Highgate Harriers achieve best ever result in National Cross-Country Relay Championships

Highgate Harriers’ men enjoyed their best ever result in the National Cross-Country Relay Championships on Saturday, finishing second out of a record 149 clubs.

Highgate had finished third in 2014 – at the time their best result since the event began in 1985.

However, they reached new heights in Mansfield at the weekend, with the quartet of Chris Rainsford, Shaun Dixon, Audun Nordtveit and Andy Maud securing silver medals and only missing out on the title by a fraction of a second after completing 5km each.

The victors, Morpeth Harriers, and Highgate both posted a time of one hour one minute and 39 seconds, while Tonbridge AC were third in 1:02:07 – all of them overhauling last year’s winners Stockport.

Rainsford ran the first leg in 15:27 and, although he handed over in 18th place, he was only 20 seconds behind the leader Ben Connors (Derby).

Dixon (15:37) then took the team up to fifth in 15:37 and Nordtveit (15:24) finished his stint in third spot before Maud shot up to second in 15:30 – the fifth fastest time of the individual runners at the event – while just failing to grab first place on the line.

Highgate’s B team also performed well, coming 26th. Robel Bahelbi clocked 16:11 – the best time of all the B-string runners – and Peter Chambers posted 16:49 before Peter Hawkings (16:59) and Oliver Kean (17:40) finished the job.

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That strength in depth, combined with Highgate’s previous victories in the North of Thames and Southern cross-country relays, will boost their hopes of a strong performance in their second Metropolitan League fixture at Stevenage on Saturday as they bid to overhaul the early leaders Woodford Green.

Meanwhile, the women’s teams consisted of three runners, completing 3km – but the Harriers only had two entrants, with Louise Faherty finishing 25th in 10:18 and Emma Burgess going round in 11:23 to leave Highgate 30th out of 102 clubs.

Highgate’s Under-17 men’s team – who also ran three 3km legs – were 11th. Terry Fawden was the quickest member of the side, finishing fourth in 9:05, followed by Louis Griffin (9:52) and Dempster Fawden (9:55).

Georgia Fear was the only Highgate runner to start the junior women’s race but she posted 8:47 over her 3km run and finished in eighth place, while ending up as the 10th fastest ‘team’ out of the 24 that took part.

The Under-15 girls managed a rather better turn-out, fielding two teams which competed against 83 other club trios – and they came 20th and 69th respectively.

Phoebe Littler was the fastest runner in the A side over her 2km lap, coming in 16th in 7:23, and Sasha Fear (7:51) then took the team up to 14th place before Emma Willetts (7:57) brought them home. The B team was made up of Constanza Di Borgoricco (8:05), Hannah Sekkides (8:57) and Daisy Griffin (8:29).

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