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28th Feb, 2024, Hannah Viner

Highgate’s junior contingent started the weekend with a bang, clocking six official PBs at Battersea Park.

Putting aside the deep disappointment of a national cross country championships cancelled by a bit of rain, the training partners made the most of a well-planned taper to hit the roads over the 5k distance.

Teenage talent Thomas Chadwick set out with intent, nestling comfortably in the lead group within the first 200m of the two-lap course. Following the lead bike, Thomas soon struck out on his own as he felt the pace drop around the 2.5km mark.

Fighting through a whole field of 10k runners, Harris Austin and Felix Kent worked well together to keep the pace honest in bright and still conditions.

Alex Mulvihill, with his usual expert pacing, forged his own path through the race while GB junior international Lauren Russell led Woody Nicole out before pulling away at the 3km mark.

Thomas took the tape in a 15:25, for a PB over the officially measured course and only three seconds shy of his parkrun best.

“There’s definitely more time there.” said the 17-year-old Thomas.

“I’m happy with my effort, but if I hadn’t had to battle through about a million people and if the bike hadn’t crashed into me at one point I could have gone close to sub 15.”

There was an exciting sprint finish to complete the men’s podium, with Harris (15:40) using his top-end speed to snatch 3rd in a big personal best time.

Felix (15:42) finished just two seconds back, smashing the 16 minute barrier for the first time.

“It’s been a long time coming but I’m really happy with my time,” said Felix.

“It’s nice for all the hard work I’ve put in this winter to show in a race like that. Harris and I worked with each other really well - next time I need to time my kick better!”

Lauren (16:55) was next of the team to cross the line, securing third spot in the women’s race. Fighting all the way to the end, she dipped under 17 minutes for the first time - another feather in the cap from an impressive season so far.

Team captain Woody Nicole (17:25), who had expertly organised a team trip to Telford for the national, closed the gate.

“Today wasn’t my day but I’m just pleased we manage to get a race together as a team after the nationals were cancelled.” said Woody.

“We’d booked ourselves an AirBnB for Friday night so we could make sure we could get to Telford and compete as a team. We’re all still gutted the race didn’t go ahead. If I had one message for the organisers it would be to do better and plan for rain in February!”