REIGNING Winter Cross Country Champion Gemma Mallett proved to be just as fast during the warmer months by clinching victory in the third race of the Herefordshire Summer Off Road League.

Organised by her club Croft Ambrey RC a big field of 137 runners took part around the arboretum and tranquil lakes of Shobdon Court.

Ran as a team event the series is hotting up with 11 points separating the three leading contenders with Croft Ambrey taking the team honours to close the gap on reigning champions Wye Valley Runners with Ludlow Runners in third place.

Builth R.C's Jonny Pugh continued his domination of the individual men's event to keep his perfect record in the series.

He took the lead in the early stages and gradually cantered away from his rivals. Hereford Couriers' former league champion Matt James again ran strongly to record his third successive second place as he fought off the fast finishing Jamie Shingler in the closing stages.

In contrast, the women's race provided its third different winner of the series in an exciting contest.

Wye Valley's reigning champion Laura Tootell took an early lead, closely chased by the hard working Laura Lelievre. Meanwhile Mallett had made a more conservative start and steadily worked her way through the field to pass the Tootell and Lelievre just before the end of the first lap.

There was no chance to relax in the sweltering conditions and Mallett had to concentrate hard to maintain her lead and finally finish in 37th place overall, with Lelievre 17 seconds behind in 38th and Tootell in 41st.

Mallett's impressive display played a big part in Croft Ambrey's success and she was well supported by Mark Lamonby, who finished in a battling fourth place, veteran Simon Norwood in 10th with two promising youngsters, Sam Roberts and Will Gore in 14th and 22nd places respectively.

Another strong run from Kelly Bowen in 46th place, and fifth woman, completed the winning team.

The final race in the series will be held at Westhope on August 8 with the prospect of a thrilling finish as the top three teams battle for the title.