WYE Valley Runners consolidated their extensive lead in the 2017 Herefordshire Summer Off Road League with a comprehensive team victory at Abbey Dore.

The county club hosted the event, with Laura Toottell winning the women's race, while Matt James, of Hereford Couriers, was triumphant in the men's.

James, running in his first race of this year's series, soon opened up a gap to establish a decisive lead and proceeded to boost his advantage to 48 seconds as he crossed the finish line to repeat his victory from last year.

It was a welcome return to form for James, who has been crowned Summer League champion on four occasions, the last being eight years ago.

Wye Valley's Sam Mayglothling, winner of the previous league race, and Croft Ambrey's Mark Lamonby, were locked in their own race-long battle as each took turns to try to break the other.

This was finally resolved when Mayglothling stormed away up the final brutal hill to the finish line.

Tootell, meanwhile, registered her second successive victory in the women's event.

After setting the early pace and looking comfortable, Tootell was surprised to be caught mid race by Croft Ambrey's Irina Dale, who prompted her to dig deep to retain her lead.

Dale's spirited challenge was finally rebuffed and Tootell was able to pull clear to finish 33rd overall, 27 seconds clear of her rival.

Another relentless tussle was also being fought for the third place, with Croft Ambrey's Emma Morris and Monross Trailblazers' Laura Lelievre battling toe-to-toe.

Morris just prevailed by one second as they charged up the cruel uphill finish.

Wye Valley Runners strengthened their stranglehold on the bid to win the league team title, with Tootell and Mayglothling's assured performances well backed by another solid run from Steve Flowers in fifth and a positive run from the improving Peter Nugent in eighth.

The ever-dependable veteran Mike Fawcett was 10th, while a determined Marian Miles was 51st.

This gave Wye Valley a 19-point gap over Croft Ambrey, for whom Dale, Morris and Lamonby led the charge with support from a valiant effort by an unfit Stacey Morgan in fifth place, plus forceful runs from veterans Dave George in 19th and Neil Powell in 23rd.

An enthusiastic display from Monross Trailblazers saw them register their first ever top three finish in the Summer League thanks to Gavin Jones in fourth, Andy Stephens (seventh), Luke Gray (ninth), Barry Davies (16th), Laura Lelievre (42nd) and Vanessa Ball (90th).

Wye Valley hold a commanding 54 point lead over Croft Ambrey in the overall series, with Ludlow Runners a distant third.

The final race in the series will be held at Shobdon Court next Wednesday.

Results: 1: Matt James (Hereford Couriers) 33.58, 2 Sam Mayglothling (Wye Valley Runners) 34.46, 3 Mark Lamonby (34.55), 4 Gavin Jones (Monross Trailblazers) 35.41, 5 Steve Flowers (Wye Valley Runners) 36.28, 6 Stacey Morgan (Croft Ambrey RC) 36.41, 7 Andy Stephens (Monross Trailblazers) 37.04, 8 Peter Nugent (Wye Valley Runners) 37.13, 9 Luke Gray (Monross Trailblazers) 37.29, 10 Mike Fawcett (Wye Valley Runners) 37.39, 11 Daniel Lewis (Wye Valley Runners) 37.47, 12 Lea Wood (Wye Valley Runners) 37.56, 13 Jeremy Jehan (Wye Valley Runners) 38.01, 14 Ian Sockett (Wye Valley Runners) 38.03, 15 Matt Jenneson (Ludlow Runners) 38.28.