Entry to the Great Winter Run is available online at greatrun.org/winter

Laura Muir will return to the Great Edinburgh International XCountry at Holyrood Park at the start of 2017.

Muir, who was an integral part of the Scotland A team that claimed victory in the innovative mixed 4 x 1K relay event in 2016, will be looking to set the tone for the year ahead after an incredible run of form, which saw her take seventh place in the 1500m Olympic final and twice break the British national record, ending Kelly Homes’ 12-year reign with a new time of 3:55:22.

Her achievements on the track led to her being named Scottish Athletics’ athlete of the year for the second year running, beating compatriots Andrew Butchart, Lynsey Sharp and Callum Hawkins to the title.

In Edinburgh, on Saturday 7 January 2017, Muir will be aiming to defend the team title against home nation and international competition and retain the Stewart International Relay Trophy, named after two Scottish running legends Ian and Lachie Stewart.

The 23-year-old sees the competition as an ideal warm-up for her 2017 season. 

Muir said: “Cross country is always a vital part of my training program. I’ve always loved it and enjoy being out there. I will look forward to running in front of a home crowd, representing Scotland.

“A good cross country performance will be perfect preparation for what is another important year.”

The event will be separate from the GB v USA v Europe match programme, which features junior and senior races on an iconic course in the heart of the city.

Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, said: “As one of Scotland’s finest athletes, we are delighted that Laura Muir has decided to kick-off 2017 by taking part in the Great Edinburgh International XCountry, an event supported through EventScotland’s International Programme.

“It is important that our sporting events continue to attract the biggest star names, as they make a significant impact on spectator figures, as well as providing inspiration to people young and old to be more active in sport.”

Mark Munro, CEO of Scottish Athletics, said: "The 4 x 1K International Relay was a great addition to the Holyrood Park spectacle in January 2016 and the crowds loved seeing Laura Muir bring it home on the final leg for Scotland A.

"We’re delighted that our Athlete of the Year is now pre-selected for Scotland A to defend the Stewart Cup and I’m sure a spell in South Africa over the next month or so will help her preparation.

"We will announce further selections in due course and it is very pleasing that, with the assistance of Great Run, we’re able to field a Scotland A and a Scotland B team. That will give eight athletes in total experience and exposure to a big televised cross country event taking place in Scotland and I feel that’s very beneficial and important."

The Great Edinburgh International XCountry will be televised live from 13:15 on BBC One. It is part of a New Year festival for runners of all abilities held in Holyrood Park, next to the Scottish Parliament.

The popular Great Winter Run, held on the same day as the XCountry, is a scenic 5km course that loops around Arthur's Seat and provides amateur runners with the perfect opportunity to dust off the New Year cobwebs before watching the world's best test themselves in the international cross country races.

Councillor Richard Lewis, Festivals & Events Champion for the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “I am delighted that, with the Council’s support, the Great Edinburgh International XCountry will return this winter. The traditional start to the athletics year, the race in Holyrood Park attracts some of the finest endurance runners in the world. Athlete of the year for two years in a row, Laura Muir’s return is sure to please the crowds as she competes to defend her team title at the Capital event.”

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Entry to the Great Winter Run is available online at greatrun.org/winter