Adam Hickey warmed up for the European Cross-Country trials next week with a strong run in the colours of his country.
The 24-year-old was part of the England team running in a world-class IAAF World Cross-Country meeting in Burgos, Spain.
Hickey finished the 9.8km course in an impressive 30m 6s to come home the third Englishman and 43rd overall in a field that contained some of the very best cross-country runners in the world.
And the Southend AC athlete says the run has boosted his confidence following, by his own admission, a below par race at the McCain Cross-Country in Bristol three weeks ago.
“It was a solid race,” he said. “I’m still a bit disappointed with the finish, but I had a tough time in Bristol and this has helped overcome that.
“I set off a bit more steadily because I had the run in Bristol in mind and I wish I hadn’t now and instead I had gone off with the aim to hold my ground rather than work my way through.
“I was picking people off, but got to a point where the top Spanish runners going for their European Cross-Country team and beyond them the top Africans are too far ahead.”
Nevertheless, the run has lifted Hickey’s sprits ahead of our own European Cross-Country trials at Liverpool next weekend.
Making the team for Budapest is not at the top of Hickey’s priorities – he and coach Eamonn Martin have decided to focus his efforts on the World Cross-Country Championship trials in March – but he is determined to head north and run well.
“I’m still going to be competitive and go for it,” he said. “I’m not writing off my chances and I still want to go for the team.
“But the World Cross trials are my aim and this is also a chance to see where I am and really get the Bristol race out of my system.”
The Burgos meeting was won by the reigning World Cross-Country Champion, Imane Merga, in 28m 7s.
The Ethiopian beat the Kenyan Vincent Chepkok, who was third at the last World Cross, in a sprint to the line.