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20th Jun, 2021, Alastair Aitken

DORAN CONTINUES TO IMPROVE

Ross Doran, an Under 20 runner, came second out of 11 in his London Inter Club Challenge race at Lee Valley over the weekend of 12-13 June.. Running in Race 2 of the 1500m he was second in 4:27.38, a new PB. Other Highgate runners in the same race also achieved personal best times. They were Roger Wilcox (U20) in fifth (4:42.63) and Josh Groves (Under 17) in eighth (4:48.80). In Race 1 Luca Spaccatrosi ran 4:27.86 for 1500m. Two Highgate under 13 girls did well running in the meeting with personal bests in the 800m: Vita Bradon came third in her race in 2:34.44 and Mia Cobbold was fourth in 2:37.40. 

20th Jun, 2021, Alastair Aitken

SOME PERSONAL BESTS FOR HIGHGATE UNDER 17s

In the London Schools Championships at Battersea on 12 June. several Highgate Harriers did personal best performances in under 17 events.  In third place was Tyrah Joseph with a 9.87 shot put; Camille Alaphilippe with a 5.04 long jump took second in that event. First place went to Aisha Mohammed-Mariche with a 33.26 javelin. Let us hope some of these names appear at the third Middlesex Young Athletes League match at Parliament Hill track on 26 June.

20th Jun, 2021, Alastair Aitken

ASH BURNS BRIGHTLY IN NORWICH

Ash Harrell of Highgate Harriers was second in the City of Norwich Half Marathon on Sunday 13th of June. The winner was Norman Shreeve of Cambridge & Coleridge AC in 68:30 and Harrell did 69:34. Anything under 70 minutes is a fast club time. Harrell won the Snetterton Race Track 10K back on 28 April in 31:55. At Norwich, another Highgate man was well up the field of 841 finishers: M40 runner James Johnson came 22nd in 81:56. 

20th Jun, 2021, Alastair Aitken

SPRINTERS FIND SOME COMPETITION

On Sunday 13 June some Highgate Harriers found some useful competition in the Newham & Essex Beagles Open Sprint event at Stratford.  Amy Rutherford (W35) was fifth in race 4 of the women’s 200m in 29.37, and over 55 sprinter Neil Middleton came second in race 19 on the men’s 100m with a time of 13.01.

13th Jun, 2021, Alastair Aitken

Hannah first again

Hannah Viner, won the Women’s 1500m 'C' race at the Watford British Milers Grand Prix on Saturday 12 June.  The Highgate Harrier, who runs so well over the country for the club, did a time of 4:24.89.   Also running in the same race was Yasmin Goater who clocked 4:30.77 and Highate's Rebecca Johnson ran 4:24.79.in the 'A' race. Despite the lack of competition because of the virus, these ladies are not letting the grass grow under their feet!

13th Jun, 2021, Alastair Aitken

Dominic Ogbechie jumps impressively

Dominic Ogbechie started his summer high jumping coming second in the Loughborough Open Meeting on 2 June.  He jumped 2.10m.  In third place was another Highgate man Sean Oceng-Engena. He jumped 1.90m, a personal best. 

Chris Bailey, Highgate's current Club President, has followed the progress of Ogbechie and been impressed with his events.  He even went abroad to see him compete. Ogbechje is coached by Highgate sprinter Marius Guei and will be glad we have yet another jumper like Oceng-Engena doing so well for the club.

7th Jun, 2021, Alastair Aitken

Ann Packer MBE

With the Tokyo Olympics approaching, Alastair Aitken looks back on Ann Packer, who won gold and silver at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, and her husband Robbie Brightwell, who took a relay silver at the same Games.

Ann Packer married Robbie Brightwell on 19 December 1964.  They now live at Congleton in Cheshire.  Let us look back over the years and realize what a fantastic sporting family they were.

Firstly, Robbie Brightwell was Captain of the British Athletics team at the Olympic Games of 1964 where, he took Britain from fourth on the anchor leg of the 4x400m to second at the finish, with a 44.8 split. Robbie was also the European 400m Champion in 1962, in Belgrade in 45.9.

