Stephanie Twell takes a one second victory in Antrim (© Mark Shearman)
Freya Murray and Stephanie Twell will need to make the best of their current excellent form when spearheading the British challenge for honours on home soil at the Bupa Great Edinburgh Cross Country on 8 January, the fourth meeting of the IAAF Cross Country Permit series 2010/11.
The pair of determined Scots are under no illusions they will need to be in top condition for the country's premier cross country event if they are to make any impact in the race.?
The seventh staging of the meeting in Holyrood Park is expected to see African athletes continue their dominance of the womens’ race which has never seen a European competitor make the medallists’ podium.?
Great Britain's three-time European junior Cross Country gold medallist Twell and Hayley Yelling-Higham, the reigning Euro senior champion, have achieved the highest continental placings with fourth place finishes.
Now there are high hopes that Murray, who has had the best season of her career, highlighted by her second place at the Bupa Great South Run in October and Twell, also in her sharpest ever form with a Commonwealth bronze medal under her belt, will be able to perform at the highest level at the BBC televised event.?
"They'll certainly have the crowd behind them and that can be a very important factor in any cross country race, particularly at this level," said Peter Riley, the meeting's elite athletes' coordinator. ?
"Both have had outstanding seasons, in my opinion the best of their careers, and that should boost their confidence against some of the world's best opponents.?
"Beating any African opponent in the Bupa Great Edinburgh Cross Country is never going to be easy, as past results show. Only Australia's former World champion, Benita Willis, has managed that, as runner up in the inaugural race."?
Riley added: "It will be no different next month as I can assure you, Ethiopian and Kenyan runners are again eager to compete, having dominated the race since its inception."?
The 2011 Bupa Great Edinburgh Cross Country will consist of three races, with a new International Team Challenge event: a short 4.2 kilometre course with the best male athletes in the world competing; a 5.7 kilometre event contested by the world’s best female athletes; and the International Team Challenge which will see Great Britain and Northern Ireland Senior Men take on the United States and a European Select team over 8 kilometres. The event will be broadcast live on the BBC.
Each country competing in the International Team Challenge will consist of nine athletes per team and the first six athletes to complete the course will receive a score based on their position. The team with the lowest overall score wins.
Organisers for the IAAF