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9th Feb, 2022, Alastair Aitken

League Glory Day Approaches

On the 19th of February Highgate Harriers’ senior men go for their eighth consecutive victory, out of 21 clubs, in the Metropolitan League Cross Country at Trent Park, Cockfosters. They have an excellent chance of carrying off the trophy. The leading three clubs after the fourth of five Start Fitness Metropolitan League fixtures were: 1, Highgate, 6,046; 2, Victoria Park & Tower Hamlets, 5,127; and 3, London Heathside, 4,252. 

Two Highgate Harriers ran in the first Metropolitan League in Hainault Forrest in 1966. They were twice Club President Terry Driscoll and Press Secretary Alastair Aitken. The fields have grown and grown since then.

In the first four League races of this season, one of the successful Highgate Harriers has been Alex Lepretre. His finishing positions in the first four fixtures were 5, 3, 2 and 2 respectively. In the fourth one he was second at Wormwood Scrubs on the 15th of January. He gave an exclusive interview to Highgate's Press Secretary. The winner for the second time was Tom Frith of Woodford Green & Essex Ladies.  Alex comes in:

"We had been told to expect the worst conditions at the Scrubs in years, and following on from the incredibly muddy and boggy Horsenden Hill at the Middlesex Championships, it's fair to say everyone was expecting the worst. It turned out that, whilst still very muddy and with some standing water in some places, it wasn't quite as bad as feared, and in fact there were some patches where some good running was to be had. Indeed, the first mile went out in a touch over 5 minutes, although it did settle down somewhat after that. There was a decent group for the early part of the race, with a TVH runner taking out the race at first, but by the time that we got to about a mile in, it was Tom Frith and myself. Tom and I battled it out most of the way round, exchanging the lead on a couple of occasions but never quite managing to shake the other until about 3.5 miles when Tom made a move to which I couldn't quite respond and he built up a lead which he consolidated during the rest of the race."

6th Feb, 2022, Alastair Aitken

Highgate Harriers Silver Lining

Highgate Harriers’ Senior Men’s team men gained silver medals in the South of England Cross Country Championships at Beckenham Place Park on Saturday 29 January.  It was over a winding, undulating, but dry, course. The first six teams, out of the 60 odd clubs entered were: 1, Southampton A.C. 121; 2, Highgate Harriers 221; 3, Tonbridge A.C, 230; 4, Hercules Wimbledon, 313; 5, Belgrave, 474; and 6, South London Harriers 526.

Alex Lepretre, led Highgate home in seventh in 48:23. Just before half way he led the field but, several international runners were close behind, ready to pounce. One of those was the winner Andy Coley-Maud of Guildford & Godalming. He won in 47:41. He will be remembered just a few years ago running some very good races in the Highgate Harriers colours but the last time he ran the Southern for Highgate he had to drop out with an injury coming on. However, he has run uninjured recently and told me he is now training on forest trails, which helped him not get injured again. He will be one to watch for a possible top three place in the National Cross Country at Parliament Hill Fields on the 26 February. Highgate are expected to have a strong team for the National but, unfortunately, two of their outstanding runners, Seyed Taha Ghafari and Jacob Allen have been injured. Allen should be back fairly shortly but Ghafari has a more serious injury. I am sure the Manager of the best runners, Ben Pochee, hopes both will be in good form for the National 12 Stage Road Relay on 9 April at Sutton Park, Birmingham. It could make a great deal of difference in that for the club!

At the Southern, Highgate’s first 9 home out of 685 finishers were well inside the first 100. They were: 7, Alex Lepretre 48:23; 27, Robel Bahelbi, 50:12; 40, Charlie Haywood, 50:59; 47, Roger Poolman, 51:26; 49, Sean Renfer, 51:30; 51, Alex Bampton, 51:43; 56, Pete Chambers, 51:55; 82, James Ross 53;17; 85, Henry Murdoch 53:31.

In the Under 17 Men’s race Jack Bailey came 24th of 139 finishers in 21:18 and, his father the 'over 55' Highgate Harriers Club President Chris Bailey, went round in 603 place in the senior race out of 685 finishers. Monte Watson did well to come 46th in the Under 20 race.

Hannah Viner of Highgate was 6th of 366 finishers in the Senior Women’s race in 29:43. She finished very fast but said she had a bad patch in the middle of the race. The other high placers were: 23 Yasmin Goater (31:06); 58, Karina Thornton (32:59); and 148, Sabina Russell 36:13. Highgate Harriers were the 5th team of 45 clubs. Aldershot Farnham & District A.C was the winning team.

23rd Jan, 2022, Alastair Aitken

Highgate ignite in the mud

After the fourth Start Fitness Metropolitan League fixture at Wormwood Scrubs on Saturday, 15th January, Highgate Harriers men’s team are in first place in the top Division One, with 6,046 points and in second place are Victoria Park & Tower Hamlets with 5,127. That news should boost the men in the club, who go into the last match at Trent Park on the 19th of February.