About Ann Packer Charlie Elliott Editor of Athletics Arena magazine, said before the 1964 Olympics Games in his review: “A girl whose capacity to astonish is apparently inexhaustible” How right he was! She won silver in an impressive 52.2 British record in the 400m Final in Tokyo, just behind Betty Cuthbert of Australia, the 200 Olympic Champion of 1960, who ran 52.0 and, following that, she won gold in the 800 Final on 20 October. Then, in the family, there are sons Ian and David Brightwell who played for Manchester City in the early 1990’s and a useful 400m man Gary Brightwell, as the third of three sons.

Ann Elizabeth Packer, was born on the 8 March 1942 in Moulsford, and educated at Wallingford Grammar School and Greenwich University. She proved to be handy over the 200m, 400m and pentathlon. Robbie Brightwell was a teacher who went to Loughborough and Ann was a teacher when they were in Tokyo.

Except for a 2:05.3 800m earlier in 1964 her ability was more as a novice at the distance, not having a listed time for having done an 800m race before then. Robbie Brightwell’s comment to me in 1962 could in a way apply here. The main thing, he said, is you must first have some potential but it is not the athlete with the greatest potential who reaches the top. More often perhaps the athlete with the greatest perseverance. This is the thing that counts, you must never give in. Sometimes you have scrubber years, others will be good ones, but keep on racing, have faith in yourself and you will eventually come through. 

I did enjoy being in the stadium in Tokyo and seeing Ann Packer. in her races.  She qualified for the Semi-Finals by finishing fifth in Heat 1, which was won by Maryvonne Dupureur (France) in 2:04.5. Semi Final ‘A’ was won by Maryvonne Dupureur in 2:04.1 (New Olympic record). with Ann Smith 2:4.8 of GB qualifying for the Final in fourth. Semi. Final ‘B’ was won by Ann Marise Chamberlain (New Zealand) in 2:04.6 with Ann Packer qualifying for the Final in third in 2:06.0. 

The Final on the cinders was on the 20 October in cloudy weather; temperature 15.50; Humidity 85% Wind 1.60m (N).  Sin Kim Dan of North Korea (PRK) was said to have run a 1:58.0 but could not compete in the Olympics due to the suspension of her country by the IAAF.

In the Final Dupureur was the favourite with people thinking Chamberlain would be close with the Dutch athlete Gerarda Kraan and GB athletes Smith and Packer also thought to have an outside chance of a medal.

After the start Dupureur went straight to the front and. went through the bell in the lead in 58.6 with Zsuzsa Szabo (Hungary) and Antje Gliechfeld (Germany) together next then a group of runners which included Packer. Dupureur opened up a small lead in the third quarter of the race of about a 7 metres at 600m. Out of the group Ann Packer responded and using her 400m speed and she literally glided past Chamberlain at the start of the final straight and then took Dupereur before she got to the finishing line, about 5 or 6 meters clear.  The result: 1, Ann Packer (GB) 2:01.1 New World record; 2, Maryvonne Dupureur (France) 2:01.9 National record; 3, Ann Marise. Chamberlain (New Zealand) 2:02.8 National record; 4, Zsusza Nagy-Szabo (Hungary) 2:03.5 ,National record; 5,Antje Gleichfeld-Braasch (Germany) 2:03.9 National record; 6, Laine Erik (USSR) 2:05.1; 7, Gerarda Kraan (Netherlands) 2:05.8; and 8, Anne Smith GB 2:05.8. 

27th May, 2021, Alastair Aitken

Highgate need more young athletes competing

Highgate Harriers were the top club in the Middlesex Young Athletes League in the last season that they competed in before the virus took a hold of events.  After the first fixture of 2021 held over two days (22 and 23 May) at Finsbury Park (field events) and Perivale (track events) Highgate were in third place with 32 points behind leaders London Heathside (54 points) and Shaftesbury Barnet (36 points).   Eight teams have entered the competition.

