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14th Mar, 2020, Highgate Harriers

THE 'MOUNTAIN GOATS' OF HIGHGATE PERFORM WELL AGAIN

A record number of Highgate Harriers took part in the penultimate Start Fitness Metropolitan League fixture on Saturday 11 January. There is a massive muddy hill in Alexandra Palace Park which the 43 senior men had to negotiate three times, up and down like mountain goats and, the women had the same hill to take account of. 

Despite being beaten on the day by Victoria Park & Tower Hamlets  AC (1,419 to 1,405) the Highgate senior men had enough of a cushion to be the overall Premier League leaders with 5,510 to Victoria Park’s 5,255 with London Heathside on third on 4,344. Therefore, if Highgate don’t drop their guard for the final meeting at Trent Park on the 8th of February they could definitely win the League with the team trophy again. 

Alex Lepretre was in good form, as he has been all season so far. He was third of the 497 finishers in 27:16. The rest of the scoring team were 6 Robel Bahelbi 27:23; 9 Murray Strain 27:45, 10 Sean Renfer 27:53; 11 Charlie Haywood 27:53; 13 Robert Wilson 28:16; 33 Dominic Smith 29:18; 39 Pete Chambers 29:37; 49 Jon Laybourn 29:59; 58 Daniel Brewer 30:14; 64 Ash Chambers 30:28 and 68 David Shepherd 30:38.

Highgate women are still in the chase but will have to be extra strong to overturn the leading two clubs in the last meeting at Trent Park. After Alexandra Park the scores were London Heathside 1,434, Victoria Park & TH 1,311 and Highgate 1,259. 

The first scoring six for Highgate were led by a brilliant and improved performer Nina Griffith who finished in second place out of the 236 field in 31:55. International, Lizzy Janes of Herts Phoenix (30:14) was first.  The other Highgate runner were Vicky Walker in sixth (33:39); 29 Rachelle Baker 35:14; 45 Lisa Wenninger 35:55; 73 Louise Faherty and 110 Natasha Cendrowicz.

A total of 88 finished the junior men’s race and Finlay Sleeman was the first Highgate runner in 16th (14:23). Monte Watson was 57th and Josh Groves 58th.   Highgate Harriers’ Junior women are in 6th place of 24 club teams, and their best performance was by Ellen Donald who was 6th of 66 in 16:26. Also running were 9 Lauren Russell (3rd under 15 in the race) in 16:35; 25 Jess Parry; Lal Ergun; 52 Gabrielle Kennedy and Serlin Ergun 58th.

HIGHGATE HARRIERS CLOSE 'THE GATE' EARLY

In the Middlesex County Championships on Saturday 4 January at the Wormwood Scrubs course, Highgate Harriers won the team event by a wide margin in the Senior Men’s race shutting the gate with their six scorers all finishing in the first 14 of the 166 finishers.  The first three teams were: 1 Highgate, 53 points; 2 London Heathside, 131 and 3 Thames Valley Harriers, 167.

Highgate's Alex Lepretre was 2nd in the race in 42:04 beating the last Metropolitan League winner, Shafesbury's Dylan Evans, who was 3rd in 42:10. The winner was international, Nick Goolab of Belgrave Harriers in 41:14. The other Highgate runners in the scoring team were 6 Sean Renfer (43:07); 9 Charlie Haywood (43:35); 10 Robert Wilson (43:39); 12 Terry Fawden (44:39); and 14 Dominic Smith (45:25) The next three home were; 28 John Laybourn (47:26); 29 Andres Chau (47:35) and 35 Tom Crowley (48:40).

Highgate's leading woman were: 4th Jessica Anderson (34:18); 17 Lisa Wenninger (35:57); 31 Sarah Dewhirst (38:47) and 38 Sabina Russsell (39:41). The winner was Lithuanian Gintare Juknyte of Aldershot Farnham & District in 33:45. The Highgate Harriers’ women’s team were 4th of the 12 teams that closed in with their four to count scoring 4, 17, 31 and 38 for 90 points. Thames Valley Harriers won with 27 points. 

