The first round of the Chiltern Cross Country League took place in unseasonably warm conditions at Horspath last Saturday. With the ground quite firm in places, runners had to be careful in choosing the most appropriate footwear. The Chiltern Cross Country League covers a span of counties covering Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Middlesex, Northants and Oxfordshire. The league is divided into two divisions, save for under 11s, but runners from each division compete in one race known as the mob race. There were 19 Bicester AC athletes for this first of five rounds with some of the contingent making their cross-country debuts and others competing in their first year of a new age group.
There was a strong performance from Bicester AC’s under 17 men’s team as they finished the day in 3rd place in the division 2 standings just five points off the leading spot. The Bicester AC challenge was spearheaded by Owen Stocker, who was one of those moving up to a new age group. He ran superbly to finish 20th in the 52 strong field, which was also the 5th best placed division 2 runner. He clocked 20mins 33secs for the approximate 5,500 metre course. Stocker received good support from team mates, all of whom were towards the junior end of the under 17 age group. Next in for Bicester was Noah Gulvin, who had a closely fought contest with teammate Isaac Moran. Gulvin finished in 32nd place (21mins 33secs) with Isaac Moran, making his Bicester cross country debut, close behind in 33rd (21mins 41secs). Isaac’s twin brother Joshua also equipped himself well on his cross country debut placing 42nd (23mins 06secs).
All in all, Nancy Alcraft made a very promising start in the under 11 age category. She finished a strong out 18th of the 42 finishers in the under 11 girl’s race stopping the clock at 6mins 32secs for the approximate 2km course. Fellow clubmate Evie O Callaghan placed 41st (8mins 42secs). Another top half finisher was Ella Myers Finnegan who led Bicester’s under 13 girl’s team home in 34th place clocking 12mins 48secs for the approximate 3km course. She was well supported by Kate O Malley, making her Bicester AC competitive debut in finishing 51st in 13mins 29secs. The team scorers were completed by Emelie Stocker, who was in her first year in the under 13 age finishing in 78th place (16mins 30secs). The team finished in 4th after race 1 just two points off 3rd place.
There were two Bicester runners in the under 13 boy’s race ran over the near 3km distance and Erlgean Appiahkorang-Mensah, fresh from a highly successful track and field season, made the top half of finishers in 34th place clocking 11mins 31secs, which was also the 7th placed division 2 runner. Max Finnegan was not far behind placing 45th in 11mins 47secs and the team finished 4th in the division 2 standings. There were three Bicester athletes in the under 11 boy’s race run over an approximate 2km course. Cameron Waters built on what was a fine end to the track season by leading the team home in 34th place (6mins 11secs). Next in for Bicester was Shay Gallagher who was having his first cross country outing in the under 11 age group in 43rd (6mins 25secs) one place ahead of Bicester debutant Malik Haggag who stopped the clock at 6mins 30secs.
Bicester had two runners in the under 15 girl’s event run over an approximate 4km distance. Abigail Jones, in her first under 15 cross country contest, clocked 17mins 44secs for 61st with Evie Jasper 75th clocking 20mins 07secs. George Hart was Bicester’s sole competitor in the under 15 boy’s race, also run over a 4km course, and in his first cross country effort as an under 15 finished 47th clocking 15mins 13secs. Bicester had two runners in the senior men’s race run over an approximate 8km course with Paul Jones in 287th (44mins 58secs) and Arran Critchley placing 318th (48mins 07secs).