There is no doubt with that with a few more athletes on the track they could be winning again as the season progresses. Those Highgate Harriers in winning form were all field eventers. Cecile Reeves won the under 15 girls A high jump with 1.38; Saloma Vessier won the B event with a 1.30 jump and the under 15 girls A long jump with 4.74. Aisha Mariche won the under 17 women A shot with 10.12 and the A javelin with a throw of 34.26.  Tyrah Joseph won the under 17 women B shot with 9.48 and also the B hammer with 19.09.  Arthur Shaw won the Under 13 Boys A javelin with a throw of 16.63.  Remy Weinbrecht won the under 17 men B javelin with 18.91 and Paris Omer won the under 17 men B shot with 7.63 and the A hammer with 15.25.

27th May, 2021, Alastair Aitken

Hannah Viner and Yasmin Goater impress

On 19 May in the Wimbledon Distance Night on the track in Wimbledon Park Hannah Viner ran a season's best time of 16:49.75. for 5000m and was followed home by Yasmin Goater, who ran a personal best of 16:53.99: Two Highgate men ran fast times at the meeting.  A new Highgate runner, Seyd Taha Ghafari, was 3rd in the 5000m in 14:48.21 and Charlie Haywood, an ever improving Highgate man, ran a personal best of 14:48.82.  Lewis Greaves ran a 9:35.26 3000m and over 45 runner Rob Saunders ran 10.47.81, which was a personal best. 

8th May, 2021, Alastair Aitken

Young athletes firing on the track

In the Harrow 3000m Open on 22 April Matthew Buckley (U20) was second in race 6 in 9:51:68. Ross Doran (U20) ran 9:29.34 and Mathew Kaminer (U20) 9:35.27 in race 8.  It was in race 3 that Lauren Russell, an under 17 woman, ran 11:20.53.

At the Lee Valley Open on 25 April, Joe Collinge (U20) was second in a race over 800m in 2:05:50.

In the Harrow Open on the 29th of April Josh Groves (U17) was second in race 7 of the 800m in 2:14.13.  In race 1 of the 1500m under 15 girl Lily Spaccatrosi was10th in 5:52.74.  Alex Mulvihill was in action in race 7, in which he ran 4:45.63.  In race 9 Eddie Brown (U20) was second in 4:28.45. In race 10, Joe Collinge ran 4:18:39.

in the Havering Open on 2 May Eddie Brown (U20) ran a 2:6.81 800m. In the Medway & Maidstone Open on 3 May Lily Spaccatrosi an under 15 girl ran 2:53:53 for 800m in race 3.

Besides the track results for Highgate young athletes, in the Merchant Taylors cross country on 17 April, Alex Mulvihill (U15 boy) was first in his age group in the time trial event, in 07:37.

8th May, 2021, Alastair Aitken

Nina Griffith and Sean Renfer impress in marathon

Nina Griffith was the seventh woman home in the Cheshire Elite Marathon at Pulford on 25 April. Her time was a new PB of 2:36.45. Griffith will be remembered for her racing in 2020, when she came second in two Start Fitness Metropolitan League cross country races for the strong Highgate women's team.  Also in the race, with an impressive run, was Sean Renfer who ran a new PB of 2:29.07. 

21st Apr, 2021, Kani Hinshelwood

GOOD LUCK NINA!

Our superstar runner Nina is running an elite marathon on Sunday (I think its' the postponed Wrecsam marathon - but in Chesire).

If you follow her on strava, you'll know how hard she has been training (however it does get slightly depressing when she runs a half marathon at a faster pace than you did a 3k track race in!), so drop her a note to wish her good luck!

We're excited to see how you do, and hope to hear the PB bell, but more importantly enjoy the race!

GOOD LUUCKK xoxox

Nina
18th Apr, 2021, Alastair Aitken

A tribute to John Wild

It was very sad news to hear that on the morning of the 10th of April 2021 Highgate Harrier John Wild died. He was born on 28th of February 1927. He joined Highgate Harriers on the 31st of May 1954.

Amongst other honors, he was the best man to celebrated Highgate Harrier Ted Fosbrook and his wife Pam Fosbrook. He was Secretary of the club from 1988 to 1991 inclusive and President in 1994.

