SOUTHEND Athletics Club’s women romped home at the popular Essex Way Relay.

The 10-stage race, which sees competitors run 82 miles from Epping to Harwich, attracted 54 teams.

But Southend’s women finished 10 points clear of their nearest rival.

Hayley Lamkin, Sarah Pennington, Natasha Lagden, Holly Gillard, Lindsey Colman, Sarah Imbush, Anne Jenkinson, Kasia Kostyka-Allchorne, Tracy English and Kerry Holland were in impressive form, with none of the Southend members finishing lower than second place to round off a fine day.

Team manager Natasha Lagden, who has been spearheading the challenge for 10 years, was pleased to oversee the success following silvers in 2013 and 2014, along with a bronze medal finish in 2009.

Southend’s vets 45 team were in fifth place, while the senior men would have expected to have finished in the medal positions but they were made to settle for sixth spot out of 36 men’s teams.

More than 50 Leigh Striders members competed, with the men’s A, B and C teams placing in fifth, 10th and 46th respectively.

The A team were in second place after four stages, with Matibini Matibini winning his stage, but they could not recover from a wrong turn.

Only 31 points separated the winners and the fifth-placed Striders.

And men’s captain Dean Ovel was pleased to play his part in the Essex Way Relay.

Ovel said: “I would like to thank all the people involved in the Essex Way Relay.

“There was fantastic team spirit throughout and I wore my blue vest and competed as a member of Leigh Striders with pride.”

Leigh’s ladies A team went into this year’s contest looking to defend their title and Andrea Hughes got them off to the best possible start as she was the first lady home in leg one and the only Striders lady to win a stage.

Hughes was also the joint-second highest placed lady from the overall scores with her seventh place finish.

Only a Great Britain runner bettered her efforts by finishing in sixth place overall.

But injury and illness in the rest of the team meant that Leigh’s ladies A team could not retain their crown and had to settle for fourth place overall.

The Striders’ mixed team were in 31st position and the ladies B team clinched 12th spot.

Meanwhile, Castle Point Joggers took a team to the Essex Way Relay for the first time in a number of years.

Rick Wade set about recruiting members for the event and Ian Hart, Adam Poulton, John Sweeney, Rick Wade, Jo McNeilly, Ty McKeown and Adam Hemsworth put their names forward to represent the club.

The team of 10 finished in a respectable 16th place in their category, which was enough to secure 24th spot overall.

Hemsworth completed stage seven of the course, which saw him run 11.2 miles from West Bergholt to Dedham.

And he was pleased with his time.

Hemsworth said: “It was a very hot day, but it was great fun and there was a good atmosphere.

“I only got lost a few times but I will take completing 11.2 miles in one hour and 27 minutes.”