Twenty years of North Uist runnning

NUAAC's first Hippolympain, Finlay MacVicar from Grimsay, is presented his trophy by HIPPO's Mike Alexander
NUAAC's first Hippolympain, Finlay MacVicar from Grimsay, is presented his trophy by HIPPO's Mike Alexander

NORTH Uist Amateur Athletics Club (NUAAC) celebrate their 20th birthday this year – are are fit and thriving!

The running club is open to everyone, with up to 100 members from Benbecula to Berneray making their way to Paible School for the training sessions on Thursday evenings throughout the school year.

NUAAC also meet during the cross country season as Langass Woods on Saturday mornings.

This season’s training began mid-September at the woods, and many parents use this time to enjoy a brisk walk through the wood while children are running all around, through trees and logs and up to the trig point on Langass Hill.

NUAAC began in the summer of 1991 and among the founder members were Mairi Levack, Norman MacLeod, Duncan MacLean, Emma Matheson MacSween, James Matheson and Philip Harding.

The Club has kept the interest of all involved over the years and as most parents on the ‘athletics run’ know, nothing else can happen on a Thursday evening as it’s ‘athletics’!

NUAAC have travelled far and wide over Scotland these past 20 years to track and field events, as well as cross country meets, enabling the club members to see and experience other people and places.

Shopping and cinema opportunities notwithstanding, the children do look forward to the events and always perform well, a credit to their club and their islands.

Going away with a group, outside their immediate family, really does help build confidence and encourages their ability to work as part of a team, essential for their future lives.

The results also speak for themselves – with NUAAC punching well above its demographic weight in terms of individual success and club position in the HIPPO programme: the Highlands and Islands Performance, Participation and Opportunity which, since 2007, has brought together the idea of an athletics competition and support system for clubs in the area whose geography and travel logistics make it difficult to meet and compete together.

A total of 11 athletics clubs from the Highlands and Islands area, Moray, Shetland and Orkney are now affiliated to HIPPO and NUAAC attend as many meetings as possible and take part.

And this is year the island club has finished a fantastic second in the HIPPO competition, along with gaining its first Hippolympian – Finlay MacVicar from Grimsay in the U-11 Boys category.

In 2009 the Club were fortunate to receive sponsorship from the band Runrig to purchase running jackets – a great boost to the Club and their visibility at events – and many of the NUAAC youngsters go on to compete at national level, all agreeing the the Club gave them a great start in this level of competition.

In fact many of the athletics go on to have a career in PE, either in teaching or in a training capacity and NUAAC are very proud to have lit the spark for the current number of students studying PE in universities from the Uists.

The commitment and effort required to keep a voluntary club or organisation going is no doubt well known to many in Uist and it is the individuals who encourage and make the time for the youngsters that the Club have to thank, along with the parents, community and businesses who support the endless fund raising for travel to events that make NUAAC what it is today. The Club meets every Thursday during term-time – session for Primaries 1 to 3 runs from 6-7pm; for Primaries 4 and upwards from 7-8pm; and occasional extended training sessions for those in upper secondary and beyond held after 8pm.

NUAAC also meet during the cross country season at Langass Woods on Saturday mornings at 11-12noon.