Oxford’s best long-distance runners were on full display on a grey Saturday, as Cuppers Cross Country took over South Parks for an afternoon of impressive endurance.
Following a strong turn-out, including several impressive performances from freshers, the Dark Blues are hoping that both men’s and women’s teams can be triumphant at the annual Varsity Cross Country match against Cambridge at Wimbledon Common in December.
The hills and mud of South Parks made for a tough course, not too dissimilar from Wimbledon, and it is hoped that running the trial race on such a testing circuit will help prepare the Oxford squad for the race that awaits them on seventh December.
Eight men and six women can be selected for the Blues’ team, with further squads selected for the seconds’ and thirds’ match the week before at Shotover.
Former England Junior International Cross Country runner Tom Frith of St Anne’s made it a hattrick of Cuppers titles, taking victory over the near 10K distance by a clear margin. The fourth-year Physics student hopes that he can enjoy his best ever finish in the Varsity match in six weeks time:
“The course was a good representation of the Varsity match, so I’m pleased to put in a decent performance. It is my last year so I am doing everything I can to help the team win the prestigious title of Varsity champions!”
Next across the line was first-year undergraduate Will Christofi, followed by Worcester’s Adam Speake.
The women’s race was also highly competitive, with three athletes getting away on the uphill section on the second lap three, with American graduate student Claire McIlvennie taking victory ahead of last year’s Blue’s member Joanna Klaptocz. German international triathlete Sophie Saller completed the top three.
Club captain Naomi Webber was thrilled the standard of running on display: “It was a really good day. The course was hard but everyone coped well. There was so much fantastic new talent out running – we have great strength in depth this year, and I’m looking forward to the upcoming matches against Cambridge.”