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3rd Oct, 2021, Alastair Aitken

Highgate Harriers compete well in SOAR MK Relays

Highgate Harriers’ men finished two teams in the top 10 in the most prestigious road relay in the South, when they came 4th and 9th out of 40 complete teams in the SOAR MK Road Relays on 26th September. In the six-stage relay at Milton Keynes, Cambridge & Coleridge AC was first home in a time of 1:30.56 and, not far behind, in 4th place was the Highgate 'A’ team in 1:31.51. There 'B' team was 9th in 1:34.41. Highgate's Taha Ghafari was the 3rd fastest of the 257 competitors on the day. The 'A' team consisted of: Taha Ghafari, 13:40; Rob Wilson, 15:35; Jacob Allen, 14.58; Harry Wakefield, 15:55; Alex Lepretre, 15:19; and Ash Harrell 15.25; (total 1:31.51). The 'B' team comprised: Chris Wright, 15:52; Roger Poolman, 15:44; Robel Bahelbi, 15:09; Pete Chambers, 15:13; Lewis Greaves, 16:40; Charlie Haywood, 16:03 (total 1:34.41). Highgate’s 'C’ Team were 27th and their fastest leg was by James Barber in 16:25. The 'D' team were 35th and their fastest was Mikey Dan in 15.44.

The women’s team finished 7th out of 17 complete team with Hannah Viner running the 8th fastest time out of 83 the competitors on the day. The Highgate team in the four-stage relay comprised: Yasmin Goater, 17:50; Hannah Viner, 17:26; Zoe Macdonald, 18:37; and Karina Thornton. 19:49. The team time was 73:42. The winning club was Aldershot, Farnham & District AC (71:30).

On the same day, ex-Highgate runner Andrew Aitken (43), came 4th of 527 in the undulating Barns Green Half Marathon in 1:18:43.

28th Sep, 2021, Kani Hinshelwood

Jemima basically sprints a whole marathon

Massive congrats to Jemima on a cracking time at the Berlin Marathon! 3:12 what a stonking time.

26th Sep, 2021, Alastair Aitken

Highgate cross the river in force

At the ‘Friday Night under the Lights’ races over 5k on the road at Battersea, organised by Highgate’s Ben Noad and which actually took place on Thursday 16 September, Highgate's Taha Ghafari came in first overall of the 150 runners. His time was 14:18 with Jake Shelley, a well-known Shaftesbury Barnet Harrier, second in 14:20. The rest of the runners mentioned in this report are all Highgate Harriers: 19, Rob Wilson, 14:47; 27, Alex Bampton, 15.00; 42, Chris Wright, 15.16; 52, Sean Renfer, 15:27; 74 Darryl Davison, 15:55; 89 Russ Ashford, 16:15. Two Highgate women also ran with Jemima Storey finishing in 19:16 and Ashley Scott-Wilson running 20:11.

25th Sep, 2021, Kani Hinshelwood

Paid Running Marshalling roles or a race!

5k, 10k and half marathon in Victoria Park on Sunday 10 October

They also have some paid marshalling opportunties if you get in contact with the race director! :)

19th Sep, 2021, Alastair Aitken

Highgate Harriers fourth at Parliament Hill

In the final Southern Athletics League track and field match of the season on 11 September the scores were Thames Valley Harriers 325.4; Harrow 183.5; Ealing, Southall & Middlesex, 166.8; Highgate Harriers & Mornington Chasers (combined) 134.8; Serpentine RC ,114.1; Hillingdon, 110.5.

Alima Diabate works hard to get a Highgate team together for the league but the interest in the club in the event is not quite strong enough, except for those who are prepared to get points for the club in the friendly competition. An outstanding double victory came in the women’s 800m where Emma Macalister Hall won the ‘A’ race in 2:15.12 and Somerby Hamdorff won the ‘B’ race in 2:23.84. Finlay Sleeman in the men’s 800m ‘A’ race ran a modest 2:08.24 time for him for second place, after his personal best of 2:00.25 in the middle of the week at Watford. Someone who gained useful points was Antonia Loizou who was second in the 100m hurdles with 20.87; fourth in the shot (5.54) and the triple jump (8.25) and third in the hammer (17.49). Running two men and two women in the mixed 4x400m relay, Highgate produced a good time (4:33.33) to finish second behind TVH.

