Garden City Runners had two very important dates to occupy their start to 2024 - both involving lashings of mud.

The Herts County Cross-country Championships took some to Verulamium Park in St Albans on Sunday.

The women’s race over an 8.4k course was followed by a slightly longer 10.8k run for the men.

And it wasn't as muddy as first feared, although there were still some gloopy patches under foot.

Welwyn Hatfield Times: The GCR women at the Herts county XC championship. Picture: GCRThe GCR women at the Herts county XC championship. Picture: GCR (Image: Garden City Runners)

Lizzie Parry was the first GCR woman to finish in 15th with Martha Hall 23rd, Zoe Stephens 27th and Sarah Durston completing the women’s A team in 51st place.

Rebecca Barden, Sophie Packman, Lucy Iles and Nikki Cowen also started for the women.

For the men, Bradley Birch was first GCR home in 12th, captain James Huish next in 22nd, Chris Baylis 27th; Thom Buzzard 53rd and Grant Chapman in 58th.

Chris Jones, Nick Summers, Andy Holt, Dom Thomas and Russell Casey completed the male GCR line-up.

Welwyn Hatfield Times: Some of the Garden City Runners squad at the Welwyn Half inside Gosling Stadium. Picture: GCRSome of the Garden City Runners squad at the Welwyn Half inside Gosling Stadium. Picture: GCR (Image: Garden City Runners)

Some from Garden City Runners opted for comforts even closer to home as they took on the Welwyn Half.

That started and finished at Gosling Stadium and used an out and back course along Cole Green Way.

Peter Harvey finished sixth overall in one hour 25 minutes 18 seconds and team-mate Matt Baker joined him in the top 10 with his 1:26:57 placing him eighth.

Martin Mitchell ran a new PB of 1:28:52 to finish 13th and Dave Goosetree ran with Paul Watts, finishing in 2:29:38.

For the ladies, Sharon Threlfall was pleased with her comeback from injury, clocking 2:10:47, and Ann Hayden was first in the W60 age group in 2:16:00.

Another muddy trail took 10 GCRs out of Hertfordshire and into Essex, as they took on the 26 mile Stansted Stagger.

For Neil Brittain and Eleanor Sage it was their first time over the distance, and while not perhaps the most ideal introduction to 26-mile running, they did get round safely.

Andrew Ackrill, Kath Evans, Paul Gatens, Nicholas Genever, Peter Jasko, Barbara Kubis-Labiak, Belinda McGinley and Stuart Whitford were the others at Stansted Mountfitchet for the annual event.

There were 103 GCRs running parkruns on Saturday.

Caroline Hale was fourth lady at Stevenage while in the home evet at Panshanger, Adam Wadley was third overall, Paul Guy sixth and Matt Baker seventh.

At Rushmere in Leighton Buzzard, Rob Casserley was eighth and at Jersey Farm in St Albans, Bruce Judge came ninth.

Westmill at Ware provided the biggest GCR result of the day with Chris Baylis first into the finish funnel.