26 Bicester AC athletes contested the first round of the Oxfordshire Cross Country League held last Sunday at Newbury Showground.  Despite the deluge of rain that came down during the senior lady’s race, conditions were reasonably firm with runners finishing without the normal build up of mud and dirt on running attire.  Bicester had athletes in all of the age categories contested and there some highly promising performances, particularly as several of the runners were moving up a cross country age group.

Owen Stocker has moved up an age group this year but is wasting no time in making his mark in the under 17 men’s age group.  The under 17 event was run as a mixed contest with the under 17 women over a 5.7km course. Stocker was in 9th with a lap to go but picked up a further 3 places on the final lap to finish an excellent 6th place (19mins 15secs), his best cross country performance for nearly three years.  Stocker overturned the form book with several who had beaten him in the final under 15 Oxfordshire League race of last season, including the winner of that race.  Twin brothers Isaac and Joshua Moran had their first taste of Oxfordshire Cross Country League action and both did well with Isaac finishing 28th , just one place in Joshua 29th  , with respective times of 21mins 08secs and 21mins 29secs.

The under 17 woman’s race was run in conjunction with the men’s.  Anna Jolliffe was in 3rd place in the lady’s event with a circuit to go but was just run of it on the final circuit to finish 4th  lady (22mins) and 23rd in the mixed event.  Imogen Cox contested her first cross country race since early 2020 so did well to complete in 44th  place in the mixed event clocking 26mins 10secs.

Bicester’s two runners in the under 13 boy’s race both produced superb performances.  Jago Newton ran an excellent race to finish 5th finishing just 21 secs behind the winner clocking 8mins 9secs for the 2.4km circuit.  There was also a very good debut run from Darragh Cassidy.  He produced a run of promise to finish in 12th (8mins 34secs) in the 33 strong field.

All three Bicester girls competed well in the under 11 girl’s event run over a 1,400m circuit.  Only a few seconds separated all three with Maya Korn, who was making her Bicester AC debut, finishing 13th (5mins 26secs).  Nancy Alcraft continues to impress over the country and she was 14th  (5mins 29secs) with Lily Childs only just behind in 15th  (5mins 30secs).

William Morris and George Hart both contested a very competitive under 15 boy’s race run over 3,900m, which was also run in conjunction with the girl’s under 15 event.  Both are in their first year of this age group.  Morris was first Bicester runner home finishing 22nd in the mixed event (12mins 29secs).  He was closely followed by George Hart who was 25th clocking 12mins 39secs.  In doing so Hart overturned form with athletes who had finished in front of him in the final event of last season’s Oxfordshire League.

Bicester completed a team of finishers in the under 13 girl’s race run over 2.4km.  Ella Myer-Finnegan led the team home with a good 12th placing (9mins 33secs) .  Kate O Malley, in only her second event in a Bicester vest, ran very creditably for 20th  (10mins 05secs).  The Bicester team was completed by Emelie stocker who plugged on gamely for 39th (12mins 11secs).

The under 9 race over 1100m was run as a joint boys/girls event.  There was a decent size field for this event and Barnaby Bosley equipped himself well producing a strong finish to place 8th  in the mixed event.  Megan Varney-Newell, in her first competitive cross country event for Bicester, was 25th in the mixed event.

Bicester had a good contingent of five runners in the senior men’s event run over 8.2km.  Ben Groves, who is under 20, made his senior cross country debut.  Given that he normally competes on the track in sprints and jumps, Groves demonstrated what a good all round athlete he is by leading the five strong Bicester team home in  134th (32mins 21secs).  Paul Jones was Bicester’s second scorer placing 222nd with 35mins 58secs with Arron Critchley producing one of his best Bicester cross country performances in 270th (39mins 33secs).  Tom Gould had his first competitive outing since last year’s national cross country placing 288th (42mins 33secs).  And club Chairman Paul Groves, making his individual cross country debut, swapped the Board room for running shoes, and did well to complete in 295th (44mins 18secs).

Abigail Jones was Bicester’s sole competitor in the under 15 girl’s race run over a 3,900m course.  Up in age group this year Jones did well to finish 55th in the mixed event with 15mins 01sec.  Leanne Stocker was Bicester’s sole competitor in the senior ladies run over 8.2km.  They had the rough end of the weather as the heavens opened at the end of the first lap.  In a competitive heat, Stocker did well to finish 92nd in 39mins 39secs.

There were two Bicester competitors in the under 11 boy’s race run over a 1400 metre circuit.  Cameron Waters led the Bicester team finishers home in 25th (5mins 19secs) with Ivan Stocker, in his first cross country race for the club as an under 11, finishing 35th in 6mins 18secs.