John was awarded the South of England AA service award for Services to athletics over 40 years.  Long before he retired in his ‘80’s he did many things, including managing a ‘B’ team in the Southern League, when the interest in track and field was very high in the club. He was a successful club coach for field events. Richard Cox, always someone who loved Highgate Harriers, felt he was irreplaceable.  

After Sinead Gutzmore won the London Schools Championship 100m, and as she was also a long jumper, John told her to do the triple jump and as a novice she went on to win the Inter-Counties and have international selection. He also had a strong hand in coaching hurdlers like Matt Dore-Weeks and Cathy Dawson (White) who ran 800m in the Commonwealth Games. He also helped set up a fund with Brian and Paul Holland to support athletes. John was keen to help the lesser athletes in the club and, while Richard Priestly was managing a successful Southern League Division One team to victories, John took a Highgate ‘B’ team in hand and did well in lower Divisions.

John Wild was a master of many parts. He was in the Middlesex Regiment and was even a guard outside Buckingham Palace. He looked after the Small Ads for the Daily Mirror and became a Manager on the advertising side of the paper, amongst other things. It is the doers of the clubs like modest John that keep them successful. He will be greatly missed.

18th Apr, 2021, Alastair Aitken

Bill Nankeville (1925-2021)

When I was 8 years old, I was taken, with my brother Ian, to my first ever big athletics meeting, which was the AAA Championships at the White City Stadium. My father, Colonel David Aitken, was a personal wartime friend of the Manager of the stadium so, consequently, we had some of the best seats near the finish. Running was already my favourite sport at school and so, with the spell binding White City roar behind him, I saw a smooth and stylish runner, George William Nankeville coming home victorious in the mile. That immediately captured my imagination and he became my athletics hero, as he won the first of four AAAs mile Championships. The only runner that seemed to me to have the same smooth style, who came just after Bill, was Mitcham’s Brian Hewson, who won the 1958 European 1500m and, like Bill, was a smart dressed man off the track too. They were, in later years, great friends. I remember even at 80 Bill had his brown trilby and immaculate suit on when we met and, no doubt his devoted son Bobby Davro, the well-known actor and comedian took after him in that regard.

Bill Nankeville was born at Woking on 24 March 1925. As a junior he ran the half mile and by 1950 got his time down to 1:53.0; being from a working-class background, never stopped him going places.

He started work on making petrol tanks and parachute containers but was glad to not be doing that when the long hut he worked in got a bomb dropped on it. In 1944 he joined the Army. He became a member of a continental club, Union St Gilloise, and he became the British Army on the Rhine 1500m Champion. It was in 1947 that he obtained his first GB vest, coming 3rd in the GB v France match at St Colombes Stadium, Paris on 7th of September. His modest time was 4.00.2. He raced at 63kg and he was 1.79 in height.

His AAA’s win in 1948 was in 4:14.2 but in second place was the 1952 Olympic Champion Josef Barthel of Luxembourg in 4:15.4. I would like to point out that in those days people trained but not very hard with no money rewards and they fitted it all in around their working life. Gordon Pirie was the first to change all that, after knowing what Emile Zatopek did, but was virtually penniless in the process at times. One must remember that after those early years Bill worked for a sports equipment manufacturer and a wholesaler and then was an owner of three discount stores. He was married to Janet who died in 2010 (after 63 years together). It was 1948 that the Olympics were in London and Bill Nankeville, who competed in two Olympics, came sixth in the Final of the 1500m in 3:52.6. Henry Eriksson of Sweden won in 3:49.8.

In 1949 Bill won the AAA’s mile in 4:08.8. “I felt good but had the cinders been less wet I think I would have run faster.” In 1950 Bill won the AAA’s Mile in 4:12.2. Bill was coached in the later years at his Walton AC club by Bill Thomas. Bill Nankeville ran in the Final of the European Championships 1500m on the 27th of August 1950 and after leading at the bell still looked a possible winner going into the last bend but was firstly overtaken by the Frenchman Patrick El Mabrouk (3:47.8) and then by the winner, Willy Slijkhuis of the Netherlands (3:47.2). However, Bill finished in third in 3:48.0 which was a new UK record. 

