CROFT Ambrey Running Club were crowned champions after the final race of the Herefordshire Summer Cross Country League.

They hosted the last round at Shobdon Court over a varied and scenic two-lap course which tested the runners with a number of short sharp climbs and twisting terrain to break up the rhythm.

The Leominster runners defended their team title making it their fourth team triumph in the 15 year history of the Summer League.

The latest round saw the individual lead change hands on a number of occasions during the first lap with multiple champion Matt James, of Hereford Couriers, take the head of the race through the stunning arboretum section.

He was caught by MonRoss Trailblazers' Gavin Jones on the long gradual climb up to Shobdon Arches towards the end of the first lap.

Jones ran an inspired race as he stormed away and celebrated his first ever league victory by almost a minute.

James held on to record another second place with Builth RC's Jonny Pugh cruising home in third place.

Pugh had won the first three races in the series and this was enough for him to win the individual men's title for the second successive year.

In the women's race Ludlow Runners' Claire Thomas ran aggressively from the start as she built a commanding lead.

She was chased all the way by Wye Valley Runners' Jodie Newell finishing just 14 seconds behind.

Ledbury Harriers' Holly Gourley ran strongly to finish as third female.

Thomas's impressive and consistent performances throughout the series was rewarded with her being crowned the women's champion for the first time.

Wye Valley Runners, who have won the league title on seven previous occasions, took the team honours in this final race nine points ahead of Builth RC.

A weakened Croft Ambrey, missing their top male and top two female runners, had established a significant lead in the earlier rounds and they were determined to hang on to this advantage.

They were led home by a forceful run from Gareth Leek in fourth place, closely followed by a lively Toby Austin in fifth and a hard working Will Gore, the men's team captain, in 11th.

The successful Croft team was completed by a positive run from Hannah Fletcher, producing her best ever league performance in 56th place and a committed run from women's team captain Kelly Bowen in 73rd.

This ensured that Croft Ambrey took the title by 83 points.