There was an excellent turnout of Bicester AC runners for the first round of the Oxford Mail League Cross Country held on 3rd November at its traditional starting point over the undulating terrain of Ascott Under Wychwood. And Bicester have a potential champion on their hands as Sophie Wheeler stormed to victory in the under 13 girl’s race with a winning time of 7 mins 44 secs for the 2000 metre course. In one of the strongest starts made by a Bicester runner for a number of years Wheeler was an impressive 5 secs ahead of her nearest pursuer. On this performance Wheeler will be a strong contender for the overall title and the Oxfordshire Cross Country Championships.

Wheeler was supported by a strong cohort of Bicester under 13 girls as the team made an excellent start by finishing 2nd in the team competition. Star track runner Holly Griffiths Brown made a welcome appearance on the country and overcame her relative inexperience at this discipline by finishing 10th in 8mins 18secs. And Amy Gould ran a tremendous race in her first year at this age group by placing 1 second and 1 place behind Brown. There was a superb turnout in the under 13 age group girl’s race which was enough to field 5 teams. Molly Acton in her first year in the age group did well to place 27th (9mins 6secs) with Jennie Procter running well for 28th place (9mins 11secs). Another first year runner who did well was Maisie Silvester who was 31st in 9mins 17secs. Other Bicester under13 girl finishers included Holly Hunter (42nd), Sydney McDiarmid (45th), Lauren Garside (47th), Lucy Stowell (51st), Kerry Hickman(52nd), Paige Scarlett (56th), Daisy Newton (57th) and Ellie Laurie (60th).

And there were excellent performances for Bicester AC in the newly inaugurated under 9 event with Georgia Usher winning the girl’s race in her maiden cross country race for the club. The boys and girls ran together in this age group and there were over 45 runners. Michael Cadle has a proud family athletic dynasty to keep up and made a good start to the season by finishing 5th. Rosie Newton was also one of the highest finishers as she was 6th girl home. Other under 9 finishers included Ben Groves (14th), Joseph Nuyent (15th), Greg Alexander (18th), Natalia Cox (26th), Marvin Arumugham (32nd), Ruby Silvester (35th), Erin McWhinnie (36th), Erin Disbrey (41st) and Bethan Workman (44th).

Freddie Taylor made stealthy progress in the under 11 boy’s category last year and with another year left in the age group ran a race of rich promise to place 10th in the under 11 category. Like sister Holly, Ellis Griffiths Brown does not have much experience of cross country conditions but he coped well with the underfoot conditions for 22nd place. He was followed closely by James Rendell in 23rd place. Other Bicester AC finishers in the under this category were Samuel Worfolk (33rd), Cameron Scarlett (42nd) and Henry Lay (44th).

Tom Gould has been though all of the cross country age groups and he looked in splendid nick for his seasonal bow as he took 18th place in the under15/17 boy’s event clocking 20mins 5secs. He was the 4th under 15 boy finisher. Dan Heijink made a welcome return to action and was not disgraced in 22nd place (20mins 28secs). Owen Cox made his first even appearance in a cross country event and handled the distance of 3 miles very well placing 34th in 22mins 53secs.

Rushani Arumugham was well to the fore in the under 11 girl’s race placing 17th in a category that Bicester traditionally do well in. However there were only two other Bicester finishers with Emilia Sims 27th and Nicole Heijink 44th. And in the other category with Bicester competitors, first year under 13 boy competitors William Sims (18th) and Billy England (22nd) equipped themselves well.