Gus was quite simply the best athletics sponsorship money raiser that Clydebank has had in my time in the sport.   He raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for charity by running in many races on the road – and on mountains including Mount Everest where he has twice run from 1, 500 feet.   He would run in the Glasgow Marathon and other races pushing a pram to collect the money in and had wonderful publicity from that fact alone.   He even had a play written about him by Yoker Primary School.    There are many stories that he tells about his efforts.   For instance:

  1. He had a theory that pushing a pram for 26.2 miles meant that your upper body was in tension all the time and you had to train for that.   He would therefor run along the road stopping every mile or so to do 100 press ups.   One night just as he was doing his press ups at the Boulevard-Kilbowie Road junction a bunch of Harriers came belting round the corner.   “I don’t know what they thought, I thought a plane had landed!”
  2. On his way to Everest, he and his companion bought a litre of whisky to drink as far up Everest as the party was going.   On the way up the mountain they were told that the couldn’t drink it in the rarified atmosphere at 18,000+ feet so that night they drank it.    They were up a couple of thousand feet and had to drink a lot of water during the day which meant a lot of urine passing during the night.   They stuck the bottle in the snow outside the tent and when Nature called they brought in the bottle, did their duty and put it back outside the flap.   In the morning the bottle had disappeared ……………………..     The booze had its effect – the Sherpas asked was the man sick and were told no, he was just doing the Glasgow Stagger.   Nevertheless he raised £40,000 for Glasgow charities by doing the run.
  3. Gus always took his bagpipes with him and even played them on Everest.   He contacted the Guinness Book of Records to see if it was the highest that anyone had ever played the pipes but apparently someone had played them in an aeroplane.   He then threatened to play them in a submarine!
  4. In the Glasgow Marathon one year he was pushing his pram round when he met a young woman walking and crying in Bellahouston Park.   He asked what was wrong and she said that she had been fooling herself and her friends and was trying to raise money for charity and now she wasn’t going to make it.    Gus always took some sustenance for his six hour journey and in the year in question he had promised his workmates that if they saw him, and gave some money, he’d give them a drink of champagne.   So he calmed the woman and told her to stay with him and she’d make it to the finish.   Now, did she want something to drink?    How about champagne?   Did she want something to eat, he had gammon rolls and cheese rolls!   They both made it to the finish and she introduced him to her husband as the man who gave her a roll in Bellahouston Park.
  5. Then there was the story about Gus and his knee.   The following account is from the ‘Clydebank Post’ of 13th December, 2006:   Climbing to the top of Mount Toubkal in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco may have cost Bankie Gus Campbell his knee – but he claims it was worth it.   It took athlete Gus a gruelling14 days to reach the top of one of the world’s seven highest summits with a group of 14 other hardy adventurers.   But a freak accident as he was descending the mountain resulted in his knee being so badly damaged that doctors have told him he needs to have it replaced.   At the time he did not think it was not a bad fall but he still had another 12,000 ft to descend.      Gus told the Post: `It only took two days to descend the mountain but the pain in my leg made it feel like a fortnight.` But the Clydesdale Harriers coach says it was worth it to achieve his mission of burying his close friend’s obituary at the summit of the colossal peak.   He said: `I was determined to make it to the top of the summit. `Once I got there I played a Gaelic song on the bag pipes and buried my friend, Derek McGinley from the Clydesdale Harriers’ obituary.   `There is now a piece of the Clydesdale Harriers overlooking the Sahara Desert at just under 14,000 ft.   [We assume that Gus buried Derek’s obituary at the summit since Derek is buried in Clydebank]

“I have played the bag pipes on four different summits so far – Everest, Kilimanjaro and Aconcagua.”    Before he began the tough task of climbing the mountain the Bankie spent some time handing out gifts to school kids in the village at the foot of the mountain.   When Clydebank residents heard about his venture they generously gave him different things to take to one of the schools in Northern Africa.   Among the many items he was given were T-shirts, pencils, chalk and school jotters – gifts the children were delighted to receive. Gus was given so much stuff to take to the children that his tour operator told him he would be best giving it to the charity Oxfam to deal with.   But when the charity told him it did not reach this part of Africa it made him even more determined to take the presents out with him.   He managed to take all the stuff in his luggage and in the first week reached the only school on their path in the remote village of Aguersioual.   He said: `The mountain is three times the size of Ben Nevis and is so remote we only met three other people on the trek.   `To the children in the village it was like Christmas had come early when I gave them the gifts. I imagine it was like the feeling we were to get if we won the lottery.   `I played the chanter to them and then they each had a chance to have a go at it.

`I would like to thank the people of Clydebank for their support and donations.` And Gus encountered some problems with security at Casablanca airport on the journey home. They stopped him as they did not believe the bagpipes he was carrying were a musical instrument.   To prove them wrong he played the bag pipes in the middle of Casablanca Airport – much to the bemusement of the staff. 

On one occasion he decided to run in a giraffe neck and head.   The apparatus was constructed and the whole thing was to rest on his neck and extend up into the sky.   He tried it out and the head was interfering with telephone lines so the idea was dropped.


There are lots of Gus Campbell stories but he is just a gem of a man.   He even coaches some women for running in road races.   As he says, some guys go on holiday once a week, he’s on holiday every night when the stopping whistle goes.   When last heard of he was coaching a group of ladies based in the West of Glasgow. 

Photos from ‘Scotland’s Runner’, 1988