The venue at Horspath, normally the curtain raiser for the winter long Chiltern League Cross Country League, staged the final round of this winter’s league last Saturday. Runners and spectators were confronted with extremely muddy condition which made every stride taken seem like an adventure. 14 Bicester AC athletes toughed out the conditions with 7 of their number making the top half of finishers in their respective races.
Owen Stocker came in to the final event in 4th position in the under 17 men standings. Stocker did what was required finishing 8th in the mob race that combined division 1 and 2 runners in the 48 strong field clocking 22mins 33secs for the 5.74km distance. This was good enough to move him up to 3rd in the final division 2 standings. Joshua Moran has improved throughout the season and clearly relished the tough underfoot conditions as he produced his first top 20 Chiltern League finish of the season with a superb 16th (23mins 31secs). Isaac Moran completed the team scorers in 25th (24mins 24secs) with the team finishing 2nd on the day and this was good enough for 2nd place in the final division 2 standings. In addition to Stocker and the Moran twins, Noah Gulvin also contributed to the team scores throughout the season.
Bicester AC’s Anna Jolliffe had the misfortune to come up against Phoebe Gill who is the British under 17 record holder for 800m and 1,500m. Not surprisingly Gill swept to a commanding win with a gap of almost two minutes to the runner up. Jolliffe ran a confident race and was in a competitive 6th place after the first lap and although she lost a couple of places on lap 2 still ran very well to finish 8th in the mob race which had 42 finishers. She timed at 21mins 12secs for the 4.72km circuit winning the division 2 race. She was also 2nd under 20 lady finisher.
The Chiltern League under13 boy’s competition this year has attracted some of the best cross country runners in the South of England with runners placing 1st 3rd, 9th and 13th in the recent South of England Cross Country Championships. Bicester AC’s Leo Blyton has beaten two of those athletes in Chiltern League races this season. He again performed well but was just pipped on the line for 8th finishing 9th out of 65 finishers in the mob race clocking 11mins 23secs for the 2.87km circuit. Blyton came into the final event with a share of 3rd place in the division 2 standings but dropped a place in the final standings as he finished 4th division 2 runner on the day.
Erlgean Appiahkorang-Mensah put in another strong cross country performance in the under 15 boy’s event contested over a 3.68km course. Appiahkorang-Mensah put in a strong finish to gain a place on the run in to place 22nd of the 53 finishers clocking 16mins 48secs. Appiahkorang -Mensah, who is at the junior end of the under 15 age group, was 7th division 2 finisher. Also at the junior end of her age group is Kate O Malley who must be one of Bicester’s most improved cross country perfomers. She started well in the under 15 girl’s race contested over a 3.68km course but O Malley appeared to be losing ground at the end of lap one. However O Malley showed great tenacity to broadly maintain her position on the second lap to finish 29th (19mins 40secs). Bicester AC’s Lily Spencer contested her 2nd Chiltern League event of the Winter and did well to finish 58th (24mins 24secs).
Bicester’s two senior ladies toed the starting line with a daunting test of 5.9km ahead of them. Leanne Stocker began conservatively but picked up well to eventually finish 94th (33mins 25secs) and was 7th vet 45 lady finisher in the final division 2 standings. Emily Benfield ran well to place 140th in the 200 strong field clocking 37mins 44secs. She finished 6th in the final division2 senior lady finishers. Paul Jones faced the longest distance of the day in the Senior men’s race (9.12km). Jones did well to 264th clocking 51mins 11secs.
There was just one Bicester runner in the under 11 girl’s race contested over a 1.85km course. Nancy Alcraft finished 23rd out of the 38 finishers clocking 10mins 50secs for the 1.85km course.