ROMANIAN international track runner Larisa Arcip helped Hereford Couriers bounce back to form with a team victory in the second race of the Herefordshire Summer Off Road League at Kinnersley.

In a competition where teams are composed of three male and one female runners, the quality of the leading female runners is crucial to a team’s success and Arcip’s assertive run proved to be significant as Couriers improved on their fourth position in the previous race.

The early pace was set by Croft Ambrey veteran Stacey Morgan but he was overtaken after about a mile by Abbey Dore winner Eliot Taylor of Hereford Couriers who held a clear lead at the end of the first lap of the two-lap course on a warm humid evening.

Morgan was caught by a group of pursuing runners on the second lap, but found a second wind to break clear and give chase to a tiring Taylor who was feeling the effects of the sultry conditions.

He caught sight of Morgan’s bid to catch him and rallied to eventually win by 13 seconds and continue his unbeaten streak in the series.

Andrew Stephens of Monross Trailblazers battled his way to a tenacious third place, his best ever finishing position in the Herefordshire leagues and the first time that a member of the Monross club had finished in the top three.

The women compete against the men over the same course and at the half way stage Arcip and Wye Valley Runners’ Laura Tootell, the winner of the Abbey Dore event, were running stride for stride as they battled for supremacy, with Wye Valley’s Nicky Childs about 50 metres adrift.

Arcip then made a break and opened up a meaningful lead to finish in 26th place overall and an impressive victory on her league debut.

Childs fought her way through to finish second female and 30th overall just 30 seconds behind.

Tootell paid the price for her strong early pace but she hung on gamely to finish third and 42nd overall.

Couriers’ winning duo had set a strong base in the team event and were supported by Matt James in fourth place and 52-year-old Dave Williams with an excellent run in eighth place.

Couriers won by nine points from their city rivals Wye Valley, whose team was composed of Dan King in fifth, John Pullen sixth, a returning Christian Jones seventh plus Childs.

Morgan led Croft Ambrey to third place with the support of Sam Mayglothling’s 11th place plus Dave George 12th and Sue Davies 54th.

After two races Wye Valley still maintain an emphatic lead of 52 points from Couriers with Croft Ambrey a further seven points adrift.