FRANCES Briscoe produced the best performance of her career to finish eighth in the English National Cross Country Championships at Herrington Park, Sunderland.
The 29-year-old, from Wantage, completed the 8km mudbath course in 31mins 10secs, beating some seasoned internationals in the process.
Running for her first-claim club Coventry Godiva Harriers, Oxfordshire champion Briscoe was just 30 seconds behind bronze medallist Gemma Steel (Charnwood).
Among those behind her were GB cross country internationals Lily Partridge and Emily Pigeon, plus Commonwealth Games medallist Steph Twell.
Briscoe said: “This season’s results are down to a good run of uninterrupted training and continued progression in my training for which I can thank my coach, Glynn Tromans.
“I’m now aiming for my best-ever finish in the inter-counties, so top 20, and then hopefully selection for the Home Countries International.
“I competed in this fixture for the Midlands in 2010 and 2012.” Oxford City’s Melissa Haw-tin came 13th in the junior ladies’ race over 6km.
Hawtin clocked 23.24 in the under 20 event, which was won by the all-conquering Emelia Gorecka (Aldershot, Farnham & District) in 21.35.
Steve Naylor, from Combe, finished 33rd in the senior men’s race over 12km.
Naylor completed the 12km course in 43.39, helping first-claim club Bedford & County to fourth place in the men’s team competition.
“An overnight dumping of snow, which continued well into the Saturday morning, meant the course was white all over and also a mudbath,” said Naylor.
“It was one of the few times when my feet were like ice blocks and knees were blue on the start line.”
Oxfordshire’s Harry Earl (Border Harriers) was 45th in the junior men’s race over 10km, clocking 37.18.
Abingdon Amblers’ Nick Wiltshire came 90th in the under 13 boys’ race over 3k, recording 12.55.