Sandra Branney was born on 30th April 1954 in Glasgow where she still lives. She is also a member of a Glasgow club - starting with Victoria Park AAC, she moved to Glasgow AC and now that the two clubs have merged she is back with City of Glasgow Victoria Park. She is identified with Glasgow every bit as much as Liz McColgan is with Dundee. According to an article in the "Scotland's Runner" magazine in November 1986, she took up running in 1983 on the prompting of her husband Donald and has had a most remarkable career since. "When Sandra started running three years ago, Donald used to have to 'drag her round the block'. Now he has been left trailing gamely in her wake." Donald is clearly a major factor in her success and she admits as much when she says in reply to being asked about anyone who has had an influence on her performances, "The one person who stands out is my husband Donald who, as he puts it, is 'right behind me'. Over the years I have read a lot and where possible spoke to people about training and competing. When I decided to go back to track a few years ago, I joined John Montgomery's group. It was the best move I ever made and my recent track performances are down to John and the rest of the gang." Although others are mentioned and John is name-checked, Donald is the first mentioned and his importance stands out.
She really burst on to the scene in the Glasgow Marathon in 1985 with no background that anyone knew of. At the age of 31 she ran 2:45.
If ever the "What if ....." question were to be asked of an athlete, it would have to be asked of Sandra. Clearly an athlete of talent, a gifted athlete, what if she had taken up running earlier? We can't answer that accurately, although there are formulae to calculate what her times might have been, but we can look at her career in a bit of detail and wonder.