LUDLOW Runners’ Oliver Perratt was crowned men’s champion of the Herefordshire Cross Country League after a top-three finish in the final meeting of the season.

Perratt was rewarded for his consistent runs throughout the campaign as he claimed the overall title for the first time.

The final race of the season, held on a challenging, hilly and muddy 6.8-mile course in the woodlands over Presteigne, was a thrilling affair with just five seconds separating the top three runners.

Hereford Couriers’ Jonathan Barnes set the early pace as the runners negotiated the early first stiff ascent and built a sizeable lead.

However, Barnes’ in-form teammate Matt James tracked him down and stormed ahead before relaxing on the gradual downhill finish track to register a third straight race win.

That was still not enough to prevent Ludlow’s Perratt lifting the title as he finished the race third, just behind Barnes in a lung-bursting long sprint finish.

Maldwyn Harriers were the top team on the day with Hereford Couriers second but it was Builth and District Running Club who retained the overall team title, 33 points ahead of Maldwyn.

Croft Ambrey Running Club won the overall women’s 2019/20 title and one of their runners, Gemma Mallett, won the individual crown.

The women raced over a shorter 4.4-mile course with marathon specialist Mallett forging into the lead at the halfway stage before recording an emphatic win to clinch a second series title.

Her win helped Croft seal the women’s title by 53 points over second-placed Builth, with Maldwyn third.