The stopwatches have been put away for the final time.
Award-winning Aberdeen AAC coaches Ken and Joyce Hogg have stepped down after more than 30 years helping local athletes fulfil their potential.
The Bridge of Don couple have been coaching since the mid-1980s, doing it very much on a full-time basis for the past 12 or 13 years since retiring from their respective jobs.
During that period they have received numerous awards from the sport’s governing body, scottishathletics, in recognition of their achievements in developing athletic talent in the north-east.
Joyce said: “Ken started coaching in 1986 when our son got involved with Aberdeen athletic club.
“The club was short of coaches at the time so he went on a training course at Largs and I decided I may as well go with him and get the qualification.
“We coached separately for a long time but eventually all our athletes were jointly coached and that seemed to work well.”
Ken added: “We learned so much over the years.
“The work we have done with athletes over the past 30 years helped each new group that came along.”
The Hoggs have no idea how many athletes they have worked with but it must run into the hundreds – and many of them have gone on to enjoy success at national and international level.
The most successful of them all was Torphins distance runner Rhona Auckland who won the 2014 European under-23 cross country title in Bulgaria before taking silver in the European U23 10,000m track championships in Finland.
Ken said: “Rhona’s win in Bulgaria really was the pinnacle for us.
“It was great to watch her develop into a top-class athlete and that gave us a huge amount of satisfaction.
“But we were equally moved by youngsters such as Charlotte Forbes. She only got involved with us because her brother Stuart was a runner.
“Charlotte never won anything until her final year at school when she suddenly emerged to win national medals and was picked to represent Scotland.”
The Hoggs have been winding down their coaching commitments over the past year and have now handed the reins over to others.
Ken said: “Andrew Ferguson and Malcolm Stone are taking over most of the runners, so everything will be fine.”
So, how will the couple spend all the free time they’ll now have the luxury of enjoying?
Ken said: “Before we became so heavily involved in coaching we used to do a bit of walking, so we intend doing more of that again.
“We’re not as fit as we used to be but we’ll do what we can.”
Prominent north-east athletes have paid tribute to the work done by respected Aberdeen coaches Ken and Joyce Hogg.
Kelsey Stewart, twice Scottish 400m champion and member of Scotland’s 4x400m relay squad at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, said: “Ken and Joyce took me under their wing when I was 13, so we have worked together for nine years.
“I was a youngster who had missed an entire season with a hamstring injury.
“They decided it would be best to take me on board and wrap me in cotton wool.
“For most athletes, Joyce is the scary coach and tells it how it is. Ken on the other hand has a mellow approach. However, in my case they switched roles.
“It’s fair to say that I stressed them out when racing due to my ability to completely forget what the race plan entailed as soon as the gun went.
“One particular 800m race in Solihull in 2016 led to Ken putting his head in his hands, which to this day is the only time he has ever had to do that when watching an athlete.
“They have made me laugh, cry, swear and be sick as a result of some tough training sessions over the years but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I have learned the importance of working hard and to enjoy when things go well because you don’t know what is around the corner.”
Michael Ferguson, 2019 Scottish 1500m champion, said: “It is testament to their hard work and coaching that there’s a group of us now into our 20s who started out at 12 or 13. They have helped keep athletes in the sport.
“They have even developed tomorrow’s coaches because guys like James Joy and Eoghan MacNamara at Aberdeen AAC have learned so much from them.
“From my own point of view, they have been hugely supportive for 10 years.
“To win a senior title under their charge is special.
“I was thrilled to win 1500m gold for myself – but also for Ken and Joyce.”
Rhona Auckland, 2014 European under-23 cross country champion, added: “I was coached by Joyce and Ken from 2010-2015. Up until 2010 I had trained in Banchory, with Banchory Stonehaven AC, and it was suggested that, since I was looking to train with a more specific focus on middle/ long distance events, I should get in touch with the Hoggs.
“From day one they demonstrated that what they offered went far beyond just suggesting a training plan. Working with J&K always started with you, as a person first, and then as an athlete second.
“I think that in itself is a key reason why J&K have had so many successful athletes. While running is a huge part of our lives, it isn’t what defines us, and I think J&K made that distinction effortlessly.
“And that distinction always allowed you, as the athlete, to keep perspective and have fun with it.
“While studying in Edinburgh, I’d be on the phone to J&K a least once a week, talking through how training went, and adapting the plan for the next week based on what else was happening at university, or in social life.
“I got to spend a lot of time with J&K off the track, too. In the car driving to races down south, or in coffee shops abroad, and very much enjoyed spending time in their company.
“They also gave fantastic pep talks – dinner with the Hoggs the night before a race was always a huge confidence booster.
“The night before a race you always have typical pre-race nerves, and they’d sit there and highlight all the things that have gone well in training, and how the course suited you or how you’d have an edge because we’d been working on ‘x’.
“It was a pep talk that really helped channel a confident racing mentality.
“They also cultivated a fantastic squad, a group of warm, generous and supportive team-mates that made training even on the rainiest, coldest winter evening in Aberdeen something to look forward to.”