In 1951 the emerging Oxford University ‘Star’ Roger Bannister won the AAA’s mile in 4:07.8 with Bill Nankeville second in 4:08.6 and the 1950 European and Commonwealth 800m/880yds Champion John Parlett third in 4:09.2. Bill was also in a 4x880yds UK team that broke the world record with 7:30.6 that year. 

In 1952 Bill Nankeville was back winning a AAA’s mile title in 4:09.8, with a future mile world record holder John Landy of Australia second. In the Olympic Games in Helsinki in 1952 Bill Nankeville qualified for the Semi-final, coming third in his heat in 3:56.4, but was only 9th in the semi-final in 3:52.0. But he had made two Olympics which was extremely good.

In 1953 he was in two world record relay teams, a 4x1500m (15:27.2) and a 4 x one mile (16:41.0-Chris Chataway, Bill Nankeville, Don Seamon and Roger Bannister). Considering ‘all in all’, Nankeville was a great miler on comparatively light training.

18th Apr, 2021, Alastair Aitken

Highgate have a great team effort

Many of Highgate’s 'Star' middle distance runners had a good team victory at the high quality Wimbledon 5k road race on the 11th of April. Even with a tough hill to negotiate in it the 'Gate' runners all ran well.                                                                   

Based on time, Highgate won with 2hrs 34:27; 2nd were Guildford 2:38.34 and 3rd Aldershot 2:39:12 . To show how powerful the club are on the road, they also had the first 'B' team in 9th place overall. Highgate's high placers in the men’s race were: 5th, Alex Lepretre, 14:52.4; 11th, Peter Chambers, coming back to form, with 15:03.3; 14th, Harry Wakefield, 15:10.8; 17th, Roger Poolman 15:11.8; 23rd, Charlie Haywood 15:22.2; 31st Sean Renfer 15:35.2; 33rd Rob Wilson 15:38.4; 40th, James Ross 15:46.2; 41st, Robel Bahelbi 15:50.8.

Two Highgate women ran in the women's race: Rachel Baker finished 19th in 18:58.5 and Sarah Dewhirst finished 44th in 20:01.1.

18th Apr, 2021, Alastair Aitken

Airey and Hinshelwood shine in the park

Catherine Airey and Kani Hinshelwood were the first two in Race 2 of the Covid-19 one lap Challenge at Finsbury Park, on the 4th of April. Both runners ran for Highgate on the track over 3000m last season.  At Finsbury Park their times were 1st Airey in 8:05.75 and 2nd Hinshelwood in 8:14.18.  Other Highgate runners in the same race were: 3, Jess Parry (under 17) 8:16.37; 4, Mia Parry (U20) 8:18.65; 6, Lily Spaccatrosi (U15) 9:39.65.  

In race 3 Tom Butler of Shaftesbury Barnet, who has finished in the first half dozen or so in the Metropolitan League senior races, won in a quick time of 7:36.16 with M50 runner Sion Parry of Highgate 2nd in 7:46.50. In Race 4 Highgate’s Alex Mulvihill, an under 15 runner, was 1st in 7:32.13. The fastest of the day was in race 7, in which when Ismael Abukar of London Heathside ran 7:06.62. In race one, Nadi Jahangira (M50) of Highgate finished in 3rd position in 8:26.55.

7th Apr, 2021, Kani Hinshelwood

In need for 1 more for a ladies team on Sunday

Hi everyone! 

We have a team road race on Sunday the 11th of April, Lisa has unfortunately hurt her foot so we have 1 spot left for the team. The race is a 5k road race in wimbledon (a good course, a personal pb course of mine). Get in contact if you're free and want to join the team. The club has paid for the team entry 

kani.hinshelwood@highgateharriers.org.uk

5th Apr, 2021, Alastair Aitken

VERY FAST RUN BY HIGHGATE HARRIER

Harry Wakefield of Highgate Harriers, running in the Podium 5k race at Barrowford, Lancashire on 3 April, recorded a very fast personal best time when coming 3rd of 33 in race six of seven. His time was a speedy 14:29 and beat his previous personal best, that he set in October 2020 of 15:16, quite soundly!

