Callum Hawkins aims for improvement at Worlds after Scottish success

By Kheredine IdessaneBBC Scotland at the Scottish national cross-country championships
Callum Hawkins
Hawkins was a comfortable winner in the men's event at a muddy Callendar Park

National cross-country champion Callum Hawkins says athletics in Scotland has come on "leaps and bounds" and aims to improve on his ninth place finish in the Rio Olympics marathon at this summer's World Championships in London.

Hawkins, the pre-race favourite over the 10km course at Falkirk's Callendar Park, broke away on the first of three laps to win very comfortably.

Chris Jones of Dundee Hawkhill was second ahead of Shettleston's Lachlan Oates.

It was Hawkins' second success at an event that has also been won by big brother Derek. Both are coached by father Robert, and the younger sibling, still spattered in mud as he signed autographs for fans waiting at the finish-line, reflected on the overall feel-good factor in Scotland.

"We had 15 Scots at the Olympics. And that, at least in my lifetime, is unheard of. And now Laura Muir, Andrew Butchart and myself - running the kind of times we are - it's just a snowball.

"Everyone is just bouncing off each other and it's just great for the sport in Scotland."

The next target for Hawkins is the New York half-marathon on 19 March, then the focus switches to London in August.

"Hopefully I can improve on what I did in Rio," he said.

Some of the runners cooling off in Falkirk
Some of the runners cooling off in Falkirk

Hawkins' win was the final act in a frenetic day in Falkirk, where well over 2,000 athletes splashed their way around a sometimes sodden track in all the various age-group races.

There was a fine victory in the main women's event for Morag MacLarty, who says making it into next year's Scottish Commonwealth Games team could be tougher than the trials for Rio.

It was a first senior cross-country title for the 31-year-old Central AC athlete, who won with a fine piece of front running to see off the defending champion, and Rio Olympian, Beth Potter. Lothian's Sarah Inglis took the bronze medal.

"I'm very injury-prone," said MacLarty. "My physio just identified a leg-length difference and she's been amazing. She's keeping me in one piece so I've been able to get a few months' consistent training which I've never had for as long as I can remember so I'm excited to see what I can do if I keep myself in one piece.

"Getting in the Scottish team for the 2018 Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast is going be crazy. The Scottish team is so strong, if you're looking at the 5,000m for women. So I don't know; I'm going to have to see what event I'm going to go for first . It will be a bit of a tall order."