FIONA Price has been crowned the 2018 Wiltshire Road Race League senior women’s champion after one of the closest competitions in the event’s history, writes KEVIN FAHEY.

The Westbury-based member of Avon Valley Runners claimed the title by just one point after a season-long battle with Chippenham Harriers’ rival Emma Hines.

“It couldn’t have been any closer,” said Price.

“When someone told me after the last race that I had won, I was very surprised. I really thought I might be lying in around fourth place because there are so many races and it is hard to keep track of who is doing what.”

Price and Hines traded blows in eight of the 10 races, with Price surprisingly finishing ahead of her rival on just two of those occasions as Hines claimed notable victories in the Bath Two Tunnels race and the Frome 5k.

But it was Price’s consistency that gave her the edge, while Hines effectively lost her chance of victory with a below-par 14th place in the Great Chalfield 10k.

Price added: “It was touch and go whether I was going to do the last race at Castle Combe, but I am glad I did as that was the eighth one and I needed that for the overall scores.

“Even better was that Avon Valley Runners also won the team prize, so it was a good year all round.”

Ironically, while Hines lost top spot by just one point, she only clinched the runner-up position by virtue of a better head-to-head record against AVR’s Philippa Brewer after both women finished on 767 points.

In contrast to the women’s competition, Michael Towler had a stranglehold on the men’s title for most of the year.

The AVR runner set out his stall early on by finishing second in both the Highworth and Competon Bassett 5 miles events, and from then on, he was never headed in the overall standings.

Two wins, in the Frome 5k and Devizes 10k races, plus three further second places and a third – his lowest finish of the year – ensured he finished 15 points clear of club-mate Damian Spreckley, with Swindon Harriers’ Simon Byrne five points further back in third.

And there was further success for the Towler family, with Michael’s mum, Tina, winning the female O60s prize.

Top veteran O50 was AVR’s Andy Stanley, with Slinn Allstars Neil Tiley lifting the O60s prize. Leading junior man was Jordan Bullock of Chippenham Harriers.

In the team competition – comprising men and women combined – Avon Valley Runners were announced overall winners with a perfect score of 160 points, with Chippenham Harriers second and Calne Running Club third.

In Division B, the winners were Slinn Allstar from runners-up Shrewton Running Club to earn both clubs promotion into Division A next year.