LEIGH Striders were confirmed as the Division One runners-up of the South Essex Cross Country League after finishing the season in fine form.

The club went into the final meeting of the campaign knowing that top spot was out of reach, with Benfleet Running Club boasting an unassailable lead at the summit.

However, Leigh could have still been caught by Billericay Striders - who went into their home event at South Weald Country Park in third place - so they knew they needed to end the season on a high.

Despite the freezing conditions, 55 Leigh members took part in proceedings, with another 10 representatives supporting the competitors from the sidelines.

While frontrunners Benfleet took top spot once again, Leigh were able to clinch the runners-up spot and Billericay completed the top three.

And that order proved to also be the same in the final standings.

Rhys Gillard led the men’s team home, as he successfully completed the hilly course in an impressive time in order to take fifth place.

Matibini Matibini also put in a stunning performance, as he took seventh spot.

Dean Ovel was in 17th position, with Neil Spicer claiming 22nd place.

Stuart Cable and Andy Prior were in 26th and 29th respectively, while Adam Lysons completed the men’s point scorers by finishing in 30th position.

The seven points scorers were backed up by 23 other Striders members who completed the final event of the South Essex Cross Country League season.

Among those was Arran Salmon, who was competing in his 27th consecutive cross country event.

Salmon has been a mainstay in the discipline since 2013.

Katie Spicer was the first ladies team points scorer for the club.

Spicer was the seventh competitor to cross the finish line, while Kaye Perrotton also clinched a spot in the top 10.

Nikki Baynes and Rachel Riggs were the final points scorers, as they were in 13th and 15th respectively.

Another 21 Striders ladies participated in the contest.

Club chairman Mark Dobson was full of praise for the athletes who had played their part in Leigh coming in the competition’s top two performers.

Dobson said: “Thank you to everyone who was part of another incredible cross country season with fantastic commitment, inspiring effort and that very special Leigh Striders team spirit.”

Meanwhile, Claire Davies took on her first half-marathon in preparation for next month’s London Marathon.

Davies completed the Roding Valley Half-Marathon in two hours, 13 minutes and 52 seconds.