Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
Interviews and

Arthur Keily (18/3/21 to 2/3/16)

He had five brothers Jerry, Bill, Dominic, Joe and Michael and, was part of a very successful club Derby & County AC.
Arthur Patrick Keily, died aged 94, which was a very impressive age, considering he had not had an easy life. He fought in the Second World War and then at 28, turned from being a good amateur footballer to being a serious runner.
After that, he punctuated his life with countless good performances, too many to mention, that was despite having a tough job with British Rail and Rolls Royce, when he was in his prime. At that time he was often doing over 130 mils a week in training.

Something else extra ordinary was he had TWO LIVES in athletics.
The first one was an international and club athlete. He retired from being that at the end of 1960 and then took it up again in the early 90’s and, promptly won the Over 70 prize in the BMAF 5k road Championships at Dunsford Aerodrome, on the 14th of April 1991. It was after that he went on to obtain track records as a Master over 80.

I remember him well, as we talked quite often, around that time. I recall seeing that he was good looking when he was in his 70’s. Particularly with his thick shock of wavy grey hair.
A really friendly person with masses of personality.

Amongst his 11 World records, when he was a young man was doing 30 miles in 2:50:49, which was on his way to a 50km time of 2:57.29.4. He did that at Walton on 20.10.56.
That year he won the South London 30 miles road race and the Liverpool Marathon for the fourth time. He ran many good relay legs for his loyal club Derby & County.
He won seven road races in 1959, which included the Morpeth to Newcastle and the Inter-Counties 20.
In Olympic year 1960, he achieved his fastest marathon time, when winning the Doncaster to Sheffield Marathon in 2:19.23 but then reduced that a little when winning the Windsor to Chiswick in 2:19.6.

Leading up to the Olympics in 1960 to his run in the Olympic marathon for Great Britain, he  won three road races in course record times so, things looked good for Rome in September.
In Rome the British marathon runners only arrived in the heat of Rome , two days before the Olympic marathon. Besides that there was the law, you could not drink in the early stages of a marathon or even have a sponge, till the 12 miles mark. That was of little real use in such hot conditions in Rome so, unless you were from some of the very hot countries, like the winner Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia and the Second runner Rhadi of Morocco, dehydration would have already set in.
Arthur Keily was leading the race at 10 and 12 miles but, he obviously started to wilt after that and came in 25th in 2:27.0.
He completed his first long part of his athletics career by coming 2nd in the same time as the winner (1.8.25) in the Morpeth to Newcastle road race on December 31st 1960.
Arthur Keily, wrote two books, the second one, mainly photos was dedicated to his wife Betty. They were called ‘Arthur Keily Marathon Winner’ and ’80 years of happy healthy life

Gorge Harrison MBE, was once President of Highgate Harries and later President of Shaftesbury Barnet AC. He is a well known coach and, was easily one of Highgate Harriers best distance runners of the 1960’s and came 3rd in the AAA’s marathon of 1962. About Great characters who ran over the years, he told me in 2002 “Frank Salvat at the 5000m at the Rome Olympics, Mel Batty & Dave Bedford what characters they were! I got on very well with Brian Kilby, Arthur & Joe Keily, and all the marathon runners of the 1960’s. They were all great. I remember running the Walton 15 and being with Arthur and Joe and, at the half way stage they turned round and said “Who are thee then” I said George Harrison” They said “George Harrison pleased to meet you.”

When I tell kids that to day, that was what they used to do, they don’t believe it. I think they were characters then. I don’t think; I don’t know, if there are so many now, as it is so competitive, money at the end not a canteen of cutlery”  

Alastair Aitken

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