In the squelching conditions, after all the rain, Highgate were far from put off. Their 12-man team were in the first 78 places out of the 439 finishers. The team were led in by Alex Lepretre, who had come second the previous week in the Middlesex Championships. At Wormwood Scrubs he was second again in 25:12 with Robel Bahelbi third in 25:39. The rest of the team were: 10, Sean Renfer, 26:06; 32, Roger Poolman, 27:08; 35, James Ross, 27:11; 36, James Barber, 27:12; 41, Lewis Greaves, 27:24; 43, Henry Murdoch, 27:34; 56, David Shepherd, 28:01; 57, Pete Chambers, 28:01; 62, Daniel Brewer 28:11; 78, Finlay Sleeman (U20) 28:46. 

Three people stood out for me and they were Alex Lepretre, who in deplorable conditions had been second in the Middlesex the Saturday before; Finlay Sleeman, the youngest in the team, making the cut as 12th man and, in 205th place, Chris Beecham, who some 12 to 15 years ago was one of the top two distance runners in the club and is still running well as an over 50-year old.

Currently one of Highgate Harriers’ best distance runners. who won a recent Met League, is Jacob Allen who was recently selected to run for England in Spain at Elgoibar. Despite a dodgy foot injury, he came home in 21st place. I’m sure we will hear a lot more of Allen in the future for the club as I think his best is yet to come!

Back at Wormwood Scrubs, Jack Bailey was third in the Under 17 Men’s race and his brother Liam was fifth in his race (Under 15 Boys).

Women in for a Grand Stand Finish?

Highgate Harriers women's team have been improving as the season goes on. The comfortable overall leaders at the moment in the team competition are London Heathside, after four of the five matches, with 1,396 points but up to second now are Highgate Harriers with 1,122 and third are Victoria Park & Tower Hamlets with 1,084. With a 'Super-Human effort' Highgate might pull it off. They have done it before at the last gasp.

The winner in the Senior Women’s race on Saturday the 15th was Jess Hawling of London Heathside (28:33), but in second place was Hannah Viner of Highgate. The times of the first six Highgate women scorers were: Hannah Viner 29:15; 4, Yasmin Goater, 30:22; 9 (1st Under 20) Ellen Donald, 31:04; 32, Emily Young, 32:54, 38, Mia Parry (Under 20) 33:21 and 42, Louise Faherty, 33:37.

Lauren Russell was fourth in the Under 17 Women’s race in 15:45. Izzy Ions was fifth in the Under 13 girls race, 12.27; 11th was Eloise Lindley and 12th Mia Cobbold.

Starting out in the youngest age group Highgate's Jack Cobbold was 26th of 48 in the Under 11 boys - not bad for a nine year old!

9th Jan, 2022, Alastair Aitken

Highgate women excel in the rain

In damp muddy conditions at Greenford, Hannah Viner, who was second in the Middlesex Cross Country Championships in 2017, was in great form winning well, out of 97 competitors. Hannah, a previous Met League winner and international on the road on the Continent. won the race in 32:26. Highgate's Yasmin Goater was fourth in 34:13, Karina Thornton was 23rd in 38:26; and Louise Faherty was 27th in 39:08 to complete the scoring team of four. Highgate took third place in the team competition with 55 points, the same number as London Heathside who were second. The winners were Trent Park with 44 points, from the 13 completed clubs. The other Highgate runners were Sabina Russell in 36th in 40:53, Ellen Kerr in 39th in 41:14, Natasha Cendrowicz in 47th in 43:14 and Joanna Gardner in 60th in 45:37. 

Regarding the men, only one of their 'Star' runners was in action, which will not be the case in the Metropolitan League races. The winner out of 146 finishers was Shaftesbury's Dylan Evans in 43:54 but not far behind was Highgate's Alex Lepretre in 44:19. Daniel Brewer ran well for 35th in 52:14; 51st was Alex Davidson in 53:23; and also well in the first 100 were Christopher Wright in 61st (55:28) and Joseph Lowe in 77th (57:47). The Highgate team placed 6th.

3rd Jan, 2022, Anonymous



The Club would like to thank Deborah and Adrian Laing who, along with other members of their family, have kept this great traditional race going. Long may it continue!

• The rain had brought areas of North London to a halt with road floods. So the start of the race was a little later than usual at 11.15.

• The torrential rain had left the Heath waterlogged and meant that the race started on the footpath. The course continued past the ladies swimming ponds and across the two fields near Kenwood to the Mile Gate - sinking into deep mud and puddles all the way home to the finish line anext to Parliament Hill track.

