Heath, a graduate in management science and engineering from Stanford university, produced an inspired performance to emerge as surprise winner of the 2014 race in the Scottish capital, but twelve months on, the 29-year-old will have to contend with a field loaded with the athletics world’s equivalent of Oscar winners.
Heading the list is Asbel Kiprop, the Kenyan who won the 2008 Olympic 1500m title, back in action in Beijing next summer, he will be attempting to follow in the footsteps of the great North Africans, Noureddine Morceli and Hicham El Guerrouj, as a three-time winner of the coveted IAAF World Championship 1500m crown.
Kiprop prevailed in the Edinburgh mud in 2012 but was one of those pedigree contenders surprised by Heath in 2014, finishing third.
The 2015 field also includes the reigning world cross country champion Japhet Korir. The Kenyan became the youngest ever senior men’s world cross country champion when he triumphed as a 19-year-old in Bydgoszcz, Poland, in 2013 and will be aiming to defend his crown in Guiyang, China, in March.
The Kenyan presence is further strengthened by the two Commonwealth 1500m champions: James Magut, who won in Glasgow in 2014, and Silas Kiplagat, who was victorious in New Delhi in 2010.
Then there is the world number one in the 3,000m steeplechase, Jairus Birech, who was surprisingly beaten by Kenyan team-mate Jonathan Ndiku in the Commonwealth Games final at Hampden Park in July - and Yomiuf Kejelcha, the 17-year-old Ethiopian who won the 5,000m title at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Eugene this summer.
At the other end of the age spectrum is the remarkable Peter Pan figure of Bernard Lagat, who turned 40 on December 12.
The Kenyan-born American, who achieved a famous 1500m-5,000m double at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka, Japan, starts life as a forty-something athlete still as a major championship medal winner. He claimed the 3,000m bronze medal at the World Indoor Championships in Sopot, Poland, in March this year, taking his collection of medals in that event to five.
The quality in the field does not end there. The line up also features 2006 Commonwealth 5,000m champion Augustine Choge, 2012 Olympic 5,000m bronze medallist Thomas Longosiwa and 2008 Olympic 5,000m bronze medallist Edwin Soi, all Kenyans.
The European challenge is led by Krystian Zalewski, the Pole who took silver in the 3,000m steeplechase at the European Championships in Zurich in August.
The Great Edinburgh XCountry meeting will be shown live on BBC One from 13:00 to 14:35 and the race schedule will also feature an appearence Mo Farah, Britain’s Olympic, world and European 5,000m and 10,000m champion.
The Great Edinburgh XCountry, televised live on BBC, is part of a New Year festival for runners of all abilities, based at Holyood Park, next to the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.
The popular Great Winter Run, held on a scenic 5k course that loops around Arthur’s Seat, provides the public with a perfect opportunity to dust off the New Year cobwebs before watching the world’s best test themselves in the international cross country races.
For entry to the Great Winter Run visit: greatrun.org/winter | twitter.com/great_run | #GEXC2015
Confirmed Start List
ASBEL KIPROP (KEN)
YOMIF KEJELCHAI (ETH)
BARNABAS KIPYEGO (KEN)
JAMES MAGUT (KEN)
AUGUSTINE CHOGE (KEN)
BERNARD LAGAT (USA)
GARRETT HEATH (USA)
PAUL ROBINSON (IRL)
KRYSTIAN ZALEWSKI (POL)
SILAS KIPLAGAT (KEN)
THOMAS LONGOSIWA (KEN)
EDWIN SOI (KEN)
JAPHET KORIR (KEN)
TOM LANCASHIRE (GBR)
KYLE LANGFORD (GBR)
CHRIS O'HARE (GBR)
ROSS MURRAY (GBR)
ANDREW HEYES (GBR)
RICHARD GOODMAN (GBR)
MICHAEL CALLEGARI (GBR)
RYAN McLEOD (GBR)