A large contingent of 25 Stilton Striders travelled to Whitwick on Sunday to compete in the first cross country race in the Derby Runner League series.
The first of six races was hosted by Hermitage Harriers AC, but it needed a course inspection following the recent heavy rains.
Organisers decided the course was fit to run, with the swollen stream crossings having receded to a safe level.
But the two-lap 5.4-mile course was extremely heavy under foot as it meandered in and through Holly Hayes Woods.
Rocky footpaths and tree roots added to the challenging conditions, with a few over-enthusiastic runners getting caught out.
A massive field of well over 600 runners and a narrow congested start area, saw the race split into a men’s start at 11am followed five minutes later by the ladies.
Stilton’s men’s team scored well, with Ian Drage home in 33th position, followed by Mark Stoneley 58th and Ian Bickle 77th in the top 100.
Tom Boden (120th), Andy Nicholls (137th), Simon Bottrill (158th), debutant David Brookes (183rd) and Mark Ashmore (198th) completed the team score.
Also competing for the Melton club was Robert Craig (247th), Ian Craddock (265th), Mat White (335th), Chris Genes (337th) and Nick Pryke (355th).
The Striders’ ladies’ section also ran well as Sophie Power finished a very impressive 11th, well supported by Vicki Lowe (46th), Rachel Wade (53rd) and Liz Taylor (98th).
Other ladies finishing were Sophie Clarke (109th) who just outsprinted clubmate Kathy Walsh.
Nikola Dolphin-Rowlands was next back in 118th, followed by Alison Clarke (122nd), Anne Craddock (129th), Karen Matthias (169th), Ashley Jackson (192nd) and Leigh Pick (199th).
Special mention should be made to Leigh who runs these cross-races in all conditions as a visually impaired (VI) runner with her guide runner Nick Pryke, the only VI runner and guide to run these challenging and difficult races.
The next race is on December 8 around the equally challenging Bradgate Park.