• First place was won by Thomas Chadwick in a time of 21.19. who is the winner of the Bottomist Trophy for 2021.

• Thomas Chadwick and Peter Laing valiantly battled it out for first place for most of the race – with Thomas Chadwick pushing ahead at the final stage. Peter Laing came second in a time of 21.22.

• The race results in full are as follows:

1. Thomas Chadwick 21.19
2. Peter Laing 21.22
3. Daniel Hickson 22.21
4. Alex Chadwick 23.44
5. Chris Giles 23.58
6. Bea Chadwick 24.03
7. Nick Roden 24.31 8.
Kate Chadwick 24.58
9. Alex Driscoll 26.47
10. Andy Hickson 26.48
11. Jem Hickson 26.49
12. Mick Jefferies 28.15
13. Nick Kaufmann 30.04
14. Kate Driscoll 30.10
15. Hannah Giles 30.10
16. Jessica Parry 30.10
17. Andi Shah 30.13
18. Adrian Laing 30.17
19. Deborah Laing 34.04

• Special thanks go to a number of people who helped with the race:
Graham Norris and Sinead Peak for co-ordinating the supply of all the equipment needed and access to the club room.
Peter Laing for helping with set up and announcing the results on the day.
Our two wonderful volunteers who recorded times and results – Katie Roden and Zorika Adams.
As well as a kind grandparent who rang the starters bell.
Thanks also to the City of London and the Hampstead Heath keepers – as the track was open for use of the facilities.
• It was great to take part in this wonderful tradition for another year and hope to see many more of you next year.
• Wishing you all the best for 2022.

2nd Jan, 2022, Alastair Aitken

No stopping Alex

Alex Davidson, was the first ‘Over 55’ in the ‘Last Friday in the Month’ 5k road race at Hyde Park organised by Serpentine RC on 31st December.  He was 21st of 176 overall in 18:00. He certainly looks to be a force when he is 60 in May.

Last year was a good year for Highgate's distance and cross country runners. Something missed at the time was Chris Wright beating 134 other runners to win the early morning Sri Chinmoy 10k road race in 31:33 at Battersea on the 23rd of October. He is one of the strong Highgate 12-man team that should win the Start Fitness Metropolitan League this season, taking with them the successes of 2021.

2nd Jan, 2022, Alastair Aitken

Thomas Chadwick wins Bottomist Cup

Thomas Chadwick, an Under 17 runner, who as an Under 15 came 11th in the recent Metropolitan CC League race at Uxbridge on 4 December and ran two personal best times on the track in the Summer with 2:18.79/4:51.05 for 800m/1500m, battled it out with Peter Laing for much of the Bottomist Cup Annual Boxing Day race, from Parliament Hill Fields, before eventually winning. The traditional Highgate Harriers event had always been supported by the late Ted Fosbrook a 'Great Club Character' for Highgate and now his daughter Deborah Laing has a lot to do with the continuation of the long-standing event. Her son Peter Laing was second in the race on soggy Hampstead Heath. The first three of 19 finishes were: 1, Thomas Chadwick, 21:19; 2, Peter Laing, 21:22; 3, Daniel Hickson, 22:21.The first woman was Bea Chadwick in 24:03 in sixth place.

2nd Jan, 2022, Alastair Aitken

James Barber wins

James Barber, who has been as high as 27th in the Metropolitan Cross Country League this season, finished first in a Sunday League race at Stevenage on the 19th of December. 421 finished the race. His time was 27:18.

On the 11th of December was the Southern and Inter-Counties Masters Cross Country Championships at Lloyd Park near Croydon. Over 55 runner Alex Davidson was 34th of 233 finishers in 38:43, and ex-Highgate Harrier Andrew Aitken (M40) came in 22nd in 37:54.

15th Dec, 2021, Alastair Aitken

Highgate Harriers on fire

Highgate Harriers took no prisoners, as they went further ahead in the Start Fitness Metropolitan League Cross Country on Saturday 4 December. In the Senior Men and Woman’s races, in the third fixture, held on the tough Hillingdon House Farm course, the race contained a brook with muddy slopes to be negotiated twice in the race. Amazingly, in the men’s race out of the 376 finishers, Highgate had five runners in the first seven and their scoring 12-man team all finished within the first 55 home. Highgate amassed 1,542 points with Victoria Park & Tower Hamlets, 1,386, London Heathside, 1,148 and Ealing Southall & Middlesex, 1,134.  

