I first met Jim in 1985, after I read an article in the local Perthshire Advertiser. This article was inviting anyone who may be interested in forming a new running club in Perth, to attend a meeting in the local Fitness Centre. With a small number of like-minded people I went along to find out more and met the two guys responsible for the article, Jim and Bill Crabb. It was agreed that there was enough interest and Perth Road Runners was born. Jim was voted in as the first chairman of the club and from this point the passion for his club grew. His drive and determination lead the club though the early years, immediately registering the Perth Road Runners name and club colours with the Scottish Amateur Athletics Association, formatted club championships and approached local businesses to donate trophies for club presentations.
In the early days members quickly learnt a few things about Jim, firstly, a “spade is a spade” and not an implement for turning over soil in one’s garden! In other wards a straight talking guy! Secondly, Jim would give any other runner endless support, advice and encouragement to help achieve their personal goals. However! There was a rider to this, for Jim was a much disciplined runner and trained hard and if he felt you were not doing likewise, he would certainly tell you! Hence the reason he very quickly earned the nickname of “The Old Warhorse”.
Jim’s training regime was “push it hard and keep it up right to the end”. He was first to training each Tuesday or Thursday evenings at the fitness centre, ready to greet everyone as they arrived. When someone asked what the planned session was you knew it would be exactly what he said and no compromises. If Jim said it would be a hard 1½ hour run, that’s exactly what he meant and not 1hr 29. If we were back to the fitness centre under this time we had to go round the block and make up the minutes. Saturday runs were also the same, frequently taking members on his favourite 2 hour route to Stormontfield, running to a marked spot at the top of the hill and back, always crossing the Queens Bridge; if runners were back under time, extra distance was added to make up the 2 hours.
Every time Jim pulled on his club vest it was done with pride and likewise he enjoyed seeing others enjoying their running and competing in club colours. With such passion the club membership moved forward.
Jim was no slouch either, he was gifted with his economical style of running, regularly finishing under 40 minutes for a 10Km and finishing a half marathon around 1hr 25. His dream of achieving what is most club runner’s goal, a sub 3 hours for a marathon was realised when all went to plan in the Dundee Marathon. He crossed the finish line in 2:59:33, making this one of his greatest running moments.
Jim’s enthusiasm for the sport, knew no bounds, he represented his club around Scotland and across borders. He travelled to America with other members, completing the two legendary US marathons, the New York Marathon and the world oldest marathon, the Boston Marathon. Jim was also a character and quick wit, so along with the hard work there were lots of laughs and banter too.
Jim relished in the story of his competitiveness with Frank Bruno, the heavy weight boxer. The story arose when Jim found himself racing Frank to the finish line in the Great North Half Marathon in Newcastle, on this occasion Frank crossed the line moments ahead of Jim. Then a fortnight later coincidence, or was it fate, that saw them repeating the scenario at the Glasgow 25km race. This time the longer distance was to Jim’s advantage as he fought to reverse the result, he crossed the line just seconds ahead of Frank. This provided a great headline for the next club report in the Perthshire Advertiser “Jim Goes All The way With Frank Bruno”.
Fund raising was also an integral part of Jim’s running ethos, either in organising or participating in events, mostly for the benefit of local charities. Jim was part of the group who took on the 24 hour North Inch Relay Challenge covering over 200 miles to raise money for Tayside Children’s charity, with radio Tay DJ’s giving frequent updates as their milestone were clocked, in the process helped raise money and gained great publicity for PRR too.
Jims running helped minimise the early symptoms of arthritis, but eventually he was curtailed by a runner’s bugbear of “gammy knees”, forcing him to hang up his running shoes and to call it a day. Not long after retiring from much loved running, in 1999 club members nominated him as their first honorary member in recognition for the many years of dedication. Jim was certainly pleased and proud of this gesture.
To this day our club continues to thrive, and has grown in size far beyond the vison set in 1986. Jim kept up to date with club activities, helping in whatever way he could, marshalling, supporting and encouraging others when and where possible. It was always a pleasure for Jim to read club reports and follow the progress of not only the members from his era, but also watch the progress made by new members.
I also know that speaking on behalf of those who were members of the club in the early days, it was indeed a privilege to know and run with Jim.
We have lost a much valued friend and running compatriot, but we have honoured his memory by establishing the Jim McAndrew Championship Medal for all club members to compete for and in doing so, enjoy their running in the spirit as Jim would wish.
Written by Neil Muir