Swansea Harrier Kris Jones’ spectacular run of form continued at the latest leg of the British Athletics Cross Challenge in Scotland.
Having done the double at Boxing Day’s Glynneath 5 Mile race and New Year’s Eve Nos Galan 5K in his native South Wales, Jones returned to his adopted home north of the border to win the senior men’s race in Stirling.
In cold and extremely muddy conditions on Saturday, Jones produced a brilliant last lap to break away from a high-class field which included Scotland’s 2016 Olympic 5,000m finalist Andy Butchart
The multi-talented Welshman, who is also a world-class orienteer, broke the tape in 25.33, a full 10 seconds ahead of second-placed Jamie Crowe and England’s Adam Hickey, who finished a further six seconds back.
Jones, who now works and lives in Scotland and also competes for the Dundee Hawkhill Harriers where he is a training partner of Crowe, was delighted to claim his first British Athletics Cross Challenge victory.
A mud-spattered Jones said after the race: “I know Jamie really well and I know that he was in top form.
“I was starting to worry a bit when he came back to me in the finish. I just tried to stay with the leaders and then went.
“When Andy [Butchart] fell off I thought he was gone, but then he came back to me so I knew I had to push on there. It was a really tough field and hard work but just glad to come out on top.”
Butchart, who like Jones took a tumble during the race before finishing fourth, was full of praise for the winner after the race.
“Kris is really good in these kind of conditions, having been in the mountains and everything. He’s so good in the mud so he’s just going to run away,” said Butchart, who competed at last year’s World Athletics Championship in Doha.
As well as gaining individual glory in the British Athletics Cross Challenge race, Jones was also leading a strong Welsh team in the Home Countries XC International match.
Welsh teammate James Hunt, of Cardiff Athletics, finished a highly creditable fifth, while club mate Mathew Edwards was 29th to help Wales claim a silver medal in the Home Countries senior men’s international.
There was an excellent Welsh individual performance in the women’s senior race from Bronwen Owen, of Leeds City.
The former Welsh Cross Country Champion finished third behind England duo Kate Avery and Abbie Donnelly in a time of 29.39 to follow up her team bronze medal at the European Cross Country Championships in Lisbon last month.
Wales also won team silver medal in the Celtic International women’s under-20 race, where the team was led home by Menai’s Samia Jones, who finished ninth individually in 28.29.
The medal was clinched by Swansea Harrier Ashleigh Willis finishing 6th in 28.48 and Cardiff’s Nia Clatworthy 11th in 29.28.
And there was a third Welsh team silver medal in the men’s under-17 Celtic international match, inspired by Carmarthen Harriers Dafydd Jones, who was the first Welsh runner home in 10th place in 20.50, with club mate Frank Morgan following him home in 17th. Cardiff’s Jacob Reynolds was 33rd in 21.42.
There was further success for the Carmarthenshire club in the under-13 boys race where Iwan Thomas finished an impressive fifth in 12.24.