Running Writing ©
No. 7   January 1998
previous issuehomenext issue

Scott McTaggart was the 1996 Australian Under-20 Cross Country Champion and 1996 ACT Cross Country Club Junior Runner of the Year. This interview by Jim Tucker was first seen in Canberra Runner magazine #120 in March 1997.

Interview - Scott McTaggart
by Jim Tucker

Briefly outline your family and early sporting background.

I was born 26 February 1977 in Melbourne. My family moved to Canberra in 1978 when Dad was in the Army. We have lived in Charnwood since January 1978. I have a brother Cade who is 21 months older than I am who is a middle to long distance and mountain runner. I have always been interested in sport and played club soccer through primary and high school. I always competed in the school sports carnivals.

How and when did your athletic career commence?

I became involved in athletics through entering the cross country runs at school and found that if I kept running rather than stopping like the other kids, I could do quite well. It was as a result of this that my brother and I were encouraged by John Harding to compete in the Saturday morning School’s Cross Country runs at Lake Ginninderra in 1989.

Who helped with your early development as an athlete?

John Harding and Dennis Mace at North Canberra Athletics Club. After starting to compete at the Northside Schools Cross Country races, John Harding started encouraging me to train seriously. I was given some general training to do which I followed but I didn't really have a coach. In January, 1992 I decided to compete in a steeplechase race at Interclub and managed to just qualify for Nationals. Dennis Mace then organised a meeting with Shaun Creighton, Australia's best ever steeplechaser and Junior Scholarship Coach at the AIS. After this meeting my training was all looked after by Shaun. Shortly after he started coaching me and in my first national track race, the U/16 Australian Champs 2000m Steeplechase in Canberra I finished 7th.

You won the national cross country title at Bendigo in September. Describe the race and how it feels to be a national champion.

I guess it is a cliché but as many people say "the feeling is indescribable". I went into the race thinking that I should be able to finish top six and maybe pick up a gold medal in the teams event. After a good race the weekend before, I guess I should have been more confident. I was surprised how the race unfolded as the lead pack was down to three runners after quarter distance. As the race went on I was hoping that I would be able to keep my lead but I didn't think it would happen as it turned out. One runner with me pulled out and the other started to drop off at about 3.5 km. By the time I went through the start for the second lap I was feeling great and getting lots of encouragement from ACT spectators and fellow team members. All I had to do was not break down. I didn't and finished 1st in my last Junior National Cross Country race.

Your brother Cade was a successful junior athlete but has "disappeared". Where is he and is he still running?

Cade has been in the Ready Reserve of the Australian Army since March 1996. He will return to Canberra in February and recommence study in science at ANU. He has done some running while in the Army. The most recent was in a team running in a 500k relay held over one of the hottest weekends in Queensland in 1996. He was in Canberra on leave for the ANZAC relay and the Canberra Times Fun Run where he ran 21st and was part of the winning open team of three with David Osmond and myself.

How involved is Shaun Creighton as your coach and who else does he coach?

Shaun writes up my training program and guides me on the races that I should enter. He always tries to keep in touch even when he is in Europe for their summer season. He also coaches Adam Leane and Leanne Laajoki (Willford). Shaun has had a great deal of involvement in my development. He writes very clear training programs for me to follow, while he is away and when in Australia we try to organise sessions where he can come and watch or where I train with him. Shaun has been a very big influence on my running and he takes a very good approach to coaching. I have not been injured during the five years Shaun has been coaching me and have always improved slowly but steadily. We have set long term goals which we are trying to achieve, but are focused on what is happening now. Shaun has taught me to not get carried away with what other people are doing or running, but to concentrate on my development.

What is a typical training week and who are your training partners?

During the Winter a typical training week would look as follows:

Sunday: Pack Run in Stromlo Forest 16-24 km.
Monday: Easy 10 km run.
Tuesday: Either 3 x 5 minutes ( 2.5 minutes recovery) or 4 x 1.1 km loop with the AIS group.
Wednesday: Easy 16 km run with Antony Liddell from the AIS.
Thursday: Short hills 180 m dirt or 300m cycle path hills.
Friday: Easy 8 km run.
Saturday: Race or 16k Mclnnes at Stromlo including a 12 minute surge over some hills and a 7 minute road surge.

