Alex Teuten marked his return from a foot injury with an excellent run for England in the Belfast Home Countries Cross Country International.
The athlete, from Southsea, was in superb form among a high-quality field as the race also formed part three of the prestigious British Athletics Cross Challenge Series.
He was fresh and relished being back competing at the sharp end among some of the world’s best cross-country athletes in Dundonald, Belfast, after a short spell out troubled by a tendon problem.
The injury was a setback for his training and race plans but he can now look forward to the big winter events ahead.
Finishing second in the Home Countries field and third among those competing in the Cross Challenge certainly provided a nice confidence boost.
He said: ‘I was pleased with my race.
‘I've been struggling with a tendon injury in my foot which kept me off running for practically two weeks at the start of the year.
‘But the cross training has helped to keep me fit.
‘It is quite a busy schedule going forward, with BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport Cross Country Championships) and then an international in Belgium the weekend after, followed by the nationals and the inter-counties cross country.’
The Inter Counties Championships in March at Prestwold Hall in Loughborough promises to be a great occasion with the event also the trials for the World Cross Country Championships in Denmark and the finale to the Cross Challenge.
Teuten added: ‘Saturday's result has put me in contention for a good placing in the British Cross Challenge Series, for which the final race (the inter-counties) counts double, as well as being the World XC trials for which GB might send a team. Lots to look forward to.’
Saturday's race, over approximately 10k, saw many top-class international athletes battling at the front of the field.
Bahrain’s Birhanu Balew won in 29min 42sec with Kenya’s Richard Yator second (29.46) and Ethiopian Chala Beyo third (29.48).
Kenya’s Paul Tanui, the Olympic 10,000m silver medallist, was the pre-race favourite but faded to finish fourth in 29.53.
Sam Stabler took first position in the Cross Challenge as he finished in fifth (30.33) and Welshman Charlie Hulson won the Home Countries title as he finished sixth (30.43).
Teuten, who represents Southampton now after previously competing for his home club City of Portsmouth, finished next in 30.46.
It was a good progressive run with his final mile of 4.59 his quickest of the race.
Meanwhile, his club-mate Zak Mahamed won the under-20 Home Countries title for England in Belfast.
The talented Southampton teenager was in outstanding form again to win by a clear margin after also winning in Spain the previous weekend.