ALEX Teuten is celebrating his first Great Britain vest after running the race of his life in the European Cross-Country Trials at Liverpool.

The 25-year-old Southampton AC athlete exceeded all expectations by finishing second in a quality field at a muddy Sefton Park.

It clinched him automatic qualification for the European Championships in Samorin, Slovakia, on Sunday, December 10.

Teuten will be joined on the plane by Southampton clubmate Mo Mahamed who booked his Euro ticket by finishing top under-23 in Liverpool and placing sixth overall.

By his own admission, it came as a huge surprise to Teuten that he was able to “mix with such a star-studded field” in the Trials and achieve his boyhood ambition of donning the red, white and blue.

By the time the second lap came around, he was in a five-man battle for supremacy, knowing only four would automatically qualify.

When a couple began to falter, he boldly made a break for it, overtook Cross Challenge winner Sam Stabler and had leader Ben Connor in his sights.

Ultimately he ran out of legs, leaving Derby AC's Connor to claim the honours by a two-second margin in 30 minutes 18 seconds to Teuten's 30.20. Stabler was a further six seconds back in 30.26.

After the initial disappointment of missing out by such a slender margin, Teuten – who is studying a PhD in chemistry at the University of Southampton – felt proud to have beaten the likes of double Olympian Andy Vernon from Aldershot, Farnham & District, who finished ninth in 30.45.

He smiled: "This is huge for me.

“I’ve represented England on quite a few occasions, but that’s seen more as a developmental vest.

“GB vests are for the big events like the Worlds and Europeans when they send the strongest teams.

“I’ve more than exceeded even my wildest and most optimistic ambition of gaining an automatic qualifying position for the Euros.

“Nine months ago I was disappointed to miss out on a place at the World Cross-Country Championships because Britain didn’t send a team, but I sat down with my coach Rod Lock to draw up a plan and it all came together when it mattered.

“I’ve been with Rod for five years since I’ve been at university and it’s a testament to him that I went into the Trials in such fantastic shape. The preparations were the best we could have hoped for.

"It's all I’ve ever wanted in this sport, to wear the GB vest at a major championship race.

"I’ve been given an incredible opportunity to represent GB, and I will do everything I can to do us proud and help place us as high as we can at the Europeans."

As an under-23 athlete, Mahamed will run in a different race to Teuten in the BBC 2-televised event in Slovakia.

“It’s great that Mo will be there as well and what an honour for Southampton to have two guys representing Great Britain,” said Teuten.

“Credit to Mo and to his coach Pete Haynes who did well to get him in shape.”

Mahamed, who clocked 30.40 in Liverpool, will be looking to build on his European U20 bronze medal achieved in Chia, Italy, last year.