OXFORDSHIRE runners occupied two of the three podium positions as they entered their enforced break in style at the Banbury 15.

The county’s teams were out in force for possibly their last event for some time, after England Athletics advised suspending all activity until the end of April due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The event was already tinged with emotion – its full title, the ‘Geoff Smith Banbury 15’ is named after a much-loved race organiser and Banbury Harrier athlete who died in 2015.

It was fitting that the race was won by his son, Sullivan Smith, who pipped Woodstock Harrier James Bolton for a hard-fought victory.

The Cambridge and Coleridge member completed the 15-mile course in 1hr 24mins 28secs, with fellow V40 Bolton 22 seconds behind.

Despite this, the runner-up was still 34 seconds faster than his winning time from 12 months ago.

Oxford City AC’s Aaron Burgess was the best of the rest, coming home in an impressive 1.27.40.

Many Oxfordshire runners finished top of their respective categories, with Headington Road Runners securing a hat-trick.

Carl Gaden was the first V50 as he finished 18th in 1.36.57, while teammate Steve Cowls crossed the line 90th to take the V60 crown in 1.58.57.

Phil Kimber secured the V70 title, his 2.03.55 enough for 110th.

Oxfordshire athletes also impressed in the ladies’ race, led by Eynsham Road Runner Kate Allred.

She was the second woman across the line and the first LV45, stopping the clock at 1.41.53.

Exactly two minutes further back was Isabel Stubbs, who claimed the final podium place of the female runners.

The Witney Road Runner was 42nd in 1.43.53, while Cherwell Runners and Joggers member Clare Curnow was the first LV55 in 2.05.22, which saw her finish 112th.

Elsewhere, Anna Jolliffe led the six-strong contingent of Bicester AC runners competing for Oxfordshire at the English Schools Cross Country Championships in Merseyside.

The youngster finished 82nd in the junior girls’ race in 12.15.