ALEX TEUTEN continued his international learning curve with a good result for England in the Iris Cross Cup in Belgium.
The trip to Brussels completed an excellent 2016 for the 24-year-old athlete.
England sent a strong team with all four athletes in the top 14.
That was an impressive return in such a prestigious and well-established cross-country race.
Teuten finished 14th overall with a time of 27.41 for the difficult 9k course.
Morpeth’s Jonathan Taylor led the way for England with a time of 27min 02sec to finish fifth.
Graham Rush, of Cheltenham, took eighth place in 27.11, with Southend’s Adam Hickey ninth in 27.12.
Teuten found the course was not to his liking, with six laps of a twisty circuit and lots of ups and downs to contend with.
Being a tall athlete it makes it difficult to chop and change stride all the time.
He would have liked to have been a bit closer to his England team-mates but took plenty of positives from the experience.
Teuten said: ‘It was a very good event and I enjoyed it.
‘The start was quite vicious with a lot of elbows flying around.
‘Because of my size I’m not as good as others at picking my way through a crowded start and I lost a few places because of it.
‘I used a lot of energy trying to get in a good position and it put me down the field a little bit.
‘It’s difficult to get positions back later on in the race because everyone is running pretty much the same pace.
‘A bit more experience will help me and I’m getting it now, there’s a lot to be learned.
‘I don’t think the course suited me at all, it was six laps with lots of very sharp bends.
‘Because I’m tall I find it hard to check my stride and then pick up pace quickly.
‘It’s been like that at the county championships for me at Fleming Park for many years, I never seemed to run my best there.
‘You lose momentum and it’s hard to get it back.
‘It had a lot of hills on the course as well which I don’t like.
‘As a team we did very well and I don’t think I gave a bad account of myself.’
Things are certainly progressing nicely for Teuten, who made the tough decision to leave City of Portsmouth for Southampton recently.
He is becoming a regular in the national cross-country squads picked by England team boss Eamonn Martin.
And his brilliant performance in the Great South Run to finish seventh has also seen him handed his first international call-up for the road.
Next up for Teuten, who competed for Portsmouth for 16 years, will be the Hampshire cross-country championships on Saturday, January 7 at Fairthorne Manor, near Botley.
Then he flies out to Bermuda to race for England in the 10k on Saturday, January 14 and then the half-marathon on Sunday, January 15.