In the Under 17 women’s race Highgate's Ellen Donald finished 8thth in 26:35. In the Under 20 men’s race Tal Pelmont came 8th in 25:36.  In the Under 17 men Finlay Sleeman finished 19thth in 24:53 and 24th was Charlie Gundy in 26:02.

15-Jan-2020     Alastair Aitken

7th Sep, 2019, admin

DISABILITY COACHING AT PARLIAMENT HILL

Highgate Harriers offer athletics coaching for all disabilities, for athletes aged 11 and over. Training takes place on the following days:

Tuesday - wheelchair specific, 5-6pm
Thursday - general session, 5-6pm

Sessions are run by a fully qualified and DBS checked coach with experience in disabled athletics.

Competition pathway is available through Para and Special Olympics and the club can offer advice and support on these type of events as well as offer information on other competitions that may be available.

For further information or to register interest email: highgateharriers@hotmail.co.uk.

6th Sep, 2019, admin

THE RUSSIAN IRON MAN

I remember being at the White City Stadium and, seeing the cinders being torn up by Vladimir Kuts of USSR in the 10,000m. After four laps, he had an 80-yard lead in the race. It was a duel match between GB v USSR (two from each country).

It was when I did my first ever report. It was on 23/24 August 1957. I suppose there was some consolation as Gordon Pirie won from Derek Ibbotson of GB in the 5000m, but no Kuts present in that!
For me it was a bit special, as my very great, late friend Peter Hildreth won the 110m hurdles for GB.

VLADIMIR KUTS THE AMAZING RUSSIAN OLYMPIAN

Volodymyr Petrovych Kuts was born on 7 February 1927 at Oleksyne, Ukrain SSR, Soviet Union and, died 16 August 1975 at the age of 48 in an apparent suicide and weighing 50kg more than his usual weight, according to Wikipedia. His father died of alcoholism when Vladimir was five years old.

Vladimir was married twice and divorced both times. He had one son by his first marriage. After the end of his second marriage in 1973, he lived alone.

That is all regarding the sadder part of his life begins and ends; so the accolades he got as a runner were his successful strong points over the years.

I asked the late Dick Quax, who gained silver in the 1976 Montreal Olympic 5000, a relevant question and that was: Do you think an Olympic final shows who is the best in the world?

His answer to that:

“It shows the best man at that event on that particular day against that particular opposition. That’s all. It is unfortunate that is what, at the end of the day, you hang your spikes up, this is what they say –  that’s how good he was. Very few individuals get judged on anything else.”

Four brilliant athletes, who broke world records but never got any medals in the Olympic 5/10ks, were Hungarian, Sandor Iharos and Chris Chataway, Dave Moorcroft and Dave Bedford from the UK. Ron Clarke was a multi-distance record holder and, Gordon Pirie, who smashed all the best Hungarians in a world record 3000 and, beat Kuts in a World record 5000, outside of the Olympics but never achieved gold in the Olympics of 1952, 1956 or 1960.

Vladimir Kuts, who started athletics seriously at 22, was coached by Grigory Nikiforov and won National Championships before he became the surprising big championship race winner. That was at Bern in the European Championships in 1954. It was over 5000m.

Emil Zatopek, three times gold medallist of the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, was still running well and the clear favourite. Chris Chataway of GB was coming into reasonable shape and reflected on the race in London when we talked about Vladimir bursting clear early on.

“Emil and I were looking at each other at the start. I remember then going into the race and I did not think there was anybody to beat but Emil. I made up my mind I would follow him. We had never heard of the Russian so, it was an awful shock when he did not come back." (Results: 1 Vladimir Kuts (SU) 13:56.6; 2 Christopher Chataway (GB) 14:08.8; 3 Emil Zatopek (CSR) 14:10.2).

However, Chataway got his own back temporally, in a world record at the White City Stadium, when he beat Kuts in the final few strides of the 5000m. It was in the Moscow v London match on 13 October 1954 in front of a capacity crowd. They had to close the gates to not let anyone more in, having to turn people away. Kuts Improved on Chataway’s world record with 13:51.2 just 10 days later.