Normally I train by myself Monday, Thursday and Friday. On the other days I will train with Adam Leane, Trent Harlow, Antony Liddell or Dick Telford's new group: Darren Wilson Steve Isbel, Wayne Bristow, Clinton Mackevicius and Daniel Green.

Have you any "friendly" rivals that you enjoy beating and know enjoy beating you?

Over the last couple of years Antony Liddell and I have become very close in terms of our performances and in most races are always out to beat each other. We were both studying the same course at Uni as well so we spent a lot of time talking about our running. We do enjoy beating each other but are always friends off the course. The last few seasons we have both won a couple of races each, but just recently I am on a 6 race winning streak. It will be a long time before we race again with Antony going to the US to study at Louisiana this year.

How do you intend to handle the often difficult transition from being a top junior to a successful senior athlete?

Unfortunately I just miss Under 20 Track Nationals this year and will have to run Seniors. I look at the transition into Seniors as a new challenge and seeing that the steeple isn't as competitive in the Senior age group it makes things a little easier. Next winter season I will be focussing on my training rather than my performances in races because I will try and build my training up during this winter. I have been contacted by some Universities in the U.S. and I am aiming at going to the U.S. in August to take up a scholarship at a University. I plan to spend at least a year in U.S. I will have competitions in the U.S. which won't be quite as tough as open competition in Australia.

You have tasted success on the track as well as cross country. Which do you prefer and do you think you may have to choose between either at some stage?

I don't have a preference to run Cross or Track. I really enjoy training for and racing both parts of the sport and I don't think there’ll be a stage where I have to choose between one or the other. I have seen how Shaun manages to juggle both types of running and he has had no problems doing both. l think ultimately each year you need to focus on which is going to be the most important and don't try and peak twice a year every year.

You are currently studying for a Bachelor of Applied Science Sports Studies (Sports Coaching) at University of Canberra. Have you decided on a likely career path? Are you currently involved in any coaching capacity?

I have already been approached about moving to the U.S. to train and attend Uni in September 1997. There are several others that I am considering before making a final decision. My preference is for a Uni in the North-west of the U.S. [Scott is studying at the University of Texas at Austin - ed.] I will probably do some post graduate study in nutrition after finishing my current degree. That probably takes care of the next 5 or 6 years. I think that it is a bit early to focus on anything definite, although these degrees tend to push me into the general area of athlete development. I have a small squad of junior athletes, some of whom have done quite well at national level both at Pan Pacific Games and at All Schools.

Are you able to easily balance a busy athletic schedule with other social, educational and work commitments?

It is a constant hassle trying to do that but I seem to manage. I will probably study only part time in first semester 1997 so that I can continue my part-time job as a manager at McDonalds (getting some spare cash for overseas), increase my own training, spend time with my squad of juniors and spend time with my friends. I am fortunate that I am able to take cat naps very easily.

What are some of your short, medium and long term goals?

Short Term: Run well at Open Steeple Nationals and run a P.B., build my training up to 120 to 130 km per week by July 97. Run under 9:00 for 3km steeple before the end of this season.
Medium Term: Continue to build my weekly mileage and to run the following times by the end of 1998: 3000m steeple: Under 8.45, 3000m Under 8.15, 1500m Under 3.52, 5000m Under 14.20.
Long Term: Hold an Australian record for an event. Represent Australia in World Champs, Olympics, Cross-Country.  end

Select photo to view large image

Scott - Steeple

Scott McTaggart - Steeple double exposure. Dec 1996 [17k]

scott mctaggart, 1993

Scott, 7th runner from left in East Coast Challenge steeplechase, Nov 1993 [48k]

jim tucker

Jim Tucker, author and mountain runner, Oct 1993 [26k]

Scott McTaggart's track, road and cross country PB's

EVENT            TIME        DATE     PLACE

 800 m            1:57.3     Jan 97   Canberra
1500 m            3:53.29    Jan 97   Canberra
3000 m            8:30.24    Nov 96  Melbourne
5000 m Road      15:17      Sept 96   Canberra
3000 m Steeple    9:09.18    Jan 97   Canberra
2000 m Steeple    5:53       Nov 95   Canberra
10km Road        30:38       Oct 96   Canberra


Copyright © 1997 - 2009