Fionnuala McCormack showed her class once again at the weekend in the Great Edinburgh 6K Cross Country where she finished a strong second in preparation for this week's big Greenmount Cross Country International at Antrim.
The 30-year-old former double European champion fought a tough battle for most of the race with last month's European silver medallist Kate Avery. Avery finally broke clear and opened a 30 metres lead with just over a lap to go.
McCormack, who is bound for the Rio Olympics marathon in the summer, was an isolated second, a long way ahead of GB's Gemma Steel.
The positions remained unchanged to the finish with GB's Avery finally securing her first big international win. Former Edinburgh winner McCormack fought gamely in the closing stages to reduce Avery's winning margin to four seconds. The Irish woman, who was a huge 22 seconds ahead of Steel, helped the European team along with Ireland's Lizzie Lee (9th) to victory over GB by seven points.
After the race a pleased McCormack said on her hopes for 2016 "not a bad place to start".
McCormack will be fully tested again this weekend at Antrim where she faces recent Greenmount champions Birtukan Fente Alemu of Ethiopia and Mimi Belete of Bahrain.
In the Mixed 4 x 1K Relay in Edinburgh, the Irish team of John Travers, Laura Crowe and Eoin Everard had superb runs to hand over for the final leg just behind leaders Scotland. While Newcastle's Kerry O'Flaherty could not hold Scotland star Laura Muir who secured a nine seconds victory as she fought gamely to snatch third place for Ireland one second behind GB's Charlene Thomas and two seconds ahead of England.
In the Men's 8K event there was a rare defeat on UK soil for double Olympic champion Mo Farah. Garrett Heath of the US broke away with nearly a mile to go. Despite Farah's desperate efforts over the final 300 metres the American secured a hat trick of victories by two seconds over Farah.