The return of Radcliffe Athletic Club’s popular 13 Arches Half Marathon was a resounding success.

There was plenty of mud, sweat and cheers for the bumper field of 204 runners who completed Saturday’s event. Last held before the Covid pandemic in 2019, it attracted runners from a range of North West running clubs.

The scenic, but challenging, route started close to Philips Park rugby ground, Whitefield before winding its way through the trails and paths of Philips Park, Drinkwater Park, Prestwich Clough and Outwood Trail.

Runners passed the listed 13 Arches railway viaduct, and the course had a sting in the tail - a gruelling final climb back to the rugby club.

Matthew Cooper (MS), from Salford and AC Harriers, led from start to finish to win in an impressive 1hr 23mins 5secs. He was more than four minutes clear of Nick Leigh, from Horwich RMI Harriers, (M45) in 1:27:13. Bury AC’s Patrick Babb (MS) clocked 1:27:46 in third.

Prestwich AC’s Jennifer Badger (FS) was the first woman home, and 10th overall, in 1:40:47. The other two women on the podium were in the vet-45s age group - Paula Pilling, of Bolton Tri Club, was second in1:49:13 and Natalie Ormerod, of Ramsbottom Running Club, was third in 1:53:31.

The event was only possible thanks to the scores of RAC members who volunteered as marshals, car park attendants, on registration and in other roles. Their numbers were bolstered by family, friends and volunteers from the Run Together Radcliffe group.

Club chairwoman, Donna Cartwright, said: “Although it’s a very challenging course, it always proves popular with runners from far and wide. We received brilliant feedback from those who took part.

“Our club has a long history of hosting great races. Thanks to our 70-strong team of marshals and volunteers, along with a fantastic course, we are proud to have maintained that history.”

Two RAC runners also took part in races at the weekend. Kath Biddle faced slippery and muddy conditions at Sunday’s Delamere Forest Trail Half Marathon, finishing in 2:43:19.

Meanwhile, Lee Turner ran 1:00:02 at Cop Hill Fell Race, in West Yorkshire. The 6.2-mile course has 900 feet of climbing and was Turner’s first race in several months.