BY Mark Woods

SOME crafty negotiation was required, Steph Twell revealed, to secure permission from her coach Geoff Wightman to make a maiden appearance at a Scottish cross-country championships in Falkirk.

A sentimental excursion for the 29-year-old, but also with a competitive allure.

Nine times a gold medallist at the annual Euro Cross, Twell has previously claimed the English title in her familiar Aldershot vest.

But her Caledonian DNA injected through her Paisley-born mother Isobel brought a calling for Saturday's big event.

“I’ve always wanted to run for the club closest to where my Mum lived,” she confirmed.

A plea to Kilbarchan to allow an interloper was accepted. The repayment was another title to add to the club’s extensive roll of honour.

It was no surprise really that the 29-year-old’s pedigree translated into dominance in the mud of Callendar Park. Twice an Olympian, the 2016 European Championship 5,000 metres bronze medallist has grafted hard this winter – including a marathon debut in Valencia.

On the second lap she accelerated beyond reach, securing victory in 38 minutes and 38 seconds, well ahead of Glasgow-born Czech internationalist Moira Stewart with past winner Morag Millar overhauling defending champion Mhairi Maclennan for third.

Events like these, where mere mortals representing their clubs can rub shoulders with the great and good, remain enticing, Twell declared.

“The start line was epic, seeing every club together,” she said. When the race was well and truly on, she judged that it was best not to linger. “I was trying to work out what was going on in the race,” she said. “I did feel tired on the last lap because it is a testing, true cross-country course. I loved it and I hope to be back.”

Unlike Twell, Adam Craig will attempt to earn a place in the British team for next month’s world cross-country championships in Aarhus and his commanding triumph in the men’s race underlined the fact that he will be a potent challenger in the forthcoming trials in Loughborough.

“There will be no pressure,” said Craig who won by 58 seconds from Kevin Wood in clocking 33:50. “This maybe changes that. Going to world cross would be ridiculous and I’ll go for it. But it’s not going to be the focus on my mind. I’ll just go in and finish as high as I can.”