After the initial start, the 27-year old PE teacher, Jacob Allen of Highgate set off in the lead, despite the fact he had referred a football match at his school in the morning. He maintained his lead right to the finish, winning in 25:21. It was his second Met League win this season. In second place was Alex Lepretre, despite his shoe lace coming undone twice. His time was 25:43; Robel Bahelbi was third in 25:45, Chris Rainsford was fourth in 25:51. The next four Highgate men were Charlie Haywood 7th in 26:27, 14th, Roger Poolman, 26:59; 29th, Sean Renfer, 27:54, 31st Lewis Greaves, 27:56 and James Barber, 34th in 28:04.  Henry Murdoch was 41st and Monte Watson 55th to bring the 'A' team home. A small comment from me: Alex Davidson, who will be 60 in May, came 111st in 31:01, James Rossiter, who is 50 and a field events thrower for the club came 301st, and, important club Official, Martin Black came in 348th of the 375 finishers – he was celebrating being 58 on the day.

The race for first place in the Women’s race was intense between Beth Hawling of London Heathside and Hannah Viner of Highgate and, eventually, due to her smart running down the hills, Hawling was first in 28:44 and Viner second in 29:05. On the day Highgate women were well represented and came second overall but London Heathside lead the League table. In third place in the race was a clear Tara Bage running for Highgate in 30:41. Ellen Donald was 15th and first Under 20 in 32:22. Karina Thornton was 24th in 33:42 and Mia Parry (Under 20) 26th in 33:51. Natasha Cendrowicz (W50) was 92nd of the 182 finishers.  Jack Bailey was fourth in the Under 17 race, only beaten by three very good juniors.

3rd Dec, 2021, Alastair Aitken

Highgate Harriers defeat the cold and rain

On Saturday 27 November Highgate Harriers won the Fraternity Cup cross country race at Trent Park. In the cold wind, over a new course, the first to set off ahead of the 215 finishers were Ash Harrell and Robel Bahelbi, who opened up a lead after the first small lap. In the race, founded 88 years ago, three runners went clear after that, all from the winning Highgate team. In the second large lap, well-spaced out by wide margins, were Ash Harrell, the eventual winner in 26:35, Robel Bahelbi, who finished second in 27:29, and Sean Renfer, who finished third in 28:07, which all helped make it a good Highgate win. Roger Poolman finished 5th (28.21), Lewis Greaves 7th (28.39) and in 42nd place overall, but the over-50 winner, was Alex Davidson (32:15).

The first three teams were: 1, Highgate Harriers, 2, Victoria Park & Tower Hamlets and 3, London Heathside.


3rd Dec, 2021, Alastair Aitken

Highgate Harriers' 'stars' perform well on the big cross-country stage

511 finished in the inclement weather at Sefton Park, Liverpool in the senior men’s British Athletics Cross Challenge on Saturday 27 November. The Highgate finishers were Seyed Taha Ghafari in 13th in 29:10, Jacob Allen in 14th in 29:13 and Alex Lepretre in 46th in 29:53.  The winner was Jack Rowe (Aldershot) in 28:05.

27th Nov, 2021, Alastair Aitken

Ghafari wins his first Championship

Seyed Taha Ghafari won his first senior Championship race in 33:57 at the London Cross Country Championships on 20 November. For the first half of the London Championships he fought a battle with Ahmed Abdulle of Ilford A.C, before going clear. Of the 31 teams that closed in Highgate Harriers were second with their four to score with 54 points, behind Thames Valley Harriers who got 46 points. Third were Thames Hare & Hounds with 65 points. Highgate's other three scorers were: 11th, Peter Chambers 35:53; 18th, Charlie Haywood 36:24; and 24th Roger Poolman with 36:48. Out of the 432 finishers and in the first 60 for Highgate were: 30, Sean Renfer (37:29); 31, Henry Murdoch (37:29); 36, James Ross (38:00); 43, Lewis Greaves (38:27); 44, Chris Hicks (38.29) 49, Dave Shepherd:(38:39); 52, Daniel Brewer (38:54); 58, George Scott (39:23).

Highgate women were fifth out of 29 teams that closed in with 131 points. The winners were Belgrave Harriers with 55 points. Highgate's runners were: 18th of 289 runners, Ellen Donald in 23:43; 30th, Kate Russell (24:18); 41st, Karina Thornton (24:44); 43rd, Emily Young (24:50); 75th, Mia Parry (26:03); 80th, Vicky Frew (26:11); 86th, Louise Faherty (26:23) 119th, Ellen Kerr (27:41); 154th, Natasha Cendrowicz (28:58).

24th Nov, 2021, dbrewer

London Cross Country Championships - 20th November 2021

On a cold yet eerily sweaty AM on Saturday 20th November, 41 noble ladies and gentleman plucked their way around Hampstead Heath over 10k. The same hills, the same route we all know and love but just quite never ceases to hurt (Jonny Cash style).

