Edinburgh to lose world class cross-country event

Laura Muir breaks the tape at  the Great Edinburgh XCountry 4 x 1000m Relay. Picture: SNS.
Laura Muir breaks the tape at the Great Edinburgh XCountry 4 x 1000m Relay. Picture: SNS.
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The Great Edinburgh international cross-country, one of the few world-class sporting events staged annually in Scotland, is facing relocation south of the Border in 2019 after organisers revealed that the City of Edinburgh Council has withdrawn its backing for the showpiece.

Scotland on Sunday understands that the council has provided around £100,000 annually to stage the run in Holyrood Park which has attracted A-list athletes including Olympic champions Mo Farah and Kenenisa Bekele during its 14-year-history as well as showcasing the capital to a worldwide TV audience.

Although government agency EventScotland is prepared to maintain its current level of financial support, senior sources at Great Run – who organise the event – last night expressed their pessimism that Edinburgh will have a change of heart with interest now expected from other locations in the UK.

“We have enjoyed so many memorable moments in Edinburgh in recent years with the greatest names in the sport competing in a festival of cross country running,” said event chair Brendan Foster. “We thank Edinburgh City Council and EventScotland for their support and look forward to working with a new location from 2019 onwards.”

There is a small hope that an alternative venue in Scotland might be found, with leading athletes voicing their support for any proposal to save the event.

“I’d love it to stay here,” said Laura Muir, who led the British team to a race victory in the relay event in yesterday’s edition, pictured. “I grew up watching the event and then I’ve loved competing in it because it’s always had such great crowd support.”

Figures show that Edinburgh spends less on sport per head than any other council in Scotland at a rate less than half of that in Glasgow. Now, its lone sporting showpiece is set to disappear.

“It’s a decision I think Edinburgh will regret in the future,” said Scottish Athletics chief executive Mark Munro.

In the main individual races yesterday, American Leonard Korir made it back-to-back wins in the men’s 8km race, finishing three seconds clear of Europe’s Kaan Kigen Ozbilen, with Britain’s Ben Connor in fifth.

Britain’s Emelia Gorecka finished just two seconds behind winner and defending champion Yasemin Can in the women’s 6km race.

Councillor Donald Wilson, Culture and Communities Convener for the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “On behalf of the Council and the city, I want to thank the team at the Great Run Company and the many thousands of runners who have made the event so special.

“Some of the world’s greatest-ever distance athletes are sure to have very proud memories of passing the finishing line in Edinburgh. During our 14 years as a host city, the event has also shone a light on one of my favourite places to run in the world – Edinburgh’s Holyrood Park with its ancient volcano Arthur Seat and beautiful Dunsapie Loch.

“I would like to take this opportunity to wish the Great Run Company all the best as they set their sights on a new destination for their unique event.”