AT first glance, Andy Butchart’s natural home does not appear to be a muddy Kirkcaldy field on a freezing cold November afternoon. The perennially tanned 28-year-old is more accustomed to warmer climes but in fact, Butchart turned out to be far more comfortable that one would imagine in the conditions thrown at him in Fife yesterday.

Butchart was the star attraction at the Lindsays Scottish Short Course Cross Country Championships, which were held at Kirkcaldy High School, and he did not disappoint. The 4km course was soft, making it particularly hard going for the runners but Butchart made light work of the testing conditions.

From the off, the Central AC athlete led from the front and despite being pushed hard by Sol Sweeney, who is a training partner of Laura Muir, was never in danger of relinquishing first place.

In the end, Butchart crossed the line in 11 minutes 54 seconds, one second ahead of Sweeney in second and four seconds ahead of Carl Avary of Morpeth Harriers, who took bronze.

For Butchart, who is more regularly seen on the track competing with the world’s best 5000m runners, is was quite a change of scenery. And as the Loughborough-based athlete gets back into heavy training following a break after last month’s World Championships it was, he said, hugely enjoyable.

“That was fun. It wasn’t my favourite conditions – it was very soft underfoot so you could hardly get moving but it was nice to get a win,” he said.

“I’m still in the upcurve of getting back into training so I’ve not hit my optimum mileage yet, I’m still building up from the off-season. So it’s nice to come and do these races and still perform having not been training fully.

“It is a bit bizarre running round a field in short shorts and a vest in minus temperatures but it’s fun. It’s nice to race, it’s nice to compete, it’s nice to win, it’s nice to be back in Scotland.”

There had been talk in the week before the race of a Butchart - Callum Hawkins head-to-head in Kirkcaldy, but with the marathon man withdrawing late on, the sizeable crowds were deprived of the battle of the Olympians.

Despite having to brave the freezing temperatures, this is likely not to be Butchart’s last cross-country outing this season as he is seriously considering a tilt at the European Cross-Country Championships, which will take place in Lisbon next month.

“I’m planning on doing more this winter,” he said.

“I’d definitely consider Euro Cross. I’ve not said I’ll do it, I’m still unsure - I was going to base it on how it went at the Scottish so it’s a matter of sitting down and chatting to my team and deciding if it’ll be worthwhile.”

Butchart’s primary focus now though is next summer’s Olympic Games, which are now just eight months away. The Dunblane man has the potential to be one to watch in Tokyo, although the 5000m does not always follow the form book, as Butchart found out to his cost at last month’s World Championships.

He missed out on the final by a single place and while that was a hugely disappointing result, it has not in any way haunted him in the time since.

“There wasn’t much more I could have done. I’d like to think that if I was in the final, I’d have run well. Missing out on the final by nothing, that’s the way sport is. I missed out – done,” he said.

“I just shake it off. I’ve not thought about it in the last month, not unless someone asks me about it. I don’t go to sleep thinking about it, I’m not bothered. I move onto the Olympic Games and that’s it.”

And despite failing to reach the final, Butchart is adamant he does not need to change too much in the lead-up to Tokyo.

“I don’t think I need to do too much different. I was in ridiculously good shape, just tactically, I ran the race badly.

If you think about it like this, if you’re competing in a heat and then a final, you want to have as much in reserve for the final as possible. In my heat, I could have pushed from four laps but that would have jeopardised my final. So you have to play their game and leave it to a kick and hope that your kick is good enough on the day – and mine wasn’t. So the only thing I can do is get a bit quicker and improve my kick so that I can get to the final fresh."

Meanwhile, there were other impressive performances at the Scottish Championships yesterday. In the women’s race, Fife AC secured a one-two, with Annabel Simpson taking gold in 13 minutes 57 seconds ahead of Jenny Selman in 14 minutes 4 seconds. Megan Keith took bronze with Erin Wallace, Commonwealth Youth Games gold medallist in the 1500m, coming seventh.

Anna Headley from Fife AC and Jack Patton of Kilbarchan AAC won the under-17 girls and boys races respectively, while Anna Cairns (Inverness Harriers) and Tendai Nyabadza (Harmeny AC) won the under-15 titles.