Running legend Brendan Foster claims Edinburgh will live to regret the decision to allow its sole top-class athletics event to leave the Capital.
The annual international cross-country, the Great Edinburgh XCountry, which for the past 12 years has attracted some of the biggest names in the sport to Holyrood Park, along with thousand of fun runners, lost its place in the Capital when the City Council pulled the plug on funding.
Stirling was formally unveiled as the new host yesterday with the Scottish Inter-District Championships also set to make their new home there on January 12, 2019.
“The event has developed a great reputation in Scotland over many years and we’ve been very happy with it,” said Foster, who continues to chair race organisers Great Run, despite stepping down from his duties as a BBC commentator. “So we were disappointed that we had to move from Edinburgh where it had been going for such a long time.
“We had great athletes at it. It led to the bid for the World Cross-country Championships in Edinburgh which is something we’re really proud of. We supported UK Athletics’ bid for 2008 and it was a fabulous event with Kenesisa Bekele and all those top-class athletes being there.
“So it was really sad when Edinburgh Council decided they no longer had room for a sporting event like that in their portfolio.”
Edinburgh’s loss will be Stirling’s gain, insisted 70-year-old Foster, despite a wave of calls from stars like European champion Laura Muir for the Capital to have a change of heart.
“We’ve been working with Stirling Council and we were reminded it was the ancient capital of Scotland and was even more central,” Foster said. “Scottish Athletics were delighted to have their Inter-Counties in an even more central location. EventScotland were very supportive. And it’s a really scenic venue, just like Edinburgh.
“We take great pride that we have athletes coming down from the Western Isles for the Inter-Districts, even though it means coming the day before. And we’re happy it’s staying in Scotland, even though it’s another sporting event that’s left Edinburgh.”