DEVIZES runner Ed Knudsen saw a medal snatched from his grasp in the final moments of the South West Cross Country Championships last weekend.

The Wiltshire man ran a bold, if slightly over-cooked, race as he took on eventual winner Jake Smith over four laps around Aldon Hill County Park, near Yeovil.

British junior international track runner Smith was a surprise starter for his first cross country race of the season having already run a stunning British Under 23 half-marathon record of 62mins 02secs in Paris before Christmas.

And with another PB of 8mins 11secs over 3000m indoors, Smith was the red-hot favourite.

Knudsen can take great heart that he kept his form well as Smith strode off into the distance and he latched onto Bristol & West’s Tri-Counties champion Felix McGrath in a battle for silver and bronze.

Unfortunately, that effort took its toll and up the final hill he was reeled in by McGrath’s team-mate Kurt Taylor, who had worked his way through the field and caught Knudsen on the long downhill sweep to the finish line.

“The tank was literally empty,” said Knudsen, who had to settle for an honourable fourth and top Wiltshire runner.

“To be honest I didn’t know who Jake was, but I do now!

“I got to the front of the race early on and he joined me and I didn’t realise just how fast we were travelling until we reached the big hill for the first time.

“Usually I am quite strong, but there was not much there in my legs and I knew then I had gone off too hard but it was too late.

“In hindsight I could have run a smarter race but hindsight is a wonderful thing and overall I am happy with that.

“It was a good blow-out after Christmas and now I need to get back down to some hard work in training.”

There was also a Wiltshire vest to the fore of the senior women’s race and Devizes-born athlete Alice Murray-Gourlay produced her best performance in the event to finish third.

Murray-Gourlay added a second bronze in the county team event with solid support from Avon Valley Runners’ Bethan Francis and Gemma Knudsen plus Emma Hines of Chippenham Harriers.

In addition AVR’s Diane Hier won the veterans’ over 55s prize.

While Knudsen lost his medal in the home straight, Chippenham-based youngster Harry Maxwell transformed his from bronze to silver with a superb late surge in the closing 20 metres of the under 13 boys’ race.