Edinburgh AC star Chris O’Hare returns to his roots tomorrow as he competes against some of the world’s best in the international 4k race of the Great Edinburgh Cross Country in Holyrood Park.
O’Hare may be defined by his 1500 metres exploits where in successive seasons he has been a world finalist and a European bronze medallist, but he is proud of the fact he cut his cross-country teeth on the very turf and mud which he will be pounding tomorrow.
The 23-year-old from West Linton, who was part of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games teams, is relishing competing in a formidable field in the Capital this weekend. “I’m very excited to get to compete at Holyrood Park again,” said O’Hare, who spent four years at Tulsa University and is now a full-time athlete and member of the Adidas stable. “I raced many times as a youngster in the mud there so it’ll be good to get my feet muddy again and have a good go at the big names.”
Those include James Magut, who won Commonwealth gold in the 1500 metres at Hampden last August. Magut isn’t even the top Kenyan in the field, however. Asbel Kiprop has twice won the world 1500m title and took Olympic gold in 2008, while Japheth Korir was the 2013 world cross country champion and Silas Kipligat the world runner-up in 2011.
Former Kenyan Bernard Lagat, now a US citizen, was the 2007 double world track champion over 1500 and 5000 metres and is still a force to be reckoned with despite his veteran status. Fellow American Dathan Ritzenheim was the world half marathon bronze medallist and has also run under 13 minutes for 5000m (12:56.27). Other Brits in the field will be Ross Murray, who was a London 2012 1500m semi-finalist and has run the distance in 3:34.76, slightly faster than Peebles High School FP O’Hare, whose best is 3:35:06.
Meanwhile, Lasswade’s Ross Matheson and Glasgow University vet student Laura Muir have teamed up to represent Scotland against an international line-up in a two-person mixed cross-country relay tomorrow. Muir, who ran an impressive 8:51.75 for 3000 metres in Glasgow last weekend to go second on the British under-23 all-time rankings behind Zola Budd, will run the opening one kilometre leg then hand over to Matheson, who delayed his return to Albequerque where he is a student at New Mexico University. Another Scottish pair for the event which starts at 10.40am are Glasgow’s Jo Moultrie and Scottish 1500m champion Grant Muir.
European under-23 champion Rhona Auckland (Edinburgh University) has followed Mo Farah as a major withdrawal from tomorrow’s event due to a combination of a recent bout of flu and a sore Achilles tendon. England’s European senior champion, Gemma Steel, will be in the senior 6k race, along with former European junior champion Emelia Gorecka, whom Auckland beat in Bulgaria last month. Ireland’s former European champion, Fionnula Britton, leads the European challenge.
Callum Hawkins (Kilbarchan), Luke Caldwell (Shettleston) and Andrew Butchart (Central) all go for GB in the senior men’s 8k race, where Chris Derrick (USA) is chasing back-to-back Holyrood wins.