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BUPA Great Edinburgh Cross PREVIEW

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Mo Farah

06 January 2011

Following a strong 10km outing in Italy last weekend, Mo Farah now sets his sights on the BUPA Great Edinburgh Cross Country 8km International Team Challenge at Holyrood Park on Saturday 8 January.

The double European Champion finished a close second to Ethiopia's Imane Merga at the Boclassic 10km on New Year’s Eve. He clocked 28:32.8 to finish one place higher than the previous year and comfortably beat Kenyan Olympic 5000m bronze medallist Edwin Soi.

Farah, who has been out training at the UKA/London Marathon altitude training camp in Iten, Kenya, will lead a strong Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland presence in Edinburgh.

He will be joined in the team of nine by five of the Aviva GB & NI team members from December’s SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Albufeira, Portugal.

Tom Humphries (coach: Phil Clamp) and Phil Nicholls (coach: Bud Baldaro) – the top two British finishers in Portugal in 15th and 18th respectively – will be looking to continue their momentum, with Nicholls hoping that recent marathon training will stand him in good stead on the cross.

Andy Vernon (coach: Nick Anderson) will be looking to return to the form which saw him victorious in the McCain Liverpool Cross Challenge and European Trials in November while two time English Cross Country Champion Frank Tickner (coach: Clive Thomas) has been drafted in to replace Chris Thompson who is resting a slight hip injury as a precaution. Ryan McLeod (coach: John Nuttall), who returned from Kenya to finish 29th in the European Cross, will also start.

John Beattie (coach: John Nuttall), who has also benefited from the recent altitude training camp, and Lee Merrien (coach: John Nuttall) – who competed in the 5,000m and 10,000m for Guernsey at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi – will also start along with Scott Overall (coach: Robert Chapman) – 10th at November’s McCain Liverpool Cross Challenge and European Trials.

There will also be an Aviva GB & NI U23/U20 team which features eight athletes who competed at the European Cross – including Ross Murray (coach: Craig Winrow), also returning from a stint of altitude training in Kenya, and Mitch Goose (coach: Tim/Pauline Ash) – 22nd in the U23 men’s race in Portugal.

The Aviva GB & NI teams will face teams of nine from USA and Europe with the pick of the athletes being Oregon Track Club’s Galen Rupp and nine-time European Cross Country champion Sergiy Lebid of Ukraine.

The International Team Challenge is the fourth leg of this winter's IAAF World Cross Permit series and will be broadcast on BBC One/online at 13.00 GMT.

The first six athletes to cross the finish line will count towards the overall points score with the team with the lowest overall score winning.

Competing in the Men’s International 4K, Tom Lancashire (coach: Norman Poole) – who improved his 1500m best to 3:33.96 in 2010 – and the top Aviva GB & NI U23 in Portugal, Ricky Stevenson (coach: Steve Shaw) – will face some of the world’s best – including the Kenyan trio of Olympic 1500m champion Asbel Kiprop, 2003 World 5,000m champion Eliud Kipchoge and Olympic 3000m steeplechase champion Brimin Kipruto.

Scot Stephanie Twell will compete on home soil in the Women’s International 6K which will see European Cross Country Champion Jessica Augusto of Portugal face another strong British line up including European Cross medallists Charlotte Purdue and Emma Pallant.

For more information on the International Team Challenge, please click HERE.

Full start lists are available HERE.

AVIVA GB & NI TEAM

SENIOR MEN

John Beattie (John Nuttall) – Newham & Essex Beagles; Mo Farah - Newham & Essex Beagles; Tom Humphries (Phil Clamp) – Cannock & Staffs AC; Ryan McLeod (John Nuttall) – Tipton Harriers; Lee Merrien (John Nuttall) – Newham & Essex Beagles; Phil Nicholls (Bud Baldaro) – Tipton Harriers; Scott Overall (Robert Chapman) – Blackheath & Bromley; Frank Tickner (Clive Thomas) – Wells AC; Andy Vernon (Nick Anderson) – AFD

UNDER-23/UNDER-20 MEN

Andy Combs (Mark Hookway/Mick Woods) – Tonbridge AC; Ben Connor (Jerry Hall) – Derby AC; Robbie Farnham-Rose (Mark Hookway) – Tonbridge AC; Mitch Goose (Tim/Pauline Ash) – City of Norwich; Richard Goodman (Geoff Williams) – Shaftesbury Barnet; Ashley Harrell (Tim/Pauline Ash) – City of Norwich; Derek Hawkins (Lawrie Spence) – Kilbarchan AC; John McDonnell (John Stoker) – Luton AC; Ross Murray (Craig Winrow) – Gateshead