Former triathlete Calum Johnson roared back to form with victory in the men’s senior race at the British Athletics Inter Counties Cross Country Championships.
The 2220 English National XC champion has his sights sets on a first marathon next month.
But it clearly hasn’t blunted his speed as he paced his 10km effort to perfection, biding his time when Zakariya Mahamed opened up a clear advantage.
Gateshead Harrier Johnson, representing the North East, kicked on the last big climb, surging into the lead, and he never looked back.
Marathon training pays dividends
He crossed the line in 33:03, with Mahamad (Hampshire) 21 seconds back and Daniel Haworth (Derbyshire) a further 10 seconds adrift in third.
Speaking to uka.org.uk, Johnson explained, “I just used the hills and the mud to get back towards them. I’m in hard training at the moment as I’m aiming for a marathon in April, so I knew I had the strength.
“I haven’t done the 5/10km work, so I knew I had to be careful at the start to not go off too fast. I paced it well, so I’m really pleased.”
On the horizon for Johnson, who has a half marathon PB of 63:44, is the Wrexham Marathon in late April.
In the women’s race the victory went to Mhairi MacLennan (Scotland North).
She came out on top after a protracted battle with Jess Gibbon (Oxfordshire), with just eight seconds separating them on the line as MacLennon stopped the clock in 30:51 for the 8km.