WILL Smith, of Oxenhope, finished second in his first international cross-country race.

In recognition of winning several prestigious races throughout the summer, Smith was selected for the England Masters Vet 40 Team in the International Masters Cross-Country Race in Swansea.

Six of the best Vet 40 runners from each nation were selected to compete in this perennial event at Singleton Park in Swansea.

This year the 8km course was firm underfoot which made for an intensive competition between the athletes.

Smith said: “After 25 years of running, this is the hardest I have ever worked.

“I set off with the mindset of - do or die, this was my first opportunity of competing for my country and I was determined to give everything I’ve got

“After about 3km, I passed an Irish runner and found myself in second place. I couldn’t quite believe that I was a medal contender.

"I could hear people shouting the runners behind me and I was convinced that I was going to get caught, but I just kept on fighting 100 per cent to the finish line”.

“I got some good scalps and am really happy with my silver medal."

England also won the team prize so Smith was awarded a gold team medal and silver individual medal.

He added: “A short rest period and then I’ll be focused on running for England in the next Masters international 10k road race in 2019,” says Smith.

“I just need to keep injury free and focused.

“I’ve had so much support from my friends, training mates, and team-mates at Halifax Harriers; it’s just been a massive team effort."

This continues Smith's fine year, as he found his best form since 2010 in the summer, by winning two classic Yorkshire Dales road races.

The three-time Keighley 10k winner has struggled with injury in recent years, but after changing clubs from Keighley & Craven AC to Halifax Harriers, Smith has changed his training methods and managed an injury-free summer of athletics.

Smith started his Dales racing campaign in September at the Littondale Four-Mile Road Race, which he led from gun to tape in a time of 21 minutes one second.

Then, Smith took on the tougher challenge of the undulating Burnsall 10-Mile Road Race.

The competition was much stronger in this race and Smith was pushed hard throughout the first half by on-form Jack Wood, of Ilkley Harriers.

Eventually the distance favoured veteran athlete Smith, who pulled away after six miles and finished in a time of 54.49.