Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 152 August 2022 | Page 45

Images : Shrimpo67 / Wikipedia & courtesy Scott McIvor

One sunny evening in May 1987 , the telephone rang in my parent ’ s house in my small hometown of Wick , in the county of Caithness in the far north of Scotland . It was a doctor in a hospital in Golspie , an even smaller town than Wick , on the east coast of the county of Sutherland , some 80km from Wick . The call was to inform them that I had been in a car accident , and although not serious , I had some concussion , and would be kept in the hospital overnight . Could they come and fetch me the following day and take me home to fully recover ?

This car accident indirectly led to the initial steps towards entering my very first marathon ! I had been granted some emergency leave from my accountancy work in Edinburgh in order to attend the funeral of my mother ’ s best friend , Mardi , who was from the farming community in Caithness . My mother , Rose , had been born in what was formerly East Germany , although her family home subsequently was Bavaria in southern Germany , where they had settled after the end of the Second World War . On a work visit to the UK in the early 1950s , she met my father , who was a wireless operator in the merchant navy , and after marrying , they settled in Wick . The farming community had taken Rose into their hearts due to her exuberant personality , and Mardi had become an unofficial member of the family , a grandmother to myself and my two siblings . It was a sad loss .
It took me nearly a week to remember the details of the accident . A vehicle had collided with me headon after overtaking a van without the driver looking ahead to see if there was a vehicle on my side of the road . I
could only remember putting on the brakes as hard as I could , and then waking up in hospital , with the medical staff and police waiting for me to regain consciousness . I gave them my personal details , but initially had no idea where I was , or why I was in hospital , as my recollection of the accident was very vague .
Time to Take Stock
During my week-long recovery , I reflected on my life and what I had achieved so far . I was 33 years of age , single , with no non-school or work achievements to my name . I could have been seriously injured in the accident , or even worse , died . Did I have no ( non-academic ) accomplishments or achievements , something of which I and others could be proud of ? Surely there was more to life than the traditional treadmill of school , university , career , mortgage , middle age , retirement and old age ? Good marks in high school ? Tick . A university degree ? Tick – LLB . A professional qualification ? Tick – Chartered Accountant . A good job ? Tick – Ernst & Whinney ( as they were then called ) were one of the top accounting firms .
What else had I done with my life ? What other achievements had I made ? Had I run a marathon , for example ? No . Had I climbed any major mountains ? No . Had I travelled ? No . With the exception of childhood visits to Germany to visit family relatives , I had spent most of my work vacations flyfishing for trout in the north of Scotland . Also , I had only ever flown once before … when I was less than a year old !
However , I had several hobbies , which included running , and hiking the Munros in Scotland . The Munros are all mountains / hills in Scotland over 3000 feet ( 914 metres ), and ( at the time ) there were 278 in total number . A good friend , Chris , had introduced me to the joys , pleasures and satisfaction of hiking in the mountains . Although some basic climbing skills were required , the vast majority of the mountains were not technical , with many even runnable , depending on the weather conditions and terrain . I enjoyed the freedom of the hills , the fresh air , being away from the stress of work and life , and the daily routines in the city , observing nature and wildlife , enjoying the different types of terrain underfoot and the vistas on achieving the summits .
Scott McIvor , now in his 60s , and still loving his running