Cirencester Park lived up to its billing of one of the toughest courses in the Oxford Mail Cross Country League as it played host to the 4th round of the winter long series on Sunday 1st February.  Bicester AC fielded a strong team of runners, many of whom were indebted to the recent extra hill training sessions.

Amy Gould was the star as she became the first Bicester AC runner to record a first place this season as she emerged victorious in the under 13 girl’s event ran over 2000 metres.  Gould ran out an impressive winner clocking 9mins 11secs and winning by an impressive 5 seconds margin.  With one event to go in the series she is a strong 2nd only 2 points off the lead.  Once again Gould was assisted by a strong contingent of Bicester runners as the A team maintained their strong 2nd overall placing.  Holly Griffiths Brown was again in the top 10 as she took 7th (10mins  00secs) and the team was completed by Molly Acton who ran another consistent race to clock (10mins 23secs).  Further down the field Lauren Garside stepped up on previous efforts to place 28th.  Other Bicester placings included Maisie Silvester (23rd), Freya Smith (25th), Beth Hipwell (29th), Katie Ford (36th), Holly Hunter (38th) and Lucy Stowell (39th).

There were two other Bicester podium finishers including a return to form for Millie Couzens in the under 11 girl’s race run over 1200 metres.  Couzens, who was first Oxfordshire runner, finished runner up just 2 secs off the lead clocking 4mins 25secs, which moved her back up the overall rankings into 3rd overall.  Amelia Cox ran well again for 10th place which keeps her in 8th overall.  Cox was pushed hard by Lucy Watts who improved on her last effort to place 11th.  Georgia Usher has had a solid first season in the under 11 age group and she was 16th with Ruby Silvester, the other Bicester finisher placing 45th.

Freddie Taylor led out a strong under 11 boy’s contingent to finish 3rd clocking 4mins 20secs for the 1200 metre course.  He is now in equal 2nd overall going into the 5th and final round.  Michael Cadle produced his best effort of the winter as he made up 10 places on his last effort placing 13th.  Thomas Pringle is a relatively new name and he was a fine 16th some 5 places ahead of James Rendell.  Another big improver from last time was Ben Groves who made up 20 places to finish in 26th.  Other Bicester finishers included Nicholas Gilbert (27th), Finn Graham (29th) and Ethan Connor (32nd).

Tom Couzens celebrated his recent call up for the County by recording his highest placing of the winter so far in the under 13 boy’s race as he finished 5th in 8mins 47secs over the 2000 metre course.  He was supported by Samuel Worfolk (24th) who is showing improved form over the country.  Tara Gowans continues to make good progress in the under 15/17 girls age group and she performed very well for 14th clocking 13mins 28secs whilst Bethany Liversidge placed 36th in the same race.  Tom Gould ran his normal reliable race for 14th place in the under 15/17 boy’s race, ran over 4,800 metres clocking 22mins 5secs in the process.

Six Bicester athletes contested the under 9 race and Harry Rendell led the Bicester contingent home in 5th place.  Imogen Cox was 2nd girl home placing 8th whilst sisters Anna and Bella Couzens were 19th and 24th respectively.  Bicester placings were completed by Isla Bohannon in 33rd and Bethan Workman 36th.