Bicester AC enjoyed a record turnout for the first round of the winter long Oxford Mail Cross Country League staged at the traditionally challenging Ascott Under Wychwood course. The 47 Bicester runners were confronted with atrocious weather and underfoot conditions. Best turnout was in the under 11 girl’s event run over a 1200 metre circuit. And there were best ever performances from the two leading Bicester competitors with Mollie Acton achieving a podium finish in third place clocking 4 mins 23 secs just one place ahead of Amy Gould (4 mins 25 secs). There was also improvement from Maisie Silvester who recorded her first ever top ten finish in 9th place (4 mins 34 secs).

Mille Couzens continued her fine form from the track season as she placed 13th in 4mins 41secs. Amelia Cox has never run better on the country and she placed 20th in 4mins 50 secs, a huge improvement on her form last year. Not far behind her was Lauren Garside (29th in 5mins 5 secs) with Mollie Bird finishing precisely half way down in the 69 strong field (35th in 5mins 12secs). Lucy Stowell and Emelia Simms had a good battle for 43rd with Stowell coming off best in 5mins 24 secs just two seconds and one place ahread of Simms. Other Bicester finishers which included a number of newcomers were Katie Ford (50th), Syndey Mcdiarmid (53rd), Nicole Heiymes (54th), Paige Scarlett (55th), Beth Hipwell (56th), Natalie Cox (58th), Erin McWhinnie (66th), Tia Faulkner (67th), Yoanna Hekimova (68th) and Caitlin Lovell (69th).

In the under 13 girls race, last year’s under 11 starlet, Sophie Wheeler made a solid start to her under 13 career placing 11th of the 38 finishers clocking 9mins 15 secs for the 2000 metre circuit. This is her first year in the age group so she was racing against many girls who were a year older. The fastest 800 metre girl in the club Jennie Procter made her club debut on the country and was not disgraced in 23rd place (10mins 46 secs). Another debutant Errin Higginbottom placed 30th in 11mins 25secs and the team was completed by Kerry Hickman (34th in 11mins 50 secs) and Ellie Laurie (37th in 12mins 32secs). The team finished 6th out of the 14 competing teams.

Tom Couzens once again demonstrated what a versatile young athlete he is as he swapped throwing the howler for cross country and placed a highly creditable 10th in the under 11 boy’s clocking 4mins 14secs. Billy England ran one of his best ever cross country races as he placed 14th just 8 seconds behind Couzens. William Sims continues to progress and he was 17th in 4 mins 26 secs. James Rendell made a fine debut for the club as he recorded 4mins 45secs for 25th place and he was just 5 secs and 2 places ahead of Samuel Worfolk. Other Bicester finishers were Henry Lay (43rd), Cameron Scarlett (44th), Michael Scarlett (45th), Joseph Rayner (51st), Joseph Nuyent (53rd) and Daniel Lovell (57th).

There was a strong start made by the under 15/17 boys as they finished 10th team after race 1. This was a good effort as all three of Bicester’s runners are in the younger age group. First man home was Dan Heiyink who showed some natural ability for this discipline as he placed 19th in his maiden cross country bow clocking 20mins 33ssecs. Tom Gould has improved out of all recognition as a cross country performer and he made a solid start in 24th (21mins 7 secs). The team was completed by Jonty Renk (43rd in 24mins 12secs).

As with Sophie Wheeler, Fergus Jones was making his debut in an older age group and was not disgraced placing 23rd in the under 13 boy’ s event run over 2000 metres. Bicester’s sole other competitor was Kieran Bird 35th in (25 mins 16 secs).

Bicester achieved a first in the under 15/17 girls race as they completed a team with Orla Welby (34th in 24mins 13 secs), Sophie Gunn (35th in 25mins 12secs) and Emma Wagland (36th in 25mins 16 secs). Whilst Bicester’s sole competitor in the senior men’s race James Minchin made a good start placing 171st (42mins 12 secs) in the almost 300 strong field.