Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
Interviews and


I talked to Ryan McKinlay, the day after he turned 27, at Parliament Hill Fields Open Meeting. That evening it rained all the time and he was in the 'A' 100m and, although he did not win he ran 12.60 but went on to win three races-400m, in a personal best of 51.6; 1500 in 4:18.0 and in the 5000m 'A' race he ran 14:56.70. That was just a few days after being first in 'Run to The Beat' Half marathon in Greenwich in 72 minutes. McKinlay also ran a personal best in the  800m of 1:53.82 earlier in the year.
So much good stuff lately for you?
  "I just enjoy racing. That is most important thing. I run to test my heart every time I go out. I don't care about winning. It's about making me better. Testing myself."
You certainly did a lot of events in the Open meeting rather than just specialising?
  "I think everyone needs to break away - Just go back to when you were young and used to enjoy athletics.
Sometime when you are so focused on your event, things don't always go your way and you don't run seasons bests' or improve like you thought you would. It is really nice to do something else. I have run 'Sub 15 minutes' 5000's three times this year. Last year I could not break Sub 15. I have run 14:40. It has really come on leaps and bounds'
   Regarding your win in the 5000. You could never really count out your rival Huw Lobb in that, as he was an international marathon man and a good cross-country runner, who Frank Horwill had doing stiff repetitions too?
"He is a superior athlete. He has great pace, strength as well. You saw the way he pulled away from the Serpentine runner at 3½ K. I just had to cover every move and, like you said in the commentary box over the loudspeaker, I had to make sure I was in touch. I had done a PB for 400 earlier in 51.6 and I have not run that fast since I was 17. (He went away from Huw Lobb with 600 to go)."
Just 27 now?
   "In the next 2 years I hope I will keep improving with even better times. I was pleased to win the Scottish 3000 steeplechase Championships at Scotstoun (9:7.08 but his PB was in 2012 of 9:06.16) - I beat steeplechaser Liscoe who had run for GB and had a time to his credit of 8:35 I am really happy I am coming into form."
Cross Country is not something special for you?
   "I hate it! I do it because I want to get points for my club. I am passionate about Highgate."
However you surprised your self by winning a cross country at Ealing last year?"
  That was the North London ccc that I won. I was expecting Henry Dodwell to win it!"
"You have quite an intensive Managerial Job?
   "It is at Runners Need in Holborn. It is very demanding on time unfortunately. You are on your feet all day. Not the best for keeping fresh for races."
However when I think about it. Good runners, just below World level, have hard but good jobs and run at a good level, rather than be funded. For instance Frank Tickner, Nielson Hall and Phil Wicks to mention three?
  "It is such a difficult balance. You could take a season off and all of sudden you lose everything, You don't run a PB and you injure yourself and you are out. You have got no way of earning. You are struggling and it is a difficult place to be in. There are a lot of elite athletes who are in that position. They try to make it work with family support. It would be difficult for me as my family are out in South Africa."
Before you came to the UK you ran with a very good South African club called Mr PRICE?
     "Yes it was a small elite club with people like Hendrick Ramaala in it. I was 16 to 17 and learnt a lot from their wealth of knowledge."
Up till this year, you appeared a runner who would win small races on the track from 800 upwards quite easily but, if you were tested with many people of your calibre, in a quality race, you did not always do so well but now, both with Highgate and with your 'Higher Claim' club Woodford Green & Essex Ladies you are challenging the best and even winning races?
  "I think I have really come on running at National and Premier level and it has made me stay strong. I have a different type of belief now, chasing very good athletes, despite having races in my legs. That belief in myself"  

Alastair Aitken

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