IRVINE Running Club and Ron's Runners finished off 2017 by holding their joint Christmas Handicap on December 30.

The race is held over a 2.74 mile course using the pathways around Irvine Moor with a start and finish at Irvine Sports Club.

The format of the event is that the slower runners set off first to be chased down by the faster athletes and if the handicaps are good everyone should have an equal chance of winning.

At the end there were a number of close finishes with some runners only separated by one second. First home was Willie Goggans of Ron's Runners followed 12 seconds later by club mate Audrey Green and in third it was Peter Taylor of Irvine Running Club only eight seconds behind.

Colin Miller had an impressive run through the field to finish fifth with the first IRC lady, Liz Colquhoun, in 6th place. Fastest scratch time from IRC was Paul Lafferty in 16.06 with the fastest lady, Jennie Jackson, of IRC an impressive 19.59. Fastest gent and lady for Ron's Runners were Andy Stewart in 18.16 and Lorna Baird in 20.07.

The first Irvine Running Club finisher is presented with the Hamilton Trophy and the club have established a tradition of inviting people with a distinguished history at the club to present the trophy. This year's guest was Bill Speirs who started running with the club back in the 1960's when it was still known as Irvine YMCA Harriers.

Bill was a regular competitor in cross-country and road races including competing in the World Masters Marathon championships. However it was when he took over as coach of the club's young athletes in the 1970's and 1980's that Bill made his greatest contribution to the club. There are many runners spread throughout the Irvine community who can be thankful to Bill for the expertise and encouragement which he gave them during their teenage years.

Before presenting the Hamilton trophy to this year's winner, Peter Taylor, Bill gave a well received speech about his life long passion for running.