MORE than 550 runners competed in the annual Benfleet 15 despite difficult conditions.

The event, which took place at Hadleigh Country Park, started with a family race, which was won by 14-year-old Ethan Douglass in seven minutes 57 seconds.

He was followed by Ruby Muffett, who registered a time of eight minutes 23 seconds, and third placed Bree Lock.

In the main race, Ryan Prout was the first man to cross the finishing line, while Charlie Austin was the first lady to finish the race.

Gary Jones was the first man over 40 to complete the 15 miles.

The first lady over 35 was Emma Crawford, while Susanne Enhard and Jenny Harley took the first lady over 45 and 55 honours.

Garth Morris and Dave Cox became the first man over 50 and 60, respectively, to cross the finishing line.

Benfleet Running Club, who hosted the popular event which saw 564 people take part, saw Andrew Low, Peter Stalley and Nick Rankin all finish the course within two hours.

Roy Harwood and Stephen Burton both also performed well, while James Caldon did not finish.

Leigh On Sea Striders took the ladies team honours while Billericay Striders were the best performing men’s team.

Graham Douglass, of Benfleet Running Club, admitted the 27th annual event was a success.

Douglass said: “It rained all day and underfoot it was still quite icy and the ground was frozen in places.

“It was not great conditions but we have been flooded with really positive feedback.”