READING Athletic Club’s Jonathan Davies starred for Great Britain as they claimed the gold medal in the European Cross-Country Championships mixed relay in Lisbon.

Each team compromised two female and two male athletes, each running a lap of around 1,500m on a testing cross-country course, with twists, turns and ups-and-downs aplenty.

The running order for all of the teams was set as female-male-female-male – eliminating the often intriguing tactical element of choosing when to run males and females.

However, there was no less excitement as Sarah McDonald displayed GB’s intent from the outset, refusing to let herself be overhauled by Belarus as she handed over to James McMurray in first place in a time of 5m 00secs.

McMurray ran a very strong leg of 3:57 to extend GB’s lead over to four seconds and Alexandra Bell followed up with 4:34 to further extend the lead again to eight seconds as she handed over to Davies.

With such good work having been done on the earlier legs it was left to the former European Under 23 cross-country champion to bring home the baton safely and he did not disappoint, finishing in 4:26 to give GB victory over Belarus by a six-second margin, with France a further four seconds back.

Elsewhere, Reading AC’s Sarah Urwin-Mann finished her 2019 racing season on a high, winning a gold medal in the SEAA masters cross-country championships.

The race, for athletes aged over 40, was held at Horspath, Oxford, over a 6km course which included boggy fields and a challenging wooded section with mud, steep slopes and ditches.

Urwin-Mann set off with the leading pack and was always in contention for the lead.

She was the first finisher in the W45-49 age category and second overall in the race in a time of 24:37, just 12 seconds behind the race winner and five seconds ahead of third-placed Jess Franklin from Newbury.

Reading AC had three other women competitors who finished close together in the middle of the pack.

Julie Rayfield (W50) was 38th (29:23), Susan Francis (W50) was 40th (29:38), and Lynne Nike (W45) was 43rd (29:45).

Reading AC’s sole male competitor, Gerry O’Driscoll (M55), put in a solid performance in the men’s race over a 10km course of two laps, each including a large hill climb.

He finished 150th in a time of 44:55.

On Sunday, another of Reading AC’s veterans was in action in the ‘Andy Reading 10km Road Race’ near Bicester. Caroline Stevens clocked her fastest time for 11 years (45:57) to finish second in the W55 age category.