After many years of watching the race on TV, we travelled up to Edinburgh for a long weekend, focused around watching the elite events. For a city, Edinburgh is a trail runners dream, with Arthur’s Seat providing elevation, close proximity to mountains and undulating streets. Speaking to Eoin Lennon, 5th 2016 British Ultra Champs, told me the only negative is heart rate training opportunities.
Arriving in time to witness Harriet Knowles-Jones take apart the Junior Women’s 4KM race, leading from the front for the entire last lap, her dominance was impressive at the highest profiled XC race on the British calendar (with British champs not being broadcast).
The 4KM mixed relay was an all out time trail. 4 runners, alternating between sexes, a kilometre each to run flat out and a baton to pass safely across. For those looking to witness speed, the race was exciting from the start, with individuals leaving it all on the course, to bring their country glory.
It would be the British Team Captain, Laura Muir, fresh off setting a new British indoor 5000 meter record, a few days earlier who would lead the team home to victory, cementing her position at the top of the British Team.
The main races of Women’s Senior 6km and Men’s Senior 8km followed. Stacked fields lined up for both, taking a mixture of short loops and long, with small technical features to keep athletes alert. The Women’s Race was won in convincing fashion by Yasemin Can representing Team Europe in 20:36, with a 21 second gap over Fionnuala Mccormack of Europe and 26 seconds ahead of Meryem Akdag of Europe. Charlotte Arter was the first British runner home in 7th, in a time of 21:23.With Mo Farah in the men’s race, many expected a strong result if not a win for the multiple times World and Olympic Champion. As he ran behind the women’s race on his warm up, cheers erupted all around.
However, British Marathon Champion Callum Hawkins would be the stand out performance of the day, fighting for the lead with Leonard Korir (USA) for the majority of the race. With each lap their battle intensified, as the atmosphere grew following this close performance. It would be Leonard who took the win by the narrowest of margins, taking the lead in the dying meters, to snatch victory Callum by 2 seconds. To put it into perspective, it was another 17 seconds till Aras Kaya (Europe) crossed the line in 3rd. Mo Farah would go onto finish in 7th.
An incredible day of racing and a great way to start the year of. British distance running is in good place.