Vikki McPherson, b. Dumbarton, 1 June 1971. Talented distance runner on track and cross-country and known for her sportsmanship. (Photo: David Hewitson)
Vikki McPherson came to athletics relatively late without the benefit of schools and national age-group competition. She came to notice as a cross-country runner with Troon Tortoises AC in her late teens. Development started to come when she went to Glasgow University as an accountancy student, and in November 1990 she won the West District Cross-Country Championship. Three months later, she finished third in the national championship. Her breakthrough on the track came in 1991, where her season’s best times of 4 minutes 27.66 seconds for 1500 metres and 9:22.29 for 3000 saw her ranked 7th in each event, the 3000 time being an improvement of 28 seconds on her previous best. Replicating her cross-country efforts, she won the West 3000 title and took bronze at the nationals.
In 1992, she excelled over the country, taking the British Universities title, the Scottish Championship, placing 2nd at the World Student Championships and gaining selection for the United Kingdom team which competed in the World Championships over a snowbound course in Boston. On the track, the year saw her turn her attention to the 10,000 metres for the first time, placing 6th at the AAA Championships at Sheffield in 33:27.55. At 3000, she gained selection for the Great Britain Under-23 team and reduced her best for the distance to 9:10.1.
Another Scottish national cross-country success followed in 1993 and a further World Championship selection. This time, she improved from her 62nd in Boston to take 38th at Amorebieta in Spain, the 3rd British counter. Back on the track, she became Britain’s No.1 ranked 10,000 runner, winning the British title at Portsmouth in 33:49.29, before knocking almost a minute off her best at the World Student Games despite very hot conditions in Buffalo, where she finished 4th in 32:32.42, less than 10 seconds off the gold medal and just 3.24 seconds outside a bronze. This performance, which remains her all-time best, resulted in her first senior Great Britain vest at the World Championships in Stuttgart, but her time of 33:49.51 was unable to take her through the heats.
In 1994, she gained her third successive selection for the World Cross-Country Championships and, one month later, was part of the British team that placed 8th in the IAAF Road Relay Championships in Litochoro, Greece. She was selected for the European Cup 10,000 at Birmingham where she placed 6th in 34:03.07, but her main target for the year was the Commonwealth Games in Victoria, Canada. Overshadowed by the Scottish winner, Yvonne Murray, she ran excellently for 5th in 33:02.74, showing her sporting nature by staying to shake the hand of all the other finishers, gaining a good sportsmanship award for this gesture.
Injury disrupted her 1995 year and she did not run on the track, she but extended her range with her first half-marathon, running 74:14 in Glasgow, which gained her British selection for the World Championships half-marathon in Belfort, France in October, where she placed 38th (3rd Briton) in 74:27. In 1996, she led the British rankings at 10,000 with 33:17.74. She took the step at the end of the year to go full-time as an athlete and she top-ranked again in 1997, breaking 33 minutes for only the second time and also taking the UK title. At 5000, she bettered 16 minutes for the first time, running 15:56.8 in a mixed race at Loughborough.
In 1998 she ran 32:38.48 in the European track challenge in Portugal and represented Scotland in her second Commonwealth Games in Malaysia. Gamely going after a medal in the 10,000 in the strength-sapping tropical conditions, she frustratingly finished 4th, one better than Victoria in 1994. Nervousness of the hot and humid conditions led to a slow start, with the first lap covered in 90 seconds. Covering the second half in 1 minute 15 seconds faster than the first half was not enough, however, and fourth place was a great disappointment for the athlete.
Dogged by injury ever since, she did not run a track race after Kuala Lumpur and has gone on to work for UK Sport, UK Athletics and Badminton England in performance positions. She headed UK Athletics' independent review, launched in June 2019, to improve the elite set-up for the 2024 Olympic cycle but resigned from the position later that year.
|800 metres||2:15.7||Coatbridge||8 September 1991|
|1500 metres||4:25.3||Newham, England||23 August 1992|
|3000 metres||9:10.1||Loughborough, England||28 July 1992|
|5000 metres||15:56.04||Birmingham, England||25 July 1998|
|10000 metres||32:32.42||Buffalo NY, USA||15 July 1993|
|5km Road||16:14||Aberdeen||21 May 1994|
|10km Road||33:05||Kirkintilloch||24 May 1992|
|10 miles Road||55:29||Newry, Ireland||12 October 1997|
|Half Marathon||71:33||Newcastle-South Shields, England||14 September 1997|
|AAA & UK CHAMPIONSHIPS|
|GOLD MEDALS (2)|
|10000 metres||33:49.29||Portsmouth (ENG)||5 June 1993|
|10000 metres||33:30.81||Sheffield (ENG)||29 June 1997|
|10000 metres||33:53.17||Birmingham (ENG)||14 June 1996|
|GOLD MEDALS (3)|
|Cross country||19:41||Falkirk||23 February 1992|
|Cross country||24:01||Irvine||27 February 1993|
|Cross country||25:20||Perth||12 February 1995|
|BRONZE MEDALS (2)|
|3000 metres||9:34.31||Crownpoint, Glasgow||5 July 1991|
|Cross country||24:28||Irvine||24 February 1991|
|1993||10000 metres||17, heat 1||33:49.51||Stuttgart (GER)|
|1994||10000 metres||5||33:02.74||Victoria (CAN)|
|1998||10000 metres||4||34:05.11||Kuala Lumpur (MAS)|
|WORLD STUDENT GAMES|
|1993||10000 metres||4||33:32.42||Buffalo NY, USA|
|WORLD CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS|
|1992||Senior women||62||Boston MA, USA|
|1993||Senior women||38||Amorebieta, POR|
|1994||Senior women||80||Budapest, HUN|
|1996||Senior women||49||Stellenbosch, RSA|
|EUROPEAN CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS|
|1997||Senior women||11||Oeiras (POR)|
|WORLD ROAD RACING CHAMPIONSHIPS|
|1994||Road Relay||8 (team)||33:42 (10k)||Litochoro (GRE)|
|1995||Half Marathon||38||74:27||Belfort (FRA)|
|GREAT BRITAIN & NORTHERN IRELAND INTERNATIONAL TRACK APPEARANCES (3)|
|1993||World Championships||10000 metres||17, h1||33:49.51|
|1997||European Challenge||10000 metres||16||33:46.41|
|1998||European Challenge||10000 metres||8, 2nd team||32:38.48|