Abel makes a remarkable comeback to lead Highgate Harriers’ women to victory

Svenja Abel made a remarkable comeback after six years out as she led Highgate Harriers’ women’s team to victory in their opening Metropolitan League race.

Abel – whose previous cross-country race had been in 2009 – was the fastest Highgate finisher at Claybury Park, Woodford, taking second place in a time of 21 minutes 11 seconds.

She was followed by Harriers team-mate Hannah Viner, who produced her best ever run in the senior race to finish third in 22:04, as well as being the first Under-20 runner across the line.

Highgate’s four remaining scorers also finished inside the top 20 in a field of 183, with Ashley Scott-Wilson continuing her recovery from a bout of glandular fever by taking fifth place (22:16).

Alex Gounelas (22:52) took 12th place, followed by Hattie Brock (22:55) and the improving Emma Burgess (23:34) in 14th and 19th respectively.

Highgate’s B team finished fifth out of 10 clubs, with Anna McCutcheon (24:50) their first to score in 37th place, followed by Sarah Bailey (26:01) in 59th.

n Chris Rainsford and Robel Bahelbi headed the Harriers men’s contingent at Claybury, where they were narrowly edged into second place by host club Woodford Green & Essex Ladies.

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Rainsford, who was one of the early leaders, eventually finished fifth (25:23) in a field of over 400, with Bahelbi one place and one second behind him to clinch his best league showing to date.

Rob Wilson (14th, 26:18) was the next runner to finish the course for the defending league champions.

He was followed by Ben Pochee, the fastest veteran in 15th (26:20), Fergal Smithwick (21st, 26:43), Jon Laybourn (26th, 27:07) and Sean Renfer (28th, 27:12).

Peter Downie (47th, 28:17), Laurent-Oliver Liote (55th, 28:34), Oliver Kean (63rd, 28:55), Tom Christopher (70th, 29:11) and Michael Ussher (78th, 29:23) also completed the race.

Dave Gilbert was the first man home for the Harriers’ B team, finishing 86th in a time of 29:35.

Meanwhile, Highgate’s Terry Fawden achieved his best ever league result as he sped to victory in the Under-17 race at Claybury, clocking 13:29 over the 4km course.

Fawden held off Jamie Philpott (Herts Phoenix) and 15-year-old Jamie Harper of Shaftesbury Barnet to win by 14 seconds and seal Harriers’ success in the team event.

He was given strong support by Aurel Sinko-Uribe (ninth, 13:43), Tal Pelmont (11th, 14:53), Ram Choudhury (12th, 14:53), Austin Harris (18th, 15:05), Oliver Kemp (23rd, 15:23), Adam Stewart (25th, 15:26), Alistair Sleeman (29th, 15:36), Abel Sinko-Uribe (33rd, 15:41), Gabriel Barnet (66th, 16:37) and Raphael Rossiter (79th, 17:35).

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