5th Apr, 2021, Alastair Aitken

WILSON KEEPS THE HARRIERS' FLAME ALIGHT

Robert Wilson, the Highgate Harriers men’s cross country Captain, was the only Highgate runner to compete in the 'Comeback 5000’ m races at Battersea on 31 March.  He clocked a time of 15:27.69 in race 6.  Robert is coached by ex-international Ben Noad and has a 5000m PB of 14:51.3 and a 5k road best of 14:38.

31st Jan, 2021, Alastair Aitken

A Break in Transmission

The Night of 10,000m PB's scheduled to be held at Parliament Hill Fields athletics track on June 5th 2021 has been cancelled, and the British Olympic 10,000m Trials and European Cup will now be held elsewhere. This most brilliant and friendly meeting (no one pays to watch it live), has now been thwarted by the terrible disease Covid-19. However, the wonderful motivator Ben Pochee, the Highgate Harriers organiser of the event since the very start, fully intends running the meeting again in 2022.  Since the first event in 2013 all the races have been of a good standard and have improved in general terms over the years.  Each year it gathered momentum, and it has attracted some of the best 5 and 10k athletes in Europe.  As Paul Maskell, the North London Events Manager and Communicator for Hampstead Heath at the City of London Corporation said to me after the 2019 event: "I have worked for the City of London for 23 years. It is a different event at Parliament Hill. It has got it. It has got the razzmatazz, the style, the booze”.

3rd Jan, 2021, Alastair Aitken

Paul Nihill, Olympic Walker and European Champion. Alastair Aitken remembers

Olympic walker Vincent Paul Nihill died aged 81 on the 15 December 2020 in a care home, but as a competitive athlete he was among the very best race walkers in the world.  For much of his life he lived in Addiscombe, Croydon and in 2016 a road was named after him – Nihill Place – by Croydon Council in recognition of all his achievements. Paul was involved with helping with boxing and other sports, at sports clubs in the region and was even a presenter on a local radio station at one time.  

 

Going back to when he was young, Paul had some very tough times, and even spent time in an orphanage. However, when he was eight years old, he did his first race on grass and won over 60m. Paul, who left school at 15 to join a grocers, was a senior in a bank when I first talked to him in 1969 in Athens and then at his home in the Croydon/Thornton Heath area.

 

He made some interesting observations telling me: The greatest lesson I have learnt really is the fact that you never get anywhere unless you put your mind to it, one hundred percent, to that one thing. I feel now that, when, years ago I was doing mainly boxing plus a little running, a little walking and several other things, had I gone about my training in the same way that I do now, dedicating myself to walking and to making a success of it, I would have been a top junior. So many people just play around with a sport when, as runners they could probably become ‘Derek Ibbotson’ if only that they put their minds to it, trained more conscientiously, and realised their potential. To me it is strange that when I was doing walking just to fill a gap, nobody gave me any encouragement. Nobody came up to me and said ‘you could be a world beater if you put your mind to it’, or offered to take me in hand. Nobody cared, and I just drifted out as it were, finishing usually in the middle of the field doing nothing outstanding.”  

 

GB won the individual gold medal in the 50km race walk in the 1932 Olympics with Tommy Green and in 1936 with Harold Whitlock and then with Don Thompson in 1960. The next athlete to obtain an Olympic medal for GB over the 50km distance was Paul Nihill, winning silver in the 1964 Tokyo games; since then no one else for GB has obtained an Olympic medal in that event. The first three in the Tokyo Olympics of 1964 were: 1 Abdon Pamich Italy 4:11.12.4; 2 Paul Nihill (GB—who moved up to be with Pamich at the 30k distance till 40k}, 4:11.31.2; 3 Ingvar Pettersson (Sweden 4:14.17.4).

