IT was more about quality than quantity at the annual Mr Sparkle’s Dark ‘Un where runners donned their head torches and took to the fells above Darwen.

Now in its ninth year, numbers were down on previous years due to the event coinciding with several clubs having a championship race the following day - while it was also held on Valentine’s Day!

But the 65 runners who took part more than made up for the missing numbers with Andrew Worster from Todmorden Harriers producing a superb performance, clocking 32mins 31secs - just 24 seconds outside the course record set by A Perry (32.07).

Fionnuala Swann of Trawden AC was first lady in 13th place overall in a time of 41.46.

Worster was just a number of Todmorden runners who travelled across to Darwen as the club once again chose the race to feature in their fell race championships.

The winner finished three and a half minutes clear of second-placed Dan Gilbert of Horwich RMI Harriers, the V40 runner clocking 36.19, while Mark Burley (Macclesfield Harriers) was third in 37.00.

The 8.1km race, organised by Darwen Dashers chairman Simon Fox, set off from the Royal Hotel in Tockholes and took in 214m climb up on to the moors.

There had been concerns about the weather and the imminent arrival of Storm Dennis, but it was a relief to find that there was a convenient weather window on the night.

And while it was blustery on the tops and wet underfoot, the temperature was perfect for running - as demonstrated by Worster.

Nigel Wood of Helm Hill was fourth in 37.35 while unattached runner Michael Pritchard completed the top five in 37.49.

Anthony Lee (38.21) was the second Todmorden Harrier home in sixth place to help the club win the men’s team prize which was completed by Dave Garner (8th, 39.28).

David Dawson (U/A) was seventh in 39.23 while Gareth Davies of host club Dashers was ninth (39.53) and Todmorden Harriers’ Ricky Parrish 10th in 40.54. Tod Harriers did the team double as Michelle Fuller (43rd, 56.44), Julie Graham (55th, 1.04.13) and Elise Milnes (56th, 1.04.13) took female team prize.

Runners attended from as far afield as Macclesfield, Denbigh and the Lake District as well as Clayton le Moors, Trawden, Bowland and Horwich who also provided two marshals.

Funds raised on the night were split between Bolton Mountain Rescue - who were once again on hand to support the race - and Prostate Cancer UK.

Race organiser Simon Fox said: “It was really nice to get such positive responses from all the runners arriving at the finish.

“Due to the generosity of Darwen Dashers club members we had plenty of prizes to hand out.

“We were very grateful to the Royal pub for providing their excellent chip butties for the runners and helpers.”