NEXT weekend is the first official weekend of the Scottish cross-country and road-running season. Traditionally it was marked by the iconic McAndrew Road Relay, hosted by Victoria Park Athletic Club.

But not this year. Despite course changes made to combat increased traffic, the 76th edition was rescheduled to distance it from next weekend's Great Scottish Run but then cancelled due to risk assessment and health and safety issues raised by the police and Glasgow Life.

Though the club applied in the customary way in January, it was only earlier this month that concerns were raised. The Scotstoun-based club felt it had to cancel, though the governing body say they issued a permit.

The club hopes that the four-stage race can be resurrected in some form. Perhaps wisely they declined to comment yesterday, so I should make it clear that, though an honourary life member of VP, this column in no way reflects any official club view.

However, some current and former members are "devastated" by the demise of an event founded in 1934. It's as if one of the last links with their youth has been severed.

One feature was that competitors could chart their progress against rivals, comparing performances year on year, and even with the best in the land – and, indeed the world. Course record-holders included Nat Muir (third best in the world at 5k in 1980) and former Olympic champion Steve Ovett. In the height of the marathon boom more than 150 teams entered, with clubs travelling from all over Scotland and the north of England. I don't believe it's a coincidence that this was a golden age for men's endurance.

Brian McAusland's admirable Scottish distance running history website reminds of how we used to look around, to judge who had trained hard during the summer. Track and wet suits in these days were for wimps, so the whiter the legs, the less running had been done.

The depth of class athletes was intense and included Commonwealth champions and medallists. No protecting reputations. They'd all be out, cutting one another's throats for the glory of their club.

Trials were held to select teams for the McAndrew. They were a right of passage and it was a badge of honour to make your club A team. The race itself was a trial for selecting forthcoming district teams and for the Edinburgh-to-Glasgow relay, another event to have bitten the dust on safety grounds. Ditto similar iconic events across the UK.

Over some 30 years, McAndrew entries fell from 150 teams to 70 two years ago, and then almost halved again last year. Scottishathletics confirm this year's race, due last weekend, was axed when police confirmed that as a result of complaints received during the Commonwealth Games, they were no longer prepared to stop traffic in support of such events.

It is a great irony that one legacy of Glasgow 2014 is that traditional sports events can't be held. Nigel Holl, chief executive of scottishathletics, spoke yesterday of "a dark cloud on the horizon" for triathlons and cycle races, as well as road running.

The police, who provided three traffic officers to supplement 30 club marshalls at the McAndrew, now pass all such requests to the City Council. Holl said he had offered to intercede, in a bid to reverse the decision, but the club felt it was too late. "A ball-dropping exercise happened here somewhere, I believe, within Glasgow Life and the police," said Hall. "I don't think the club is at issue, but they did not speak to us in advance, and when they did, we offered to jump in. The offer is still there. We will do anything we can to get this back on."

The social climate has changed. Computer games and a soft, sedentary lifestyle are the bane of health professionals, never mind sport. Scottish athletics point to bigger fields in championships but though men have done well at 1500m this year, endurance standards are discouraging. In the marathon 10 Scots broke 2hr 20min in 1980 (44 in Britain), but none so far this year and just seven UK wide. A single club, Bellahouston Harriers, for several years counted as many as four men under 2:20. But Scotland has not been alone. Depth of quality performance UK-wide has dropped as our charts show.

tab under Marathons, 1980 (Scots UK), 1990 (Scots UK) 2000 (Scots UK) 2010 (Scots UK) 2015 (Scots UK)

under 2hr 20mins, 10 44, 2 27, 1 13, 3 14, 0 7

In 1980 107 men in Britain ran under 2:27. This year just 38 have done so, including one Scot.

tab under 10,000 metres, 1980 (Scots UK), 1990 (Scots UK) 2000 (Scots UK) 2010 (Scots UK) 2015 (Scots UK)

under 30 minutes, 2 40, 2 45, 2 16, 3 18, 3 21

In 1980 88 people ran under 31 minutes, but just 48 have done so this year

tab under 5000 metres, 1980 (Scots UK), 1990 (Scots UK) 2000 (Scots UK) 2010 (Scots UK) 2015 (Scots UK)

under 14min 20sec, 8 79, 10 98, 2 42, 3 31 5 60

In 1980 100 British men ran under 14:30. This year just 88.

Scottisathletics insist otherwise, but I cannot help feeling that mass participation races, and the joscotland programme, simply encourage mediocrity and do not promote the same intensity of competition that open club races and relays like those which attracted incredibly strong fields in the 1960s, '70s and 80's did. They appear to me like a box-ticking exercise to demonstrate rising participation numbers to justify the £900,000 they receive annually.

Holl vigorously denies this: "And I have the evidence to refute that."

He does not believe there is a significant correlation between the demise of such races and declining standards, and insists social factors evident Europe-wide are more to blame. He agrees with me that one GB team in the Worldcross after 1987, rather than one from each of the four Home Nations has helped decline. He addressed this in a recent open letter to new IAAF president, Lord Coe.

However, major criteria for measuring improvement has to be depth of performance. That is in decline for many reasons, some of which are assuredly not the governing body's fault. Rightly or wrongly, however, they will be judged by it.

It may be that road relays have passed their sell-by date: Scally (Shettleson) and Cummings (Kilbarchan) relay entries are also falling. Better marketing has to happen. Competitors are voting with their absent feet.

The sport must rekindle the passion and replace the depth and intensity of endurance competition which I and many other believe was at the root of endurance success well into the 80s.