Preview, timetable and tv guide for this weekend’s cross country showdown in Scotland.
World class cross country runners from Great Britain, Team Europe and Team USA are set to battle at the Great Stirling XCountry on Saturday (January 12).
The event will be held in Stirling for the first time – at the city’s King’s Park golf course – after organisers were forced move the event from it’s long standing home at Edinburgh’s Holyrood Park.
Set against the backdrop of Stirling Castle, athletes will race over challenging terrain for honours in the men’s 8km race, women’s 6km race and the mixed relay, ultimately targeting the overall team prize, which was won by Europe last year.
Defending event champion Leonard Korir aims for a third straight win in the senior men’s race, however USA teammate, Garrett Heath will have other ideas as he eyes a fourth win in Scotland.
Ben Blankenship, who won the 2018 USATF National Club Cross Country Championships, also makes the transatlantic trip, along with fellow 2016 Olympian Hillary Bor.
Andy Vernon has won three individual medals at the event’s former home and leads the British charge after missing the European Cross Country Championships through injury. Joining Vernon in the GB senior men’s team are European team silver medallists Charlie Hulson, Kris Jones, Ross Millington and Nick Goolab, plus senior debutant Patrick Dever.
Team Europe will have ambitions of claiming the men’s individual title with European silver and bronze medallists Isaac Kimeli of Belgium and Aras Kaya of Turkey set to compete.
In the senior women’s race, European U23 cross country champion Anna Emilie Moller will lead Team Europe’s hopes. The Danish athlete is based in the UK and will race against some familiar British athletes after winning October’s Cardiff Cross Challenge ahead of Kate Avery and Emily Hosker-Thornhill.
Avery, who won the Edinburgh XCountry in 2016, leads a strong GB team that boasts fellow European team silver medalists Charlotte Arter, Verity Ockenden, and Pippa Woolven, along with senior debutants Hosker-Thornhill and Amy Griffiths.
The USA’s senior women’s team features returning athletes Anne-Marie Blaney and Olivia Pratt.
After an impressive indoor season opener in Glasgow last week, Laura Muir heads to mud to make a fifth straight appearance in the 4x1km mixed relay race.
Muir will anchor the GB line up of Phil Sesemann, Alex Bell and Jamie Williamson, who formed part of the relay team in Tilburg. Along with Muir, 800m specialist Bell featured in 2018’s winning quartet. There will be added responsibility on the relay race this year, with the event now counting in the scoring for overall honours.
The Spanish gold medal winning quartet from Tilburg of Saul Ordonez, Esther Guerrero, Victor Ruiz and Solange Pereira make up the European team, while Craig Nowak, Stephanie Schappert, Danielle Shanahan and Frankline Tonui feature for the USA.
Adam Craig, Michael Ferguson, Mhairi Hendry, Adam Craig and Steph Pennycook will also compete in the senior mixed relay for Scotland.
To the disappointment of many athletes and running fans, there will be no individual under-20 races at the event’s new home in Stirling.
Instead, this year sees the introduction of the under-20 mixed relay race, with GB’s team featuring Charlotte Alexander, Grace Brock, Jack Meijer and Tom Keen.
Ireland’s Darragh McElhinney is a notable inclusion for Team Europe, along with Swiss duo Delia Sclabas and Sibylle Haring and France’s Valentin Bresc. In the USA’s under-20 mixed relay team are Kelsey Chmiel, Katelynne Hart, Drew Bosley and Jake Renfree, while the home crowd will cheer on the Scottish quartet of Kane Elliott, Erin Wallace, Joe Ewing and Sarah Calvert.
Timetable (UK time)
Following the Inter District races, the international action gets underway with the Great Stirling XCountry women’s race at 13:23.
10.25: Inter District races
12.15: Senior and junior men’s and women’s Scottish Inter District races
13.23: Great Stirling XCountry women’s race – 6km
13.55: Great Stirling XCountry men’s race – 8km
14.35: Great Stirling XCountry mixed relay – 4 x 1.5km
How to watch
Live coverage will be available in the UK on BBC One and online from 13.15 on Saturday.
The programme concludes at 15.15.
Meanwhile, ahead of the action in Stirling, GB’s Kate Avery spoke to Fast Running about her impressive return to competition after injury. The full interview can be found here.