THE first cross-country race of the new season took place at Writtle.

The weather was surprisingly pleasant, giving the runners a good start to the season.

Harwich Runners were back in the top pool, having bounced back from relegation at the first attempt in some style, and will be seeking to remain in Pool A.

Now needing eight men and four women to score and with a number of good runners unavailable, the club finished sixth out of six in the first race, run over an approximate five-mile distance.

In the men’s race, Stephen Peck was eighth overall and the club's best-placed runner on the day.

Mark Lloyd, in 23rd, was next and regular cross-country runners Archie Barrington, Simon Day and Robin Brookes all collected valuable points for the club.

The men’s team finished fifth in the pool.

There was an extremely promising debut for Matthew Friend, with Ben Hammond and Mark Higgs completing the scoring team of eight.

Scott Brian, Kim Pretty, Paul Smith, Steve Manley and Kris Dalby all ran their first cross-country races in a Harwich vest.

The ladies' team was missing the consistently scoring Claudine Benstead among others. Frequent cross-country runner Madeline Lewis was the first black and white vest to finish, in 23rd.

Carrie Hook is returning from a lengthy injury and scored at Writtle, with Elspeth Knott and Anne Herbert completing the scoring quartet.

The ladies placed sixth on the day.

It was pleasing to see a couple of debut runners here too with Christina Pretty and Gina Jaballah completing their first race.

In the junior race, 91 youngsters took part.

The only boy was the promising Jamie Carter, who was third in the MU11 group, finishing 23rd overall.

Daisy Ward was fourth in the girls' under-13 category and there was a good debut by Dalia Jaballah in the FU15 group.

All the other Harwich junior representatives on the day were in the girls' under-11 group and Jemima Garner finished an impressive second in that category.

There were also good runs for Eleanor Newman, Eryn Lewis and Isabella Ward, all helping the girls to a healthy fifth-placed ranking after one race.

The next race takes place this coming Sunday at Witham.

Harwich Runners were also in action at a number of Parkrun events.

Sally Gilliam recorded 25 minutes and 50 seconds in Paris, Ian Bolton was at Sheringham (25m 11s) and Elspeth Knott ran at Coldhams Common (27m 34s).

Will (23m 18s) and Sarah (28m 39s) Roxby-Clarke chose the Colchester Castle Park.

Charlie McCarthy set a new PB at Clacton, where he finished fifth in 20m 11s.

Marcus Turner also achieved a new PB; he was at the Harwich event where he ran 27m.

Scott Brian was first club member to finish in Cliff Park.

Third overall, he also set a new PB of 20m 5s.

The first lady finisher was fellow club member Karen Stapleton, in 22m 42s.