RUTH Barnes enjoyed a dream international debut as she smashed her personal best at the Granollers Half Marathon in Spain.

Representing England for the first time, the 39-year-old member of Avon Valley Runners showed she can perform on the big stage as she finished second overall behind the Kenyan winner with a time of 74mins 59secs to carve 33 seconds off her previous best.

“I am absolutely thrilled,” said Barnes.

“I must admit I turned up with the England team definitely feeling the underdog when I learned that all the others were full-time.

“So to come away having finished top England runner is so pleasing.”

Moreover Barnes reckons the course wasn’t the quickest she has ever run so feels there is plenty of room for further improvement.

“It was actually quite hilly so I reckon on a flat course I cold go lot quicker,” said Barnes.

“The Kenyan (athlete) won in 72 minutes but she has a best of 68 minutes so that makes me think there might be another minute or so there.

“I also finished really strongly in contrast to the Bath half win last year (when she ran her previous PB) when I felt absolutely awful afterwards.

“It was a great learning experience and a very positive experience for me.”

It should also be noted that Barnes’ PB took her under the qualifying standard of 75 minutes set by UK Athletics to be eligible for consideration to run the World Half Marathon Championships in Valencia, Spain.

Britain can select five women for that event and at present Barnes is fourth fastest in the UK Rankings but she is keeping her feet firmly on the ground about the possibility of winning her first GB vest.

“I think a lot of girls will be racing at a big half in Barcelona this weekend and then there is the London half marathon next month after which they will select the team,” explained Barnes.

“If two or three come out and run 72 minutes in Spain then I might have to be realistic and admit it is a step too far.

“But I am also thinking of running the London half because that is where most of the girls will be racing and I feel I have a quicker time in me.

“It might be worth giving that my best shot and seeing what I can do.

“It is something I will have to talk over with my coach Steve Williams but for the moment I am just enjoying what I did in Granollers.”