Highgate Harriers in pole position to complete Metropolitan League hat-trick

Highgate Harriers’ men are on course to win the Metropolitan League for the third year in a row, topping the table after the penultimate race on Saturday.

Led by second-placed Audun Nordtveit and third-placed Shaun Dixon, Highgate’s 12 scoring runners all finished inside the first 48 runners out of the 389 finishers at Horsenden Hill in Perivale.

That left the Harriers top of the table after four of the five meetings in the competition with 4,235 points, ahead of Serpentine (4,062).

Having won the title in 2013 and 2014, Highgate’s men have every chance of taking the crown again when the final race takes place at Wormwood Scrubs on February 7.

Lee Merrien of Newham & Essex Beagles won the three-lap race in 30:19 – but Nordveit (30:26) and Dixon (30:30) were close behind.

Ben Noad came 13th in 31:28 and Sean Renfer (19th in 32:06) was also in the top 20, followed by Jonny Laybourn (21st, 32:22), team captain Rob Wilson (24th, 32:31) and Robel Bahelbi (29th, 32:54).

Fergal Smithwick was 32nd in 33:03 ahead of Ryan McKinlay (35th, 33:19), and Greg Rimmer – who was 40th overall – was the second-fastest Under-20 runner in 33:51. Jonathan Deane was 43rd (33:59) and Peter Downie 48th (34:16).

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Meanwhile, Highgate’s men’s B team are in third position in Division Two following strong runs from Tom Christopher (34:23), Brahma Pochee (34:27), 63rd-placed Guillaume Cribier (34:46) and nine other Harriers runners.

The club’s ladies team were second with 278 points on Saturday, leaving them second overall in the Metropolitan League table with 1,030 – but leaders Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers are only 16 points ahead with 1,046 so the final encounter at the Scrubs is set to be a thrilling and decisive race.

Shaftesbury’s Rachel Felton won for the fourth time in the four league meetings, but Highgate’s Hannah Viner (23:54) – the first Under-20 finisher – was fifth and would have been battling for third if she had not suffered a heavy fall, cutting her knee.

Esther Evans – the first Over-40 runner – was eighth in 24:11, and Ashley Scott (24:11) and Harriet Brock (24:11) completed the top 10 out of the 140 finishers.

Emma Burgess was 21st (25:24), followed by Emma Dixon (41st, 26:34), Louise Faherty (47th, 27:19), Sophie Sheldrake (59th, 27.54), Sarah Bailey (71st, 28:39); and Natasha Cendrowicz (74th in 28.52).

In the junior section, Highgate were the best of the 70 clubs in the Under-17 boys’ race in Division One.

They secured 197 points at Horsenden Hill, just ahead of Trent Park (192) – but the roles are reversed in the overall table, with Trent Park leading on 901 points ahead of the Harriers (898).

Highgate’s Aurel Sinko-Uribe was seventh out of the 60 finishers in 13:33 and Alexander Machin-Paley came 10th in 13:43, ahead of Ben Hatch (126th in 13:59), Abel Sinko-Uribe (18th, 14:05), Adam Stewart (24th, 14:24) and Tal Pelmount (31st, 14:36).

The Harriers were missing their star man Terry Fawden, who was competing in the Independent Schools race, where he improved on last year’s 37th-place finish and came 14th out of 340 finishers as Highgate School earned seventh spot. The school’s girls team also contained a number of Harriers, and they were sixth.

The club only had two representatives in the Under-13 girls’ league at Horsenden Hill on Saturday, but Milly Dunne was 14th out of the 37 runners (13:56) and Isabella Millett was 16th in 14:01, leaving the team 11th out of the 19 clubs in the table.