Alex Teuten is preparing for his next big international test after making the difficult decision to leave City of Portsmouth and join Southampton.
The Iris Cross Cup in Belgium on Sunday is a prestigious event and England team manager Eamonn Martin has selected a strong squad.
Teuten, who has already represented his country in Spain this winter, travels alongside Southend’s Adam Hickey, Cheltenham runner Graham Rush and Morpeth’s Jonny Taylor.
The athletes were picked on the basis of their performances at the Liverpool Cross Challenge race.
Teuten ran well there to finish 13th in one of the best domestic cross-country races seen in this country for many years.
He then went on to take third place in the Victory 5 road race – his final outing in City of Portsmouth colours before changing clubs.
That was a tough move to make for the 24-year-old who has spent 16 years with the club where he started his running career.
He said: ‘It was difficult. They looked after me really well.
‘I owe them a lot, it was just the right time to go for my own career.
‘They are a very good club and I’ve had a great time with them.
‘They are well respected and they have big plans as well.
‘I’m at university in Southampton for at least another three years, though.
‘Pretty much all the running I do is in Southampton with my training group there and my coach Roderick Lock is there.
‘Having him to motivate you always helps. He knows his stuff.
‘It’s great for me to be going to Brussels for the Iris Cross Cup.
‘Eamonn has selected a very strong team and this is a real privilege.
‘Selection was based on how we did at Liverpool and I was happy with my run.
‘It was worth the trip, I was pleased with how I ran.
‘I thought top 15 would be good and I finished 13th.
‘The course is very unrelenting. A fast downhill start and the pace hurts you early on. You have to suffer from then on.
‘Because it was such a strong race everyone was on their game and had prepared properly for it.’
Teuten’s time of 29min 46sec in Liverpool was 45 seconds slower than Andy Vernon’s time (29.01) in third place.
The race was won by Andrew Butchart in 28.37, with fellow Great Britain international Callum Hawkins taking second place in 28.45.
Hawkins, Butchart and Vernon then led Great Britain’s team to gold in the European Cross-Country Championships in Italy.
So it shows the calibre of athlete Teuten was competing against.
He then switched back to the road impressively for the Victory 5.
It was a challenging race with a searing pace set from the start by the lead group.
Matt Sharp won in 23.41 but all the top athletes paid for the blistering start.
For Teuten, who finished in 23.57 to take third, it was an emotional occasion.
He said: ‘My run was okay. It was nice to represent the club in one of the big events.
‘The guys in front of me went off too fast and I probably shouldn’t have followed them.
‘If you look at the first mile time we were on for about 22.30 or 22.45.
‘But we lost quite a lot of time, there was more to be gained by holding back.
‘It’s a difficult decision based on quick thinking in the race.
‘I thought I should go with Matt Sharp and Phil Wicks, who finished second, based on recent races. But they are specialist road runners.
‘I was so close to them, it’s very encouraging. Maybe next year I could even win it. I guess it wouldn’t be quite the same winning in it Southampton colours but I’m still an athlete from Portsmouth.
‘I finished sixth last year and third this year so I’m going in the right direction.’