THE West District Cross Country Championships returned to Irvine Moor for the first time in a number of years.

Clubs from across the west of Scotland competed in the event and there was a large turnout from across the area for the various races which covered various junior age groups as well as senior events.

The recent cold snap had left the ground very firm which was in contrast to recent years which have tended to be muddy affairs.

Final race of the day was the men’s race which consisted of three laps of the Moor with a total distance of 10k and included some long flat sections which, given the firm ground, was conducive to fast running along with some twisty and hilly segments through the gorse bushes.

A large field of approximately 220 runners took to the start line with seven from Irvine braving the cold conditions.

Misfortune struck one of Irvine’s leading runners when a recurrence of a hip injury picked up after a recent fall during a training run meant that Paul Lafferty had to walk half of the final lap and so finished down the field in a time of 45 minutes 29 seconds. There were good runs however by a number of Irvine runners with Colin Whitby first home in 93rd place with a time of 39:16. Next to finish for the Marress club was Alan Douglas (40:47) closely followed by a trio of Scott Brown (41:51), George Irving (41:54) and Graeme Macfarlane (42:19), with vet 65 Peter Taylor having a fine run, finishing in a time of 50:58. The trio of Brown, Irving and Macfarlane also claimed 10th place in the Masters Team which is for runners aged 40 and above.

The men’s race was won in a sprint finish by Scottish Commonwealth Games triathlete Grant Sheldon of Cambuslang Harriers in a time of 31:13, which was the same time as the second place Andrew Douglas of Inverclyde with Lachlan Oates of Shettleston Harriers taking third place. In the team race, Cambuslang Harriers took the honours.

In the senior women’s race which was 6400m in length, Michelle Sandison of Springburn Harriers took the win in a time of 24:47, 12 seconds ahead of Kilbarchan’s Elspeth Curran with Nicola Hood of Dumfries Harriers taking bronze.

Cambuslang Harriers also took first place in the women’s team race.