ORGANISERS of the Oxford Mail Cross Country League say they had no option other than hold three races in this year’s championship outside the county.

This season’s event, which consists of five rounds in as many months, gets under way on Sunday at Newbury Showground.

Two further races are held outside the county, with only Horspath and Adderbury hosting in Oxfordshire.

Such is the popularity of the league, a record number of entries will line up for the first round, with 1,810 athletes set to take part at the weekend.

The growing numbers present problems for finding venues and sufficient space for car parking has become one of the biggest issues.

League manager Dene Stringfellow insists the options are limited and is calling on landowners to come forward and keep more races closer to home.

“There are not really any other venues in Oxfordshire that can accommodate the league,” he said.

“I’ve spent a large amount of time contacting various places, such as horse riding and eventing venues, and their car parks are just not big enough and they don’t want the kind of disruption that such a big event would bring.

“If there is any landowner out there that would be prepared to allow the league to host fixtures we would appreciate knowing that.”

Cirencester Park and Henley Showground are the other venues in this year’s calendar, while Swindon hosts races in alternate years.

Horspath will hold the third race in January, while Adderbury has become a regular venue and shifts to the February round.

Carterton proved a popular addition to the fixture list in 2017/18, but it was not big enough to accommodate all of the parking.

Stringfellow added: “We are almost back at square one (in Oxfordshire) with the exception of two venues rotating now – and that is what we would like for all the fixtures.

“There’s always the chance there could be an issue with one venue and we might lose it.

“In the last five or six years, we’ve lost three or four fixtures, which is disappointing for the athletes because they look forward to the races and we would like to try to avoid that in the future.”