CALLENDAR Park in Falkirk played host to the National Cross Country Championships on Saturday, with Irvine Running Club represented in the top event.

The deluge from Storm Doris had left the course waterlogged and the overnight high winds had put the event in doubt however, the organiser’s decision to go ahead proved to be a sound one as the wind and rain had died down before the main senior races were due to start in mid-afternoon.

First up for Irvine was Liz Colquhoun making her debut in the Senior Women’s race, which had its largest ever field with more than 270 runners taking to the start line for three loops of the park and covering an increased distance of 10k for the first time to be in line with the men’s race.

The race proved to be a disappointing one though for Liz as a fall resulted in an injury which forced her to retire midway through the second lap. The race was won by Central AC’s Morag McLarty in a superb time of 38:32 to defeat defending champion and Olympic 10,000m runner Beth Potter of Victoria Park, Glasgow by more than one minute.

The Senior Men’s race had its largest field in more than 20 years with 650 souls braving the muddy conditions in a high quality race with runners participating from all over the length and breadth of Scotland.

Irvine had a depleted entry of only two runners in this year’s race, with Paul Lafferty and Mark Livingstone using it as part of their training for the London and Stirling marathons respectively.

The start of the race was akin to the start of the Grand National with runners jostling for room as the field made a sharp left turn up the first hill and the first decent showed the shape of things to come as the runners entered the first of the numerous quagmires on the course caused by the rain and the preceding number of races.

Both Irvine runners started steadily and began to move through the large field, despite the treacherous conditions.

Paul, after his excellent run at last week’s Strathaven half marathon had high hopes of a good run at this, his first time at the National, but found the heavy going unsuited to his running style but persevered to finish in a time of 45:21 to place 272nd.

Mark had a solid run and finished not far behind Paul in a time of 45:45 to place 291st.

Both were creditable runs in a race which was won in a time of 33:34 by Scottish Olympic star Callum Hawkins, fresh from his recent Scottish record when winning the Karagawa Marugame half marathon in Japan in a phenomenal time of 60 minutes dead.