We came home with silver medals, 2nd overall which is fantastic feat and signals to the rest of the country, we’re hunting the Nationals down…

Leading the charge for the men, Taha Ghafari won the race by 6 seconds in a barnstorming performance home. Peter Chambers came a bingo winning 11th, with Charlie Haywood snapping at his heels with a massive 18th. Finishing off our top 4 scorers, was Roger Poolman, coolly coming in 24th.

Face-off of the race was between Sean Renfer & Henry Murdoch, both who glided in apiece 30th & 31st respectively, with identical race times, dictating it could have been any man’s race. James Ross in 36th, Lewis Greaves in 43rd and Chris Hicks in 44th, highlight the competitiveness amongst team-mates, jostling for every place.

David Shepherd rounded off the top 50 in 49th, with this author just behind in 52nd. George Scott, John ‘Irishman’ Golfedder & Chris Rainsford followed in 58th, 65th and 74th. 75th, 79h and 80th went to Monte Watson, Danny Issacs and Andres Chau.

Sion Perry followed in 85th, Jacob Billingham 91st, Alex Holley 128th, Alex Davidson 12th, Harry Osborn 154th, Adam Lennox 163rd, Gabriel Collins 166th, Jonathan Deane 170th, Daniel Tombor 233rd, Joesph Lowe 278th, Rob Saunders 286th, David Sutherland 330rd, John O’Shea 366th, James Rossitor 377rd & rounding it all off, Richard Steward in 393rd.

This just shows the depth and breadth on display, plenty of talent and heaps of commitment.

Over the same horrible yet tantalising conditions, the ladies came in at a cracking 5th, a great achievement over an undulating 6k course.

Eileen Donald came in 18th and leading Highgate home. Kate Russell followed in 30th, Karina Thornton in 40th and finally rounding off the top 4 scorers, Emily Young in 43rd.

Completing the team finish, Mia Perry in 75th, Vicky Few in 80th, Louise Faherty in 86th, Ellen Kerr in 119th and Natasha Cendrowicz in 154th.

21st Nov, 2021, Alastair Aitken

Highgate continue to race ahead in the League

After the first two Start Fitness Metropolitan League races, the Highgate Harriers' Senior Men continue to lead in the League table. The first three are Highgate with 1,554 points;  2, Thames Valley Harriers and 3, Victoria Park & Tower Hamlets.

On Saturday 13 November the race for the Senior Men was in mild conditions, over a very hilly Stanborough Park course at Welwyn Garden City. After a very fast start the 441 runners set off. Seyed Ghafari, and Jacob Allen of Highgate were joined by the last Met League winner, Tom Frith of Woodford Green. Those three disputed the lead till, well into the second of three laps, when, a strong looking Jacob Allen put the boot in and went for it, never being headed again. However, Ghafari lost his second place in the last mile when he got a bad stitch and was first of all overhauled by Tom Frith and then by Alex Lepetre of Highgate. The oldest Highgate runner was Alex Davidson, who will be 60 in May next year. He was 171 of the 441 finishers, which is some going! The Highgate Harriers Division One team all finished in the first 44 places; which was impressive to say the least. 1 Jacob Allen, 23:58; 3 Alex Lepetre, 24:18; 4 Seyed Taha Ghafari, 24:23; 6 Robel Bahelbi, 24:45; 8 Chris Rainsford 24:54; 9 Pete Chambers, 24:59; 16 Charlie Haywood 25:30; 23 Sean Renfer, 25:45; 25 Chris White, 25:58; 32 Alex Bampton, 26:14; 35 Roger Poolman. 26:20; and 44 Lewis Greaves, 26:44.  The next two Highgate Harriers after that were 48 James Barber 26:57 and then 51 Henry Murdoch 27:01.

In the Under 17's race Jack Bailey ran well. Son of Highgate Harriers President Chris Bailey, he came third of 94 in 14:44.  The winner for the second time this year was Ethan Primett of Herts Phoenix in14:02.

Five Highgate woman ran in the Senior Women's race which had 210 finishers. Kate Russell was 17th in 31:50 and Karina Thornton was 18th in 31:51. The next Highgate finishers were Emily Young in 45th in 33:14, Louise Faherty 50th in 33:39 and Natasha Cendrowicz in 109th in 37:37. London Heathside are top of the Women's League table. Highgate are 8th of the 12 clubs.

14th Nov, 2021, Alastair Aitken

Tim Johnston - a 'Class Act'

The Olympian and GB distance runner Timothy Frederick Kemball Johnston died in October 2021, aged 80. 

Tim went to Bedales public school, where he wrote some new records on the books, and then won two Southern Junior cross countries. As a student he felt that the most beneficial time was when he was studying at Trinity College, Cambridge, and he followed that up by being a linguist for a time with the ‘European Common Market’. 

Like Cambridge University, that had good international cross-country runners like Tim Briault and Mike Turner, his club, Portsmouth AC, was very strong and he told me that “when I made contact with Bruce Tulloh and Martin Hyman at my Portsmouth club, they were helpful and very encouraging.”

