Highgate Harriers star pays his respects to club legend in ‘historically significant race’

Highgate Harriers' Ryan McKinlay (right) finishes in a dead heat with his good friend Tom Beedell. P

Highgate Harriers' Ryan McKinlay (right) finishes in a dead heat with his good friend Tom Beedell. Pic: Martyn Loach - Credit: Archant

Highgate Harriers’ Ryan McKinlay made a passionate plea to be allowed to enter a “historically significant race” on Sunday – and he ended up coming joint first after a dead heat with his good friend Tom Beedell.

It is 100 years since the 1914 National Cross-country Championship in Chesham, Buckinghamshire, which was held months before the outbreak of the First World War.

That race was won by Charlie Ruffell, who represented Highgate Harriers and competed at the 1912 Olympics before going on to serve with the Royal Engineers during the war.

Sunday’s 22nd Herbert’s Hole multi-terrain race in Chesham commemorated that 1914 event.

McKinlay had taken part in the London Championships the previous day – helping Highgate’s men to victory – and he was not due to compete in Chesham, having missed the deadline for entries.

However, the 28-year-old emailed the race director Tony Molesworth, writing: “As you are aware, 100 years ago a Highgate Harrier won here before the outbreak of the war and as a mark of respect I would like to be given the opportunity to run in this historically significant race.”

McKinlay was allowed to take his place on the start line and, in the most exciting climax to the event for years, he finished joint first with his friend Beedell (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies), as the pair completed the approximately 10.5km course in 36 minutes 24 seconds.

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After the race, McKinlay said: “It was very hard because I didn’t have fresh legs, but it was important for me to honour the memory not just of Charlie but all the men who raced that day, and the great athletes from other clubs who went off to fight in the war.

“It really brings it home to you, what those guys did. Running was a way for me to pay my respects.”

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