The world 1500m fifth-placer races for the first time since Beijing at the Scottish Cross Country Relays

Laura Muir starts her road to Rio across the familiar mud and hills of Cumbernauld at the Scottish Cross Country Relays on Saturday (October 24).

This year’s event has a record entry and for British 1500m gold medallist Muir it marks the start of a winter season that she hopes will give her the ideal preparation for the Olympics in Brazil next summer.

Muir races for Glasgow University Hares and Hounds on these occasions and in the past few years has used Cumbernauld and the National 4K Championships at Bellahouston in Glasgow early November as preparation ahead of an indoor track campaign.

Saturday will be her first race at any distance since the August 25 1500m final in Beijing where she finished fifth and headed the last two World Championships gold medallists in a high-class race.

“Laura has started off really well in her training programme following a break after the World Champs,” said her coach Andy Young.

“We like to do a bit of cross-country at this time of year and the National Relays is a good event. I’m happy to let her decide whether she wants to run the opening leg for the uni this time or pick up on second or third, where she can then work through the field. We will make that decision on Saturday at Cumbernauld.”

If Muir is favourite for the women’s fastest lap, then Central AC and Edinburgh AC look likely to be locked in battle for the team golds.

Central AC are the holders and are looking for four-in-a-row and it is a similar story in the men’s race where GB international Andrew Butchart hopes to lead Derek Easton’s squad to yet another success.

“There is always a great buzz around the National Cross-Country Relays at Cumbernauld – both at clubs in the weeks prior to the races and on the day itself,” said Scottish Athletics chairman Ian Beattie.

“I think it is a great day for the sport and it is definitely one of the main highlights of the cross-country season in Scotland.

“One of the big pleasing factors is the rise in numbers in the women’s race. I think if you look back at the archives then there were around a dozen teams finished in 1993 whereas last year there were around 100 teams – 300 athletes – taking part.”