GEMMA Barnett was a race winner in familiar surroundings to mark the start of the cross country season on Saturday.

The Vale Royal Athletics Club runner recorded an emphatic victory in the senior women’s category during the opening round of the North Staffordshire League campaign at Knights Grange in Winsford.

Emma Pyatt was third in the junior women’s class, helping the hosts to claim fifth place in the team standings.

In the senior men’s race, Stuart Doyle finished third – first in the men’s over 40s age group – as Vale Royal classified fourth collectively.

Tony Archer took first prize in the men’s over 55s race, finishing inside the top 100 overall.

Edward Pettitt was fastest in the under 11s boys’ class, while there were runners-up awards for Ben Lee (under 13s boys), Caitlin Dimmick (under 13s girls) and Megan Hough (under 17s girls).

Meanwhile Vale Royal claimed third position in the under 13s boys’ team standings.