IRVINE Running Club hosted the 59th consecutive Cyclists v Harriers race on Sunday, with the event attracting 62 hardy competitors.

The course starts with a lap of the Marress Playing Fields, then moves to the town moor for an undulating two laps before a final lap of the playing fields. A sudden overnight thaw before the race produced one of the softest race surfaces in recent years which should have favoured the harriers.

However 2016 champion, Brian Yates of Carrick Cycles, was on a mission to retain his title as he raced into the lead right from the gun with Irvine Running Club veteran, Billy Richardson, his main challenger.

As the race progressed, these two soon showed they were the class acts in the race as they moved further away from the rest of the field.

It was ultimately Yates who proved the stronger, retaining his trophy with a time of 27.58. Richardson was second in 29.12 - a commendable performance which should give him confidence for the Scottish Masters Cross Country Championships at the beginning of February. Cyclists took third and fourth places through Scott Kerr of Walkers Cycling and James Edwards of Ayr Burners.

The first lady runner home was Laura Wallace of Ayr Seaforth and the first lady cyclist was Lorna Todd of Ayrodynamic Triathlon Club.

There were some solid performances from some of the other Irvine RC competitors with Paul Lafferty (6th in 32.28), Scott Brown (8th in 33.31) and Alan Douglas (10th in 33.41) all achieving top 10 placings. Colin Miller will also be looking forward to the Scottish Masters as he put in a good performance to finish first M60 in 34.25.

The next event for the Irvine club will be their annual Christmas handicap race to be held from Irvine Sports Club on Saturday, with a 1pm start.