Barnstaple runner Phil Norman raced for England on Saturday at the Home Countries International Cross Country in Belfast.

Norman finished with a time of 30mins, 59secs in the 10km race, which doubled up as the IAAF Northern Ireland International, a time that saw him finish ninth overall.

The top four spots were taken by African athletes racing in the IAAF event. Bahrain's Birhanu Balew finished first with a time of 29mins, 46secs. Kenya's Richard Yator, Ethiopia's Chala Beyo, and Kenya's Rio Olympics 10,000m silver medallist Paul Tanui completed the top four.

Norman's time meant he was fourth overall in the home countries race, helping England take victory in the men's open category.

“I felt I ran my race well,” said the 29-year-old, who has now represented England on the track, road and in cross country.

“I was in contention with the other guys until through til six or seven kilometres then a gap opened and I lost the pace a little.

“I was never able to get back on terms after that. The distance between me and first in the home counties was 16 seconds, it wasn't much of a gap.

“It just wasn't there at the end of the race when I needed to use my track strength. I'm happy with the run though.”

While it was a good run, Norman's focus for the year ahead is the track. After missing out on the European Championships last year, the target for 2019 is the World Athletics Championships in Doha in September.

Norman said: “I missed out on the qualifying time for the European Championships by three seconds last year. I've got a new coach since last summer and a different training plan and things are working really well.

“The target is the Worlds in Doha in September. Everything at the moment is going towards that and that's the focus, the 3,000m steeplechase.”