FIVE sets of keen runners got creative during lockdown as they went head-to-head in a virtual relay race.

Southend Athletics Club members clashed with four teams from the Midlands and came out on top by running a total of 265 miles.

The event was initiated by Wellingborough and District Athletics Club and their chairman invited Southend - along with Bedford Harriers, Ampthill & Flitwick Flyers and Leighton Buzzard Fun Runners - to get in on the action.

With the aim being to field a team to run at 30 minute intervals over the course of 14 hours, runners simply had to capture the distance they covered on their GPS watch or phone and send through confirmation.

Administrators for each competing team then compiled all the results to determine an average per runner.

Lee Taylor, the Essex Cross Country Vets Silver medallist, who also competed in the virtual relay for Southend said the club embraced the challenge.

He said: “It was intentionally opened up to runners of all abilities, with the main aim being to encourage participation and club spirit.

“The event only required a minimum of 27 runners, but we seized the opportunity for a bit of lockdown competition and fielded 63.”

Inside the opening three hours, the Southend group averaged an impressive 4.27 miles per person in the allotted 30 minutes.

The fine form continued with numerous members clocking up five miles, while star Adam Hickey managed a mammoth 6.5 miles and Tom Frith clocked up just shy of six miles.

Southend achieved an incredible average of 4.2 miles across 63 runners.

Mr Taylor added: “While this was pitched as a bit of friendly competition, things quickly got competitive between the teams with everyone pushing hard to get ahead.

“Each team updated their average mileage at three-hour intervals throughout the day, which added to the sense of excitement.

“Ultimately, it was with a great sense of achievement that Southend triumphed overall when the final results were confirmed.

“The event really appealed to runners who have been without competition for several months and it was a great moment to don the red, white and black club colours.”