Fionnuala Britton successfully defends her title in the women's team 6km race at the Bupa Edinburgh Cross Country (© Mark Shearman)
Fionnuala Britton will try to win the Bupa Great Edinburgh Cross Country, an IAAF Cross Country Permit meeting, for the third time in a row on 11 January.
However, Ireland’s two-time European cross-country champion could only finish fourth at this year's SPAR European Cross Country Championships just over a week ago, following victories in 2011 and 2012. In the Scottish capital she will also be up against the woman who denied her a hat-trick in Belgrade, France’s Sophie Duarte.
Both women will be running for Team Europe as part of an international match against Great Britain and USA, which has now become an annual fixture.
The event is staged at the picturesque setting of Holyrood Park, the venue for the 2008 IAAF World Cross Country Championships.
One of the beauties of this event is that not only is the course challenging, with a series of difficult hills and tricky descents, but the time of year brings other climatic barriers to overcome, such as snow.
Last year, Britton ploughed herself around the 6km course and caused a stir when she slipped and fell at a brook around a half a mile from the line but she quickly recovered her balance and dashed towards the line to win by 16 seconds in 20:40.
In the men's 8km race, Europe can count on the first two men home at the 2013 European Cross Country Championships: Spain’s 2013 champion Alemayehu Bezabeh and Turkey’s European 10,000m champion Polat Kemboi Arikan.
Last year, Team Europe proved to be the strongest overall side in the international team match with 154 points prevailing over Great Britain & Northern Ireland (175) and the USA (201).
Also in the European senior men’s team is Belgium’s European under-23 cross-country champion Pieter-Jan Hannes.
The complete Team Europe squad is:
Senior men: Alemayehu Bezabeh (ESP), Polat Kemboi Arikan (TUR), Jeroen D’Hoedt (BEL), Hassan Chahdi (FRA), Mohamed Marhum (ESP), Richard Ringer (GER), Bashir Abdi (BEL), Pieter-Jan Hannes (BEL), Mitko Tsenov (BUL), François Barrer (FRA), Oleksandr Kuzmichov (UKR), Djilali Bedrani (FRA).
Junior men: Yemaneberhan Crippa (ITA), Aleksandr Novikov (RUS), Mehdi Belhadj (FRA), Alexis Miellet (FRA), Maxime Hueber Moosbrugger (FRA), Nikolaus Franzmair (AUS).
Senior women: Fionnuala Britton (IRE), Dulce Félix (POR), Iris Fuentes-Pila (ESP), Sophie Duarte (FRA), Almensch Belete (BEL), Veronica Inglese (ITA), Carla Rocha (POR), Amela Terzic (SRB), Gulshat Fazlitdinova (RUS), Ekaterina Sokolenko (RUS), Svetlana Riazantceva (RUS), Esma Ayedemir (TUR).
Junior women Sofia Ennaoui (POL), Alina Reh (GER), Emine Hatun Tuna (TUR), Ebba Andersson (SWE), Johanna Geyer-Carles (FRA), Heidi Martensson (NOR).
Four individual medallists from the recent European Cross Country Championships will also be on the Great Britain and Northern Ireland team
Emelia Gorecka will make her first senior cross country appearance for her country in Edinburgh after winning her fourth consecutive European Cross Country Championships medal having won gold in the junior women’s race in Belgrade.
The strong British women’s team will be captained by Gemma Steel, the senior women’s silver medallist behind Duarte. Gorecka and Steel will be joined by Charlotte Purdue, who took the bronze medal in the under 23 women’s race.
The British senior men’s team will be led by team captain Andy Vernon, who clinched a dramatic bronze medal in the closing stages in Serbia and finished third in the Edinburgh cross country meeting in 2013.
The Bupa Great Edinburgh XCountry also features a men’s International 4km and a mass participation 5km, the Bupa Great Winter Run, which will see about 2,500 hardy amateur runners tackle a multi-terrain course ahead of the elite races.
The full Great Britain and Northern Ireland teams are:
Senior Men: Andrew Butchart, Luke Caldwell, Keith Gerrard, Jack Goodwin, Dewi Griffiths, Jonathan Hay, Callum Hawkins, Adam Hickey, Charlie Hulson, John McDonnell, Andy Vernon, Steve Vernon.
Junior Men: Jack Crabtree, Jamaine Coleman, Alex George, Scott Halsted, Zak Miller, Matthew Shirling.
Senior Women: Jessica Andrews, Rhona Auckland, Julia Bleasdale, Katie Brough, Lauren Deadman, Emelia Gorecka, Lauren Howarth, Lily Partridge, Charlotte Purdue, Freya Ross, Gemma Steel, Stephanie Twell.
Junior Women: Alex Clay, Bobby Clay, Jessica Gibbon, Amy Griffiths, Harriet Knowles-Jones, Lydia Turner.
European Athletics and organisers for the IAAF