THE classy riders triumphed as a field of nearly 200 competitors flocked to the annual Boxing Day Runners versus Cyclists clash, at Friday Woods.

The cyclists took advantage of the dry conditions to pack the top-13 positions before the first runner came home to maintain the Markham Cup for the 17th consecutive time.

They scored 21 points to the runners 147, with the lowest score winning.

The individual winner was teenager Cameron Hurst, who won the race last year.

He showed he had lost none of his fitness as he powered around the four-mile course in a new record time of 16 minutes 39 seconds.

His Colchester Rovers colleague, another highly-rated teenager Dexter Mansell-Thomas, worked hard to finish second in 17m 33s.

Saul Muldoon was third in 17m 34s with excellent team packing coming from cyclists Jamie Hazleton (17m 41s), Keith Randall (17m 58s) and Ollie Partner, who completed the team in 18m 37s.

The first runner home was Essex runner Jordon Rowe, who was home from Loughborough.

He looked strong throughout in a gallant 13th place, finishing 20m 05s.

Thomas Gifford, another county runner who is at present based in America, showed improved form.

He was second runner home in 22m 21s ahead of the third runner, the consistent Allen Smalls (23m 14s).

Danny Millwall was 27th in 23m 58s, with Paul Rodgers (24m 18s) and Great Britain international race-walker Dominic King who was 31st in 24m 32s to complete the team.

In the Ladies section, a determined Sarah Thomas came home a gallant first for the cyclists in 16m 04s.

There was also good work coming from runners Denise Morley (second, 19m 13s), Rebecca Cooke (third, 19m 23s), Laura Hillyard (fourth, 19m 48s), Lynn Higgs (fifth, 20m 0s).

Included in the top-ten were Ellie Cumner (seventh, 21m 32s), Percival Borley (eighth, 22m 07s), Georgina Sturgeon (ninth, 22m 10s) and Lydia Cunningham (23m 37s).

In the under-15 one-lap race, cyclist Oliver Wellsted gave a good account of himself with an impressive win in 8m 20s.

He was followed closely by his team colleagues Jack Letch (second, 8m 30s) and Max Avery (third, 8m 38s).

The first girl home was a determined run by Milly Presland (fourth, 9m 06s) and Madeline Claydon (fifth, 10m 11s).

In the under-13 short two-lap race, there was a fine effort by Lee Robertson (first runner, 7m 17s), Jamie Derick (second, (cyclist) 7m 36s), Heath Thomas (third, 8m 09s), Chloe Ollett (fourth, 13m 05s), Phebe Ollett (fifth, 13m 06s), Alfie Bailey (sixth runner, 16m 02s).

Essex president-elect Diana Wooler presented the trophies while event co-ordinator John Hyland thanked the Army for the use of Friday Woods especially Major Gurung, who was invited to start the race.

Roger Alexander along with all the marshalls and officials who helped the make the event a huge success were also thanked.