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14th Feb, 2024, Chris Rainsford

Lauren Russell made it two stellar podium finishes in three weeks at the Lotto CrossCup event in Diest, Belgium last weekend.

The young prospect followed up her strident third-place at the South of England Cross Country Championships in Beckenham last month with second place against a rich international field.

The 17-year-old was selected to represent the South after her performance last month, and finished just five seconds behind the winner, England’s India Barwell, in the Junior Women’s race.

“I wasn’t expecting to be so close to the front for so long, especially as some of the girls are up to two years older than me,” said an elated Lauren.

“I gained a lot of confidence from the way I raced in Beckenham and just took that same approach into today’s race. It paid off!”

The Muswell Hill native led for the majority of the race in south London last month and her bravery was eventually rewarded with bronze.

She climbed a step higher on the podium this time against stronger opposition, man-made hurdles and all, a performance that bodes well for the GB mountain runner’s forthcoming assault on both the mountains and track this summer.

“I really enjoyed my time on the mountains last summer and would love to experience more of the same this year,” said Lauren, who was part of the Great Britain team that won gold at the World Mountain and Trail Running Championships in Austria last June.

“I’ll start this summer with trying to qualify for the European Off-Road Championships at the end of May.

“As it’s also my final year on the track for English Schools, I will aim to get a bit faster over shorter distances before targeting the 3,000m again in July.”