THE 2017/18 Herefordshire Cross Country League series kicked off with early success for two county clubs.

Wye Valley Runners Runners came top in the men's team prize, while the women of Croft Ambrey RC were also victorious.

The opening race was hosted by Builth & District RC and was based at the scenic Fforest Fields campsite near Hundred House.

The testing and twisting 10 kilometre course provided the runners with varied terrain over grassland and woodland tracks with a series of steep climbs and descents and plenty of mud.

The home club's Tim Iveson, twice winner of the Herefordshire Summer League, dictated the pace from the start with his club mate and reigning league champion, Robin Woods, and a resurgent Matt James of Hereford Couriers in pursuit. Iveson's relentless speed soon opened up daylight as he proceeded to stride away from his rivals as the field spread out.

He recorded a comfortable victory by almost a minute from Woods, with James a further minute adrift.

It was the strength in depth of Wye Valley Runners, however, that took the team honours with 43 points.

They were led home by Christian Jones in sixth place and he was strongly supported by an excellent run by six time former league champion Mike Fawcett, who was 10th.

Liam Grice was 13th and Dan Lewis 14th.

Monross Trailblazers continue to improve and recorded their best ever performance in the league in second place with 52 points, thanks to determined runs from Andy Stephens (seventh), Gavin Jones (eight), Luke Gray (12th) and Bobby Pritchard 25th.

Reigning team champions Maldwyn Harriers finished third with 55 points.

The women raced over the same challenging course and it was Wye Valley's Danca Machackova who led the way in the early stages.

After the first short loop, Wye Valley's Clare Alison, who was running in her first league event for many years, was biding her time back in eighth place.

But she gradually increased her pace and reeled in her opponents in a display of powerful running to register a comprehensive victory.

Morris' spirited run gave her second place with Machackova hanging on to third.

Croft Ambrey, with eight runners in the top 20, dominated the team event by coming second and third.

Morris' assured second place was backed by energetic runs from Irina Dale in fourth and Kelly Bowen in seventh to take the team victory with 13 points, whilst Katie Jones (ninth), Sam Harper (12th) and Sam Wickham (14th) ran strongly to record the third place.

Between the two Croft teams, reigning champions Wye Valley battled well to finish second, with Jane Hayde's 15th place providing support for Alison and Machakova.

The second race will be held at Croft Castle on Sunday, November 12.