Athletes secure European age-group selection in 25-lap festival in north London

Jonny Mellor and Rhona Auckland won the elite races at the Highgate Harriers Night of the 10,000m PBs with emphatic finishes on Saturday night.

Auckland moved to third on the UK under-23 all-time list with her 32:28.32 after passing long-time leader Jess Coulson  (32:41.59 PB) with 300m to go and building up a 13-second margin as Aly Dixon was third (32:55.36 PB).

After the group of three went through halfway in 16:20, Coulson went into the lead at 6000m and then three laps which upped the pace from 81 to 75-76 seconds saw her three seconds clear of Auckland as Dixon dropped back. However, Coulson would later admit the sudden increase in pace probably cost her the race as Auckland made up a seven-second deficit over the last 800m.

Auckland, who was 19th in the World Cross Country Championships in March, secured an automatic place in the British team for the European Under-23 Championships in Tallinn in July, while Becky Straw, in fifth, was also inside the qualifying time with 33:52.91.

In the men’s race, Mellor moved into the lead for the first time with four laps remaining and rapidly made daylight between himself and the chasing Dewi Griffiths as he went on to clock 28:46.80. Griffiths was second with 28:55.24, one place ahead of Ben Lindsay, who clocked 29:02.93.

Early leader Jonathan Davies easily gained the European junior qualifier and automatic berth with 29:24.07.

No one was inside the World Championship and Olympic qualifying times of 27:45 for Worlds and 28:00 for Olympics (men) and 32:00 for Worlds and 32:15 for Olympics (women).

In the B race – won by 40-year-old Kojo Kyereme with his his fastest track or road time for four years of 30:08 (unofficial) – Jack Rowe ensured his place on the team for the European Junior Championships in Tallinn, Estonia, with a clocking of 30:23.29.

Three other graded races earlier on provided a great opportunity for good club athletes to have good competition in front of knowledgeable spectators who were able to cheer from lane three, albeit having to run in the warm and windy conditions which quickly became much more favourable as the programme moved on to the elites.

Former world 10,000m record-holder Dave Bedford and five-time world snooker champion and 34-minute 10km runner Ronnie O’Sullivan presented the prizes.

» See next week’s Athletics Weekly magazine for more in-depth coverage and pictures