OXFORDSHIRE provided both the men’s and ladies winners, but in contrasting circumstances in round four at Upton Court Park, Slough.

Steve Naylor, 34, from Cassington, won the men’s race by 30 seconds in surprisingly dry conditions.

But Oxford City’s Melissa Hawtin pipped Bedford & County’s Rebecca Murray by one second after a thrilling sprint finish.

Naylor (Bedford & County) boosted his Division 1 senior men’s title hopes with victory and will now defend his crown if he finishes ninth or better in the final round on February 8.

Oxford Mail:

Steve Naylor (88), from Cassington, makes his move at the start of the men’s race. Photo: John Harvey

“I led from gun to tape, turning the tables on Alex Tovey, of Windsor, who beat me last year,” said Naylor, who completed the 5.25-mile course in 26 mins 58 secs.

“For a minute I thought I’d made the mistake again of going off too fast.

“But I stuck to the pace to keep in front and by the start of third lap I had over a 100m lead.

“It was nice to win on a course that resembles a track, which doesn’t suit me as much as woods and hills.”

Hawtin’s was her second victory of the season, but she has only run twice, so cannot win the Division 2 title.

She clocked 20.39 to Murray’s 20.40 for the 3.5-mile two lap course.

“She opened up a ten-metre gap on me two thirds of the way around the course, but it didn’t grow,” said Hawtin, 20.

“I closed it to around five metres going into the final turn, then sprinted past her up the hill into the finish.

“It was a tough race both physically and mentally, but I’m really pleased with my performance, particularly the strength I showed at the end.”

Headington Road Runners’ Chris Dettmar was the first vet 40 man home in 28.56 and lies third in the Division 1 standings. Clubmate Neville Baker leads the vet 60 ranks Although Headington’s veteran men lie second in their category, the club need a strong display in round five to avoid relegation.

Oxford City are closing in on promotion from Division 2, despite being pipped by Gade Valley on the day.

City’s Marnie Wilson sealed the under 17 girls title, while Gwyenth Hueter tops the vet 55 ladies’ ranks.

Banbury Harriers’ Tim Wright lies third in the senior men’s rankings, while clubmates Simon Pritchard (vet 40), Michelle Bartlett (vet 35 ladies) and Ros Kelling (vet 45 ladies) head their categories.