Aaron Burgess was delighted with his maiden victory in round four of the Oxford Mail Cross Country League at Cirencester Park.
The Oxford City athlete saw off Josh Entwistle (Oxford Brookes) by 17 seconds to put himself firmly in the senior men’s title race.
Burgess completed the challenging three-lap 9km course in 34mins 5secs, with Entwistle clocking 34.22.
Abingdon’s Paul Fernandez, who missed the race, still leads the standings, but Enwistle, Burgess and David Bell (Cirencester) are all within striking distance.
“I set off just behind the lead bunch of two Cirencester lads and Josh Entwistle,” said Burgess.
“Once I got to the first muddy downhill section, I thought I'd push hard to latch onto the back of the bunch, but found myself taking the lead by 15-20 yards.
“At that point I was almost waiting for them to catch me, but after the flat section I was still clear, so I continued to plough on making sure I worked hard up and down the hills.
“It was great to lead the race from such an early stage and I got loads of support around the course which always helps.”
City’s Les Newell (34.30) took third after holding off Woodstock Harriers’ James Bolton (34.46) and Julian Richardson (Oxford), who clocked 34.41.
There was home success in the ladies’ race where Cirencester’s Wendy Nicholls shone on her home course.
The 44-year-old held off Jessica Franklin (Newbury), who is ten years her junior, by five seconds.
Nicholls completed the 6km course in 26.22 to Franklin’s 26.27.
Jenny Manners (Cirencester) took third in 26.47, ahead of Eynsham’s Hannah Hale and Alchester’s Sarah Rendell.
Sophie Bush (Newbury), who did not race, leads the senior ladies’ standings ahead of Franklin.
Headington Road Runners’ Jess Bruce and Alchester’s Michelle Pank are joint third.