HUNDREDS of Robert Burns fans braved cold winds and heavy rain to take part in the The World Haggis ­Hurling Championship.

More than 600 people - some dressed up as the Bard - turned up for the competition, part of the annual Alloway 1759 festival, which was held in the sodden grounds of Burns Cottage in Alloway, South Ayrshire.

Contest rules state that entrants must stand on a half whisky barrel and throw a haggis, supplied by local butchers Pollok Williamson, as far as they can without it bursting open.

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Last year's champion Gary McClay, 23, successfully defended his crown yesterday - and beat his personal best - after launching the haggis 183ft.

The facilities manager from ­Kilmarnock said: "It's just like throwing a stone, only heavier. It's pretty straightforward. I managed to throw it 158ft last year, so I'm happy to beat my record again. It wasn't the best weather for it but it was a good day."

He was unable to beat the world record distance of 214ft set by Lorne Coltart at the 2011 Milngavie and Bearsden Highland Games.