My time in Scotland is drawing inexorably to a close and with it my membership of, without a doubt (and sorry Ambleside – you’ll understand), the best running club I have ever been a part of. Those that know me well will know that I have very exacting standards; those that don’t know me so well will note my dress sense and exclaim ‘eh?!?!’. So I don’t say, what I’ve just said, lightly.
The Dundee-based Hawkhill Harriers are far and away the most welcoming, friendly and down-to-earth bunch of guys and lasses that I have ever had the privilege to run with on such a regular basis (again Ambleside I’m sorry, but in fairness to you I have only ever been to two training sessions with you guys since joining 5 years ago – you are still mega awesome though!). I will genuinely miss the people I’ve competed with over the past couple of years. This post is therefore a bit of a shameless and potentially cringingly embarrassing ode to a club that has helped to develop me as a runner as no other club so far has. Luckily I have no shame and run with constant embarrassment so this will flow fairly well.
A bit of a history lesson for you. We used to flick ink at the back of our History teachers shirt during lessons at school….but I digress. The Hawks were formed waaaaayyyyyy back in 1889 and some of those original members are around today, shuffling about the back streets of Dunders at a lick that’d see off a lot of the current crop of runners (I’m looking squarely in the mirror at this one). The club is very much a ‘competing’ club, catering for pretty much every discipline going…..track, road, XC and fell/hill. It’s probably fair to say though that fell/hill is the least popular, but you can’t have everything! There’s some Commonwealth-level athletes knocking about (Laura Muir, Elish McColgan etc) and a plentiful sprinkling of National-ability runners across the age spectrum from U-18 to Masters all absolutely killing it year-in, year-out.
The aspect that has impressed me, and benefited me, the most is the club’s ability to develop their runners to such high standards. I joined about 18 months ago and have seen the birth of some hardcore racing snakes in that short time……some of them seriously don’t know how good they are! The ‘old-timers’ are also super impressive; they’re proper runners them, getting out every week at the Tuesday training sessions and then bossing it on race day up in the hills or on the trails. If I can be half as psyched as them when I’m kicking on the door of No.70 then I’ll be a right happy bugger. The training is sensible and progressive….Tuesdays for speed (the weekly visit of ‘The Man with the Hammer’), Thursdays for tempo and the old chestnut of Sunday long-runs. You get all your eggs in this basket. At the races the club regularly, and without fuss, punches well above its’ respective weight against the perhaps better funded and larger population bases of those found in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
I’m not going to name its members and embarrass but DHH are the genuine article; a friendly, salt of the earth club with a proud history and a strong, progressive future. If I find myself back up this way again, and I sincerely hope that I do, then I’m sure the ethos that started in 1889 and grew with the late, great Ronnie McIntosh, will ensure that I get as warm a welcome being no longer a part of the club as I have as a all paying, shite dancing runner…….though I’ll probably still not have a clue what the heck they’re saying!?
The spirit of Ronnie lives on.