Charlie Fraser was third in the 1500m in 4:26.53 and third in the 3000m steeplechase in 12:30.93. Mariam Elgabry was second in the 'A' 100m in 13.16 and third in the ‘A' 200m in 29.04. Alima Diabate was second in the 'B' 100m in 14.01 and second in the 200m 'B' in 30.24. Second in the 'A' long jump was Ashia Logie (U17) in a personal best 4.78 and Jade Sillere was second in the ‘B’ with 3.96. Someone in a non-scoring event who won his race was in a 1500m. It was won by James Porcas in 4:36.59. In the women's 1500m Highgate/Mornington Chasers were third in the 'A' and 'B' race with two athletes from Mornington Chasers running new PB times: Caroline Wolfe ran 5:29.33 in the ‘A’ and Collette Farnol ran 6:21.96 in the ‘B’. Lauren Longhurst, another Mornington Chaser, was third in the 'A' 5000m in a PB of 19.26.77 and Vicky Frew (W40) did 20:08.56 to finish second in the ‘B’. Stephen West from Mornington Chasers gained good points in four throw events, finishing fourth in the hammer and fifth in the shot, discus and javelin.

19th Sep, 2021, Alastair Aitken

Highgate's young road 'stars' of the future

At Minet Park, on 12 September, the Middlesex road relays were held with a focus on young athletes. Highgate Harriers were third in the under 13 girls relay and Izzy Ions ran the third fastest individual time in that (11:52). Ajuna Pflug ran the fastest individual time in the under 13 boys (11:06), but with only two runners, Highgate could not contest the team event. Highgate had a winning combination with the three fastest individual times in the under 15 boys, with Alex Mulvhill 10.04, Thomas Chadwick 10.12, and Liam Bailey 10.32. In the Under 17 women’s relay Highgate won in 34:30, well clear of the second team St Marys who did 36.02. Lauren Russell (11:12) was the third fastest of the under 17 women overall in that race.

19th Sep, 2021, Alastair Aitken

Finlay Sleeman improves his time

On Wednesday 8 September, Finlay Sleeman (U20), son of Highgate Harrier Jon Sleeman, ran 2:00.25 for 800m at the Watford open meeting, on the Woodside track. His previous best time was 2:02.3 at Hillingdon on the 11th of July. Emma Macalister Hall ran a new PB of 2:11.67 at the same meeting. 

12th Sep, 2021, Alastair Aitken

Old memories

David Bruce, now a Doctor running for Bristol West, who was a popular middle distance and long distance runner for Highgate Harriers fifteen or so years ago, won the Bushy Parkrun on the 4th of September out of a field 1,277. His time was 17:09. Andrew Aitken, ex-Highgate, was 8th in 18:04.  Highgate Press Secretary, Alastair Aitken, despite having a CVD implanted in 2018 and in his first race since a Parkrun 11 years ago was 1,266 in 55 minutes, but had taken it easy. Being over 80 (81), he was awarded, with others, a medal for all the over 80s who completed the course. Olympic medalist Alex Yee's Grandfather Albert Yee, who was 1,273 in 1hr 7minutes. The medal was designed and donated by Yee Associates!

12th Sep, 2021, Alastair Aitken

Martin Hyman: Olympian and running inspiration

MARTIN HYMAN (born 3rd July 1933 in Southampton, died 3rd April 2021 in West Lothian, Scotland). In addition to his achievements as an international athlete, Martin was a successful and inspiring athletics coach and a pioneer of orienteering in the UK.

As a runner, he was 4th in the British Empire and Commonwealth Games 6 miles in Cardiff in 1958 in 28:58.6 and in 1962 in Perth, Australia he was 5th in the 6 miles in 28:42.2. In 1962 in the European Championships in Belgrade Martin was 4th in the 10,000m in 29:02.0, exactly the same time as Roy Fowler of GB, who was 3rd. Before that in the 1960 Olympics in the heat of Rome he was 9th in the 10,000m in 29:04.8, just ahead of Gordon Pirie (29:15.2) who was 10th.

He was 3rd in the International (Old World Cross Country Championships) in 1961. At the end of 1961 he won one of the World’s most famous road races – the ‘New Year’s Eve race in Sao Paulo, Brazil. He finished ahead of the 1960 Olympic marathon champion, Abebe Bikila, who later went on to win the Olympic marathon in 1964 also. The race was over 7.3k.