Kuts, the blond-haired, red-vested Russian, went on to achieve a couple of outstanding victories in 1956 in Melbourne His weight then was 159lbs and he was 5ft 71/2 in height. As opposed to Gordon Pirie, who was 6’26ft 2in & 144lbs in weight. Those were the two favourites for the Melbourne Olympic 10,000 final on 23 November 1956.

Despite Kuts punishing surges. Pirie manfully stuck to him, lap after lap. It took 20 laps to burn off Pirie and then, Kuts pushed on at his relentless pace. (Results: 1 Kuts 28:45.8 (OR); 2 Jozsef Kovacs (Hungary) 28:52.43 Allen Lawrence (Australia) 28:53.6); 4th was the ‘great’ steeplechaser Kzyszyszkowiak from Poland (29:00) and fifth out of the 25 man field was popular Thames Valley Harrier and GB man Ken Norris 29:05).

In the fifth day of the Melbourne Games was the 5,000m final. Vladimir, then known as ‘the marine iron man’ was out in front after 150m and followed by Pirie. Ibbotson, timed his run on Pirie, who he thought would give Kuts a hard fight. However Pirie, for the first time, uncharacteristically, in major championships, played a safer game to get a medal. At 4000m, Chataway was falling back from the leaders with excruciating stomach cramps. At the finish the first six of 14 starters were: 1 Vladimir Kuts (U.S.S.R) in an Olympic record of 13:39.6; 2 Gordon Pirie (GB) 13:50.6; 3 Derek Ibbotson (GB) 13:54.4; Miklos Szabo (Hungary) 14:03.4; 5 Albert Thomas (Australia) 14:4.8; 6 Laszlo Tabori (Hungary) 14:09.8.

In conclusion, one would have to say, there goes a hell of a runner. Vladimir Pyotrovich Kuts, who in life had to contend with some unpleasant set backs with health problems but got his page well established in athletics history books.

Alastair Aitken

6th Sep, 2019, Alastair Aitken

MURDCOH RUNS HIS FASTEST 3000M

University College student, Henry Murdoch of Highgate Harriers, ran his fastest 3000m to date with a time of 9:01.99 in the Watford Graded meeting on Wednesday 4 September. His previous best was 9:15 in 2017. Nikki Faulkner, the Imperial College student, continued his good running with a time of 1:57.75 in the 800m. Under 17 runner Finlay Sleeman ran 2:08.36 in an 800m race, not terribly far off his best of 2:07.56.

On the evening of Wednesday 11 September, Highgate Harriers hold their final Open Meeting at Parliament Hill and, are expecting a good turn-out. 

Also at the Southern Counties Road Relay Championships at Crystal Palace on 22 September, Highgate have a good record and should do well again. They run round a lot of the old Crystal Palace motor racing circuit and it does not cost anything to see the event.

INNOCENT GOES OUT WITH A BANG

Highgate Harrier Mark Innocenti, running in the Last Friday in the Month 5k round the Serpentine on 30 August came 3rd out of 276 finishers in 16:02, only 4 seconds behind the winner. 

ALEX AS KEEN AS EVER

Alex Davidson, at 57, has been mixing the season with track and road racing and before that, earlier in the year, won the Middlesex ‘Over 50’ cross country Championships. Alex was 90th in 1hr 19.26 out of 1569 that were counted in the Maidenhead half marathon on Sunday 1 September.

Also in the race was on Highgate’s best marathon runners Dan Higgins, an over 40 runner, who came 45th in1:15.49. Earlier this year he ran two good marathons; they were. 2:33.43 at Boston and 2:36.55 in the London.

1st Sep, 2019, Alastair Aitken

AMY AND SAM IMPRESS IN THE VALLEY SPRINTS

Amy Rutherford ran into second place in the race 14 of the 200m at The Lee Valley Sprint Open on the 28th of August with a time of 28.63. She has been consistent around that mark for the last two seasons. Sam Amdor, an Under 15 boy, did two personal best times:12.75 for the 100m in race 13 and in the 200m, in race 11, he was the winner in 25.16.

CHRIS RAINSFORD MOTORS TO VICTORY

Chris Rainsford of Highgate Harriers beat other 396 runners to win the Formula One Castle Rock 10k road race in Nottingham on the 2nd of August. His time was 32:30, as he sped away from the second home Bruce Raeside of Nottingham who did a time of 35:00. Easily the first woman in the race was Highgate’s Hannah Viner in 36:36. Hannah was 7th overall in the large field.

