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UK Athletics

World’s elite distance runners descend on Edinburgh

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27 March 2008



The world’s elite endurance athletes descend on Edinburgh this weekend for the 36th IAAF World Cross Country Championships.


Distance runners from a record 70 nations will brave the mud, cold and slopes of Holyrood Park to battle it out on one of the most picturesque courses anywhere on the planet.


After the searing heat of Mombassa last year, the conditions will be more like traditional cross country weather during what promises to be a thrilling day of races on Sunday.


The excitement will not all be exclusive to Sunday, however, as the Home Country Internationals will be run in Holyrood Park on Saturday.


Large crowds are expected to line the route of the four races on Sunday (senior and junior races for both men and women), with home support giving the Norwich Union Great Britain & Northern Ireland team a major boost.


The GB senior men’s team – which features UK Inter-Counties champion Tom Humphries (Cannock & Stafford) and local hero Andrew Lemoncello (Fife AC) – will take on the might of the African nations, including last year’s winner from Eritrea, Zersenay Tadesse and the remarkable Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekekle, winner of 11 individual world cross county golds. Britain’s John Beattie (Winchester & District AC) makes his international debut in the senior event over 12km.


There are also two debutants in the junior men event with Philip Berntsen (Andover & District) and Dewi Griffiths (Camarthen Harriers) pulling on a GB vest for the first time. They will be joined by UK Inter-Counties victor David Forrester (St Helens Sutton AC).


As in the men’s events, the GB&NI women will be looking to establish themselves as the best in Europe and the individual and team medals are expected to be won by African countries.


World trials winner Laura Kenney (Royal Sutton Coldfield AC) will lead a team of six athletes, including Hayley Yelling (Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow) and sister-in-law Liz Yelling, the 2006 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist.


They will take on race favourite Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia on the 8km course.


The GB&NI junior women’s team sees Lily Partridge (Aldershot, Farnham & District) made her debut alongside club-mate Charlotte Purdue and Emily Pidgeon (Gloucester AC).


All the action from Edinburgh can be seen on BBC television and full results will be available at www.ukathletics.net