Martin Hyman’s best time for six miles on the track was 27:36.09. I can remember seeing him several times winning races in two per country ‘duel’ matches, with the USA and Poland. He was easily recognisable at the White City Stadium.

In the Poland v GB two per side at the White City Stadium, he dead heated with Mike Bullivant, the Derby & County AC runner. Both were spattered with mud from the wet track with so many puddles. They were soaked from head to foot from the White City rain splashing on the cinder track but finished well clear of their Polish rivals. His time was 29:31.6. His club Portsmouth had a very impressive team at road relays and Martin Hyman ran the fastest lap in the winning team in the TVH relay, that had very good competitors. On the team in the Southern & National relays were excellent runners like Bruce Tulloh, Tim Johnston, and the Cooke brothers.

In the 1960’s who could forget the high-stepping, bespectacled Martin Hyman, cheered on by the White City crowds. He will be greatly missed by the running community.

5th Sep, 2021, Alastair Aitken

Good performances at Highgate Open

On the evening of the 1st of September at the Highgate Harriers Open meeting at Parliament Hill Fields over 70 athlete Tom Richards was in good form, winning the shot with 12.29m and showing his many strengths with a 16.98 100m.

Neil Middleton (M55) ran a time of 12.78 for 100m and Francis Forsyth (W45) did a personal best time of 14.92. A future 'Star', under 13 Arthur Shaw, ran a 13.99 100m and did a 4.39 long jump.

The 5000m attracted several Highgate Harriers, in an event that showed the strength in depth and three Highgate runners ran inside the 16-minute mark: Chris Wright, 15:45.99; Daniel Brewer, 15:56.39 and James Barber, 15:57.10. 

Personal bests were done by several Highgate Harriers in the 1500m including by five in Race 1: David Musgrove 5:09.07; Arjuna Pflug (under 13), 5:12.61; David Sutherland, 5:14.04; Lily Spaccatrosi (under 15), 5:31.45; and Mia Cobbold (under 13), 5:40.37. Two who did good times were Finlay Sleeman (U20), 4:18.66 and Josh Groves (U17), 4:39.94.

5th Sep, 2021, Alastair Aitken

Amdor and Watson impress

In the Middlesex Senior Championships at Lee Valley on August Bank Holiday Monday, Sam Amdor was in a close battle for a bronze medal in the final of the Under 17 Men’s 800m,. running 2:01.95, not far behind the winner, Shaftesbury's Abdirahim Hamud, who ran 2:00.31. Monte Watson (18) achieved a gold medal in the Under 20 5000m in 16:35.09. His time would have been faster but he ran the first half of the race very hard and was eventually overtaken by two Under 23 athletes.

5th Sep, 2021, Alastair Aitken

Two fly the flag for Highgate at Inter Club Challenge

On the 21st of August at the London Inter Club track and field event at Hendon Finlay Sleeman, an under 20 Highgate Harrier, won the Race 1 800m in 2:04.41. Mariam Elgabry was second in Race 1 of the 100m in the good time of 12.80 and third in Race 1 of the 200m in 26.26. 

5th Sep, 2021, Alastair Aitken

Monte shines when Highgate loses

Monte Watson, in his first year as an under 20 athlete, ran his first 5000m at Perivale in the third Southern League North West London meet on the 15th of August and was not only second in the race but did a creditable time of 16 min 05.41, showing great promise for the club. Unfortunately, Highgate were the sixth team with 91.9 points on the day behind winners Thames Valley Harriers who amassed 400.9 points. However, not all is lost because Highgate Harriers have their final match 4 at Parliament Hill Fields track on the 11th of September, and there will be a lot of interest in that, and their strong road team will be at Crystal Palace for the Southern Road Relay Championships on the 26th of September. Regarding the third Southern League match, there were still some good performances. Team leader and 'Ex-Highgate Harriers President' Alima Diabate was fourth in the 'A'100m in 14.02 and did a seasons best in the 200m, coming third in the 'A' in 27.97. Oliver Hill ran a good 400m in a personal best of 52.72, coming third.  The 400m used to be a strong component of the team over many years and it would be good to see others joining him. Antonia Loizou did lots of events and came third in the 100m hurdles in 21.68, which was a personal best.

