Canberra's Brett Robinson was one of six runners who booked their place on the Australian cross country team at Stromlo on Sunday.
The top three men and women received automatic selection for the March world cross country championships in Poland, and Robinson finished second in the men's 12-kilometre event.
The Florey native had spent the past three months training in Ballarat with the winner, Collis Birmingham, including a month of altitude training at Falls Creek, which paid dividends for the 21-year-old.
Birmingham, Robinson and Victorian Liam Adams set a cracking pace, breaking away from the pack at the two-kilometre mark, and Robinson, normally a five-kilometre runner, held on for second.
"It was actually a very quick race, so the pace was on and after two kilometres we kind of knew it was going to be us three just to battle it out," Robinson said.
"Coming into the race we all knew top three was automatic, so that's what we were kind of running for - we were trying to win as well, but I was happy to get top three."
The Poland trip will a bonus for Robinson, whose "big goal" is to qualify for the 5000 metres at the track world championships. He decided only a month ago to run the cross country trial.
He left Canberra soon after the race to drive back to Falls Creek to resume training.
"My calves are killing me, they're really sore," he said after the race.
"I might be a little bit stiff in the morning."
The women's eight-kilometre event was won by South Australian Tamsin McMahon, with Sophie Barker of Victoria second and Tara Palm third, all booking their places on the Australian team as well.
Canberra's Hannah Flannery finished 10th, edging out training partner Louisa Lobigs in 12th place.