Thomas Ayeko regained the title that he held in 2013 with a smooth exhibition of running to win the Antrim International Cross Country at Greenmount.
The 23-year-old Ugandan was always prominent in the event sponsored by Antrim Borough Council. He came through at the end of the first of six circuits with only Commonwealth Steeplechase gold medallist Edwin Soi and Jonathan Ndiku both from Kenya for company.
Ayeko and Soi had opened a gap over Ndiku by half distance with Gideon Kimosop also Kenya next ahead of Lee Merrien, Andrew Maud and Dean Lacy who were disputing the Home Countries Championship.
Ayeko made his big effort on the final lap and came home to win by 13 seconds from Soi with Ndiku just clinching bronze from the fast finishing Kimosop. Andrew Maud took the Home Countries title from Dean Lacy with Olympic marathon star Lee Merrien from Guernsey third. Declan Reed ran superbly to lead the Northern Ireland team in 19th. Scott Rankin came 25th, Alan O’Hara 37th and Mark McKinstry 38th.
England won the Home Countries team from South and Midlands.
Steph Twell won at Greenmount back in 2009 and showed that she has recovered from three years of injury with a brilliant second in the Ladies.
Ethiopia stars Birtakan Fentealemu and Birtakan Adamu hit the front along with Twell. The trio were well clear at half distance before Fentealemu opened up to win by sixteen seconds from Twell with Adamu third.
Twell was delighted. “I have now recovered from injury, really enjoyed the race, and hope to make the Worlds in the summer,” she said.
Scottish champion Maddie Murray came fourth ahead of Slovenian Sonja Roman and took the Home Countries crown from Midlands pair Nicola Sykes and Jane Potter with England beating Midlands and Scotland to the team prize.
Emma Mitchell led the home side in 25th with Cathy McCourt 31st and Louise Smith 33rd.
Rebecca Murray, Jennifer Nesbitt and Elizabeth Mooney led England to a clean sweep in the U20 Women with Jonathan Davies and Joe Stewart of England leading the U20 Men. Kieran Woods in third led South of England to the team gold.
There were good Age Group wins for Cormac O’Rourke, Paul Carty and Dylan McBride with North Down Ladies scoring a treble through Murphy Millar, Megan Briggs and Amelia Tyler.
Meanwhile, Gideon Kimosop, fourth at Greenmount, returned less than 24 hours later to win the Jimmy Murray Memorial 10K Road Race promoted by East Down AC in Downpatrick.
Kimosop and Vincent Kiprotich, who also ran in the Antrim race, were well clear from the early stages and finished five seconds apart.
Holder Joe McAllister and Brendan Teer followed with Eamon White and Martin Cox making up the top six.
Selina Kangogo, ninth at Greenmount, had a runaway success in the Ladies event, finishing almost two minutes ahead of Rebecca Murtagh with Louise Smith, also in her second outing of the weekend, third in front of Denise Logue.