15th Aug, 2021, Alastair Aitken

Eric Nash dies at 94

Eric Nash, who was a great supporter of athletics at Parliament Hill Fields, sadly passed away on 16 June.  He held numerous athletics posts including President of the English Cross Country Union and of the South of England Athletics Association. I remember him ferrying some 'Great' international athletes about for the AAA's. A kind and gentle man with a real love for the sport he was also well known in the City in the 'Insurance World' and was a Freeman of the City of London, and he had several livery duties to perform. He was the Club Secretary for Cambridge Harriers for over 30 years and was often seen at Parliament Hill with his friends who did official work with the club. Eric was one of those who do things rather than just talk about the sport. He will be greatly missed.

15th Aug, 2021, Alastair Aitken

Highgate runners post fast times

In a British Milers Club race over 800m at Gillingham on 7 August, Sam Amdor, an Under 17 athlete, won the Mens 800m B race in a personal best time of 1:59.98, which bettered considerably his outdoor best of 2:07.37 he ran in 2019. Edmund Brown ran a good time for an Under 20 of 2:03.75 in the same race.

In a BMC race on 4 August at Eltham, Emma MacAlister Hall ran a PB of 2:12.12 for 800m in Race G and Ellen Donald, an Under 20 Highgate Harrier, ran 2:19.84 in Race H. Hannah Viner ran 4:30.27 in Race C of the 1500m. 

Lilly Spaccatrosi, an Under 15 Highgate girl ran 2:47.65 for 800m at the Maidstone & Maidenhead Open meeting on 7 August.

Ex-international Ben Noad organised a successful 10-race meeting of 5000m, called the Hercules Wimbledon 5000m Festival at Wimbledon Park Stadium on 7 August. Some Highgate runners ran fast times under 15 minutes and they were: Alex Lepretre (second in Race 9) with a time of 14:35.11; Robel Bahelbi (10th in the same race) in 14:48.68; and Roger Poolman, who won Race 8 in 14:49.71.  Rebecca Johnson ran a time of 17:11.8 to finish eighth in Race 5.  Others who ran for Highgate included Robert Wilson, 15:06.86; Sean Renfer, 15:23.16; Pete Chambers, 15:32.84 and James Barber, 16:11.72.

1st Aug, 2021, Alastair Aitken

Arthur Shaw impresses

In the Middlesex Under 15 and Under 13 Championships at Lee Valley on the 24 July, one person who stood out for Highgate Harriers was Arthur Shaw, an under 13 athlete.  Highgate official and coach Kate Jenrick pointed out this lad really has potential. He won the under 13 high jump with 1.45 for a personal best and was second in the long jump with 4.40, and he can sprint as well! Alex Mulvihill was impressive again, winning the under 15 boys 1500m in 4:41.58. Alette Ganyushin threw the javelin to a PB of 14.99 to win the under 15 girls event and also ran 2:37.69 in the 800 m; Lily Spacatrosi ran 2:47.69 in the same race.

1st Aug, 2021, Alastair Aitken

Highgate Harriers young athletes holding their own

In the Middlesex Young Athletes  League at Sonex on the 18 July, Highgate Harriers, were fourth of eight clubs with 32 points, behind league leaders Shaftesbury Barnet, who had 60 points on the day. In the League, that accommodates under 11 to under 17 athletes, there were some good places with a sprinkling of firsts. Gabrielle Johnson was first in the under 15 girls high jump with 1.40 and Amani Kohler won both the under 17 women shot and long jump with 9.34 and 4.62 respectively. Arthur Shaw was in good form again with two individual wins - in the under 13 boys high jump he did 1.35 and he won the long jump with 4.68. Remy Weinbrecht won the under 17 men shot with 10.00 and was second in the long jump with 5.74. In addition, Aara Kamara was third in the under 13 girls high jump with 1.15 and third in the 100m in 14.60. One to look for on the track was Aliyah Osman, who was second in the under 13 girls 1500m in 5.41.30. Jack Balme was third in the under 15 boys long jump with 4.27.

1st Aug, 2021, Alastair Aitken

Rebecca Johnson sets new PBs

Competing in the SOAR Milton Keynes 5000 PB special on 17 July Rebecca Johnson ran a new PB of 16:48.37 in the Elite Women’s race.  The previous month (30 June) Rebecca ran a new PB on the road for 5k of 16.26 when see finished second in the women’s race in the Fast 5k event at Wigan. 

