Mo Farah (coach: Alberto Salazar) will make his first appearance on the cross country circuit in five years when he lines up in Great Edinburgh XCountry tomorrow at Holyrood Park.
The double Olympic, World and European champion will be looking to replicate his last outing in the mud when he won the event back in 2011. It was a clinical victory for Farah and he is hoping to get his 2016 campaign off to a flying start over the 8km course.
Farah said: “It’s going to play a big part. It’s important to start well this season and then I can analyse tomorrow where I am. Obviously the aim is to win the race and secondly see what I can come away with.
“As an athlete, when you’ve done a good spell of winter training, it’s important that you test yourself and race. It’s not just train, train, train, you train then you race and you get that feeling of where you are.”
It’s another huge year for Farah as he prepares to defend his 5000m and 10000m Olympic titles in Rio this summer and the 32 year old is determined to extend his stay on top of the podium in South America.
“If I could have four Olympic medals that would be incredible and that’s what drives me. London was incredible and I don’t think anything could top it, but two more would definitely make it close,” added Farah.
“Beijing (at the IAAF World Championships) was hard and the guys did test me but I was ready. I think it’s going to be a similar test in Rio later this year.”
Farah, who headlines a 12-strong senior British team will face tough competition from European Cross Country silver and bronze medallists Alemayehu Bezabah and Adel Mechaal. Leading the American charge is likely to be Garrett Heath, who claimed victory over the 4km short course in 2014 and 2015.
In a strong women’s team, 2014 European Cross Country Champion Gemma Steel (John Nuttall) and two-time European Cross Country silver medallist Kate Avery (Tony Simmons) will be looking to secure big points for the British squad on the Edinburgh course.
After winning junior silver in Hyeres, France before Christmas, Harriet Knowles-Jones (Paul Roden) will have another strong run firmly in her sights, with the European Junior 1500m gold medallist Bobby Clay (Rob Denmark) looking to return to winning ways after her triumph at the event in 2014.
Alex Yee (Kenneth Pike), who was the leading light in the junior men’s team on their way to team bronze at the European Cross Country Championships in December, will brave what is expected to be cold conditions in the Scottish capital tomorrow.
2015 IAAF World Championship teammates Michael Rimmer (Jon Bigg) and Charlie Grice (Bigg), will once again join forces as they team up with Kate Holt (Alan Morris) and Charlene Thomas (Aaron Thomas) in the 4x1km International Relay.
The Great Edinburgh XCountry is free to spectate and will be shown live on BBC One and BBC One HD from 13:00 to 14:30 on January 9. It is part of a New Year festival of running for all abilities in the iconic Holyrood Park in Edinburgh. Over 2,500 people will be starting the New Year on the right foot when they take on the popular Great Edinburgh Winter Run, held on a scenic 5k course that loops around Arthur’s Seat, before watching the world’s best test themselves in the international cross country races.
For full startlists, please visit: https://www.greatrun.org/great-winter-run/great-edinburgh-xcountry
British Athletics team for the Great Edinburgh XCountry on Saturday 9 January:
Andrew Butchart (Derek Easton)
Andrew Davies (Steve Vernon)
Jonny Davies (Rob McKim)
Mo Farah (Alberto Salazar)
Richard Goodman (Mick Woods)
Dewi Griffiths (Kevin Evans)
Callum Hawkins (Robert Hawkins)
Tom Lancashire (Steve Vernon)
Ross Millington (Steve Vernon)
*Henry Pearce (George Gandy)
Nick Swinburn (Lindsay Dunn)
Jonny Taylor (Gordon Surtees)
Charlotte Arter (James Thie)
Kate Avery (Tony Simmons)
Emma Clayton (Andrew Henderson)
Louise Damen (self-coached)
Faye Fullerton (Georgina Fullerton)
Lauren Howarth (Steve Vernon)
Josephine Moultrie (William Parker)
Rebecca Murray (Alex Stanton)
Jenny Nesbitt (David Walker)
Beth Potter (Mick Woods)
Gemma Steel (John Nuttall)
Elle Vernon (Steve Vernon)
Gus Cockle (Mick Woods)
William Fuller (David Liston)
Euan Gillham (Robert Hawkins)
Mahamed Mahamed (Peter Haynes)
Will Richardson (Peter Stewart)
Alex Yee (Kenneth Pike)
Niamh Brown (Mick Woods)
Bobby Clay (Rob Denmark)
Morven Goodrum (Shireen Higgins)
Harriet Knowles-Jones (Paul Roden)
*Phoebe Law (Richard Holt)
Sabrina Sinha (Peter Mullervy)
Charlie Grice (Jon Bigg)
Kate Holt (Alan Morris)
*Michael Rimmer (Jon Bigg)
Charlene Thomas (Aaron Thomas)
*Asterisk marks new additions to the team