History and TraditionThe Bupa Great Edinburgh Cross Country is regarded as one of the world’s best annual cross country events and attracts the cream of world talent.
In 2005, reigning world 5000m champions, Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge and Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba, sprinted to a pair of thrilling - and tantalisingly narrow - wins at the View From Great Edinburgh Cross Country. In a dazzling gun-to-tape performance, Kipchoge outsprinted Ethiopian Dejene Berhanu in the final 100 metres, while Dibaba upset Australia’s world cross country champion Benita Johnson (now Willis) after a dramatic stride-for stride kick in the final 50 metres.
Despite a narrow one-second margin of victory, Kipchoge dominated the 9.2km race, leading virtually from the gun, and falling behind only once, and then only briefly, when Berhanu took a short-lived lead about 100 metres from the finish. The winning time was 27min 43sec. Running in wet and extremely muddy conditions, the 19-year-old Dibaba edged out Johnson by less than a second, covering the 6.3km course in 21:35. In the men's 4km race, a largely unheard of Nick McCormick held of his British rivals Mike Skinner and Andrew Baddeley to win.
Kenenisa Bekele, with a last gasp sprint for the line, thwarted the efforts of Saif Saaeed Shaheen to win the VisitScotland Great Edinburgh Cross Country title in 2006. Bekele, breathing hard and tiring, drew himself on to the shoulders of the world 3000m steeplechase champion and record holder before powering away from Shaheen, himself renowned for his own fast finish, to win in 26:08, Zersenay Tadesse third. Ethiopia's Gelete Burka produced an equally phenomenal performance against a world class women's field over the testing 6K kilometres course.
The 2005 IAAF world junior cross country champion again showed her vast potential when finishing ahead of Isabella Ochichi, the Olympic 5000m silver medallist, and fellow Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba. McCormick, the defending champion, took a trip in the 4km race but quickly recovered to assert his authority and score a narrow victory. Bekele was back in 2007 to destroy the field at the EventScotland Great Edinburgh Cross Country with a superb performance in the 9.3km event. Ethiopia also celebrated a double as Burka claimed a similarly comfortable win in the women’s race.
Bekele shrugged off gale force winds to break the field midway and stroll to a seemingly effortless 10-second win from Tadesse, the world road running champion, in 28:14. Kipchoge struggled in the conditions and crossed the line a forlorn third in 28:51. In the women’s 6.7km race, Burka scorched to her second win in a row, skipping across the muddy surface to record a winning time of 23:25. In a close scrap for second the diminutive Kenyan Vivian Cheruiyot came through strongly to edge out Johnson. The men’s 4km race saw Ukraine’s Sergiy Lebid exact revenge on Briton Mo Farah – the man who had taken his European cross country title the month before.
Bekele and Burka completed superb hat-tricks in 2008 when dominating their races at the Bupa-sponsored event. Bekele waited until the last 600m to make a tactical break on the final ascent of the course's last hill and quash the ambitions of close rivals Tadese and Kipchoge. Burka was again in a class of her own as she finished ahead of Linet Masai and Cheruiyot. The race was also noteworthy for Briton Stephanie Twell’s brave run, though she ended up missing out on third to Cheruiyot. Andy Baddeley, in the men's 4km domestic event, came back from what looked likely to be a surprise defeat when excitingly tracking down Andy Vernon to win by two seconds in 12:52.
In 2009, Twell's learning curve continued when, despite producing one of the best displays of her career, she again found herself relegated to fourth place by her African rivals in the 5.6km race. Masai dominated the race to win easily by 11 seconds in 19:2, ahead of Ethiopian Mestawet Tufa and Viola Kibiwott (19:14) with Twell a further two seconds adrift. Baddeley defended his domestic 4km crown but it came at the cost of a badly spiked right ankle after he was caught by training partner Mick Skinner just before the final circuit. The international 8.9km race was won by Abebe Dinkesa in a time of 26:51 sec with Mangata Ndiwa of Kenya another surprise package in second sport three seconds in arrears. Tadese had to settle for third place.
There was a real shock in the snow and ice that greeted runners in 2010 as Bekele – twice a double champion at the Olympics - finished outside the medals in a remarkable turn of events. Triple winner Bekele never came to terms with the testing conditions in the men’s 8.9km race and was beaten into fourth by the Kenyan trio of Joseph Ebuya, Titus Mbishei and Kipchoge. It proved a great day of sport all round with British duo Hayley Yelling and Twell putting on good shows in the women's 6km race - though they finished outside the places with past winner Dibaba leading the way. There was another shock when Britain's Mo Farah, the breakaway early leader, was pushed into third place in a time of 13:28 in the men's 4K race by Ricky Stevenson, who produced a storming finish to win in 13:20, with Steve Vernon second in 13:23.
