Harriers a step closer to cross-country title

Strong showing at Alexandra Palace gives club significant lead ahead of final race showdown

Thursday, 16th January 2020 — By Steve Barnett

Highgate Harriers Men

Highgate Harriers men showed the club’s ‘strength in depth’ at the testing Alexandra Palace meet

SENIOR men’s team captain Rob Wilson praised Highgate Harriers’ “strength in depth” as the club closed in on their eighth successive Division One title in the Met Cross-Country League.

Highgate finished second in the fourth of five meets on Saturday, ending the day just 14 points behind “surprise package” Victoria Park & Tower Hamlets Harriers at Alexandra Palace.

The result leaves both clubs with two wins each going into the final race at Trent Park on February 8, but Highgate have amassed a substantial lead along the way to give them a little breathing space ahead of the trip across north London.

“Despite finishing a close second place behind Victoria Park, we can take a lot of positives from the result,” said Wilson, who finished the race in 28mins, 16secs, to take 13th place out of a field of 497 finishers.

“Firstly, even in ­victory, Vicky Park were unable to make a meaningful dent in our lead at the top of the table, with our two resounding victories in fixtures two and three contributing significantly to a 255-point lead going into the final race.

“It’s a margin we can be confident in defending if our men run to form.

“Secondly, we had three men scoring for the ‘A’ team for the first time this season, testament to our squad’s depth, where this season we have over 20 men with credible claims to an ‘A’ team position.”

With the top 12 athletes to hit home scoring valuable points for their respective “A” teams, it was Alexander Lepretre who completed the course – which was just over 8km – first for Highgate at Alexandra Palace, clocking a time of 27:16 to take third place overall.

Highgate Harriers’ women runners enjoyed some impressive high-placed finishes on Saturday

Robel Bahelbi (27:23) was sixth, while Highgate continued to dominate the top end of the race with Murray Strain (27:45), Sean Renfer (27:53) and Charlie Haywood (27:53), finishing just eight seconds apart to take ninth, 10th and 11th place respectively.

Finsbury Park-based running club London Heathside are also enjoying a strong season, and are on course to finish third in the Senior Men’s Division One League.

The highest-placed finisher in their 12 to score was Seyfu Jamaal, who raced around the course in 27:18 to take fourth place overall.

Tom Aldred (27:56) also ran well to take 12th place, while other top scorers were Roger Maidment (29:04) and Charles Hardy (29:05), who were 27th and 28th respectively, Kimon Doulis (29:41) who was 41st and Ewan Gault (29:52) who was 45th.

The Heathsiders are, however, on course to scoop silverware in the Senior Women’s Division One League, having won three of the four meets so far, including at Alexandra Palace.

They compete over the same distance as the men’s team, but only the top six score points for the “A” team.

Highgate Harrier Jemima Storey tackles the Alexandra Palace mud

Beth Hawling was the fastest Heathsider home on Saturday as she completed the course in 32:16 to take third place out of 236 finishers.

She was closely ­followed by clubmate Rebecca Bunting (33:27) who was fifth, while Evangelista Divetain (34:06) finished in 10th place overall.

Other scorers were Brogan Wallace (34:32), who was 17th, Olivia Desborough (35 minutes flat), who was 23rd, and Annabel Litchfield (35:12), who was 27th.

Their combined efforts have helped London Heathside hold on to top spot in the table, sending them into the final race day in Cockfosters 123 points ahead of second place Victoria Park & Tower Hamlets Harriers.

Highgate’s senior women’s team go into the final meet 175 points off the pace in third place overall.

They finished third at Alexandra Palace despite the efforts of Nina Griffith, who finished second with her impressive time of 31:55. Victoria Walker (33:39) also ran well to finish in sixth place.

And there were also scoring finishes for Rachel Baker (35:14), who was 29th, Lisa Wenninger (35:55), who was 45th, Lucy Thraves (36:21), who was 48th, and Emily Young (37:33) who was 68th.

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