ALEX Short was left asking the question ‘what might have been?’ after he finished fifth in the junior men’s race at the English Cross-Country Championships in Nottingham.
The 19-year-old was leading for large parts of the 10km race at Wollaton Park but feels he missed his opportunity to win the race by getting his tactics wrong at the crucial point.
The former Southend High School for Boys pupil said: “I do feel a bit frustrated. I had tapered so well for the race and went into it feeling really fresh.
“But I left it too late. I should have pushed it on going up the hill on the final lap but got myself boxed in a bit and couldn’t make a move. I tried to go on the downhill on the other side but it was too late because the course was so quick it was not possible to get a gap.”
Short’s bid for glory was eventually ended on the boggiest section of the course where he found himself stuck down in the mud while the rest of the lead group pulled away.
“I found it so heavy-going that I almost came to a stand-still in the mud,” said Short, who runs for Chelmsford AC.
“Even on the first lap I lost 10m and had to work my back after getting bogged down in that section. But I couldn’t close that gap on the second lap, it was just too much because it was so close to the finish.
“In hindsight, no matter how tired I was, I should have thrown everything at getting through that section because I felt so fresh coming into the finish.
“It is frustrating. I felt tactically I ran a poor race but I can’t be too disappointed. A few years ago I would have been happy just to have got into the top 30 so I’m really pleased and proud to have come fifth.
“It was a great experience too. I was at the front for a decent amount of time and the size of the crowds at some point along the course was just amazing. To be part of that was fantastic.”
The event was the final race of Short’s junior career and brought an end to a breakthrough cross-country season that saw him represent Great Britain at the European Cross-Country Championships last December.
The Cambridge University student is not competing at the UK Intercounties Championships next weekend because of study commitments.
So he will now turn his attention to the track season.
“The confidence in my ability has dramatically increased this winter,” said Short. “I’m on a week off now and then am going to start hitting the track.
“The last two or three years I have not really had a track season because of my studies. Last year I just stepped on the track twice I think, so it’s going to feel like a new challenge for me and I’m looking forward to it.”