Round 1 of the winter long run Oxfordshire Cross Country league took place last Sunday at a new venue, Cornbury Park. The event was jointly hosted by Bicester AC and Witney RR and the event hosts had a scare on Saturday as a deluge required a quick change of course and location of car park which allowed the event on Sunday to proceed. The new course was described by runners as enjoyable but tough.
Bicester AC enjoyed one of their best cross country events of late with a total of 37 finishers and representatives in each of the races. Bicester had 10 top ten finishers which included an individual first place and Bicester were also first team in the under 17 men’s event.
Bicester AC’s Leo Blyton consolidated on his superb Chiltern League effort of a couple of weeks ago by producing another superb performance winning the under 13 boy’s race. Blyton clocked a superb 11mins 14secs for the 2.9km course and had 12 secs to spare over the runner up in a 33 strong field. Blyton’s previous best position in the Oxfordshire Cross Country League was 17th which is a graphic illustration of Blyton’s improvement. Darragh Cassidy also ran very well in his first cross country outing of the season to finish 4th in 11mins 46secs. The team score was completed by Jonathon Morris, who was having his first cross country run for two years in finishing 25th (14mins 17secs). In a closely fought team contest Bicester finished 2nd just one point ahead of the 3rd placed team. Cameron Waters was Bicester’s other runner finishing 27th with 14mins 53secs.
One of the closest team races was in the under 17 men’s race contested over 6km. Bicester fielded a strong team which was spearheaded by Owen Stocker, fresh from competing on the road and track over the summer. He renewed rivalry with Swindon’s Connor Morgan and equalled his best ever cross country placing of 2nd just 35 seconds off Morgan clocking 23mins 43.9secs. Noah Gulvin enjoyed his best run in Bicester colours finishing 7th in the 30 strong field. his highest ever Oxfordshire Cross Country League placing. Joshua Moran completed the Bicester finishers making the top half with 15th and 26mins 6.8secs. Only 3 points covers the first four teams with Bicester just two points clear of Oxford City AC. Bicester’s other finisher was Joshua’s twin brother Isaac in 18th (26mins 38.9secs).
Bicester’s senior ladies enjoyed one of their best results for years with three of their number making the top 100 in the 207 strong field. Although the results for divisional standings are not yet known Bicester lady’s were last year 33rd in the rankings out of the 37 competing teams. At Cornbury they finished 17th out of the 69 competing teams. Anna Jolliffe was making her debut in the senior lady’s race contested over 8.2km and finished a superb 23rd clocking 39mins 20.5secs. Jolliffe was also top under 20 lady finisher. There was a welcome return to cross country action for Amy Gould who had not competed in a competitive athletic competition since 2017. She showed that she has lost none of her old dash finishing in a very competitive 56th position (42mins 27.5secs). The team scorers were completed by Leanne Stocker, who has started this cross country season very well, in 91st clocking 48mins 32.3secs. Bicester’s other finisher was Emily Benfield in 178th (55mins 24.1secs).
Charlie Joiner, running in his first competitive athletics competition for the club, made a very promising start competing in the under 11 boy’s event run over 1.7km. Joiner finished in an excellent 7th place in the 46 strong field clocking 7mins 36.8secs. Charlie Simpson running in his first cross country event for Bicester AC was not disgraced in 27th (8mins 25.0secs). And the team scorers were completed by Levi Fulcher, also making his club cross country debut, in 39th (8mins 57.7secs). Ivan Stocker was Bicester’s other finisher in 45th (11mins 6.2secs). The team finished 9th.
Although in their first year in a new age group Ella Myers Finnegan and Kate O Malley both ran superbly in the under 15 girl’s event contested over 4.36km.
Myers Finnegan achieved her best placing in a cross country event since 2020 with 5th place clocking 21mins 39.7secs. Kate O Malley is showing her best ever form over cross country and she ran well for 7th in the 21 strong field (22mins 47.2secs). The team is in 4th place just 5 points off 3rd.
The under 9 race is run as a mixed boy and girl event. Bicester had three competitors all of whom were making their competitive Bicester AC debuts. Highest placed runner was Theodore Simms who equipped himself well in the 33 strong field. Simms finished in 10th with a time of 6mins 24secs for the 1.2km course which was just 9secs off first. Ottilie Maclean ran well for 16th and was 4th girl finisher out of the 17 competing girls. Layla Hendon completed the Bicester finishers in 24th (6mins 38secs) and was 10th girl finisher with the girl’s team finishing 3rd just one point off 2nd.
Bicester AC fielded 5 athletes in a very competitive looking under 15 boy’s race (4.36km). George Hart is one of Bicester’s most improved athletes and he continued where he left off from the track with his best ever cross country placing of 10th in the 32 strong field. Hart clocked 18mins 51.5secs which was just 50 secs off 4th place. William Morris chased Hart home in 13th (19mins 2.1secs) with the team scorers completed by Erlgean Appiahkorang-Mensah, having his first cross country run in the under 15 age group, completing the teams scorers in 25th (20mins 55.3secs). The team finished 7th. Bicester’s other competitors were Max Finnegan who was 28th (21mins 38.8secs) and Thomas Perry in 30th (22mins 26.2secs).
Two of Bicester’s girls made the top half of finishers in the under 11 girl’s race over 1.7km. Nancy Alcraft led the team home finishing 15th (8mins 54.8secs) in the 48 strong field. Competing in her first under 11 cross country competition, Olivia Maxwell ran her best cross country race in Bicester colours finishing 16th, just one second adrift of Alcraft (8mins 55.8secs. Brownen Kernot completed the team scorers in 25th (9mins 10.5secs) with the team finishing 6th. Hannah Parson made her Bicester AC cross country debut and performed well for 27th (9mins 12.3secs).
There were just two Bicester AC finishers in the senior men’s event run over 8.2km. Ben Groves performed well to take 140th (3mins 58.7secs) with Tom Gould Bicester’s other finisher back in 303rd. And Anna Castle had her first taste of competitive action for Bicester in the under 17 women’s race finishing 16th clocking 40mins 38.5secs for the 6km distance.