STEVE Naylor will start as favourite for a fourth straight title when the Oxfordshire Cross Country Championships take place at a new venue on Sunday, writes ED MEZZETTI.
The event, run in conjunction with round three of the Oxford Mail Cross Country League, will be held at Fir Tree Farm, Warmington, near Banbury.
Naylor, from Cassington, showed he is back to form with a dominant victory in the Hooky Christmas Canter and has yet to be beaten in the county competition.
Oxford City’s David Bruce, who will be running for first-claim club Highgate Harriers, plus Abingdon pair Paul Fernandez and Dan Hamilton, are expected to be among the Naylor’s main rivals.
Frances Briscoe, from Wantage, is going for an eighth county ladies’ title in a row, but the Coventry Godiva athlete’s form is uncertain as she has not raced since March.
Oxford City’s Melissa Hawtin, Elysia Ridley (Witney Road Runners) and former Woodstock Harrier Sophie Carter (Belgrave) should be among the leading candidates to succeed Bris-coe.
Among the juniors, English Schools 800m champion Christian Von Eitzen, from Abingdon, goes in the under 17 boys’ race.
Banbury Harriers’ Tory Mobley looks a good bet in the under 17 girls’ race, for which Oxford City trio Elisha Evans, Storm Sunderland and Megan Humphreys are all absent.
League secretary Luke McNeill has written to clubs, stressing the need for the meeting to impress on its debut at Fir Tree Farm.
“As with any venue, we are dependent on the landowner opening up the area for us to compete on,” he said.
“And with this one being completely new, it would be great to give a good impression of the league, the county and the sport in general.”
Bedford & County athlete Naylor cannot win the Oxford Mail title as he has missed the first two meetings.
Bruce and Paul Fernandez have won a race each so far, but the former has only competed once.
Susie Bush (Newbury) has won both ladies’ races.
- BANBURY Harriers’ Tory Mobley made it two wins in a row with victory in the Aylesbury Boxing Day 5K.
The 17-year-old was the first lady home in 19mins 48secs, finishing 36th overall.
This followed her success 11 days before in the Hooky Christmas Canter.
Alchester’s Richard Gould was the second vet 40 man home, finishing ninth in 17.41.
- OXFORD City’s Julian Richardson took the vet 40 men’s honours in the Poole Round the Lakes 10K.
Richardson finished fifth overall in 34.11.
(senior men unless stated)
PORTSMOUTH COASTAL MARATHON
Didcot Runners: R Sharp (V45) 3.29.53, K Reade (LV40) 4.10.55, E Naughton (SL) 4.10.55.
Didcot Runners: M Walker 21.39, J Shand (LV45) 26.38, C Jamieson (LV35) 26.50, T Lamble (LV35) 38.20.