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10th Apr, 2024, Hannah Viner

Highgate Harriers cemented its place in the British running club elite, with a combined 2nd position at the National Road Relays at the weekend.  

On the women’s side, the prodigal return of Ashley Scott-Wilson to the team was met with much excitement from all, especially relays hype woman Yasmin Goater.

“With Ashley back in the team, there was no doubt we were in for a special performance today.” Said Yasmin.

And so it proved…

Highgate 5000m record holder, Rebecca Johnson set the tone, keeping up with a blistering early pace set by Thames Valley and Leeds City on leg one.

In her debut on the “dreaded” long leg, Johnson showed her winter endurance training had paid off, staying in touch with the leaders and crossing the line in 4th (30:10) and posting the 4th fastest long leg time on the day.

“I’ve been working hard on my consistency,” said the junior doctor. “It’s always a challenge working in a hospital as not picking up winter illnesses is practically impossible.”

Though the sun shone down on Sutton Park, Storm Kathleen made her presence known, forcing the Highgate gazebo to be hastily taken down lest it go the way of trampolines and wheelie bins in powerful gusts.  

“All things considered, I’m pleased with my leg though I didn’t think the home straight into the wind would ever end!”

Johnson’s strong start set up Hannah Viner well on the second leg. Viner, who is building back up from injury last autumn, was able to pick off a couple of runners early doors, bringing the team up into second place. Her run (17:43) matched Johnson’s position for the 4th fastest short leg on the day.

Yasmin, who was recovering from illness over the last couple of weeks, was able to consolidate the team’s position, holding off big hitters including Aldershot’s Amy Griffiths who clocked the fastest short leg of the day. Gaining momentum with every mile, Goater (18:45) passed the metaphorical baton to marathon queen Jemima Renfer.

What happens beyond the stone, stays beyond the stone but there are rumours that Renfer was vocally cursing the team manager’s decision to “force” her to run a long leg.

Despite these rumours, Renfer (33:46) showed true grit to keep her cool after being passed by athletes including GB marathon runner Sonia Samuels early on in her leg.  

Nicole Edmunds (19:22) took up the running in her first outing at Sutton Park, closing on Aldershot and Belgrave who now sat in 4th and 5th.

“I had a great time out there today. This isn’t the last time you’ll see me at the relays” Edmunds said. “I’m running London in a couple of weeks - but only to get round as it’s for charity. This was a nice way to get some speed into my legs before I tackle 26.2 miles.”

And then all eyes turned to Ashley Scott-Wilson who showed her class once again to pick off Aldershot’s last leg runner and bring the team home in a classy 5th place.

“It feels good to be back. I’m glad I could deliver for the team. The others put themselves on the line today and the least I could do was catch the girl in front!”

Special shout out to Natasha Cendrowicz (40:05) who took the first leg for the B team and delivered exceptional chocolate chip cookies which helped to fuel the important part the women’s team played in supporting the men’s team to their podium finish.