Eilidh – Your Country Needs You

In what’s undoubtedly been a stellar season for Eilidh Jaffray, the best is yet to come.

Photo by Bobby Gavin

Hawick High School pupil Eilidh (17), has made great strides over the last 18 months and her dedication to running has been rewarded with the chance to represent Scotland at next month’s Virgin Money Giving London Mini Marathon.

An event previously won by four-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Mo Farah, there is two age groups (Under-17 & Under-15) competing with both boys and girls categories. The races follow the last three miles of the World-famous Marathon route from London’s Old Billingsate to the finish on The Mall.

Eilidh secured Under-17 Women’s selection with a fine performance at the recent Young Athletes Road Races held at the Royal Highland Centre, Ingliston, by finishing 5th.

Eilidh’s 2018-19 District and National CV is quite an impressive read –

  • 18th at the National Short Course Cross Country Championships at Lanark in November
  • 5th at the East District Cross Country Championships at Aberdeen in December
  • 12th at the Inter Districts Cross Country at Stirling in January
  • 5th at the Scottish National Cross Country Championships at Falkirk in February
  • 5th at the Young Athletes Road Races held at Ingliston in March
Eilidh and Iona Jamieson who both won team golds in their respective categories at the Inter District Championships when competing for the East.

“It’s an honour to be selected to run for Scotland,” says a delighted Eilidh. “I’m very surprised at how far I’ve come from being a very awkward looking runner (her own opinion) and even on one occasion accidentally wearing my mum’s trail shoes at the National Cross Country Championships.”

And ‘very far’ she has certainly come, for things might have been totally different if a highly talented swimmer had stuck to her original sport of choice.

“I started swimming when I was about nine-years old and I joined the Borders Elite Swim Team when I was 11,” explains Eilidh. “The training regime involved getting up at 4:30am up to five times a week to train in Gala or Selkirk and I also trained three nights a week in Hawick.”

Eilidh ultimately found herself in need of a change. “I fell out of love with swimming, so I started running,” she openly admits.

Eilidh in her East vest

Dad Raymond, a long-time runner himself, provided plenty support towards the prospect of eldest daughter Eilidh trying out another sport, one so close to his own heart.

Eilidh remembers those first tentative running steps; “My dad definitely encouraged me to start running, although I do remember the first time he took me up the ‘Flex,’ when I was dead on my feet and he was jogging along, however, now I can give him a good run for his money.”

The devotion and commitment it takes to train and compete as a swimmer has probably been a huge catalyst that’s allowed Eilidh to adapt so well to the rigours of running. “I really enjoy my training,” says explains.

“I train six days a week with Friday as my day off and at the weekends I usually go for a long off-road run. I follow my dad/coaches training plan.”

Having stanchly dedicated herself to training, Eilidh is now reaping the rewards. Alongside five teammates she will don the Scottish colours in the Under-17 girls race in London and compete against runners from Wales, Northern Ireland and the nine regions of England.

But competing and competing to a very high standard seem to come hand in hand for Eilidh. In her previous guise as a competitive swimmer, Eilidh again, was no stranger to success.

“I managed to win a bronze medal in the 100m fly at Scottish National Age Groups and also swam for Scotland East at the British Inter-Counties,” she said.

And Eilidh will never forget her time in the pool but knows running is now the sole focus; “I think swimming will always be a big part of my life because it taught me so much.

“This September I will be going to Edinburgh University and I’m excited for the new challenges that this will bring. I will be joining the Uni Running Team (Hare and Hounds) and hopefully I will keep progressing in my running.”

With her education and running future clearly mapped out, Eilidh can hopefully now focus on her training. Come the 28th of April, she will find herself in the deep end as she races some of the best young runners this country has to offer but with her enthusiasm, dedication and no lack of talent, it will surely all go swimmingly.