Olympian Andy Butchart will lead Scotland into the Home Countries XC International at the Run Stirling event on Saturday 11 January.
Seven years after winning his first Scotland international vest in Cardiff as a late call-up for a similar event, the GB international who finished fifth at the Euro Cross in Lisbon last week is relishing the prospect of racing so close to his roots.
In fact, the King’s Park course really is ‘home turf’ for Dunblane-raised Butchart, who trained in the Stirling park on many occasions a few years ago while coming through the ranks with Central AC.
Fellow GB international, Mhairi Maclennan, will lead the Scotland Senior Women’s team in the Home Countries match with England, Wales and Northern Ireland – with Run Stirling to be streamed live online by BBC and Vinco.
There are a number of other GB internationals within the ranks of this Scotland, selection, too – notably the U20 trio of Hamish Armitt, Cera Gemmell and Megan Keith, who all came home from the Euro Cross in Lisbon with team gold medals with the British squads.
‘I am really looking forward to pulling on the Scotland vest and representing the country once again,’ said Butchart, with around 1000 athletes in total expected to be involved in the whole event which includes the British Cross Challenge.
‘It is good to see an event like this being held in Stirling and well done to all those folk behind the scenes working to pull it all together – including those at Central AC.
‘With the British Cross Challenge element and the international competition, as well as a live stream on BBC and Vinco, it should be a great event and a strong advert for athletics in Scotland.
‘It will be a little surreal for me racing there because I’ve done many a training run in King’s Park growing up as a kid and as a teenager with Central AC.’
Butchart won his first Scotland vest in the Celtic International XC in Wales back in January 2013 – when a late call-up paid off as he finished third as Dewi Griffiths took the U23 gold.
‘It’s a while ago now but I do remember a very long bus journey south on the Saturday,’ he recalled.
‘There was snow and ice in Cardiff but I ran well and got on the podium and actually that selection and performance gave me a bit of push at that time to train harder and try and realise my potential.’
A number of partners have combined to help stage the event including scottishathletics, EventScotland, Stirling Council, British Athletics and Great Run. Butchart’s club, Central AC, are also taking on much of the organisation as host club.
Scotland Senior and U20 teams compete in the Home Countries XC International with England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
And the Scotland U23, U20 and U17 teams compete in the Celtic XC International with Wales, Northern Ireland and Ireland.
Senior Men: Andy Butchart, Jamie Crowe (both Central AC), Jonny Glen (Inverclyde AC), Lachlan Oates (Shettleston)
Senior Women: Mhairi Maclennan (Inverness Harriers), Annabel Simpson (Fife AC), Fiona Brian (Metro Aberdeen), Nynke Mulholland (Inverclyde AC).
U23 Men: Ben Greenwood (Perth Strathtay), Jack Leitch (Edinburgh Uni Hare and Hounds), Max Milarvie (VP-Glasgow), Hamish Hickey (Central AC)
U23 Women: Holly Little (VP-Glasgow), Kerry Macangus (Kilbarchan AAC), Zoe Pflug (Edinburgh Uni Hare and Hounds), Constance Nankivell (Edinburgh Uni Hare and Hounds)
U20 Men: Hamish Armitt (Giffnock North AAC), Cameron Wright (Kilbarchan AAC), Kristof Hornyik (Dundee Hawkhill Harriers), Christian Graham (Lasswade AAC)
U20 Women: Cera Gemmell (Team East Lothian), Megan Keith (Inverness Harriers), Eloise Walker (Edinburgh AC), Hannah Anderson (East Kilbride AC)
U17 Men: Lucas Cairns (Inverness Harriers), Andrew McGill (Livingston AC), Sam Griffin (Aberdeen AAC), Harris Paterson (Giffnock North AC)
U17 Women: Anna Hedley (Fife AC), Julia Cash (Giffnock North AC), Meredith Reid (Glasgow School of Sport), Anya MacLean (Garscube Harriers)