LAST weekend it was all about cross-country for members of Denbigh Harriers.

The fourth and penultimate race in the North Wales league series took place at Northop, with the men’s and women’s teams fighting to stay in Division One.

Both teams are still in a fragile position and they have their neighbours Prestatyn Running Club as their nearest target.

The men managed to close the gap by 128 points, but they are still in the relegation zone and need to beat Prestatyn by 139 points in the last fixture in Oswestry next month to finish sixth.

The women are more comfortable in fifth position.

At present, they are 127 points ahead of Prestatyn and 78 points behind Buckley, but with Prestatyn scoring 88 in this race versus Denbigh’s 157, nothing is certain.

Both races were indecently fast and it was great to see Shaun Hughes have a go at staying with the front group.

He then defended his 12th position until the end despite being isolated and a chasing group of four worked hard together to catch him in this four-lap race, with more than 450 feet of climbing.

Huw Williams has improved a lot to finish as the sixth counter, with Owen Conry, the seventh Harrier home, closing fast.

With Vic Belshaw, the fifth counter and the second VM55, unable to race at Oswestry, other racers will need to go even faster. Hopefully, on the tougher and longer course, marathon men Dan Jones and Joe Welch can get further up the field, while Glen Price holds on again as well.

David Baugh, the eighth Harrier home, ran a well-judged race and will be better placed to cope with the Oswestry hills than most.

Phil Hayes, Mat Jones and Steve Gadd ran well and while they may find the Oswestry Hills a shock, they certainly have the speed to have great races.

Tony Benton still has some speed in the aged system and picked off half-a-dozen rivals on the last lap, but missed out on catching his greatest rival Duncan Jones, who steadily widened the gap on the gradients.

Harriers' results: 12, Shaun Hughes 28.52; 52, Dan Jones 32.09; 60, Glen Price 32.32; 63, Joe Welch 32.36; 66, Vic Belshaw (2nd VM55) 32.44; 88, Huw Williams 34.22; 89, Owen Conry 34.26; 92, David Baugh 34.36; 95, Phil Hayes 34.42; 98, Mat Jones 34.59; 102, Steve Gadd 35.29; 125, Duncan Jones 37.26; 130, Tony Benton 38.05.

In the women’s race of two-and-a-half laps, there were a number of special mentions.

Rhian Pierce ran a carefully judged solo effort up front to finish 14th.

She was the second VF35 and Denbigh’s first counter, with the next five (four to count), finishing in the top third of the field.

They were led in by a very determined Mel Morris from the fast-improving and exceptionally well-running Elen Baugh.

An astonishing final lap by Tracey Williams gave her the honour of being the fourth counter, just ahead of Katy Baugh and Sioned Griffiths.

In her second cross-country race, Mari Williams looked comfortable ahead of Sali Powell in a reverse of the North Wales Championships at Rhug the previous week.

Menai Baugh cemented her VF60 category win just behind them and Sarah Bayliss zoomed back after a five-year break from cross-country.

Dawn Marshall saw the Harriers home, demonstrating that there is no substitute for getting stuck in at every opportunity.

Harriers' results: 14, Rhian Pierce (2nd VF35) 21.53; 45, Melina Morris 25.02; 47, Elen Baugh 25.12; 51, Tracey Williams 25.39; 52, Katy Baugh 25.43; 53, Sioned Griffiths 25.44; 67, Mari Williams 26.22; 79, Sali Powell 27.26; 85, Menai Baugh (1st VF60) 28.08; 92, Sarah Bayliss 28.36; 122, Dawn Marshall 32.33.

A quiet parkrun programme over the weekend saw Sian Pritchard set a new personal best of 25.27 at Bushy as she trains for the London Marathon.

Jon Whitehead was just off his pb in 26.33 at Bodelwyddan Castle.

Dawn Marshall, in her first run of the day, paced her sister around the Stretford parkrun in 35.59.