A preview to Saturday’s cross country action at Holyrood Park
In what is probably the highest quality cross country meeting outside of the World Championships in March, the Great Edinburgh Cross Country features international senior and junior team races between Europe, GB and United States, while the invitational 4km race has a mouthwatering line-up dominated by some of the best African middle-distance and endurance runners on the planet.
This year’s event, taking place on January 10 at Holyrood Park, also includes an international mixed relay with two-person mixed sex teams racing over the short lap of the Holyrood Park course.
Great Britain and Northern Ireland took the team title in the international match last year with 159 points to Europe’s 172 and United States’ 203. Mo Farah’s withdrawal was one of a number of changes to the GB team in the week before the event but the host nation still fields a strong squad and will be looking for another victory.
European cross-country champion Gemma Steel will lead the women’s team, while Fionnuala Britton, a former European champion, is part of a strong European squad that also includes Euro under-23 silver medallist Militsa Mircheva of Bulgaria.
Over in the senior men’s race and Chris Derrick, a winner in Edinburgh in 2014, leads the United States team, but European champion Polat Kemboi Arikan, the Kenyan-born Turk, will be tough to beat as he leads a strong European squad. Scottish athletes Callum Hawkins and Andrew Butchart are among those on the GB team.
The junior women’s 4km race includes Euro Cross medallist Lydia Turner on the GB team, while the junior men’s 6km will see the likes of European junior cross country champion Yemaneberhan Crippa of Italy in action for Europe.
The full GB team for the international match can be found listed here, while you can find a more in-depth preview to the Great Edinburgh Cross Country in the December 8 edition of AW magazine which is available to order here or buy digitally here.
A fabulous line-up sees the likes of Asbel Kiprop, Japhet Korir, Silas Kiplagat and Bernard Lagat joining defending champion Garrett Heath.
Heath was a surprise winner 12 months ago when Kiprop, the 2008 Olympic gold medallist and two-time world champion at 1500m, finished third. James Magut also finished in the top five in 2014 and the Commonwealth 1500m champion returns this weekend.
British athletes in action are set to include Chris O’Hare, Tom Lancashire, Ross Murray (who doubles up in this race and the 2x1km relay), Chris Parr, Michael Vennard and Ieuan Thomas.
International mixed relay
Two-person mixed sex teams will compete over the short lap of the Holyrood Park course, with each team including one man and one woman who will each run 1000m.
The GB team in this event is set to feature 2012 Olympic 1500m runner Ross Murray and Commonwealth steeplechaser Rachael Bamford, while Scotland is sure to get huge support on home soil with a team consisting of in-form middle-distance runner Laura Muir and Ross Matheson.
There is also a Scotland ‘B’ team as well as two England teams and teams from Wales, Ireland, Italy and United States.
» Great Edinburgh Cross Country action is to be televised live on the BBC from 1pm, while the Great Winter Run – held on a 5km course that loops around Arthur’s Seat – takes place on the same day. For a more in-depth two-page preview to the event, which also includes a timetable for the day’s action, see the December 8 edition of AW magazine which is available to order here or buy digitally here