COMPETITORS once again battled it out for the Markham Cup in the annual Runners v Riders competition.

The event, now in its 89th year, took place at Friday Woods on Boxing Day.

Though the conditions of the extended course were challenging, with a mixture of muddy Essex clay and woodland trails, it seemed to have little effect on the confident cyclists, who dominated the race from the start, led by highly-rated individual winner Cameron Hurst.

He flew round the four and a half mile course in 19 minutes and 29 seconds.

It was the fourth time he has won the race – a unique achievement.

The team event was also won by the cyclists, who won the Markham Cup for the 18th time.

Packing in the top ten were their scoring team of Hurst, Keith Randle, second in 20m 49s, Daniel Hall, third in 21m 38s, Dexter-Mansell-Thomas, fourth in 21m 52s, Andy Hurst, fifth in 22m 22s, and Tom Carson, sixth in 22m 56s.

The first runner home was gallant teenager Aidan Cahill, who had a superb run with a time of 25m 3s to finish in 11th place.

He was ably followed by Andrew Jobily, who was 15th and tied with Cam Humphries in 25m 45s.

Other runners of note, completing the team, were Tom Paley, 16th in 25m 54s, Steve Mason, 20th in 26m 59s, and Paul Piggot, in 26m 59s.

The ladies' two-lap course saw the runners pack in the top eight places, led by impressive 16-year-old Milly Presland.

Despite losing her shoe on the second part of the course, she showed true grit and determination to finish first in 19m 31s.

The experienced Denise Morley was second in 19m 48s, supported by excellent runs from Lizzie Welsted, in 20m 5s, Laura Hillyard, in 20m 11s, Katherine Rigby, fifth in 20m 59s, Madeleine Hayden, sixth in 21m 14s, Debbie Cattermole, seventh in 21m 57s, and Vicky Presland, eighth in 22m 58s.

The top two cyclists were Ellie Mae Pledger and Sarah Thomas, tenth in 24m 51s.

There were also good runs from Sian Gifford, 12th, Sam Cooper, 13th, Fay Smalls, 14th, and Jenna Pears, 15th.

In the under-16s' one-lap race, cyclist George Davies looked strong, finishing first, with brave Jamie Clarke being the first runner home.

In the under-13s' two laps of the short course, cyclist William Smith won the Neil Pears Trophy, pacing himself to perfection to win in 7m 9s.

There were also great performances from Issac Starmar, second, Leo Morley Robertson, third, Daniel Cooper, fourth, Connor Sharp, fifth, Ava Morley Robertson, sixth, Charlie Smalley, seventh, and Alfie Bailey, eighth.

The event was well organised by Mike Pears and John Hyland and well supported by local clubs.

Thanks went to all the helpers from Colchester Cycling Club, Colchester Harriers and friends and Great Bentley Running Club.

Thanks were also extended to the professionalism of the First Aiders and the Army, for the use of Friday Woods.

The presentation was made by Steven Pears, the son of the late Neil Pears, who helped organise this event for many years.