Other good runners were out in force at the Milton Keynes event. Jacob Allen won Race 'B' in 14:19.95; and Taha Ghafari did 14:39.97 which was a personal best for him. In the 'C' race Alex Lepretre, Highgate's Star cross runner, was second in 14:51.74. Varun Pemmaraju ran a personal best of 15:14.88 in the ‘D’ race and Rob Wilson ran 15:16.3 

1st Aug, 2021, Alastair Aitken

Dominic ninth in European champs

Dominic Ogbechie equalled his best jump of the season, to come 9th in the European Under 20 Championships in Tallinn Estonia on 17 July.  He jumped 2.13 behind the winner Jonathan Kapitolnik of Israel (2.25). It was an honour for Dominic that he was selected to be Captain of the British team. His coach Marius Guei would be pleased with his effort.

1st Aug, 2021, Alastair Aitken

Southern League North West London

The Highgate Harriers & Mornington Chasers composite team were sixth with a small team in their Southern League fixture at Hillingdon on 11 July. However, Alima Diabate, a good sprinter with the club who is an official who works hard to get willing people to compete in the Southern League, is hoping for a larger turnout for the penultimate fixture at Perivale on the 14th of August and Highgate are expected to do very well in the final match at Parliament Hill on the 11th of September. 

At Hillingdon there were several performers who got in the frame. Jack Levene an under 20 athlete threw the javelin out to 38.57 for 3rd place. Felicity Williamson-Sarll was 3rd in the 'A' 800m with 2:21.4 and Lisa Wenninger did 19:28.6 for  3rd in the 'A' 5000m and Sarah Funderburk got 3rd in the ‘B’ race with 19:32.8. In the high jump Jemima Lee (U17) jumped 1.45 for 3rd in the 'A' and Ashia Logie was 2nd in the 'B' with 1.40, and she is an under 17 too.  Aisha Mohammed-Mariche (U17) was 2nd throwing the javelin out to 30.32 in the 'A'.  Tyrah Joseph (U17) was 3rd in the 'B' shot with 7.97 and Sonia Martinez-Roura, besides being a coach, can compete well coming 3rd in shot 'A' with 9.65, 3rd in the 'A' hammer with 27.41, and 2nd in the javelin 'B' with 24.02.

1st Aug, 2021, Alastair Aitken

Taha Grafari runs fastest mile at Golden Stag Mile event

In Barnet & District AC’s Stag Mile event at Finsbury Park on 3 July the fastest mile runner of the day was Highgate Harrier Taha Ghafari who won race 14 in 4:19.13. In race 9 Ellen Donald (under 20) won in 5:11.4 and Catherine Airey ran 5:12.1 for second. In race 3 Liam Bailey (under 15) was second in 5:18.6 and brother Jack Bailey (under 17) ran 4:43.0 in race 12. Under 20 runner, Finlay Sleeman ran 4:38.9 for third in race 13 and under 15 runner Alex Mulvihill finished third in race 11 in 4:49.0, which shows great potential.

11th Jul, 2021, Alastair Aitken

Ron Hill MBE - a 'legendary character'

Ron Hill, who died on 23 May 2021, will go down in athletics history as one of the ‘Greatest’ all-round distance competitors, not just as a ‘Big’ Championship marathon winner but as one of the truly ‘Great’ club athletes that strikes at the heart of grass roots athletics. He did end up being with Clayton Le Moors club but it was with Bolton United Harriers and Lancashire’s County teams that he ran his successful road relays and cross countries. 

Ron ran, even if injured, up to a mile a day between 1964 and 2017; that was more than 19,000 consecutive days. He stopped running seriously when he had heart trouble on a run in 2017 and he did not want to be a danger to his family, his wife May and his two sons. However, even with the oncoming of a dementia-related illness in 2018 when he was 80, he still managed a Park run at Hyde Park.  ‘You can’t keep a good man down’ one is tempted to say.

Ron was born in Accrington in Lancashire on the 25 September 1938 and his parents became supportive of his love for running, when he went to Accrington Grammar School. He was in the athletics team but all his life in one way or another he really worked hard for his eventual success in the sport. He got a PhD at Manchester University. He then worked at a large textile firm as a research chemist and his knowledge grew and grew. He invented those Ron Hill freedom shorts and string vests, that were very popular, particularly in the 1970’s and 80’s and he founded Ron Hill Sports, which his two sons have worked for. Even in 1964 when I talked to him first of all he said “My wife May never grumbles when I am so often away from home racing. I don’t talk about athletics much at work, as it is personal, but to a lot of other athletes I do.”