27th Aug, 2019, Alastair Aitken

HAYWARD INSIDE 4 MINUTES

Highgate’s Charlie Haywood was out running well again on 21 August at Watford. Having run the respectable time of 14:51 in the Hercules 5000m Festival, organised by Ben Noad at Wimbledon recently, he went on to run 3:59.98 for 1500m which placed him 4th of 13 in his race at Watford. Also in the race was James Millett, who ran 4.01.08 in 8th place, following his two good runs at Parliament Hill recently in the Southern League.

An Under 17 runner Finlay Sleeman ran a good time of 4:32.15 at the same graded meeting and one of Highgate’s ‘Star’ women runners, Yasmin Goater, did 4:35.72 for 1500m at the same meeting. 

FAULKNER IN TOP FLIGHT

Nikki Faulkner ran 1:5712, coming 8th in the British Milers Club Gold Standard 800m B race on 21 August at Watford. Although his best time ever is around 1:54, 1:57 would be considered a good club time for the Highgate Harrier who has represented Highgate in major National relays, when they have been amongst the best in the country.

Regarding League completion, the Highgate Harriers and Mornington Chasers composite team ended the season in 14th out of 24 clubs in Division 3, overtaking Braintree in the final match at Parliament Hill Fields last Saturday. Ealing, Oxford and Thurrock were promoted to Division 2 of the Southern League North. It was interesting to note clubs with a large catchments area were behind the Highgate Harriers & Mornington Chasers composite team; for example, West Suffolk were 21st and West Norfolk were 22nd.

22nd Aug, 2019, Alastair Aitken

LIFE BEGINS AT 70

Now Highgate Harrier, Tony Richards is 70, he is still performing very well and in the British Masters Championships at Perry Bar, Birmingham on 10th August, in his over 70 category, he won the javelin with 32.93m was second in the shot 11.49m and 3rd in the discus with 35.55m. A nice set of colourful medals for those went to him.

It was interesting to see at the stadium, a 1956 Olympic Steeplechase finalist for GB from Hillingdon AC. Eric Shirley, who was the first Over 90 athlete in the 200m (48.85); 400m (1:54.92) and 800m (4.47.98) plus the discus with 13.87m. To think Eric, who ran at his best for Finchley Harriers in his younger days, won the AAA’s s 3000m steeplechase in 1956, 1958 and 1960.

HIGHGATE FINISH WITH A FLOURISH 

Undoubtedly the ‘Stars’ of the last meeting of Division 3 North of the Southern League at Parliament Hill Fields on Saturday 17 August 2019 were Rob Wilson, Highgate’s cross-country captain, who won the 5000m comfortably in 15:35.25, and Sean Renfer who won the ’B’ in 16:10.49. The other ‘Star’ turn was by James Millet who won the 800m ‘A’ in 1:59.86 and was placed second in the 1500m ‘A’ in 4:07.07. Charlie Haywood won the ‘B’ in 4:11.03.

Stephen West looked impressive winning the ‘B’ 800m in 2:04.64. Luca Weinbrecht was second in the long jump and triple Jump ‘A’ as well as being second in the javelin: 5.99m, 12.12m and 35.57m respectively.

Of course with the League it is all about ‘Club points’ so one who should be admired was James Rossiter, who will be 50 in September. Rossiter, after doing 10 events at the last Southern League at Parliament Hill earlier this year, has had a hamstring injury and yet he came out and won the javelin ‘B’ with 34.75m and competed in the 110m and 400m hurdles plus the shot (8.91m) and pole vault (2:40m). He was second in both the latter two events and did a high jump of 1.25m helping to gain more points. He was fourth in the ‘B’ long jump with 4.23m adding more points to his total.

Regarding the other results, an improving sprinter is Neil Middleton, who was second in the ‘B’ 200m with 26.78. Nick Lawrence was a bit faster doing 25.45 in the ‘A’.

