A TRIO of off-road races have marked a successful fortnight for Pickering Running Club.

A dozen PRC members took part in the annual Cleveland Way relay – a team race around the spectacular 104-mile trail from Filey to Helmsley.

In 2013, runners were greeted with heavy thunder showers but, this year, teams benefited from ideal conditions with cloud cover for the most part of the day.

The eager Nick Cousins set off for the first part of the race at the seaside resort, with the baton passing north from runner to runner along the coast and across the Cleveland hills.

The race re-started from Clay Bank, where PRC ace Jason Cavill joined team members on the final sections down to Helmsley.

Pickering finished in ninth place out of 13 strong teams in 17 hours 29 minutes – 25 minutes slower than the previous year.

A navigational error by Lynn Humpleby on the final leg accounted for the extra time but did nothing to spoil the carnival atmosphere in Helmsley Market Place.

Before that relay race, husband and wife team, Dean and Nicola Wise, along with club-mate Cousins, returned to their long-distance roots when they took part in the Swaledale Marathon.

The 35th event took place in cloudy and humid conditions but the sun broke through during the afternoon, treating the 436 participants to breathtaking views across Arkengarthdale and Swaledale.

First home of the three was long-distance veteran Nick Cousins, whose familiarity with the route and off-road skills earned him an impressive time of four hours eight minutes and 49th position.

The Wise team completed the challenging route hours clear of the 10-hour cut-off in a comfortable 7-52.

Only days after the Swaledale, Cousins travelled with Russ Grayson to Swainby near Stokesley for the 5.7-mile Whorlton Run, part of the Esk Valley Summer FellRace Series.

In confident fashion, Grayson held his own in a strong field, finishing in 27th position clocking 51-04.

On his tail for most of the race, Cousins put in a gutsy performance on tired legs to come home in 53-21 for third in category.

Cousins said: “After running nearly 30 miles in just five days it was a slog to get to the finish line. However it is great preparation for the legendary 42-mile Lyke Wake run on July 12th.”