HEREFORDSHIRE Cross Country League staged their second race of the 2016/17 season at Croft Castle.

There had been below par performances from the county's athletic clubs in the first race in the series last month, but some pride was restored by Hereford Couriers' men and Wye Valley Runners' women as they recorded emphatic team victories in a race that attracted record turnouts in both the men's and women's events.

The women ran one and a half laps of the demanding course over grassland, stony tracks and hilly woodland.

Reigning champion Nicola Davies, of Maldwyn Harriers, set a strong early pace as the women ran with the men over the first gruelling lap.

Once the female runners cut off on the forestry track, Ludlow Runners' Amy Fulford, who had played the waiting game, reeled in her opponent to challenge for the lead before breaking away forcefully over the final mile to record her first league victory by almost 30 seconds.

Fulford had been in contention in many previous league races and was overjoyed to finally register her first win.

Davies hung on for second place with a resurgent Laura Tootell, of Wye Valley Runners, storming through to take third. Tootell also led her team to a dominant triumph with strong support from Danca Machackova and Kate Owen finishing fourth and fifth respectively.

Ludlow finished second, with Fulford well supported by Eilish Gilbert in eighth and Viv Dempsey 18th.

Home club Croft Ambrey were just two points adrift in third thanks to a fighting sixth place from Irina Dale, a remarkable ninth place from 64-year-old Liz Bowers and a positive run from Kelly Bowen in 14th.

The men's race was competed over three arduous laps, which included a climb to the Croft Ambrey iron age hill fort on each circuit.

It produced an exciting battle for supremacy between Builth Running Club's Jonny Pugh, winner of the first race in the series, and Maldwyn Harriers' reigning league champion Tim Davies.

The rivals were soon prominent at the front and established a substantial gap over the other competitors and continued to dispute the lead, taking it in turns to try to break away. Davies finally surged powerfully away on the final lap on the long downhill track into Fishpool Valley to establish a decisive lead, which he maintained to win by 6 seconds.

Couriers' 2013/14 league champion Eliot Taylor ran a solo race to finish a clear second and he led his team to a resounding win, with assistance from Charlie Jones, running in his first winter league race, in seventh, and two other former league champions Matt James and veteran Russell James in ninth and 14th places respectively.

The next race in the series will be held at a new course at Rotherwas on Sunday, December 4.