Lauren Longhurst did 8.86m in the ‘A’ triple jump for third and was first in the ‘A’ 3000m. Mornington Chasers had two runners in the composite team in the women’s 2000m steeplechase: in the ‘A’ race Carmel Harrington finished third in 11:05.57 and Michele Griffiths finished second in the ‘B’ race n 11.11.02. 

Highgate Harriers’ women were third in the 4x100m relay with 64.13 (Amy Rutherford; Jenny Holmes; Jenny Moore and Isabella Millet).  In the 4x400m Highgate’ composite team came second with 4:05.42 (Amy Rutherford; Jenny Holmes; Jenny Moore; Isabella Millet).

The ‘great’ effort on Saturday means Highgate will definitely be at least in the middle of the table for the end of the season. The scores on Saturday would indicate that Oxford City AC will be promoted to Davison 2.

11th Aug, 2019, Alastair Aitken

DOMINC SMITH SLASHES HIS RECORD AT WIMBLEDON

Dominic Smith improved on his personal best of 15:59.71, that he achieved in the Southern League at Parliament Hill earlier in the summer, when, at Wimbledon in the Hercules 5000m Festival on Wednesday 7 August, he did a personal best of 15:32.00. That time placed Dominic 9th of 18 finishers. That was done in race 4 of the 7 races, organised by Highgate Harrier Ben Noad and Hercules Wimbledon AC.  

The impressive thing is that in 2016 and 2017 Dominic Smith was out of club athletics, helping his wife to raise a family. In the same race were two other Highgate runners: Jonathan Laybourn ran 15:45.86 and Henry Murdoch did 15:52.04.

Highgate’s fastest harrier on the night was Charlie Haywood, who was in the elite race 7. He ran 14:51.10, not far outside his personal best of 14:49.9. He was 14th of 18 finishers but, had he run in race 6 his time would have given him second place! Alex Crossland also ran in race 7 finishing in 5:14.52.

In race 3, Highgate Harrier Peter Hawkings ran 16:06.31. In race 2, Henry Porcas did a personal best of 16:59.56 and, veteran ‘Over 55’ Alex Davidson ran 17:17.14.

In race 1, Ashley Scott-Wilson ran 18:25.01 and Rebecca Johnson continued her good form in race 2 with a time of 17:10.30.

On 17 August at Parliament Hill the final Southern League Division 3 North match of the season takes place and it will be all hands to the pump to get a good score. Hopefully, James Rossiter will be over his injury and can run, jump and throw.

ASHFORD KEEPS BURNING BRIGHTLY

Russ Ashford goes on improving. In last month’s Last Friday in the Month 5k race in Hyde Park, organised by Serpentine RC (26 July) he ran his best 5k road time of 16:27 to place 7th out of 234 finishers.  He beat his position and time in the June event, when he finished 17th and ran 17:22. In the July race, Leon Cerrone finished 29th in 17:22, Justine Bere was 56th in 18:32 and Dave Gilbert finished 63rd in 18:50.  

Roger Poolman, Highgate’s ‘Star’ middle distance runner (considering his amazing improvement in one year) has been suffering with an injury. When it is dealt with he should not find too much difficulty in getting back to his best again.  For example, when I was in my early ‘50’s’ I had a hernia operation on the 26th of January and then ran the London Marathon on the 13th of April the same year, so that tells me he could be back in ‘Good Form’ for the first Metropolitan League in early October and maybe the Southern & National road relays. Good luck Roger!

CREDITABLE 5000M TIMES

At Eltham, on 20 July, Highgate Harrier, Charley Haywood, who studies at UCL, and has run under 15 minutes for the 5000m a few times, did 14:58.8 in the BMC Grand Prix race at Eltham.

Also at Eltham but, on 17 July, in the BMC Regional races and in the ‘A’ race Fergal Smithwick was 4th in te 500m A race in 15:17.6; and Dominic Smith ran a personal best time of 15:34.9 in 6th place. Jonathan Laybourn ran 15:46.4 for 9th and Darryl Davidson ran 16:28.2 to finish 14th. for 5000m in the same race. Ellen Donald, as an under 17, ran 5:08.3 in the women’s 1500m.

On 21 July Molly Renfer was back in action finishing as the 2nd woman home in 36:59 in the Elmbridge road 10k at Walton.