As the years went by he learnt about the best diet for the week of a marathon build up. A lot of runners followed his ideas about a protein diet followed by the last three days of carbohydrates. He was also a good organizer of events in later years.

Regarding his career, I have decided not to pick on the failures he thought he had on the way but to focus more on his successes, which to me are quite revealing in themselves. I asked him in early 1964: “What was his most satisfying result to that date?” and he said to me then “My win against the Americans at the White City in 27:56.0 over 6 miles in July (63) on a sloppy track, on a windy day. It proved my AAA’s win in 27:49.8 was not just a ‘flash in the pan’ particularly as I ducked under 28 minutes twice in three weeks.”(Jim Hogan was second in the AAA’s in 27:54.2 ).  

On 14 October 1964 Ron ran his first Olympic race in Tokyo over 10,000m. He was the first GB runner in 29:53.0 and on the 21 October Ron ran the marathon in 2:25.34.4 coming 19th of 53 (Basil Heatley 2nd and Brian Kilby 4th were the other GB runners).

In 1966 and 1968 Ron Hill won the National cross country but it was Tim Johnston of Cambridge University who, back in 1963, won the Inter-Counties & British Universities (Ron was 4th in the latter) Memorable because they were all in the considerable snow about at the time! In the former Gerry North the 1962 National Champion was second. After that Bas Heatley won the National in the mud in 1963. A very good cross-country runner in tough races was Thurrock’s Mel Batty who won in 1964 and 1965, with Ron Hill third in the former and in 1965 Ron was the fourth English runner behind winner Mel Batty. Dick Taylor won in 1967 and Trevor Wright in 1970. Ron was second in the 1964 International. The really amazing National was at Graves Park, Sheffield in 1966. Ron Hill won by a few inches from Mike Turner of Liverpool and Cambridge University, in their last 100m dash for the line. Of the two times in the International (Old World CC) when Ron came second, in Tunis in 1968 he finished in 35.27 just one second behind Mohammed Gammoudi of Tunisia (35:26), who gained gold silver and bronze medals over the space of three Olympics at 5,000m or 10,000m. Ian Stewart, that great competitor, waxed lyrical about Mohammed’s ability, when I talked to him. Third in Tunis was Roy Fowler (35:32) who won in 1963. Like with Mike Tagg’s victory in 1970, they both finished just in front of Gaston Roelants, the 1964 Olympic Steeplechase Champion.

Often, like with Bruce Tulloh the 1962 European 5,000m Champion, Ron Hill ran barefoot on the country and the track. The Lancashire team were very often in the frame as winners of the CAU Inter-Counties senior CC race with runners like Mike Turner and Mike Freary running and, of course, Ron Hill too.

In 1968 Ron Hill ran in the Mexico Olympics at high altitude. It was in the 10,000m, where so many came unstuck. Ron Hill came seventh in 29:53.2 just behind multi world record holder Ron Clarke (6th) of Australia 29:44.8 suffering the serious effects of altitude. Bill Adcocks was fifth in the marathon. Tim Johnston eighth. Because of the effects of altitude Tim told me in Mexico “it was a b…. waste of time racing at altitude in those Olympics”, so all in all it must be a plus for Ron Hill.  

Ron ran in 115 marathons in all so, I am going to pick out a few but, of course, one must also remember he ran a World Best for 25,000m of 1:15:22.6 on 21 July 1965. His fastest 10 miles was 46.44.0 and he ran 6 miles on the track in 27:26.0. He was only the second person to ever break 2:10 for a marathon. Something of interest was Ron never liked to train with anyone after his university days and went for extensive runs in the countryside on his own, which did upset one farmer when he ran across his land. Even though it was a public footpath. and he physically turfed Ron off the ground, Ron had a few things to say!

In the very hot conditions of Athens on the historic route he was first in the European Championships of 1969. The result on 21st of September: 1.Ron Hill (GB) 2:16.48; 2 Gaston Roelants (Belgium)2:17.22.2; 3 Jim Alder (GB) 2:19.05.8. 

