Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
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Flying Scotsman Bows Out (June 2020)

Don Macgregor of Fife AC, was born in Edinburgh on 23rd of July 1939 and died in Scotland on the 3rd of June 2020. He was formerly married with three children.

In his life he was a student at St Andrews University and became a noted Fife councilor, a teacher of modern languages and was a good after dinner speaker, an athletics coach and author of several books; one of those with one of those assisted by that impressive distance runner Tim Johnston. The title of his autobiography‘ Running My Life’ nicely sums up that. He was not over-talented as a young runner but the bespectacled athlete, worked very hard and that, enabled  him to compete against the best in the World. He achieved cross country vests for Scotland for the International and he much later won the  World Veterans 10, 000 track Championships, as an M40 on the 27th of July 1979 in Hannover with a time 30:04.2.

A breakthrough, to my mind, came when he was third of three passionate Scotsman to fill the first three places in the British marathon Championships on the 21st of August 1967 at Baddesley, in the Midlands. First was Jim Alder 2:16.08; 2 Alastair Wood 2:16.21 and 3 Don Macgregor 2:17.19. Jim Alder went through 20 miles in 1:42.40 with Wood and Macgregor close behind him.

On the 5th of October 1969 in the Kosice Marathon  won by Ethiopian Mamo Wolde in 2:15:37, the 1968 Olympic Champion in 2:15:57. Don was 2nd in 2:17:33.2. That was incidentally a couple of weeks after Ron Hill won the European  marathon championships in Athens (In 1969). In the Scottish marathon in Edinburgh on the 16th of May 1970  Don Macgregor ran Jim Alder very close 2:17:11 to his 2:17:14. with Fergus Murray on 2:18:25. Also in 1970 in the Commonwealth Games Don, ran 2:16:53 coming 8th 2:18:25. (just behind Bill Adcocks 2:15.10 & Fergus Murray 2:15:32). The winner in a remarkably fast time for those days and, would be impressive even now, was Ron Hill’s victory in 2:09:28.

On the 4th of June 1972 in the Manchester marathon Don was 3rd in 2:15:06 with the next two behind him. established marathon men Colin Kirkham 2:15:17 and Don Faircloth 2:15:52.

In the Munich  Olympics of 1972 Ron Hill came 6th in  2:16.30.6 and 7th was Don Macgregor in 2:16:34.4. a special battle there! Frank Shorter of the USA was the winner in 2:12:19.

Running in the Commonwealth Games at Christchurch, New Zealand the winner was Ian Thompson of England in 2:09:12 with Jack Foster of New Zealand with an outstanding M40 time of 2:11.18.6 second and in sixth place was Don Macgregor in  2:14.06 but sandwiched between two notable runners John Farrington (Australia) 2:12.58 and Bernie Plain (Wales) 2:14.56.

In 1980  I went up by train from London, to report on the World  Veteran road Championships in Glasgow, to be published in Athletics Weekly. The words printed on a sticker on the door of my room by a Glasgow University student, at the University where I was staying “ You’ve made the right choice coming here” – were born out after watching the 13th World Vets road races. On the 23rd of July 1980 -was the 10k won by Roger Robinson (NZ) who had been an English and New Zealand international, from ‘Taff’ Davies of Wales. Then on the 24th was the marathon at Bellahouston Park
In the marathon at 30k Ex-top British junior miler, Derek Fernee, Don Macgregor, John Robinson (NZ) and Ernst Ruegg (Switzerland) were locked together, ahead of the field. Robinson then made his break to win but Macgregor was far too full of running to let him go and with the sound of the bagpipes getting ever nearer the Scott passed Robinson to win in 2:19:23, with Robinson next on 2:19:38 and Fernee third on 2:19:41

Alastair Aitken

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