 

In 1965 after the ‘anti-climax’ of the of the Tokyo Olympic Games Paul had a series of tremendous setbacks. He told me: Tokyo for me was certainly an anti-climax; I had trouble with my job, problems at home – nothing seemed to go right at all. I could not, of course, concentrate on training and in fact lost all enjoyment in the sport. I found it a strain and was really just going through the motions, because I had to. I was the Olympic silver medalist and therefore it was the thing to continue racing even though I was most unhappy; and, as a result of all the pressures building-up, I had a breakdown and had to withdraw altogether. Later I came back again, but I still did not seem to be fully recovered. I trained for a few months again, and then dropped out once more. It was rather like going back to a bad job that you have got to do; trying harder each day, getting nowhere, and cursing your luck for trying. Now, however, I am happy. My frame of mind has changed completely, and I see it all in quite a different light.”

 

When I talked to Paul after his fantastic Athens 1969 European gold medal he told me: “This year has been very similar to last in that I have been fed much better competition. In 1968, before the Olympic Games, I did not have many international races, and therefore, the actual class of my opponents was not too impressive, but this year I was sent to France in May to the six-Nations meeting and met the fifth and sixth finishers in Mexico 20 km, Gerhard Sperling of East Germany and Otto Barch of the Soviet Union, most formidable opponents. I beat them easily (when it was 80 degrees F) which I regarded as a great victory, not least because many people say that I am ‘suspect’ in hot weather since passing-out in Mexico. Here, though, I had taken on the cream of six countries in very hot conditions, including the West German Bernar Nermerich, the fastest 50 km walker in 1968, and beaten them all in this 20 km event. Then I went to Czechoslovakia and won again.”

 

“After this I had the big meeting in Los Angeles and raced for the Commonwealth against U.S.A and the U.S.S.R.  Here I had to race against the Mexico Olympic 20 km Champion Vladimir Golubnichy and the bronze medalist Nikolay Smaga, plus Ron Laird (U.S.A.) one of the World’s top 5; I beat all three, whom I knew very well, to win. After I had beaten an Olympic Champion and these other top liners, I thought ‘you have beaten the best in the world, so why not do it again in two months’ time?’”  

 

About his win in Athens, Paul told me: “The walk in Athens went perfectly to plan. I talked over the possibilities with all my friends beforehand, and it was generally agreed that it would be a highly tactical race. Whatever pace was set by any leaders, whether very fast or very slow, I would go with them, and would not attempt to drop anybody at least till the three quarters mark at 15km. At that stage I would have two or three walkers with me, and drop them one by one. It is very, very rare that you can plan before a race just what you are going to do, and for it all to fit into place with the pre-race plan. This time, however, everything went as according to plan.”

 

1969 Athens European Championships 20 km race first 3: 1 Paul Nihill (GB) 1:30:48.0; 2 L. Caraiosifoglu (Romania) 1:31:06.4; 3 N. Smaga (USSR) 1:31.20.2. 

 

Paul Nihill also gained a bronze medal in the 20km in the European Championships in Helsinki in 1971 behind Smaga and Sperling. In the 1972 Munich Olympics Paul was 6th in the 20 km race and 9th in the 50 km race and then 30th in the 1976 Olympics over 20k in Montreal - still competitive but, not the fantastic winner of the 1960’s.  

 

I will remember Paul Nihill as a nice fellow with a strong will as an athlete and someone to be admired. 

 

7th Dec, 2020, Alastair Aitken

DOMINIC OGBECHIE STILL AMONG THE BEST

Dominic Ogbechie still, a junior Under 20 athlete on the track & field, is among the best 10 high jumpers, including seniors, in the UK, according to Athletics Weekly’s 2020 rankings. His best competition height of 2.17 was the 7th best by a British athlete this year.  Dominic jumped this height when he won an indoor international event back on February 2nd in Reykjavik. Marius Guei, his coach, has hopes for his future success too. 

22nd Nov, 2020, Alastair Aitken

A burning desire to race

Even though classified as 'unofficial racing', Fireworks night drew out a bunch of Highgate Harriers to the evening meeting in the Finsbury Park series, on the 5th of November. In the 3000m Ross Doran, an Under 17, was 2nd in 9:46.8 in a personal best time. Ed Brown an under 17 was 3rd in the same race in 9:49.8, and 4th was Luca Spaccatrosi, an Under 15, in 10:03.2. Other Highgate runners were Roger Wilcox (U17) 10:32.7, Thomas Chadwick (U15), 10:41.6 and Josh Groves (U17) 10:53.5.  