Tim met Martin Heath, who was amongst the best till he got glandular fever, and he wanted to be as good as Tim Briault and that ‘Guru’ of athletics knowledge Mike Turner, who was at Cambridge for very many years. For a short while, Herb Elliot, the 1960 Olympic 1500m Champion, was at the University, and he taught Tim to run up hills quickly to demoralize the opposition. 

At that time, the ‘press’ loved to coin a phrase about people and the athletics press in the 1950s and 60s were full of athletic reports that called Tim ‘The Abominable Snowman’.  He a won the British University cross country from John Farrington Mike Turner, Ron Hill and John Whitton in the snow. He won the Southern also in 1963 from Don Taylor of Herne Hill Harriers. He also won the Inter-Counties with Gerry North second in the snow again. He also won a race in the snow in Hannut in Belgium —all in 1963. In 1963 he was also the third ranked UK 3000m steeplechase man behind Maurice Herriot and Ernie Pomfret, the two British finalists in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics steeplechase.

It was 1967 that he came second in the ‘old style’ World Cross Country Championships in Barry, Wales, where England easily won the team contest from New Zealand and France. The first four over the senior 12k course were: 1 Gaston Roelants (Belgium) 36:03; 2 Tim Johnston (England) 36:20; 3 Barry Rose (NZ)a 36:27; and 4 Lachie Stewart (Scotland) 36:30. Prior to that in October 1965 he ran a World Best for 30000m on the track of 1:32:34.6,

In 1968 Tim was AAA’s 6 miles Champion in 27:22.2; and the AAA’s marathon Champion in 2:15.26. The next finishers in the marathon were Bill Adcocks, who went on to come fifth in the Mexico Olympics marathon, and Jim Alder, who also ran the race but do not finish.

Tim finished eighth in the Mexico Olympics marathon but after the race and about the altitude he told me. “It was a ’B’ waste of time racing the marathon at these Games. I think Ron Clarke would have won his race (the 10000m) had it been at sea level.” Clarke told me he was fitter than he had ever been before Mexico, which in a way backs up Tim’s theory. However, Tim did do some months running at altitude before coming back to qualify for the Games.

Typical of Tim Johnston was that he did not wait to prove himself again and in 1969 on 10th of May he beat many of the top Europeans to win the Karl Marx Stadt marathon in 2:15:3.2.

Tim had both his achilles operated on but never lost his enthusiasm for running and won World Veteran road races and other races, including two in one weekend that included a marathon, and the Bruges 25k a couple of times. Tim ran the Maidenhead 10 in 1975, which I also did it, and he won in a time of 49:51 with a tough hill in it. It was a course record. 

13th Nov, 2021, Alastair Aitken

Fred Baker R.I.P - by David Ainsworth

One of our all-time ultra-distance walking greats has passed-on, aged 88. Legendary Fred of Highgate Harriers completed 19 UK sub-24 hours' 100 miles races, commencing with a 22:30.13 timing in the testing 1956 Sheffield-to-Harrogate-and-back (staged over Yorkshire's hills and dales), which saw 38 start and 21 finish (8 becoming new Centurions). Fred earned Centurion number 266. Fred served as The Centurions' Honorary Secretary from 1986 to 1995. When stepping down he passed this position on to fellow Highgate Harrier Bill Sutherland BEM. In 1982 Fred was elected as a Centurions' Vice-President. He resided in Carlisle, in a care home during his last days. For decades life was split between the UK and Australia, where he owned property. Needless to say he was in Carlisle for our spring and summer and, when weather turned for the worse, he was off "down under" for 6 months. He was one never to be forgotten. Our condolences to his family members.

13th Nov, 2021, Alastair Aitken

Highgate Harriers' best ever result in cross country relays

In the English Cross-Country Relay Championships on Saturday 6 November at Mansfield, Highgate recorded their best result ever by coming second in the Senior Men’s event. 147 teams completed. Shaftesbury Barnet were first in 1:02.58, with Highgate second in 1:03.13 and Aldershot & Farnham third in 1:03.35. Several more fancied teams were close behind including Leeds City, Tonbridge AC and Cambridge & Coleridge AC. Highgate's 'B' team were the second 'B' team in the race in 19th place. 

Highgate's fastest man was on leg one for the 'A' team, when Seyed Ghafari ran 15:26.10. Then Jacob Allen took Highgate up from ninth to second in 15:38.05. Alex Lepretre briefly put Highgate ahead with 15.44.90 on Leg 3 and then Robel Bahelbi brought the club in second in a time of 16:24.00. The 'B' team also comprised star studded clubmen:  Ash Harrell, Pete Chambers, Rob Wilson and Roger Poolman were in the team that came 19th out of the large club field and the 2nd 'B' team overall (after Tonbridge AC). It was all good news for Highgate who are going for another Metropolitan League cross-country win at Welwyn Garden City on Saturday 13 November.

