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Great XCountry: Athletes get set for Edinburgh epic

Great XCountry: Athletes get set for Edinburgh epic

Holyrood Park hosts the high-quality cross country where Laura Muir, Leonard Korir and Fionnuala McCormack will be among those racing

The Simplyhealth Great Edinburgh XCountry is again set to be an event to savour as world-class athletes contest the international team challenge and the innovative mixed cross country relay on Saturday.

The day will begin with a series of Scottish Inter District races before the junior men’s and women’s events herald the start of the international contest between Great Britain, Europe and USA.

The overall winners will be determined by the best aggregate finishing positions of the six best-placed athletes in the senior category, as well as the four best-placed athletes in the junior races.

In the senior men’s race, Korir will look to continue America’s dominance of an event they have won every year since 2013. The appearance of 2016 winner and two-time short-course champion Garrett Heath will further strengthen their hand.

However, the British and European line-ups are packed with cross-country know-how. For Britain, Ben Connor will be looking to continue the fine cross-country form he showed towards the end of 2017. He is joined by the likes of Andy Vernon, who came out on top in the British Cross Challenge in Antrim last weekend.

Great-Edinburgh-XCountry-2018-preview-by-Mark-Shearman

The European line-up includes senior men’s Euro Cross champion Kaan Kigen Ozbilen of Turkey, as well as Spanish runner-up Adel Mechaal.

The senior women’s field is headed by defending champion Yasemin Can of Turkey, also the reigning Euro Cross champion. She is joined in the European team by Ireland’s Fionnuala McCormack, twice a winner in Edinburgh.

From the British squad, it will be interesting to see how Harriet Knowles-Jones, under-20 Euro Cross champion, fares in her first step up to senior competition as she joins athletes such as Emelia Gorecka and Jessica Judd.

The American threat is expected to come from 2016 Olympic marathon seventh-placer Desi Linden.

Laura Muir is among the athletes competing in the 4x1km relay event which will involve teams of male and female runners, battling it out for the Stewart International trophy.

After leading the GB team to victory last year, Muir will be joined by European cross country relay gold medallist Tom Marshall, Adam Clarke and Alex Bell.

They will be up against the likes of a strong-looking Scotland A line-up featuring Jamie Williamson, Steph Pennycook, Jake Wightman and Euro Cross senior women’s team gold medallist Steph Twell.

Start lists can be found here.

TIMETABLE

09:40 Simplyhealth Great Edinburgh Winter Run
10:15 U15 girls Inter District + U15 boys Inter District (4km)
10:40 Senior and junior women Inter District (6km)
11:10 Senior and junior men Inter District (8km)
11:45 Simplyhealth Junior Great Edinburgh Winter Run
11:50 U13 girls Inter District and U13 boys Inter District (3km)
12:15 Simplyhealth Great Edinburgh XCountry junior men’s 6km inc. U17 Inter District
12:45 Simplyhealth Great Edinburgh XCountry junior women’s 4km* inc. U17 Inter District
13:23 Simplyhealth Great Edinburgh XCountry 4x1km relay*
13:55 Simplyhealth Great Edinburgh XCountry women’s 6km*
14:35 Simplyhealth Great Edinburgh XCountry men’s 8km*
* Times are subject to change

» The events are free to watch or, if you can’t get along, the live BBC coverage begins at 13:15. Check out the January 18 edition of AW for coverage and see our social media feeds and website for updates

» A more in-depth preview, together with Great Edinburgh XCountry history, can be found in the January 11 edition of AW

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