It was the undisputed race of the day with Lachlan Wellington agonisingly edged out for gold by his great rival Zakariya Mahamed at Parliament Hill in London on Sunday.
The duo are best of friends and year in, year out they are contending for all the major cross country titles.
City of Portsmouth’s Wellington went into Saturday’s South of England Championships with two convincing wins over his rival already this year.
He took gold in both the Hampshire Championships and the Hampshire Schools’ Championships.
But Southampton’s 2016 under-15 national champion Mahamed struck back in style.
He was given the nod in a photo-finish verdict after a thrilling race that captivated everyone watching.
Wellington had to settle for the silver medal – still a fantastic achievement as the two bottom years in the under-17 men’s age group left all the older top year athletes trailing behind.
Meanwhile, it was double delight in terms of medals for Portsmouth as another bottom year, Saffron Moore, picked up the silver in the under-15 girls’ race.
The Southern Championships is the first major target of the winter.
Wellington, 15, is coached by Vince Stamp and his June birthday makes him one of, if not the youngest in the under-17 men’s age group.
Moore, coached by Alex Budd, has matched Wellington’s success this winter as she added to her Hampshire title and Hampshire Schools’ title with her second place in the south.
Stamp said: ‘Everyone we spoke to from other clubs was saying the battle between Lachie (Lachlan) and Zak was the race of the day.
‘Watching it at the time we didn’t know who had won. It was so close.
‘Lachie is an honest lad and he said he felt Zak just got him.
‘Zak had the advantage because he was chasing Lachie who took the race on and dropped everyone one by one.
‘Zak caught him on the final corner but Lachie went away again, then Zak hit back.
‘They gave the time difference as one second but it was so tight.’
Mahamed was given a time of 19min 01sec, with Wellington clocked at 19.02 for the tough 6k course.
City’s Jacob O’Hara ran superbly as he finished 12th in 20.07 as a bottom year, along with Steven Cross who finished 61st (21.24).
Moore clocked a time of 16.34 in the 4k under-15 girls’ race to secure her silver, while Matilda Atkins ran well to place 43rd in 18.01, Nicole Ainsworth finished 46th in 18.05 and Bo Sansom was 95th in 18.51 as the team finished fourth.
Stamp added: ‘Saffron ran fantastically as we thought she would.
‘The quick downhill to the finish at Parliament Hill is good for her, she has a great kick in the final stages and had a five-second gap on Guildford’s Olivia McDonald who finished third.’