Highgate Harriers did not have a complete Senior Women’s team at Mansfield but Hannah Viner ran well to be the ninth fastest woman on the day

12th Nov, 2021, dbrewer

National Cross-Country Relays

Jonny Laybourn (Words), and Lewis Greaves (Photography)

A mixture of seasoned Highgate men as well as some newer faces banded together as a 12-strong outfit for the National Cross Country Relays last Saturday 6th November. The scene was set at the event's usual venue of Berry Hill Park in Mansfield, its home of a rather impressive consecutive 31 years until 2020 before falling victim to you-know-what, and it was as if it had never been away for our boys.
Our A team got things into motion with an impressive run by Taha Ghafari, still cutting his teeth on the unique English cross country scene after joining us during lockdown. A fabulous run of 15:26 over the two-lap 5km course was enough for 9th and to put us very much in the hunt early on.  For the B team, Ash Harrell returned to racing ways after the Manchester Marathon with an effort of 16:15. Sean Renfer found himself not too far behind for the C team with 16:29, and was vocally satisfied with his performance afterwards, something we all like to see as runners.
Leg 2 was where the serious stuff began for the A team. Jacob Allen, despite a minor hiccup involving the need to jump a barrier, cemented chances of a win with a blistering 15:38 and establishing an imposing lead.  Peter Chambers then demonstrated his recent fine form and hard work in training for the B team with a run of 16:04, cutting through half the field ahead of him by going from 42nd to 21st. The C team were represented on this leg by photography supremo Lewis Greaves with an excellent run of 17:34, also reflective of some solid Tuesday night grind.
Onto the third it was, and in perhaps the most impressive Highgate performance of the day, Alex Leprêtre let the country know he was very much back to form with a 15:44, widening the gulf between our A team and the following pack.  To follow for the Bs was Captain Rob Wilson in 16:55, himself also enjoying the post-marathon aerobic afterglow, and Jonny Laybourn for the C team in 18:06.
Finally, Robel Bahelbi, now of a decade of service at Highgate Harriers and, along with Ben Noad, one of only two men to have featured in every single Met League title since 2013, took up the reins for the A team and produced a very solid 16:24. Alas, he was passed by Liam Dee of Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers in the process, for whom there was absolutely no legislating. The lads were nonetheless rightly ecstatic with a silver medal, our first appearance on the men's national winter rostrum for three years and the fruits of some unwavering commitment. The supporting party closed with Roger Poolman, also back on the up following the pandemic, securing 19th in 16:55 for the B team, and Rob Saunders for the C team, relishing his first appearance at this event with 21:39 for 74th place.
Mr Saunders quite aptly described the day as a "sacred shared experience" which I think will hit home with everyone involved in the Club's recent successes. We keep going up and up and up!

6th Nov, 2021, Alastair Aitken

Highgate's veteran runners do well

All over 50-year old runners from Highgate Harriers were well up the field in the North London Cross Country Championships at Uxbridge on Saturday 30 October. Alex Davidson an 'over 55' athlete was the first Highgate man home in 36th place; Davidson was previously an Over 40 and Over 50 Middlesex Cross Country Champion. He was followed in by Joseph Lowe (V50) in 58th with John O'Shea (V55) in 84th and Club President Chris Bailey (V55) in 85th.  The winner was non-vet and established County runner, Rob Thompson of Hillingdon AC.                                                                                                                        

In the Last Friday in the Month Serpentine 5k on 29th October, 5th of 147 runners was ex-Highgate runner and first vet over 40 Andrew Aitken in 16.52. Highgate's Jemima Storey was the 3rd woman home in 20:10 and 15th overall was Hanry Heatherwich-Lammers in 17.46.                                                                                                                               

Highgate Harriers will be out in force in the Start Fitness Metropolitan League cross country (Event 2) on the 13th of November at Welwyn Garden City’s Stanborough Park. 

