EIGHT Harwich Runners took part in the 20-mile Essex Road Racing Championship, based around Langham.

This event is always a popular test for prospective marathon runners and attracts a high-quality field from the county and beyond.

This year was no exception, with 417 runners completing the three-lap course on country lanes, although conditions were wet and windy.

Simon Day was first home in the black and white vest of Harwich.

Day is on top form and completed the distance in a superb two hours, ten minutes and 47 seconds.

Mark Rutter ran his quickest 20-mile time since 2013, finishing in 2h 15m 26s, bagging him fourth place in the MV50 category.

Also going well in the same age group was John Francis, whose extra training is paying off with a strong 2h 26m 19s.

There was an excellent debut at this distance from Chris Payne, in 2h 30m 54s, while Francis Mills looks set for an excellent marathon this year, having knocked ten minutes off his personal best for this distance to finish in 2h 40m 7s.

There were good outings also for Matt Doran (2h 55m), Jeff Higgon (3h 1m) and the only Harwich lady running on the day, Clair Block (3h 43m).

Meanwhile, two Harwich Runners made their way over to Cambridge for their first half-marathon in Harwich colours.

Joel Osborne finished in 2h 11m 18s while Jo Maasz managed 2h 11m 42s.

The rain stopped just as the local Parkrun started on Saturday, meaning good conditions for those taking part.

Ninety-seven people completed the 5km course, of which 20 recorded new personal bests (PBs).

Of those taking part, 31 were members of Harwich Runners, with finish times ranging from 20m 16s to 36m 28s.

The fastest club member this week was Kate Hodgkiss, who finished second overall in 20m 16s. Ian Cottee made a return to the event, finishing seventh in 21m 37s, and Will Roxby Clarke was just three seconds short of his best, finishing tenth in 22m 19s.

Mark Rutter, who has been first finisher on a number of occasions, was saving his legs for the Essex 20-mile race the next day.

He finished 17th in what was his 50th Parkrun.

Also marking his 50th Parkrun was Ian Cannons, who finished fifth in 21m 4s.

He was also first in his age group.

Other members who were first in their age group were Claire Bransby, Peter Fraser Hopewell and Dennis Warner.

Two club members set PBs.

Nicola Flatt achieved 24m 37s and Michael Ball 24m 34s, showing the extra training they have been doing is paying off.