Ben West produced an extraordinary run in last Saturday’s English National Cross Country Championships staged at Parliament Hill Fields, a proper cross country course with its soft underfoot conditions and undulating terrain. West finished a splendid 9th, just 46 seconds down on winner David Stone from Shaftsbury Barnet, in the under 17 men’s race. This was the highest ever placing by a Bicester AC runner and represents the biggest single running achievement in the club’s history. West was also the only Oxfordshire runner to achieve a top 10 finish.

The English National Cross Country Championships is an iconic race in the race calendar and has been contested by most of Britain’s top distance runners over the years including such luminaries as Steve Ovett. The under 17 men’s race attracted 356 finishers with runners coming from all parts of England. West’s time for the 6km course was 20mins 15secs.

It was a good day for Bicester AC as 13 other Bicester runners contested 6 events with two completed teams in the under 15 men’s and under 13 girl’s age races. The under 15 Bicester AC men’s team has competed well throughout the Winter and there was another strong team performance as they finished 40th, which was the highest Oxfordshire team placing in this age group. Max Nicolle once again led the team home with an excellent 125th in the 504 strong field clocking 17mins 24secs for the 4.5km course. Samuel Worfolk has enjoyed a quietly effective season and he placed a fine 260th on Saturday (18mins 27secs). Freddie Taylor was not far behind placing 320th (18mins 55secs) and the team scoring was completed by Michael Alborzpour, in his first season’s cross country action with the club and finishing 378th (19mins 30secs). Zacharria Singer also competed the race placing 469th (21mins 20secs).

Bicester also completed a team in the under 13 girl’s race run over a course of 3km. Lucy McGrath managed one of her best efforts of the season as she led the team home with a top half finish of 217th (14 mins 53secs) in the 467 strong field and overturning previous form with some of her main Oxfordshire rivals. These included clubmate Imogen Cox who had to settle for 345th place on this occasion with a 15mins 54secs. Amy Willis followed Cox home in 392nd (16mins 23secs) and Imogen Ansell completed the team scorers in 467th (21mins 27secs) with the team finishing 48th.

Bicester’s other top half finish came in the under 15 girl’s race which was run over a 4km course. Amelia /Cox has enjoyed her best ever season and ran another fine race for 167th (17mins 01secs) in the 464 strong field.

There were two Bicester AC runners in the under 13 boy’s race (3km) with Timothy Jones placing 431st (14mins 48secs) and Sami Singer 534th (16mins 15secs). And Tom Gould took a break from university studies to contest the junior men’s race finishing 218th and clocking 51mins 45secs for the10km course.

Written by N Dolden