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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 2.15.59.2 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.

4th Jul, 2021, Alastair Aitken

Hannah Viner praised by BMC

British Milers Club, on realising Hannah Viner had won three BMC races, on separate days at separate venues, recently remarked on their web site: " We don't think that has been done before and it certainly shows great conditioning and excellent racing." The races were: 800m/2:14.24-Lee Valley (Regional); 1500m/4:24.89-Watford (Grand Prix); 1500m 4:30.32 Wormwood Scrubs (Regional).

4th Jul, 2021, Alastair Aitken

Highgate Harriers young athletes third of eight clubs

On Saturday 26 June in warm weather at Parliament Hill Fields track Highgate young athletes did well in partly lockdown conditions.  In the well contested Middlesex Young Athletes League event, consisting of under 17 athletes down to Under 11's, Shaftesbury Barnet & London Heathside tied for first place with 59 points. The others were Highgate Harriers 46; Ealing Southall & Middlesex 41; Barnet & District AC 33; Serpentine RC 16 and Ealing Eagles 8. The standard was good if you consider that two under 17 sprinters for Shaftesbury Barnet ran 22.43 and 22.86 and an under 15, Zico Jones, from the same club ran a 22.30, an excellent national class time for under 15.

Highgate Harriers winners on the day included: under 17 women javelin, Aisha Mariche 32.14; under 17 women shot Tyrah Joseph, 9.99; under 17 men 400m 'B' Remy Weinbrecht 53.37; under 17 men 800m Jack Bailey 2:08.26 (PB) son of the club President Chris Bailey, and another son, Liam Bailey, won the 'B' 800m in the under 15 age in 2:23.46. The under 15 boys long jump was won by Said Mariche with 4.51 and Salome Vessier won the under 15 girls long jump with 4.30; the under 13 boys long jump and shot went to Arthur Shaw, with the 3k shot of 6.94 and 4.61 for the long jump. In the non-scoring under 13 girls 800m the winner was Martina Brechner in 2:43.38 and Joseph Hayes also won a non-scoring 800m, in the under 15 boys race, in 2:20.05.

27th Jun, 2021, Alastair Aitken

Ogbechie amongst the best

Dominic Ogbechie, was 7th in the Olympic high jump trials out of 13 finalists and, equalled his season's best of 2.13, which he had previously done when he qualified for the European Junior Championships. In the senior event at Manchester on 26 June in the Muller Games and Olympic trials the winner was senior Tom Gale of Team Bath with 2.24. Dominic nearly cleared 2.17. “If he had done that he might have got the third Olympic spot, but then he still has a great future" said Highgate Press Secretary.

27th Jun, 2021, Alastair Aitken

Highgate do well against stiff competition

In the first Southern League North West London Division fixture on 20 June, Highgate Harriers were fifth and two of the clubs they competed against were not so long ago Premier League clubs. The scores on Sunday 20 June at the Bannister Stadium Harrow were:  Thames Valley, 387.8; Harrow, 381.9; Ealing Southall & Middlesex and Ealing Beagles Composite, 252.4; Hillingdon, 200.5; Highgate Harriers & Mornington Chasers Composite, 200.4; and Serpentine Running Club 134.8. 

A Mornington Chaser Lauren Longhurst was third in a personal best in the women’s 3000m in 10:59.78.  There were good times in the men’s 5000m with the two winners from Highgate: Chris Wright in the 'A' race in 15:35.61 and London University student Alex Bampton in the 'B' in 15:48.42 

Longhurst joined Amy Rutherford, Janine Makaronidis and Ellen Donald to come second in the 4x400m.  Ellen Donald, an under 20, won the 1500m 'B' in 4:54.39 and Catherine Airey did a personal best time of 4:55.02 in the non-scoring race.

Mariam Elgabry did two good personal bests coming second in the women’s 100m in 12.53 and in the 200m in 26.66. There was a good throw in the men’s javelin by Jack Levene, an under 20, who threw 42.94 for third spot. Aisha Mohammed-Mariche, an under 17, threw 21.09 in the women’s ‘B’ javelin.  Camille Alaphilippe, an under17, who is coached by Sonia Martinez-Roura (who competed in multiple events) took fourth in the women’s ‘A’ javelin (9.04) and finished second in the ‘A’ long jump (5.10) and second in the ‘B’ high jump (1.45).

James Millett who often brakes the 2-minute barrier did so again coming second in the 800m in 1:59.47. Under 20 performer Greta Large high jumped 1.50m to win the women’s ‘A’ event. April Allan (and under 17) ran a 14.58 100m and scored in second place in the women’s B’ long jump and triple jump, with 4.11 and 8.48 respectively. Shlomo Levy, another under 17, was second in the men’s ‘B’ long jump category with 5.71.

27th Jun, 2021, Alastair Aitken

Ogbechie better again

Dominic Ogbechie of Highgate Harriers improved his season's best of 2.11 to do 2.13 at Bedford on 21 June and he will compete in the Olympic Trials. He will be also be competing in the 'Under 20' European Championships. Graham Norris, a Highgate senior official, stresses that three people in particular - Juliet Kavanagh, Marius Guei and Kate Jenrick - have been a great help in his progress and development.

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.