The Bupa Great Edinburgh Cross Country format changed in 201, with a 4.2k men's race, a 5.7k women's run, and an 8k men's team event - though the event was again staged in snowy conditions. Mo Farah, captaining the GB and Ireland team, produced a great start to his New Year with an awesome performance to win the the International Men's Team Challenge - though his team could only place third overall. Farah won the 8k race in 25:41, ahead of the USA's Galen Rupp (25:50) and Spain's Ayad Lamsdassam (25:55), who was followed home by Sergey Lebid to give the Europe Select team victory with the USA third.
Kenya's Linet Masai continued her outstanding winter form to win the women's event for the second time in three years in a time of 20:24, six seconds ahead of Ethiopia's Genzebe Dibaba with Vivian Cheruiyot third in 20:36. Eliud Kipchoge, winner of the inaugural long course race six years ago, added to that success when cruising to the 4k title in 13:12, a healthy distance ahead of fellow Kenyans, Asbel Kiprop and Brimin Kipruto, respectively the Olympic 1500m and 3000m steeplechase champions, who clocked 13:18 and 13:19.
2011 RACE RESULTSMEN 4K: 1, Eliud Kipchoge (Kenya) 13 minutes 12 seconds, 2, Asbel Kiprop (Kenya) 13:18, 3, Brimin Kipruto (Kenya) 13:19.
WOMEN 5.7K: 1, Linet Masai (Kenya) 20:24, 2, Genzebe Dibaba (Ethiopia) 20:32, 3, Vivian Cheruiyot (Kenya) 20:36.
MEN 8K: 1, Mo Farah (GB) 25:41, 2, Galen Rupp (USA) 25:50, 3, Ayad Lamdassam (ES/Spain).
In 2012, Double Olympic champion Kenenisa Bekele will probably have preferred to have stayed in Ethiopia where it was Christmas Day rather than suffer the ignominy of a shock defeat at the Bupa Great Edinburgh XCountry on Saturday.
The world's greatest ever distance runner looked a shadow of his former self as he finished well down the field in 11th position in the International 3k race at the IAAF Permit event meeting in Holyrood Park.
There were no excuses from Bekele as he struggled in a race which included two other 2008 Olympic gold medallists, Kenyan's Asbel Kiprop, the 1500m champion and Brimin Kipruto, winner of the 3000m steeplechase in Beijing.
In 2013, Genzebe Dibaba showed magnificent composure and a speedy finishing kick over the final lap to win a star studded Women's International race over three kilometres at the Bupa Great Edinburgh XCountry.
Elsewhere Team Europe proved to be the stronger side in the International Team Match where their overall score of 154 points saw them win ahead of last year's champions GB & NI (175) and the United States (201).
The men's senior 8km turned into a nail-biting affair when the host nation's Tom Humphries, looking an inevitable winner, went into the final 2km circuit maintaining the lead of 25m he had built up at the 3km point. His rivals soon raised their game however, and caught him with the finish line in sight. In a terrific finish the USA's Bobby Mack, last year's runner up, edged his frame in the last 15m ahead of Europe's and Spain's two-time European Cross Country silver medallist Ayad Lamdassem to win by a second in 24:27.
Fionnuala Britton won the Edinburgh race for a second successive year. The Irishwoman who came under early pressure from Jessica Coulson, the Euro U23 gold medallist in Hungary, blew away the Briton and everyone else with a majestic last lap. Britton ploughing herself around on what still remained a fairly firm circuit caused a stir and some concern when slipping and falling at a brook around a half a mile from home.
Quickly recovering her balance, she dashed towards the line to win by 16sec in 20:40 from Team Europe colleague Adrienne Herzog, the Netherlander, who was third behind her at the continental championships in Budapest with the USA's team captain Mattie Suver third in 21:00.
ROLL OF HONOURWOMEN 3K
2013 G Dibaba (ETH) 9:46
2013 B Mack (US) 24:27
2012 A Lamdassem (EUR) 25:44
2011 Mo Farah (GB) 25:41
2010 Joseph Ebuya (KEN) 28:41
2009 Abebe Dinkese (ETH) 26:51
2008 Kenenisa Bekele (ETH) 27:42
2007 Kenenisa Bekele (ETH) 28:14
2006 Kenenisa Bekele (ETH) 26:08
2005 Eliud Kipchoge (KEN) 27:43
2013 F Britton (EUR) 20:40
2012 F Britton (EUR) 21:32
2012 A Kiprop (KEN) 9:20
2011 Eliud Kipchoge (KEN) 13:12
2010 Ricky Stevenson (GB) 13:20
2009 Andy Baddeley (GB) 12:17
2008 Andy Baddeley (GB) 12:52
2007 Sergey Lebid (UKR) 12:20
2006 Nick McCormick (GB) 12:16
2005 Nick McCormick (GB) 12:22
2011 Linet Masai (KEN) 20:24
2010 Tirunesh Dibaba (ETH) 21:37
2009 Linet Masai (KEN) 19:02
2008 Gelete Burka (ETH) 19:58
2007 Gelete Burka (ETH) 23:25
2006 Gelete Burka (ETH) 19:01
2005 Tirunesh Dibaba (ETH) 21:35