ADAM Hickey won his third Southend 10km win on the bounce and his fifth overall – then afterwards declared it his “toughest win yet”.

The 24-year-old was locked in a battle with pal Paul Whittaker for the entire race and was only able to sprint clear in the final 100m.

It was the latest exciting duel between the pair who are, by some distance, the county’s best distance runners.

“I love our battles,” said Hickey. “And this one was really tough. We probably ran the first kilometre (2m 50s) too fast and maybe paid for that.

“It’s always tough racing Paul, we were literally shoulder to shoulder the whole way. He is in really good shape at the moment so I was really pleased to get the victory.”

Hickey’s winning time was 31m 1s with Whittaker finishing three seconds further back. Third place went to Clapham Chasers’ James Ellis (33m 12s).

There was a strong showing of red Southend vests throughout the field, with Peter Smale (35m 30s) finishing ninth in a new personal best.

Another noteworthy Seasiders’ performance came from under-15 athlete Laurence Willmore who finished 21st overall in 36m 50s.

The women’s race was won by Springfield Striders’ Nikki Brockbank (39m 12s) ahead of Billericay Striders’ Emma Prideaux (39m 40s) and Southend AC’s Kerry Holland (40m 25s).

* The junior 3km race was won by Southend AC’s Adam Jordan who was trailed in by Canvey’s Jodie Judd (Chelmsford AC) who was the winner of the girls’ race and an impressive second overall.