31st Oct, 2021, Alastair Aitken

Amazing 12 of Highgate

On 16 October, Highgate Harriers finished their scoring first team of men in the first 35 of 372 finishers in the first Start Fitness Metropolitan League cross-country fixture at Claybury. The race for first place was intense and Woodfords' Thomas Frith just managed to get away from the Highgate 'Star' men on the third of the three-lap course. The Highgate team packed like sardines. It was 24:55 for Frith but behind him in order came the following Highgate runners: 2, Seyed Taha Ghafari, 25:11; 3, Jacob Allen, 25:27; 4, Robel Bahelbi, 25:42; 5, Alex Lepretre, 25:45; and 6, Pete Chambers 25:46. The others in the team were: 17, Charlie Haywood, 27:01; 19, Niki Faulkener, 27:04; 21, Rob Wilson, 27:20; 27, James Barber, 27:47; 28, Sean Renfer, 27:51; 34, Lewis Greaves 28.03; 35, Henry Murdoch 28:04. Also in the first 100 were: 37 Dave Shepherd 28:14; Andres Chau 40th in 28:20; 53, Jonathan Laybourn, 28:42; second over 45' was Ben Noad in 59th (28:59) and the first over 50 in the race Sion Perry (29.27) in 72nd; 74, Russell Ashford, 29.34 and 98th Alex Holly, 30.13. After one meet Highgate Harriers lead the men’s league with 1,545 points with Victoria Park & Tower Hamlets second on 1,266. Impressively, Highgate's 'B' team in the senior men's is in 6th place of the 12 clubs and first 'B' team. 

London Heathside lead the women’s league after the first fixture with 349 points with Victoria Park & Tower Hamlets second on 286 points and Highgate in third place with 280. Highgate's leading runners at Claybury were 8, Tara Page (31:32); 9, under 20 runner Ellen Donald (31:40); 31, Kate Russell (33:58); and 36, Emily Young (34:11) Beth Hawling of London Heathside was 1st in 29:05 out of 179 finishers. 

Jack Bailey ran well to finish 5th in the under 17 men’s race. 

21st Oct, 2021, Anonymous

Disability athletics sessions with Highgate Harriers

Disability athletics sessions with HIghgate Harriers, all sessions run by a fully qualified and insured coach with an enhanced DBS check.

Monday night at Talacre Sports Centre, Grafton Road, NW5 3DU. These are indoor sessions that run 7-8.30pm and are based on fun athletics activities to improve fitness and movement. For wheelchair users we will have a racing wheelchair available that fits on a roller, for speed and fitness work.

Thursday night at Parliament Hill Athletics Track, Highgate Road, NW3 2LA. These are outdoor track-based sessions 5-6pm and are aimed at the more competitive athletes, sessions will be designed to improve athletics performance.


13th Oct, 2021, Alastair Aitken

Highgate still amongst the best

Highgate Harriers senior men were 8th of 75 clubs that finished in the National Six Stage road relay on Saturday 9 October at Sutton Park near Birmingham. Yet, they had three of their top men missing, including Roger Poolman. Their fastest runners on the day were on the first two stages, which turned out to be a 'Baptism of Fire'' for Seyedtaha Ghafari on stage 1. However, Ghafari, who led the runners early on his stage, has set all his many personal best times with Highgate Harriers in 2021. On leg 2 was another talented fairly new comer, Jacob Allen, who when he was at San Francisco University was one of their best runners. On leg 3 was the big surprise for the club, when Robel Bahelbi briefly put Highgate into third place, but then some clubs had some 'Big Guns' still to come. Peter Chambers on leg 4 and Alex Lepretre on leg 5 looked good and they will be a strong force over the Winter months and, on Leg 6 the anchor man Sean Renfer came in well, a good 8th overall for the team. Team Manager Ben Pochee feels that in the 12-stage National Road relay, at the same venue in six months’ time Highgate will be a force to be reckoned with.

The Highgate A team comprised: Seyedtaha Ghafari, 17:10; Jacob Allen, 17:23; Robe Bahelbi, 17:43; Pete Chambers 17:47; Alex Lepretre 17:35; Sean Renfer 18:41.  Total time 1:46:19. Winning team Aldershot F&D, 1:42:44. Highgate's B team were 51st in the high quality event. The team comprised James Barber, 18:50; Lewis Greaves, 19.12; Russell Ashford, 19:40; Mikey Dan, 19:40; Andres Chau, 19:46 and Jon Laybourn 20:09

Considering some of Highgate’s top runners were also missing from the women’s race, the team did very well to come 28th of 63 complete teams that finished. Hannah Viner flew round to come in 8th on the first leg in the women's 4 stage relay in 14:25. The others runners were Emma Butcher, 16:53; Karina Thornton 16:26; and Kani Hinshelwood 16:52.  The team’s total time was 1:04:36. Aldershot F&D won in 59:03.

On Sunday 10th October, Ash Harrell was 12th in the Manchester Marathon in a personal best time of 2:29:29 beating his best of 2:31:42.  On the same Sunday, Andrew Aitken (43) ran his fastest 10k at Worthing of 34:34 since he ran for Highgate in 2008.

13th Oct, 2021, Alastair Aitken

Mel the Great

Mel Watman, the great athletics journalist, died on 17 September 2021 from cancer aged 83. To my mind, Mel was the best international athletics journalist of the last 65 years coupled with being a statistical wizard. His Editorial years at Athletics Weekly were, and are, unparalleled.