Keeping pace with Canterbury Harriers

CommunityAd go for a cool-down with the Canterbury based running club. 


Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, Canterbury Harriers is a running club that help promote running for all standards and ages for both sexes and CommunityAd had the pleasure of catching up with Chairman of the club, Melanie Christodoulou to find out more about this wonderful group…  


Can you give us some background information on your own relationship with running, when you joined Canterbury Harriers and your position with the club?

My name is Melanie Christodoulou and I have been the Chairman of the Canterbury Harriers since April 2021. I have been a member of the club since April 2014 and on the committee since 2015.


This year is Canterbury Harriers’ 30th anniversary, what would you say have been Canterbury Harriers’ most memorable moments during your time at the club? 

We have some 30th celebrations in the pipeline for our members to showcase the longevity of the club and say “thank you” for all the members’ continued support. I believe the most memorable moments during my time at the club is seeing the popularity of the Whitstable 10K event on the first May bank holiday each year grow to a point of selling out the day tickets go live for sale. We give thanks to all our members who volunteer their time at the event and also our past and current sponsors. We are very happy of the continued support of the last few years of our headline sponsor Furley Page LLP and our secondary sponsor Northover Cars.

Another key memorable moment for the club is seeing various members engaging in national and international competitions in both running and multi-sport. We have a multitude of members who have podiumed in these events and we are very proud of how they have developed in the sport, no matter your age.


Are you looking for any new members and for those reading who are interested, what would you say are the requirements to join the Harriers and how can they get in touch?

We are always in search for new members; the more the merrier in our eyes. We have many long-standing members which just goes to show how very much the club is loved by its members.

Training is supervised by our qualified coaches, headed by Yiannis Christodoulou who is a senior (UKA level 2) endurance coach. There is usually a variety of activities from hard hill sessions to leisurely long runs which in the summer are often in the picturesque countryside nearby.

The requirement for attending the club, which meets at 7pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays evenings, is that you are able to run at least 10 minute miles and sustain this for a 5 to 8 mile distance run. Please do check out our website and Beginners Guide to Running for more information.


From the club, have there been any noticeable athletes who have gone onto achieve some great success at senior level?

Absolutely – we have numerous athletes as follows:

  1. Yiannis Christodoulou (also our Head Coach) – Captained the GB Aquathlon Team at the World and European Championships, x2 National Aquathlon Champion in his AG and European Aquathlon Champion in his AG. He has now moved to Triathlon where he has competed at the World Sprint Triathlon Championships and has also won national medals at various distances.  He is the 2023 British Triathlon Ambassador.
  2. Peter Hogben – he has qualified for the World Ironman Championships and some of his performances have included a top 5 finish overall.
  3. Georgina Harland – a previous Harrier, who won the Modern Pentathlon Individual bronze at the 2004 Athens Olympics. She won an MBE last year and was the first female Team GB Chef de Mission at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.
  4. Dave Bowden – he has represented GB by winning a silver medal in the long distance Triathlon.
  5. Claire Pluckrose – she represents GB in her AG in various multi-sport disciplines which has included 3 podiums – x2 bronze and x1 silver medal.
  6. Barbara Wenman – she has represented England Masters in the VET 60 category and won.
  7. Simon Jones – he has represented GB in Aquathlons and has competed at x3 World Championships and x3 European Championships.


What makes Canterbury such a beautiful location to run through and is there a particular favourite route of the city that you like running past?

Canterbury has many undiscovered and hidden gems; it is no wonder our county is referred to as the Garden of England. It has many historical buildings amidst rolling green hills and orchids.  Canterbury Harriers is renowned for running past the iconic Canterbury Cathedral and it is this monumental building in Canterbury that is particularly favoured amongst myself and Harriers, showcasing the true essence of our club and our own club’s historical presence in the city.


Do you have any long term plans over the next 5-10 years for Canterbury Harriers?

In a world of increasing prices and supply issues, maintaining the viability of the club of the next 5 years is my aim as Chairman. I want to ensure that whilst we maintain a healthy club account to counteract any unforeseen expenditure and/or turmoil (such as what we experienced with COVID-19), that our members get the most out of the club be it through our cross-country races, summer relays, pub runs and internal club championships. The Canterbury Harriers is not just about running and gaining PBs; it is about building long-term relationships with other runners within the community and having fun along the way.

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