Highgate Harriers make winning start in chase for hat-trick of league titles

Audun Nordtveit

Audun Nordtveit - Credit: Archant

Norwegian international Audun Nordtveit swept to victory as Highgate Harriers took their first step towards a potential hat-trick of Metropolitan League successes.

Nordtveit was an impressive winner out of 417 finishers in Saturday’s league opener at Claybury, fighting it out with Thames Valley Harriers’ Mohamud Aadan and junior international Michael Callegari (Shaftesbury Barnet).

The Highgate man opened up a 20-metre lead after the first lap and he eventually crossed the line in a time of 24 minutes 35 seconds.

“I was most scared of Nick Torry of Serpentine but after half a lap I could not see him, so after that I decided to go,” said Nordtveit. “I thought my stamina was better than the other runners.

“I love cross-country. England is the home of cross-country running and I have been made welcome the last year by the Highgate Harriers family, which I have enjoyed being part of.”

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Torry had to settle for seventh place, behind Highgate Robel Bahelbi – who shot up the field to take fourth in 25:00 – a vast improvement on his previous performance in the league.

Despite a cold, Shaun Dixon was the next Harriers finisher in ninth place (25:19), with Ben Noad taking 11th (25:26), Danny Russell 16th and Ryan McKinley 21st (26:27).

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Fergal Smithwick came in 26th (26:39), with Robert Wilson 27th (26:47), Brahma Pochee 38th (27:20), Michael Dan 63rd (28:20), Jonny Laybourn 68th (28:29) and Peter Hawkings 70th (28:35).

Their combined efforts were more than enough to secure first place in the table for Highgate, with the next fixture due to be held at Stevenage on November 8.

Harriers’ B team took fourth place in Division Two, with Peter Downie (79th, 28:52), Oliver Kean (87th, 29:07) and Dominic Smith (99th, 29:38) all completing the race within half an hour.

Highgate’s Terry Fawden recorded his best placing in a league race as he finished second out of 74 runners in the Under-17 event, clocking 13:59 behind Daniel Carpenter (Trent Park).

Ninth-placed Aurel Sinko-Uribe (14:51) and Alistair Sleeman in 17th (15:14) were the next two finishers for the Harriers, who are second in the overall team standings.

There was an outstanding performance in the senior women’s race from Highgate’s Hannah Viner (22:39), who was the fastest Under-20 runner and fifth overall in a field of 169.

Viner was backed up by fellow Under-20 athlete Harriet Brock, who came 12th in 23:05, with Ashley Scott (17th, 23:24) and Imogen Turner (19th, 23:31) also well-placed.

Esther Pigney was Harriers’ sole representative in the Under-17 women’s race, finishing 31st in 19:06, while nine-year-old Karolina Bastien did well to take 23rd place in the Under-11 combined boys’ and girls’ event.

In the Under-13 boys’ race, Finlay Sleehan finished 31st (13:13), with Manny Pigney 39th (14:09).

Highgate are now preparing for Saturday’s South of England relay championships at Wormwood Scrubs.

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