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23rd Jan, 2022, Alastair Aitken

After the fourth Start Fitness Metropolitan League fixture at Wormwood Scrubs on Saturday, 15th January, Highgate Harriers men’s team are in first place in the top Division One, with 6,046 points and in second place are Victoria Park & Tower Hamlets with 5,127. That news should boost the men in the club, who go into the last match at Trent Park on the 19th of February.

In the squelching conditions, after all the rain, Highgate were far from put off. Their 12-man team were in the first 78 places out of the 439 finishers. The team were led in by Alex Lepretre, who had come second the previous week in the Middlesex Championships. At Wormwood Scrubs he was second again in 25:12 with Robel Bahelbi third in 25:39. The rest of the team were: 10, Sean Renfer, 26:06; 32, Roger Poolman, 27:08; 35, James Ross, 27:11; 36, James Barber, 27:12; 41, Lewis Greaves, 27:24; 43, Henry Murdoch, 27:34; 56, David Shepherd, 28:01; 57, Pete Chambers, 28:01; 62, Daniel Brewer 28:11; 78, Finlay Sleeman (U20) 28:46. 

Three people stood out for me and they were Alex Lepretre, who in deplorable conditions had been second in the Middlesex the Saturday before; Finlay Sleeman, the youngest in the team, making the cut as 12th man and, in 205th place, Chris Beecham, who some 12 to 15 years ago was one of the top two distance runners in the club and is still running well as an over 50-year old.

Currently one of Highgate Harriers’ best distance runners. who won a recent Met League, is Jacob Allen who was recently selected to run for England in Spain at Elgoibar. Despite a dodgy foot injury, he came home in 21st place. I’m sure we will hear a lot more of Allen in the future for the club as I think his best is yet to come!

Back at Wormwood Scrubs, Jack Bailey was third in the Under 17 Men’s race and his brother Liam was fifth in his race (Under 15 Boys).

Women in for a Grand Stand Finish?

Highgate Harriers women's team have been improving as the season goes on. The comfortable overall leaders at the moment in the team competition are London Heathside, after four of the five matches, with 1,396 points but up to second now are Highgate Harriers with 1,122 and third are Victoria Park & Tower Hamlets with 1,084. With a 'Super-Human effort' Highgate might pull it off. They have done it before at the last gasp.

The winner in the Senior Women’s race on Saturday the 15th was Jess Hawling of London Heathside (28:33), but in second place was Hannah Viner of Highgate. The times of the first six Highgate women scorers were: Hannah Viner 29:15; 4, Yasmin Goater, 30:22; 9 (1st Under 20) Ellen Donald, 31:04; 32, Emily Young, 32:54, 38, Mia Parry (Under 20) 33:21 and 42, Louise Faherty, 33:37.

Lauren Russell was fourth in the Under 17 Women’s race in 15:45. Izzy Ions was fifth in the Under 13 girls race, 12.27; 11th was Eloise Lindley and 12th Mia Cobbold.

Starting out in the youngest age group Highgate's Jack Cobbold was 26th of 48 in the Under 11 boys - not bad for a nine year old!