Donald Macgregor to start 15th Edinburgh Marathon

Donald MacGregor, who competed for Scotland in the Commonwealth Games back in 1970, will be the official starter for 2017 Edinburgh Marathon Festival. Donald ran much of the current Edinburgh Marathon route when he represented Scotland at the Commonwealth Games, and we’re delighted to invite him back to Edinburgh to celebrate the 15th Anniversary of the iconic Edinburgh Marathon.

The Don, as he was known had a fantastic record in the marathon where one of his finest runs was that pictured above – although Hill eventually passed him to finish sixth to The Don’s seventh, it was one of the best ever races by a Scottish endurance runner. He had a super career as a runner on all surfaces and over all distances – 25 sub 2:20 marathons for a start! He continued this excellent running as a veteran and in the 45 – 49 age group he appeared four times in the world rankings with times of 2:19.1 for eleventh in the world all time list as well as 2:19:36 (16th), 2:23:00 (54th) and 2:27:27.

1970 was the year when the Commonwealth Games were held in Edinburgh and the trial for the marathon was hotly contested. Donald Macgregor ran almost 4700 miles in training that year, the most he ever did. He was only narrowly outsprinted by Jim Alder (the 1966 C.G. gold medallist) and was delighted to make the Scottish team. In the Games event, Ron Hill of England rocketed away to a British record of 2.9.28 (still, more than 40 years later, a Scottish All-Comers best performance). Donald has written that Hill ‘ran like a god…no praise could be too high for his performance.’ Jim Alder was the bravest of silver medallists and Macgregor was satisfied to finish 8th in a personal best of 2.16.53.

It was in the Olympic year of 1972 that Donald Macgregor, aged 33, reached his peak. In preparation for the Maxol Marathon British trial, as well as averaging ninety miles per week, he tried two consecutive 120 mile weeks, a month before the race. In addition this was his second attempt at the carbohydrate depletion/loading pre-marathon diet. In the Maxol it worked perfectly – he passed thirteen rivals during the second half, and finished in 2.15.06 to secure a surprise place in the British Team. Having recovered quickly, he managed ten 100 mile weeks, mainly at 5.30 per mile, and spent three weeks at altitude in St Moritz, coming down to sea level ten days before the Olympic marathon. In Munich on Sunday September 10th, he paced himself very well and came through fast, moving from 30th at 5k to 8th at 40k. Ron Hill wrote in ‘The Long Hard Road’ “I glance round and get the shock of my life: there, head on one side (the left), black-rimmed spectacles, grimacing face, it’s Macgregor ….He’s ungainly but Christ he’s travelling, he’s like a man possessed.” They passed Jack Foster of New Zealand; then Hill’s desperate sprint on the Olympic track left Donald to cross the line 7th in 2.16.34 – a very fine achievement, and one of which the modest Macgregor is rightly proud.

Edinburgh Marathon is delighted to have Donald start the 15th Edinburgh Marathon this Sunday.

*Sources & image http://www.scottishdistancerunninghistory.scot
Scottish Marathon Club magazine of April 1984
Colin Youngson