgence in British athletics both at an elite and casual level?

“As above.. I don’t run! But.. they are and have been fab at getting all levels of runners consistently active. Great to see.”

So, there we go. Really interesting stuff. I didn’t know Katharine had done the Great North Run half marathon so she clearly has an insight into distance running. Also the advice given about my training I will need to be careful heed to. The last few times I have tried a lot of road running I ended up getting shin splints so paying heed to what my body is telling me will be of paramount importance, the fact I am about 2 stone lighter now should help me avoid the shin splints (touch wood).

Massive thanks again to Katharine, if she is ever on a panel show or radio quiz give it a listen, if you don’t listen to Fighting Talk, give it a listen, a genuinely funny programme, made all the funnier when Katharine is a guest.

As always I will whack a bit in here about how to donate to the RNIB for me doing the London Marathon, you can access my JustGiving page here

Or text SMTR£2 to 70070 to donate £2 (other amounts available)

Liz McColgan and a short training (netball) update

Hiya, first of all, a massive thanks to Scottish running legend Liz McColgan for answering some questions for me for this blog, it was really nice of her to take the time to do this for me and I really appreciate it.

Liz McColgan, or Liz Lynch as I first heard of her is a Scottish athletic great, alongside Alan Wells, Yvonne Murray and Tom McKean (have I mentioned before how much I loved that guy??!!). Liz McColgan first became known to me as a 10 year old boy in the Edinburgh Commonwealth Games of 1986 where she won Gold in the 10,000 metres before repeating that achievement in Auckland in 1990. Liz McColgan then won Gold in the 1991 World Championships – a spectacular achievement. In between all this she also won silver in Seoul in the 1988 Olympics – that’s a remarkable collection of track medals before moving on to cross country and half marathons (world champion in 1992). Today the McColgan name is still prominent in athletics through the continued success of her daughter Eilish.

Here is a link to Liz McColgan winning Gold in Tokyo in 1991, a phenomenal achievement for a Scottish athlete and an achievement that would inspire many youngsters across the country.

Below are some of the answers Liz McColgan gave to some of the questions I asked her:

  • First of all, what got you into running? “I started through a PE teacher who put us on class x country runs at school and noticed my talent and advised me to go to Dundee Hawkhill Harriers where his friend was head coach. I started when 12”
  • What role does running currently play in your life? “Today running keeps me fit and healthy but most of all it helps me mentally , I have depressive tendencies and running for me is my pick me up , makes me feel good about myself and gives me more energy”
  • What was your most memorable race? ” World championships in Tokyo is my most memorable race as conditions were so tough and I spent 2 years specifically training for the race so to win and be the best in the world was amazing.”
  • What has been your most iconic running memory as a fan?Iconic running memory was Steve Ovett winning the Olympic medal over favorite Seb Coe. The race was amazing to watch and it inspired me to keep pushing boundaries and even though people might not see you as a winner the drive is within you and only you can make it happen”
  • Why do you think there has been such a resurgence in Scottish running in recent years? “Scottish Running is doing so well due to investment in coaching and clubs within Scotland that were put in place over 15 years ago ,investment where it matters ,we also support the individual athlete /coach pathways and now are reaping the rewards through amazing performances across the board”
  • Top training tip or advice you would give a slightly overweight man who may be going through a midlife crisis by entering the London Marathon? “My advice is be bold enough to start an exercise program and commit to it. Look at the balance in your lifestyle ,work, nutrition, sleep and keep it real, don’t put a limit to what you can achieve … most of all enjoy getting fit and do not put pressure on yourself to achieve a time just look to finish the race and being strong throughout”
  • How do you feel the resurgence in Scottish running at all levels will benefit the country? “By having world class athletics performances in Scotland means one thing motivation – kids are inspired and want to run and because they see result in their doorsteps they then believe more that they can achieve the same”

So there we go – some really interesting words from possibly Scotland’s greatest modern day runner, what an amazing insight she gave me. Talking about the mental health benefits of running as I did in a previous blog right here

She also provided inspiring words on her 1991 World Championship victory and some good sensible advice for the middle aged man going through a mid ife crisis (who may or may not be me!!)

Anyway, after all that excitement I have had a steady week training. I wasn’t feeling too well on Tuesday so had a night off. On Wednesday I played my first netball game in 28 years as we drew 13-13 against a team of pupils. Here is a picture of the glorious staff team, all gave permission for their photo to be used in this blog!

Staff netball team

It was actually great fun. We were a few points down after the first quarter but once we got the hang of things we pulled it back. Although the pupils did have a shot in the last second to win it. I played Goal Keeper, Goal Shooter and Wing Attack. The game ended with one of the opposition asking me “What the hell are you doing back here?” as I was in a bit of the pitch I wasn’t allowed to be in – it is hard to stick to where you are allowed to be!

Once I got home I headed to the gym to do a 10 minute warm up followed by 3 minutes of threshold running followed by 90 seconds of recovery. I had to do this 5 times before a 10 minute warm down. My threshold speed is 12 km/h but I may increase this next time as I felt it a little easy, and my recovery speed was 10.5 km/h.

Anyway, thanks for reading this far. If you would like to support me in my training and running of the London Marathon for the marvellous people at the RNIB you can do the following:

Text SMTR £1 to 70070 to donate £1

Text SMTR £2 to 70070 to donate £2

Text SMTR £3 to 70070 to donate £3

Text SMTR £5 to 70070 to donate £5

Text SMTR £10 to 70070 to donate £10

Or visit my fundraising page here

Alternatively sharing this page means a lot to me as well, it gives me a great boost when I see how many people read the blog and in what parts of the world they are in 🙂

Bye for now,

Stuart