MIDDLE distance runner, Tom Lancashire, began his season in style when he chopped eight seconds off his personal best time for 3,000m.

The Turton 21-year-old opened up his 2007 campaign with a confidence-boosting run in New York Although Tom finished fifth in the New Balance Invitational meeting, he was just two seconds behind the winner of a top field in an event which is not his specialist distance.

The Bolton Harrier is in the fourth, and what is expected to be the final, year at Florida State University and is looking to build on a superb 2006 in which he broke through into the elite of British middle distance running.

He knocked several seconds off his 800m time, recording a personal best of 1min 45.76secs which put him second in the UK rankings at the distance.

Lancashire was disappointed not to transform his fast times into finishing in qualification for the European Championships last season and is determined to continue his progress this season.

His time of 8.09 in New York was a excellent start to his attempt to build up his strength and endurance ahead of the summer track season.

His new 3,000m mark puts him just outside the UK all-time under-23 top-10 at the distance.

That, and the fact that he was ranked second senior Brit at 800m last season, are just two of the statistics which make for impressive reading. Another is his fourth place in the all-time under-23 UK mile rankings.

Lancashire has the times to put fear into his British middle distance rivals and this season he is looking to add the strength and race craft to turn his fast times into winning races at 800m and the 1,500m.

To that end, he will concentrate on 3,000m during the winter indoor season, having spent the last few years developing his speed to great effect.

His aim in the summer is likely to be qualifying to run for Great Britain in the World Championships at the end of August.

Before that, he is looking to end what will probably be his final season in US collegiate athletics with victory in the US College Nationals at 1,500m, an event in which he took the silver medal last year after being pipped on the line.

Meanwhile, Bolton Harrier, Tom Carson, continued his fine cross country form with a top-10 finish in the Under-15 Boys' Northern Championships in Manchester's Heaton Park.

The Red Rose League champion's ninth place should give him confidence in this weekend's Greater Manchester Schools Championships at Marple Hall, where the top eight finishers will go on to represent the county at the English Schools Championships in March.