Mo Farah is among the athletes competing at the high-quality curtain-raiser to the televised athletics year in Holyrood Park on Saturday
Teams from Great Britain, Europe and the United States will again compete in front of BBC cameras this weekend as the Great Edinburgh XCountry returns to Holyrood Park.
As well as fans following the action on TV, spectators are sure to be out in force to watch athletes such as Mo Farah race in the shadow of Arthur’s Seat, with the double Olympic, world and European track champion returning to the mud to contest his first cross-country race since 2011. Every British athlete left last month’s European Cross Country Championships in Hyeres, France, with a medal and many will also pull on GB vests on Saturday (January 9).
Kicking off the televised action is the new Great Edinburgh XCountry 4x1km relay, while the 5km Pure Gym Great Edinburgh Winter Run over 5km takes place earlier in the day.
Two-time winner Chris Derrick led the US team to overall victory 12 months ago and two-time short course champion Garrett Heath will be keen to help retain the title with a third victory in Edinburgh, this time over double the distance.
With Derrick preparing for the Olympic marathon trials, Heath is set to face a strong challenge as Farah returns to his racing roots. Joining Farah on the GB team is Euro Cross captain Tom Lancashire, as well as fellow senior team medallists from France Ross Millington, Dewi Griffiths and Jonathan Taylor, plus the Euro under-23 champion Jonny Davies.
Among Heath’s US team-mates is another former Edinburgh winner, 2012 junior champion Kirubel Erassa. Spain’s Alemayehu Bezabeh, who claimed Euro Cross silver last month, and bronze medallist Adel Mechaal feature for Europe.
Kate Avery repeated her Euro Cross silver from 2014 in Hyeres, leading GB to team gold, and she’ll be joined by fellow team champions Gemma Steel, who pipped Avery to the 2014 Euro Cross title, Lauren Howarth and Elle Vernon as well as under-23 team gold medallists Jenny Nesbitt and Rebecca Murray.
Team Europe features two-time Euro Cross champ and two-time winner in Edinburgh, Fionnuala McCormack. Amy van Alstine, fresh from her sprint finish victory at the National Club Cross Country Championships, will be joined on the US team by third-placer Rochelle Kanuho.
Triathlete Alex Yee led GB juniors to team bronze in Hyeres and is joined by his Euro Cross team-mate Mahamed Mahamed, while France’s Fabien Palcau, who claimed individual silver on home soil, represents Europe along with fourth-placer Jimmy Gressier.
Harriet Knowles-Jones won individual silver and led the GB team to medals in France. She is again joined by Bobby Clay, the European junior 1500m champion who was fifth in Hyeres, as well as 11th placer Sabrina Sinha.
Last year’s 2x1km relay has grown in numbers with eight teams of four athletes set to compete. A GB quartet of Charlie Grice, Michael Rimmer, Charlene Thomas and Katie Holt will face a Scotland A team featuring Steph Twell, Cameron Boyek, Laura Muir and Jake Wightman and sides from USA, Europe, England, Wales and Ireland.
» See the January 7 edition of AW magazine for a more in-depth preview including timetable, team lists and a course map