ATHLETICS: Fernandez shows class at Culham

Oxford Mail: Race winner Paul Fernandez attempts to fend off the attention of eventual runner-up Josh Entwhistle (left) at Culham Park Race winner Paul Fernandez attempts to fend off the attention of eventual runner-up Josh Entwhistle (left) at Culham Park

PAUL Fernandez took full advantage of David Bruce’s abs-ence to storm to victory at Culham Park.

Defending champion Bruce, who won the opening round at Ascott-under-Wychwood a month ago, was not in the field for the second round.

And Abingdon’s Fernandez, who finished 37 seconds adrift of the Oxford City athlete in the opening race of this year’s event, showed his class with a convincing victory.

Although neck-and-neck with Josh Entwhistle, from Oxford Brookes University, for the majority of the race, Fernandez broke away late on to record a time of 29mins 8secs and finish 12 seconds ahead of his rival.

David Bell (Cirencester) took third, with six of the next seven finishers all from Oxfordshire.

Aaron Burgess (Oxford City) was fourth, with clubmate Steve Male fifth.

Woodstock’s James Bolton was sixth, but won the Vet 40 men’s category.

Oxford City’s Matthieu Marshall was the first under 20 runner home.

Susie Bush (Newbury) made it back-to-back victories in the ladies race with a sensational display.

Bush finished almost a minute ahead of teammate Jessica Franklin in a dominant display.

Her time of 23.50 was almost two minutes ahead of the first Oxfordshire runner home, Headington’s Jessica Leitch, who was third.

Leitch got the better of a terrific battle with Alchester’s Michelle Pank, who was just a second behind in fourth at the finish line.

Pank’s clubmate Sara Rendell was fifth and took victory in the vet 35 category.

Jade Walker (Oxford City) was the first under 20 runner to cross the line, recording 27.48.

  • A depleted White Horse Harriers crashed to their worst team total since the league began.

It leaves them well adrift at the foot of the Division 1 team standings and it will take an extraordinary effort in the next three rounds to retain their place in the top flight.

With only one of their runners who finished in the top 20 in round one available, it was always going to be an uphill task.

Sam Marshall, who had returned home from university in order to run, was taken ill and was forced to drop out at the end of the first lap when in the top 20.

Harriers’ best performances were third places for Ros Burgess (LV45) and Ian Lambourn (V50).

  • Megan Humphreys recorded an impressive success in the girls under 15/17 race.

The Oxford City athlete, below, who missed the opening round, came home in 12mins 8secs to push last month’s winner Fiona Bunn (Abingdon) into second.

Bunn, who is an under 15, was 11 seconds behind.

Abingdon’s Charlotte Barwick (8.23) saw off Bicester’s Sophie Wheeler (8.28) to claim victory in the under 13 race.

Oxford City’s Alex-andra Scrivener took the under 11 category, beating the Radley duo of Herm-ione Jewell and Scarlet Paton.

The under 15/17 boys’ race was dominated by athletes from outside the county, Team Kennet’s Alex Hanson taking victory, White Horse Harrier Ben Claridge the first local finisher in fifth.

Team Kennet tasted more success in the under 13 boys’ race as Sammy Hart proved too strong for Radley’s Henry Insley.

However, there was Oxfordshire success in the under 11 event when Abingdon’s Kie Francis produced a gritty display to beat Banbury’s Skip Snelson by four seconds.

Johnny James, of Radley, won the under 9 race.

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