TRADITIONAL muddy weather greeted runners for the Herefordshire Cross Country League's opening round in the scenic surroundings of Fforest Fields camp site near Builth Wells.

On their home course and men's and women's races were respectively dominated by home club Builth & District RC while Croft Ambrey RC also took some honours.

The women of the Leominster-based Croft Ambrey team once again showed their depth of talent to win the women's team prize.

Over 200 runners splashed their way over over laps of rain-sodden fields and muddy woodland, with the morning's heavy rain having relented just before the start.

The women ran the same testing course as the men and it was Croft Ambrey's Gemma Mallett who glided into an early lead.

Towards the end of the first lap, however, Builth's fell running specialist Natalie Taylor, making her league debut, swept past to record an emphatic victory.

Mallett had the consolation of finishing second and leading her Croft Ambrey team to a commanding win with the positive support of Robyn Gore in fourth place and Emma Jones in fifth.

Maldwyn Harriers recorded second team place, but Croft Ambrey's strength in depth was rewarded with their 'B' team achieving third team place.

Croft Ambrey also featured heavily in the men's event and international triathlete Mark Lamonby led away from the start.

However, the home club's summer league champion Jonny Pugh soon took over as the yellow vest of Builth became prominent at the front.

At the start of the second lap, it was Builth's Tim Iveson, the reigning men's league champion, who took control of the race with only Ludlow Runners' Matt Yapp responding as the two scampered over the mud to build a substantial lead.

A postman by trade, Iveson created a small gap and was able to maintain this winning margin as he delivered a resounding victory and led his Builth team to a comprehensive triumph.

Lamonby was the first Herefordshire runner home in fourth place as he led his Croft Ambrey team to fourth team with the backing of Gareth Leek in 11th, team captain Will Gore 20th and veteran Nigel Taylor 32nd.

This performance just pipped Wye Valley Runners, who finished fifth thanks to the efforts of Christian Jones in 13th, Richard Williams 16th, Dan Lewis 19th and Ian Whistance 21st.

The second race in the five race series will be held on the traditional course at Croft Castle on Sunday, November 10.