HAVING risen from being a rather mercenary five-year-old to being one of the most popular and respected names on the Borders athletics circuit Earlston’s Bruce Scott is enjoying one of his best seasons ever – at the age of 52.
A former Jed Sprint winner, he returned to the Riverside track on Saturday to pick up the Veterans’ Sprint title. But as one of several coaches of the highly successful Tweed Leader Jed Track (TLJT) Athletics Club, he also enjoyed watching his young athletes participate on the same circuit that he has spent most of his life on.
And, despite the many changes within the Scottish pro-games set-up, Scott applies the coaching methods he was introduced to more than 30 years ago.
Explaining what first attracted him to the world of professional racing, Bruce told TheSouthern: “I realised that sprinting was in my blood at the primary school sports in the late 1960s. This was my favourite day of the year, when it was custom to hand out half a crown to the winner of each event.
“I suppose I was unwittingly enrolled in professional foot racing then, when I could earn a full month’s pocket money in one day.”
Obviously looking for a more lucrative deal in his teenage years, Scott turned his attention to football, but after a stint with Gala Fairydean took up sprinting again at the age of 20 when he joined the running school of Jedburgh legend John Steede who had his own unique training tactics.
“I first ran at Oxton games in 1980,” recalled Bruce. “I remember it well as I was instructed to look shabby. I ran in a pair of football shorts and an old t-shirt and came second in my heat. I ran all of that season and the following one without winning a heat.
“The type of training we did then kept the speed out of the legs. Speed would come later when we were gearing up for the big one. Jock made sure I was disciplined and, most of all, very patient. I had great respect for Jock. If he said I was to run six 400s in the mud and rain then that’s what I did without question.”
In the 1980s there was a huge divide between amateur and professional athletics and after some quick consideration Bruce made up his mind which side of the fence he wished to be on.
“I did consider turning amateur, but you had to go through a process of reinstatement,” he explained.
“I knew of runners who had gone through the process and were required to hand back all the prize money they had made. As I had already spent my winnings and could not afford to pay the sum of money back, I didn’t give it serious consideration.”
It turned out to be a good decision all round, as in 1982 Scott broke the tape in the prestigious Jed Sprint final.
He told us: “I was finally let off the leash and the two years of hard work and preparation finally bore fruit. I had been on a special preparation for that race which involved six weeks of precise diet, early morning walks and massage every day.
“Jock left no stone unturned. He had made the same journey himself and knew exactly what was required to win. He has been the inspiration to my running career. His methods of self discipline has indeed influenced and served me well, not only in running, but in all aspects of life.”
Among his lengthy list of achievements over the decades, Scott has notched sprint victories at Meadowmill, Braemar and Crieff as well as many veteran titles over 60m, 100m, 200m and long jump.
In 2001 he and Steede travelled to Brisbane, Australia, in the World Masters, where he came home with a bronze medal after competing for GB in the 4 x 100 relay.
Scott is now keen to see the youngsters from his club follow in his footprints and beyond.
“I would like to see either the club as it stands or a composite Borders team competing in the Scottish Leagues,” he said.
“As our talent comes through we are losing them as they go to university. We are now networking with other coaches throughout the country to ensure that the athletes who wish to continue in athletics have a seamless transfer to their new coach.
“That way we keep them in the sport.”
In the past four years, a pelvic injury kept him from competing himself, but since finding a way to manage the situation he has once again been taking the circuit by storm, winning five from six events so far.
“I now listen to my body and don’t go taking risks,” he added. “As long as I am enjoying what I do and stay clear of serious injury then I will continue in the sport. Who knows how long that will be?”