9th Nov, 2020, Alastair Aitken

'Blow out before lockdown'

That was Ben Pochee's description of the Highgate Harriers running in the muddy cross country race at the Merchant Taylors’ School course at Northwood on Saturday 31 October. A total of 238 finished the Senior & Under 20 race, which was won by Luke Prior of Aldershot in 25:28. Two Highgate runners stood out: Alex Lepretre who was second overall in 25:31 and Hannah Viner who won the women’s race in 28:59 (and placed 26th overall). 

The other Highgate Harrier men, who did not want to be starved of competition for the second lockdown, were: 18th overall, Ash Chambers 28:09; 21, Toby Austin 28:35; 23, Dave Shepherd 28:51; 31, Lewis Greaves 29:18; 41, Monte Watson 30:01; 46 Peter Hawkings 30:18; 49 Danny Issacs 30:29; 62, Adam Lennox 31:41; 81, Joseph Lowe 32:44; 125, Phillip Hyatt 35:44; 135, David Sutherland 36:15; 170, Mark Watson 39:28 and 183, Martin Bright 40:54. For the women, Emily Young had a strong race to finished 12th in 33:35, just ahead of Emma Burgess (13th, 33:40).  Kani Hinshelwood finished 16th in 34:01 and Natasha Cendrowicz, completed the quintet in 45th (40:10). 

7th Nov, 2020, Alastair Aitken

Chris Smith, 1977-2020 - A Tribute

The thoughts of everyone at Highgate Harriers are with the family, friends and club mates of Chris Smith of Thames Valley Harriers who has tragically died aged 43 whilst out running in the Perthshire hills.

Alastair Aitken pays tribute - 

Scotsman, Chris Smith (43), a long time member of local club Thames Valley Harriers, who represented GB in international mountain running, was tragically found dead on Thursday 29 October, having gone out for a run in the Perthshire hills on Tuesday 27th. A multiple London Cross Country Champion at Parliament Hill, and Middlesex Cross Country Champion in 2013, Chris was a really kind and charming man who was very popular in the North West London area. I remember how he told me at the Inter-Counties Cross Country Championships course at Loughborough in 2018 how pleased and amazed he was to be in the winning senior team for Middlesex. 

Chris (born 3/3/77) was originally from Aberdeen, before moving down to London and working in the Civil service. A very likeable, cheerful character, with a good sense of humour and a charming disposition, Chris joined Thames Valley Harriers and ran for them consistently from 2011. He was also a member of the BMC from 2003 to 2008 and often trained with Frank Horwill’s group, as well as receiving good advice from Phil O'Dell. Eventually using his own experience he blossomed as a cross-country and mountain runner.

In the early days whilst working in the city he ran 1:57.00/3:54.9 800/1500 and went on to compete in the British League for TVH. His best times 5000/10,000/3000 steeplechase-14:45.90/30:47.21/9:25.37 and he ran a marathon in 2010 in 2:29.56  After winning a Metropolitan League race out of 277 seniors, at Perivale, on the 12th of February 2011 he said to me “This year after the threat of redundancy in the Civil Service passed, the training I have done at lunch times with the Frank Horwill group has been beneficial”

He loved his cross-country races and won the London Championships 4 times over Hampstead Heath and was placed several times and, even last year was 2nd, and he also won the Middlesex senior in 2013. He led all the way in that, until the final sprint, while in the Middlesex of 2018 where he finished 2nd he said afterwards “ I am looking forward to the National at Parliament Hill and running the Ben Nevis and Snowden Mountain races” So you can see where his biggest interests were from that comment alone.

He has finished 2nd in the British Mountain Running Championships and was a European team medalist in that discipline when running for GB. He was very pleased and counted one of his best achievements ever as when he was in the winning Middlesex team in the muddy, CAU Inter-Counties cross country at Loughborough in 2018 “ I had to wait till I was 40 for that” he said ruefully.       

He will be sadly missed by his family and everyone who knew him.