This week Stragglers from near and far joined friends and family of Keith Haworth to remember the life of one of our club’s founder members. We wanted to take the time to share, one or two brief reflections on the man who for many was the life and soul of the party that is the Stragglers. (Newer members won’t have experienced his legendary town crier-style announcements on a Thursday evening which we’re referencing here).
It was in 1981, following the introduction of the London Marathon, that a group of runners from Southwest London came together to form what became the Stragglers Running Club. Keith was a key personality throughout are rise, growth, development and evolution, and a vital player in many of the events we hold dear to this day. He held many official roles – chair, club captain, race director, event organiser – but what has really stood out in the weeks since his death is what he brought to the lives of others who have been part of the Stragglers and local running scene.
There were numerous comments and tributes shared to our Facebook page in the last couple of weeks. Many from people who have long since moved away from the club but who consider Keith to have been, as one person put it, “instrumental in my enjoyment of running”. Words like kind, welcoming, supportive, positive, and warm come up again and again, as does his commitment and hard work, the hours put in organising events including (but not limited to) Wedding Day and Cabbage Patch 10. This unstoppable dedication was recognised as Keith carried the Olympic torch passed then club HQ the Hawker Centre in 2012, a wonderfully proud day for him and the Stragglers.
Those who only knew Keith in his latter years, and saw his times at Bushy parkrun, may not have appreciated what a fast runner he was too. He’d have given the best of the club in 2023 a serious race. If in his day he’d have left many for dust, now he leaves memories, stories, friendships, lives touched and changed. A legacy reflected by how, whilst there are themes running through the tributes shared for Keith, everyone seems to have their own special, personal story to tell.
Keith will be greatly missed but long remembered, and we thank him for everything he brought to the world of running and beyond.