Double Olympic, world and European track champ is announced for his first cross-country race since 2011

Mo Farah’s first test of 2016 is set to come at the Great Edinburgh International Cross Country, with the double Olympic, world and European track champion due to spearhead the Great Britain and Northern Ireland team challenge on January 9.

For the 32-year-old, who successfully defended his world 5000m and 10,000m titles in Beijing in August, the 8km event at Holyrood Park will mark a return to his racing roots.

Farah forged his distance running reputation on the mud and the Newham & Essex Beagles athlete will be contesting his first cross country race for five years when he lines up in the televised new year event.

“It will be an important year for me in 2016 and I’m looking forward to returning to the Great Edinburgh Cross Country to kick off my season,” said Farah.

“For many years cross-country was a key building block for the year ahead and I’m pleased to add it to my schedule for the first time since I ran in Edinburgh back in 2011.”

When Farah last raced on the country at this meeting he dominated the 8km international event to claim victory ahead of his now training partner and Olympic 10,000m silver medallist Galen Rupp. That year Farah went on to successfully defend his European indoor 3000m title before claiming his first world gold with victory over 5000m in Daegu, also adding world 10,000m silver to his haul.

Since then he has won his two Olympic titles and a further four world gold medals on the track.

“It’s a big year for Mo and this race is a serious part of his plan and programme,” said Barry Fudge, head of endurance at British Athletics.

“Mo has previously built his base for a summer track season with cross-country races over the winter season, so we see this as a fundamental part of his preparation as we build towards the defence of his Olympic titles in Rio – which is ultimately his main goal for 2016.

“He enjoys nothing more than running in front of the British public so this is a great way for him to kick off his most important of years.”

The Great Edinburgh International Cross Country is to be televised live on the BBC. The popular Pure Gym Great Winter Run, held on a scenic 5km course that loops around Arthur’s Seat, gives runners the chance to get involved before watching the world’s best test themselves in the international cross-country races.

» Entry to the Pure Gym Great Winter Run is available online at www.greatrun.org/winter