One of the key players behind the success of Metro Aberdeen Running Club in recent years is moving to France.
Tom Brian stepped down from his post as chairman at the club’s annual meeting this week as he is poised to relocate to Paris to take up a new job with oil and gas company Total.
Brian joined Metro in 2008, but didn’t get involved as a club committee member until 2013.He was elected men’s captain in 2015 and remained in that post until last year when he stepped up to become chairman.
The club has benefitted hugely from his enthusiasm and drive, which helped grow membership numbers to the 400 mark.
Performance levels have also improved, with more members earning Scotland call-ups than at any other stage in the club’s 30-year history.
Aside from his administrative and organisational skills, Brian has also been a solid performer for Metro. He won the Fraserburgh half marathon in 2017 and was fourth in the 2019 Great Aberdeen Run half marathon. His best marathon time of 2hr 30min 57secs came at Frankfurt in 2018.
He said: “I’m sad to be stepping down, but it’s a two-year assignment I’ve got in Paris and I plan to get involved with the club again when I return after that.
“I joined Metro in 2008 and initially I was a pretty quiet member. I’d turn up at training and compete in the races.
“At that time I asked someone what plans the club had for taking part in the national cross country championships only to be told there were no plans. No-one went to the nationals, so I had to go on my own.
“I wanted to change that, so I eventually got involved with the committee and after a couple of years became men’s captain, then chairman.
“As captain I tried to put in place more organised training. At that point people would turn up for training and just do whatever they wanted. That had to change.
“I also encouraged greater representation at big races and we got to the point where we had a full coach-load of runners at the national championships.
“Performances improved and last season, for the first time in almost 20 years, the men’s team picked up medals at the East District cross country championships. The guys are beginning to believe that these things can be achieved more often.
“The women’s team has done brilliantly. Their victory in the British marathon team championships at London was unbelievable. There are so many talented runners there.
“I probably took most satisfaction, however, from the coast-to-coast relay we organised a couple of years ago. That was incredibly successful in bringing so many people together in the club.
“I had a lot of ambitious plans for this year, but Covid brought a halt to all of them.
“I wanted to overhaul the training again and have a focus on performance. I also wanted to explore the possibility of the club having its own facilities.
“And I was keen to pursue the idea of Aberdeen having a marathon.
“I have a passion to make the marathon happen and I hope some progress can be made with that. It might be that we need to put on a small scale race to begin with to demonstrate how it might work.
“The club is in a good place at the moment, there are new faces on the committee for the year ahead and I’d hope they will continue to take things forward.”
Tom and wife Fiona Brian strengthening Metro Aberdeen contingent in French capital
Tom Brian and his wife – Scotland international Fiona – will soon be leaving the north-east to live in Paris for two years.
But the couple won’t be severing their connections with Metro Aberdeen Running Club during that period.
In fact, they’ll be strengthening what is already a significant Metro presence in the French capital.
Tom said: “Club members Jennifer Elvin and Iain Manson are already living in Paris and Banchory-based Ginie Barrand was born and raised in France.
“I’ll certainly be encouraging more of our club members to come over and take part in some of the races over there. There are so many events on offer, Covid-permitting, and it would be great for some of our guys to take part in a few of them.
“I also plan to come back and represent Metro in next year’s national cross country championships, if the race goes ahead.”
Fiona is the lead runner in Metro’s successful women’s squad which, in 2017, won the British marathon team title at London.
She is a five-time winner of the Aberdeen Baker Hughes 10k and is a member of the Scottish Marathon Project, which has the aim of supporting the country’s best athletes achieve selection for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Tom said: “Fiona has some work commitments to look after in Aberdeen, so she won’t be moving to Paris immediately. But once she does, she’ll still be focusing on her marathon ambitions.
“It has been a frustrating year for her as I’m sure she could have run under 2hr 40min for the marathon, but there hasn’t been any races. I think she can benefit from racing in France.”