MORE than 500 runners dug in to complete a tough Leigh 10k course.

In unusually warm October conditions, those taking part raced up a number of hills before reaching the finishing line.

And it was Southend’s Adam Hickey who again led the way.

Hickey - who triumphed in the Southend 10k at the end of September - completed the race in 34 minutes and 34 seconds.

But he only decided to take part in the race at the very last minute.

“It was only half an hour before the race that I decided to do it but it was good to get down and support another local event,” said Hickey.

“They’re great people at Leigh Striders so I was happy to get down there and do it but it’s a tough, hilly course.

“I’ve done it a couple of times in the past but I did this as a controlled run and I even wore a watch for a change.

“I had originally been due to run in a half marathon in Manchester but I didn’t have the endurance to race over that distance so I did Leigh instead.

“I enjoyed it and it was great to see a number of Southend runners taking part as well.”

Hickey was followed home by Southend club-mate Lee Taylor, who finished second in a time of 35 minutes and 10 seconds.

And Taylor was delighted to come second overall and become the first V40 competitor to cross the finishing line.

Taylor, 42, said: “I was absolutely thrilled to come second overall and place first in the V40 category.

“I’ve run the Leigh 10k before and so I know the course.

“I was hoping to do well but to come second overall and first in the V40 category feels great.

“It’s definitely a challenging course.

“I do a few 10k races and we did the Southend one, which is a bit easier.

“There are a lot of hills on this course and they are very challenging.

“But there are quite a lot of marshals at the Leigh 10k who are cheering you on and it’s a great event to compete in.

“There is quite a nice feel to it and the field isn’t very big but it is one I enjoy competing in.”

Chris Hatton, also of Southend, came third in 35 minutes and 10 seconds.

In the ladies race, Springfield Striders’ Jackie Stretton finished first in 40 minutes and 36 seconds, ahead of East Essex Tri Club duo Victoria Bishop (42.11) and Janice Brown (42.19).