The CAU Inter Counties Cross Country Championships were held on Saturday, 7th March at Prestwold Hall, Loughborough. With all competing athletes selected by their counties it’s a really high quality event and is the culmination of a hard winter’s work. With no rain for a number of days leading into the event the course was reasonably dry and did have some grassy sections. However, there were also long sections of heavy, sticky mud that were energy sapping for the athletes. This, combined with a long, uphill finish for all the athletes, made stamina and mental strength essential.
Oxfordshire sent 52 junior athletes ranging from U13’s to U20’s. With 8 athletes entered and just 4 to score it was hard work to make the scoring team, knowing each place counted.
The U20 Men were the first to race on the day competing over a course of 8000m. Just 2 athletes represented Oxfordshire, with Jack Goodwin finishing in 67th place and Alexander Pennington in 117th, having had to run an extra kilometre as the race was sent the wrong way.
The U13 Girls lined up for the second race of the day. Isabelle Martin was the first Oxfordshire athlete home in a very creditable 14th place out of 306 finishers. Isabelle was followed closely home by Isla McGowan (17th), Evey Powell (63rd) and Roxy Davies (175th) to earn the girls 13th team position overall.
Next up were the U15 Boys racing over 4000m. This race provided Oxfordshire juniors with their highest finisher of the day with William D’Arcy crossing the line in 12th place, closely followed by Jonny James in 15th. The boy’s team were rewarded with 10th position overall with Oliver Conway (121th) and Quinn Miell-Ingram (136th) rounding off the scoring performances.
With the course cutting up nicely as the day progressed the 5th race was the U17 Women. Racing over 5000m the team were led home by Nicola Lee finishing in 86th place. Mieke Bedlington (119th), Rosie Mullins (150th) and Georgie Halfhead (169th) were the other scoring team members.
Another high-placing team for Oxfordshire were the U17 Men who finished in 12th place. First to cross the line was Rowan Miell-Ingram, who finished in 35th place, followed home by Hugo Jinks (57th), Ben Cumberland (92nd) and Kie Francis (150th).
The U13 Boys raced over the same 3000m course as the U13 Girls. The scoring team were Alfie Barnes (92nd), Caspar Cumberland (155th), late replacement Richie Mack (191th) and Connor Morgan (213th).
With a team of just four representing the County the U20 Women knew they all had to finish the 6000m course for the team to score. The first to cross the line, having travelled the short distance from Loughborough University, was Tia Williams (53rd) followed home by Rachel Burton (79th), Jamie Gray (88th) and Ceri Davies (111th).
The last team for the juniors and having to wait until 2:20pm were the U15 Girls competing over 4000m. Olivia Martin ran a well-paced race, despite losing a shoe, finishing in 26th place. Tilly Westbrook, having bravely tracked Olivia for the early part of the race, was 77th, followed by Anna Joliffe (107th) and a very tired Tilly Lainchbury (179th) to earn the girls 20th team position overall.
Well done to all the athletes. It really was a tough day, but seeing all the junior athletes finishing despite losing shoes and seeing others drop out, they were a credit to Oxfordshire. Thank you to all parents for bringing the athletes and supporting them so well.
Juniors Team Manager