Herbert’s Hole ends in a thrilling dead heat
IT hardly have been a more fitting result when the 22nd Herbert’s Hole ended in a dead heat involving Highgate Harrier Ryan McKinlay.
In an incredible coincidence, it was a Highgate Harrier who 100 years ago won the National Cross Country Championship held over a similar course, which this year’s Herbert’s Hole, organised by Chiltern Harriers AC, was held in commemoration of.
The 1914 event, held just months before the outbreak of the First World War, was won by 25-year-old steeplechaser Charlie Ruffell, and the Olympian went on to serve as a Sapper in the Royal Engineers.
This time, it was another steeplechaser from the same club who triumphed in Sunday’s race in Chesham, although he had to share his victory.
In the most exciting climax to the race in years, McKinley fought to the line with good friend Tom Beedell, a former Chiltern Harrier who now competes for Woodford Green & Essex. The pair finished the approximately 10.5km multiterrain course in joint first in an impressive 36mins 24secs, but the historic result almost did not happen.
McKinley, a two-time Scottish steeplechase champion, only entered at the last minute, emailing race director Tony Molesworth on the eve of the race to ask to take part, even though the entry deadline had passed.
McKinley wrote to Molesworth: “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.”
McKinley was among 250 runners who set out from Lowndes Park in mild but overcast conditions, and McKinley and Beedell were followed home by Chiltern Harriers’ Eddie O’Gorman (Vet 40) in 38:15.
Philippa Keast took victory in the ladies race in 45:04. She was followed by Ali Young (45:39) and Sandra Reynolds (46:43), both Vet 45s running for the Chiltern club.
The home club took both the men’s and ladies team prizes, with the scoring members being O’Gorman, Alistair MelvilleSmith, Richard Quantrill, Andrew Wiseall, Young, Reynolds, Ellie Bates and Lean Ni Chiobhain.
INSEPARABLE: Friends Tom Beedell and Ryan McKinlay cross the line together