The English National and Inter-Counties runner-up has gained his first GB vest for the European Cross Country Championships but his British team ambitions don’t stop there
Having represented England on the track, roads and cross country, Alex Teuten now aspires to do the same in a GB vest. After his runner-up finish at the Liverpool Cross Challenge, he has taken a big step toward achieving that goal.
Finishing behind Ben Connor at the trial race at Sefton Park on Saturday, Teuten secured a spot to make his British team debut at the European Cross Country Championships in Slovakia on December 10. Now he intends for this to mark just the start of an international success story.
“It’s been an absolute dream of mine,” he says. “Ever since I started athletics. As a kid you dream about representing your country.
“I’ve been building on previous results and getting stronger and that GB dream came ever so slightly closer into view every year.”
After his breakthrough at the start of this year, Teuten had been hoping to pull on a GB vest for the first time at the World Cross Country Championships in March, but British Athletics decided not to take a senior men’s team to Uganda.
Disappointed but undeterred, Teuten “pressed the reset button”.
“I got my head down and worked through it,” explains the 25-year-old, who won the BUCS cross country title before finishing as runner-up in the English National and Inter-Counties in February and March. “I don’t really think it was an indication of my ability that I didn’t go, I think it was just the costing and the circumstances which meant that on that occasion they weren’t going to send a team.
“I thought ‘I just need to keep this form and try and build on it if I can’ to try and put myself in contention for the next opportunity.”
“I’ve been building on previous results and getting stronger and that GB dream came ever so slightly closer into view every year”
After not making the World University Games in Taipei, Teuten turned his attention to securing a spot for Samorin. Feeling like he had perhaps over-raced during the summer, the Southampton athlete was careful not to make the same mistake again as he switched from the track to the roads and cross country.
“I think I learnt my lesson from the track and I really made sure that the races I did were significant and meaningful,” says Teuten, who competed at the Southern road relays in September before a Hampshire cross country league meet, a fourth-place finish at the Simplyhealth Great South Run and then 26th at the Cross Internacional de Atapuerca in Spain. “They really did bring me on, which meant I went into the trials in the best form I could have hoped.
“I thought my best realistic chance (to get a place on the British team) was to somehow grab a fourth-place finish in the race,” adds the Rod Lock-coached runner. “To finish second was just well beyond any of my or my coach’s aspirations. It was a huge surprise and a real dream come true, to be honest.”
Now Teuten is focused on making the most of the experience in Slovakia.
“I’ve been given this absolutely fantastic opportunity and I’ve got to get myself in peak shape just like I did for Liverpool and do it all over again,” he says.
“I’d like to really try to be a significant contributor to the GB team and hopefully we can come away with a team medal.
“Ben Connor is in fantastic form. He has beaten me twice by two seconds in the last month – once at Great South and again in Liverpool,” he adds. “I think we are both very evenly matched and I’d love to edge him!
“Obviously I want all the GB team to do as well as we can but, from a personal point of view, we’re so evenly matched I feel like I’m due a result where I edge him this time round!”
“I’d like to really try to be a significant contributor to the GB team and hopefully we can come away with a team medal”
Although Teuten has been working hard to gain a GB vest, just because he has one coming doesn’t mean that he plans to rest on his laurels.
“My attention is actually going to turn to the roads,” he explains, looking ahead to 2018. “I will go to the Euros, I will go to the Great Edinburgh XCountry if I am invited and then after that I’m going to look to try and qualify for the World Half Marathon Championships.
“I haven’t done that much on the road but I feel I am quite well suited to it,” adds the chemistry PhD student, who has a degree in chemistry with medicinal science and has so far run 65:54 for the half-marathon.
“I know I’ve got some quite good times. Certainly in training I’ve shown that I’ve been quite good on the road.
“The qualifying standard is only 65 minutes. I haven’t quite achieved that but I think I am capable of doing it, for sure, and it’s a matter of becoming as fast as I can and being one of those people who gets considered.
“I imagine this year, with such a rich vein of form from a lot of the British athletes, there’s going to be a lot of people under that qualifying standard so it’s going be a case of who has got one of the quickest times and who is going to be the most competitive at the World Half.
“Racing at the Manchester International completed my target of representing England on all three surfaces. So to do that for GB would be absolutely fantastic.
“It’s so surreal because to get one (GB vest) was a dream come true for me, it was such a big deal. But I’m already sort of looking ahead to see what I can do next – it’s the competitor in me!”
» See the November 30 edition of AW magazine for 10 pages of coverage from the Liverpool Cross Challenge