I talked to Ron in Glyfada/Athens and at his home about the race. Ron comes in “At about 32 kilometers at the end of a long hilI I could still not see Roelants. as he was out of sight, but the message was he was two minutes ahead at one stage earlier and I did not know just how far he was ahead at this stage. It was when we came to the top of the hill I gained a psychological boost: all it was from this point was a downhill run to the finish. I was feeling good. I remembered when training over the course that I had seen this sign that it was only a matter of six miles downhill run to the finish. I remember thinking then ‘When you see this sign in the race you know there are no more hills’. I changed gear and started running faster. Jim Alder changed gear as well, but not so drastically as I had done, and I went past him and away, and that was it. I was certainly worried at that point but at the time the main thought was simply to maintain the pace for as long as possible and hold on to that silver medal. With a mile to go I suddenly saw Gaston ahead of me, and it was just with half a mile to go I chopped him. When I got nearer to the finish. I went down towards the orange lights. I had no idea where Roelants was. I could see where the stadium was on the left hand side, over the Central reservation and moved from the right hand carriage way to the left hand side. Just as I did this a landrover went right across in front of me-one of the convoy leading the race so I almost collided with the vehicle, my hands stretched out in front of me to stop the impact. Needless to say he got a mouthful of English he probably didn’t understand. I continued running up the ramp into the stadium and almost sprinted along the track to the finish.”

I thought “That’s shown’em. A few days afterwards when you can think back ‘I won the European Championships’ it’s a nice feeling.”

On 20 April 1970, Ron Hill sped through a continuous down-poor of rain to take the famous Boston Marathon race victory in a course record breaking 2:10.30, which was the second fastest ever time recorded and finished 42 seconds ahead of Eamon O’Reilly with Pat McMahon third in 2:14.53. 

Referring to his build-up to the 1970 Commonwealth Marathon he said “I did not intend at the outset taking the cross-country as seriously this Winter as I have in the past, and yet it was only part of the build-up. In the past, cross country was an end in itself. It was part of the marathon build up for the Commonwealth.”

In the athletes’ village, before the Commonwealth Marathon in Edinburgh, it appeared to me Derek Clayton, running for Australia was very confident, particularly as he had run a world record of 2:08.35 for the marathon in 1969 but of course in Edinburgh on the 25 July 1970. amongst others to contend with who were running was Ron Hill and 1966 Commonwealth Champion Jim Alder!  In addition, there was Olympic fifth placer Bill Adcocks.

The race started and in the front was Jerome Drayton of Canada and Harnek Singh of India was just in front of Derek Clayton with Ron Hill just tucked in behind. Drayton was leading the front group as they went through 5 miles in 23:21. Ron Hill had gone ahead by 10 miles in 47:45. Ron was still ahead at half way in 1:2.35. It was 1:37.32 at 20 miles and two of his toughest opponents Drayton and Clayton, had dropped out. Morpeth’s Jim Alder was now in second place. Don Faircloth started to move and went into third position. Into the Meadowbank stadium Ron came in. It was quite something to see. It was the fastest ever competitive marathon time to date of 2:09:28; second was Jim Alder (Scotland) 2:12.04; and third was Croydon’s Don Faircloth (England) in 2:12.19.

On 12 August 1971 in the European Marathon Championships in Helsinki the winner was Karel Lismont of Belgium (2:13.09) but all three British competitors filled the next three positions, one of those being Ron. Trevor Wright was second in 2:13.59.6, Ron Hill was third in 2:14.34.8 and Colin Kirkham was fourth in 2:16.22.

1972 was Ron’s third Olympic Games and he ran the Marathon, won by stylish Frank Shorter of the USA in 2:12.19.8. Ron Hill was the first British runner in sixth place in 2:16:30.6 just one ahead of Don Macgregor of GB who did 2:16.34.4. Amongst many other claims to fame over his extensive career was when in 1975 he ran for a course record, when winning the Enschede marathon in Holland and he won the event back in 1973 too. Ron Hill will always go down as an inspiring Northerner to all that had the chance to talk to him or saw him running in so many places. 

11th Jul, 2021, Alastair Aitken

Highgate youngsters shine

At the Track Academy Schools Invitational on the 8th of July at Willesden, a number of Highgate runners performed well in the under 15 800m. Izzy Ions, an under 13, won in 2:34.27 with Highgate's Mia Cobbold second in 2:37.48 and, in fourth place, in a personal best time, was Aliyah Osman in 2:46.04. 

On the 7th of July in a BMC race Edmund Brown, an under 20 runner for the club, did a time of 2:05.19 for the 800m in race D. At the same meeting at the Linford Christie Stadium, James Millett ran in race B and did a time of 2:01.16. In the Sprint 100m / 200m Open at Lee Valley the same evening Mariam Elgabry finished third woman in a 200m race in 26.09.