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Sunday, muddy Sunday as Newbury AC battle tough conditions and a bout of illness to produce excellent results in Oxfordshire League

Newbury Athletic Club battled through tough conditions to produce some excellent results in round three of the Oxfordshire Cross Country League in Horspath on Sunday.

Following heavy rain the lower part of the Shotover Park course was largely sodden, with a number of extremely muddy sections, making it very challenging for the athletes.

The fixture was even more competitive than usual after it was combined with the Oxfordshire County Championship; Newbury AC also suffered a bout of post-Christmas illnesses, which had a particularly detrimental impact on the junior and senior ladies teams.

Newbury AC's senior women's team are in a fight for the league title
Newbury AC's senior women's team are in a fight for the league title

Despite the challenges facing the club, Newbury achieved some superb results. Josh Norton was once again one of the outstanding performers as he continued his stellar cross-country campaign with a determined effort to finish second in the under-15 race.

Jacob Glendenning, who finished third in the under-17 boys race, is another enjoying a marvellous season. In the same race, Isaac Mitcham showed remarkable commitment as he raced almost the whole course with only one shoe, having lost the other in thick mud towards the beginning of the race.

The under-15 and under-17 teams battled hard in the mud
The under-15 and under-17 teams battled hard in the mud

Jessica Franklin led the senior women’s team home with a hard-fought sixth placed finish; she was well-supported by battling efforts from Laura Buchanan and Rachel Allen. That was good enough for a third placed finish in the team event, leaving Newbury AC in a three-way battle for the league title with Headington Roadrunners and White Horse Harriers.

The senior men’s team enjoyed one of their best showings for a number of years. Alex Aldridge backed up his superb debut at Cirencester last month by once again leading the team as he crossed the line in sixth. He was followed by another newcomer as Jacob Rainier was 12th. Bradley Thomas was 19th, Danny Hawkins 23rd, Alex Muir 24th, Cameron Craik 29th and Bernie Gerrard, who was 35th and the fastest veteran.

Such was the quality of the team’s performance that all seven scorers finished inside the top 35 as Newbury AC pushed runaway leaders Swindon very close; the squad’s depth was demonstrated by the fact that all seven of the B team had previously been part of an A team scoring side. One of those was Steve Barnes, who showed great courage to finish the race despite dislocating his finger during a late fall.

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