The latest round of the Oxfordshire Cross Country League, which also incorporated the Oxfordshire Cross Country Championships, took place last Sunday at a muddy Horspath.   With the area suffering its fair share of battering from Storm Henk, there was a doubt about whether the fixture could proceed but was passed fit after a Saturday inspection.  There was a good contingent of 43 Bicester runners who contested all bar the under 17 ladies race.  The underfoot conditions suited some Bicester athletes more than others.

Bicester AC doubled their individual medal count from last year and this year’s medal haul included two gold medal winners representing one of the Bicester AC’s best performances at these championships in recent years.  Two of the other county races were won by ex Bicester AC athletes.

The two gold medals were won by longstanding Bicester athletes.  Anna Jolliffe competed for the club as an under 11.  She was taking part in the under 20 lady’s race which was run as part of the senior lady’s race.  Contested by 188 athletes and run over an 8km course Jolliffe led the Bicester team home in a superb 11th place  (36mins 31.30secs).  She was first under 20 lady finisher securing her first county cross country title.  Amy Gould is having a strong season, back after a 6 year absence, and ran another fine race to take 43rd (40mins 23.20secs).  Leanne Stocker completed the team scorers with another strong run in 82nd (45mins 5.50secs) with the team placing 12th out of the 58 competing teams.  Bicester’s other runner Emily Benfield is enjoying one of her best cross country seasons and she finished 162nd (54mins 3.30secs).

Owen Stocker also competed for the club as an under 11.  Stocker won his first ever Oxfordshire Cross Country League in the last round at Cirencester.  He made a strong bid to follow up and was contesting 2nd place at the end of the first two laps in the under 17 men’s race contested over 6km.  Although he ran strongly over the 2nd lap, he was not able to bridge the gap on the leader and had to settle for 2nd on the day clocking 22mins 31.90secs.  However as the winner was not eligible for the county race, Stocker was able to claim his first ever county cross country title.  Joshua Moran continues to quietly impress as he ran a well judged race to finish in the top half of what is a very competitive age category placing 16th (24mins 40.70secs).  Noah Gulvin started strongly but gradually lost his position as the race progressed on a course which did not play to his strengths but he plugged on to complete the Bicester team finishers in 23rd (26mins 4.20secs) with the team finishing 5th.  Isaac Moran was Bicester’s other finisher and did well to finish in 25th (26mins 30.20secs).   

Leo Blyton suffered his first defeat in this winter’s Oxfordshire League but still ran strongly in the under 13 boy’s race contested over 3km. He only gave way to the first two athletes in the final run in but still finished  a strong 3rd in 12 mins  6.60secs and with one of those athletes ahead of him not eligible for the county championships Blyton took his first ever medal in a county event with silver.  Darragh Cassidy ran a strong race in 4th clocking 12mins 20.70secs and this was good enough for his first ever county individual medal in taking the bronze medal.  Bicester’s team scorers were completed by Jonathon Morris in 33rd (15mins 30.90secs) with the team finishing in 4th place.                                        

Bicester’s best team effort of the day was in the under 15 boy’s race contested over 4.5km.  George Hart has enjoyed a superb season and he relished the underfoot conditions producing a strong finish to record his best ever Oxfordshire League placing in 6th (18mins 47.50secs).  William Morris ran well for 15th (19mins 31.20secs) with Erlgean Appiahkorang-Mensah closing the team finishers in 22nd (20mins 21.70secs) with the team placing 3rd.  Bicester’s other finishers were Max Finnegan in 31st (22mins 45.40secs) and Thomas Perry 32nd (23mins 48.80secs).

Bicester finished two completed teams in the under 11 boy’s race with a field of 47 starters.  Charlie Joiner was having only his 2nd Bicester AC competitive outing and found the underfoot conditions difficult to navigate but still managed a top ten finish in 9th clocking 6mins 15secs over the 1.5km circuit.  Charlie Simpson also made the top half of finishers in 19th (6mins 45secs) and he was just 3 secs ahead of Barnaby Wilson, having his first cross country run of the season, in 20th (6mins 48secs) with the team finishing 5th.  Levi Fulcher lead the B team in 35th (7mins 40.6secs) and was supported by Samuel Wilson in 36th (7mins 41.30secs) and Brendan Kelly 42nd (8mins 50.0secs) with the team finishing 11th.  Bicester’s other runner Ivan Stocker showed improvement to place 43rd (8mins 57.0secs).

Bicester had 6 runners in the senior men’s event contested over 8km with a field of 323 runners.  Edward Jolliffe had his first competitive outing of the winter for Bicester and led the team home in a fine 41st clocking 31mins 22.60 secs.  Finlay Colverson-Martin was also having his first run of the winter and his first race in the Oxfordshire League senior category.  Colverson-Martin finished 126th in 35mins 51.50secs and was followed home by Ben Groves in 215th (41mins 00.90secs).  Bicester’s men’s team finishers were Paul Jones who was 239th (42mins 40.60secs), Tom Gould 293rd (48mins 14.10secs) and Paul Groves 316th (54mins 54.60secs).

In the under 15 girl’s race Kate O Malley got the better of clubmate Ella Myers-Finnegan on this occasion finishing 9th.  O Malley clocked 23mins 5.70 secs for the 4.5km course with Myers-Finnegan 11th (23mins 43.20secs) of the 26 finishers with the team finishing 6th.  Bicester had a full team of runners in the under 13 girl’s race with Megan Surman leading the team home in 13th clocking 16mins 15.50secs for the 3km distance.  Maya Korn was 2nd Bicester finisher in 16th (16mins 41.50secs) and Grace Fulcher 23rd (21mins 01.60secs).  The team finished 6th.

Bicester had three runners in the 44 strong field in the under 11 girl’s race run over 1.5km.  Nancy Alcraft ran a fine race for 15th clocking 7mins 4secs.  Olivia Maxwell, who lost a shoe in the last round, managed to finish without mishap on this occasion in 26th (7mins 37secs) with Bronwen Kernot in 32nd (8mins 03secs).  The team finished 8th. Bicester AC had 6 athletes in the under 9 race run over 1.2km as a combined boy/girl race.  Ottilie Maclean was first Bicester athlete to finish placing 23rd out of the 46 finishers   She was followed closely by Franciszek Markiewicz, making his club debut, who was one place behind in 24th.  A further place back in 25th was Lorelai Whelan with the girl s team completed by Layla Hendon who was 36th.  Bicester finished 4th in the girl’s team event.  Bicester’s finishers were completed by April Perry, making her debut, in 38th place and Oliver Kelly in 43rd