WORLD CLASS cross-country running will return to Edinburgh this weekend as Holyrood Park plays host to the Simplyhealth Great Edinburgh International XCountry.
The off-road event in the Scottish capital comprises the International Team Challenge, which sees junior and senior teams from GB & NI take on the USA and Europe and the innovative mixed Cross Country relay, where pairs of male and female runners from the home nations will compete with international teams over a fast and furious 1K lap for the coveted Stewart Cup.
The Stewart International Cup features home interest in the form of Laura Muir, who will spearhead the Great Britain team.
Muir, who narrowly finished fourth in the 2017 World Championships 1500m, goes up against two strong Scotland teams featuring Mhairi Hendry, Steph Twell and Jake Wightman.
Wightman was in his hometown today as the atmosphere continued to build around this prestigious event, which is once again broadcast live on national television.
The 23-year-old said: “The last time I came up to Edinburgh was this time last year. A couple of my mates from school are still here but everyone is slowly migrating south. But this is the city I grew up in so coming back here feels like home for me.
“I’ve started my calendar year here for the past two year and I’ve loved it on both occasions.
“The relay is pretty exciting – it’s not very often you get to do it, especially over a 1km on mud. The first time you do it it’s bit of a shock but I’m a veteran of it now so I’m hoping to be able to get round in decent nick.
“I’m looking forward to it, we’ve got a good team. I’ve got an important leg in third and will try to set Steph up well because she’s up against Laura and you never know what Laura’s going to do!
“But I think we can challenge for the win.
“The relay has been a great addition – everyone enjoys watching it and we all enjoy running in it.”
In the men's senior race, three-time winner Garrett Heath will join Leonard Korir representing Team USA. Korir will return to Edinburgh to defend his title after pipping Callum Hawkins to victory in 2017, while Heath makes his fifth appearance in Edinburgh.
In the women's senior race, Europe's Yasemin Can, fresh from her gold medal in the 2017 European Cross Country Championships, will defend her 2017 Edinburgh crown but faces stiff competition from Europe teammate Fionnuala McCormack and Great Britain's Harriet Knowles-Jones, who took gold in the U20 race at last month's European Cross Country Championships.
The action starts at 10.15am and is free to spectate, with the senior races broadcast live on BBC One from 1.15pm.