Neil Donachie

Neil Donachie : a personal appreciation by Alex MacEwen EAC Endurance manager. With a nod of thanks  to Alex Jackson , Scottish Distance Running History and the archive of Road Running and Cross country commission

Neil   had a “long and distinguished career in Scottish athletics as a runner, official and administrator” I see in the club minutes in 1982 when I joined Neil was in the Executive chair of EAC . Also on the Exec were Keith Ridley, dougie Hunter , Dave Watson and the late Robin Morris and Claude Jones . Neil started out as a member of the Edinburgh Rovers and Scouts club as a Youth in 1949/50 who morphed  into Braidburn AC in 1952/53 and then in the early 1960’s Edinburgh AC .The most recent amalgamations to City Of Edinburgh and then EAC again ,   Neil remained not only  a member but a very active Executive member .

A good cross-country and road runner who turned out in the prestigious Edinburgh to Glasgow road relay, District cross country relays  as well as National cross country championships. Just to put some numbers on this , he ran last leg of the Edinburgh to Glasgow in the early sixties Only the top 20 clubs in Scotland were invited to enter this and every club put its best 8 men into their team, as an aside he encouraged me to put in EAC team a woman from the club who ran for Scotland at the CG marathon .

At district level  cross country relays Neil often made” A” team for Braidburn (finishing 2nd in 1955 ) and later with EAC In 1957 he ran second fastest lap of the district relay. At the national championships his best position was 57th and although tricky to compare times over various conditions, ran 40 minutes for a tough 7.5 miles.

Neil  was principally a track runner who specialised in the half mile distance. I remember in his house Neil telling me of his unique silk running vest as he sought to improve.  He ran well in track championships with PB at 880yds in 1: 54 and mile in 4:25, Neil ran all over Scotland in handicap races – a form of competition he encouraged and he supported me in hosting the club’s annual McDonald and Robertson Trophy Handicaps .  In 1963 he won the Robertson Handicap Trophy

After his running career, Neil’s “love of the sport led him into administration and officiating, he worked at club level, at District and at National levels as both administrator and official “ His contribution at three Commonwealth games was “ immense” , vastly experienced and a team player he could lead yet quietly carry out whatever tasks you gave him, he  encouraged, supported and guided me and many others whether it was school cross country competitions , British track league , club races as Queens drive Race , the Law Race , Edinburgh to North Berwick road race , the various road races at Cramond hosted by the club and Highland Games fundraisers, I found him super knowledgeable and helped me avoid rookie mistakes. In the good old days when EAC were in British League,  I remember Neil teaming me with lead officials in long jump, pole vault and hammer throwing I think his sense of humour  showed one Saturday when he had me and Martin Craven on the hammer That was a tiring afternoon .

At a very personal level, I looked forward to events where Neil and Marion were helping Early to arrive, last to leave after tidying .Always an encouraging word for EAC participants . And over a cup of tea super stories from his life in athletics .

Alex MacEwan

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