12th January 2018


A 34-strong British Athletics team will compete against squads from Team Europe and Team USA at the Great Edinburgh XCountry on Saturday at the prestigious event in the Scottish capital.

The senior men’s team of nine includes multiple global medallist Andy Vernon (coach: Nic Bideau), who arrives in Scotland on the back of a fourth place finish at the competitive Antrim International last weekend. The Aldershot Farnham & District athlete was pleased with his first race of 2018 and excited at the prospect of racing in front of the knowledgeable crowd at Holyrood Park once again.

Vernon commented: “I got a good run on soft grass last week in Antrim so that has prepared me well for this event. I think it will be similar conditions underfoot. I ran hard last week – I didn’t wear my watch so I was not sure how quick it was but it felt like I ran strongly.

On Edinburgh, he added: “It is a challenging technical course. You always have to be tactically astute at this one especially when it gets around to the last lap – if you are going for the win, positioning with 400m to go is crucial. The crowd are amazing; the whole way round they cheer you on so that is always a nice thing to come back to. If I get the opportunity to race here, I will always do it. It is always a key race in my training block in the first half of the year; I always enjoy it.

“It is hard to say what my expectations for the race are; I don’t know what form the Americans are in. But top five would be good for me I think.”

Vernon will be joined by Ben Connor (Steve Vernon) and Alex Teuten (Roderick Lock) who were part of the bronze medal winning team at the European Cross Country Championships last month.

The senior women’s race is led by 2015 winner of the race, Emelia Gorecka (Chris Thompson) who captained the British team for the Euros in Slovakia last month. She will be joined in the senior squad by Harriet Knowles-Jones (Paul Roden) who claimed gold in the U20 women’s race last month, an achievement which led to her winning European Athletics’ Athlete of the Month recently.

Also donning the British vest include Jess Judd (Mick Judd) who claimed European U23 silver over the terrain last month and Louise Damen, making another appearance for the British team, nearly 18 years after she earned her first international cap.

World 1500m finalist Laura Muir (Andy Young) headlines a strong British 4x1000m mixed relay team, alongside Alex Bell (Andrew Henderson), Adam Clarke (Geoff Watkin) and Tom Marshall (James Thie), the latter anchoring the team home to a maiden European title in Samorin. They will additionally take on quartets from Scotland and England; Jake Wightman and Steph Twell (both Geoff Wightman) are part of the Scottish ‘A’ team.

Four gold medallists from the European cross U20 women team compete in Edinburgh; Phoebe Barker (Richard Owen), Niamh Brown (Mick Woods), Cari Hughes (Andy Walling) and Khahisa Mhlanga (Mick Judd). Matthew Willis (self-coached) and Jake Heyward (James Thie) are among the team of six for the men’s equivalent.

The Simplyhealth Great Edinburgh XCountry is a team competition pitting the British Athletics team against Europe and the USA, also including an exciting international mixed relay. The event takes place in Edinburgh’s Holyrood Park and is free to spectate. It will be televised live on BBC One from 13:15 – 15:15 on Saturday 13 January 2018.

The event will be broadcast on BBC One from 13:15 on Saturday 13 January. For more event information, click here.

The British Athletics team for the Great Edinburgh XCountry:

Senior Women:

Katie Bingle (Mick Woods, Aldershot Farnham & District)

Philippa Bowden (Mick Woods, Aldershot Farnham & District)

Louise Damen (self-coached, Winchester)

Emelia Gorecka (Chris Thompson, Aldershot Farnham & District)

Jess Judd (Mick Judd, Chelmsford)

Harriet Knowles-Jones (Paul Roden, Warrington)

Phoebe Law (Mick Woods, Kingston & Poly)

Mhairi MacLennan (John Lees, Inverness)

Verity Ockenden (Tony Houchin, Swansea)


Senior Men:

Ben Connor (Steve Vernon, Stockport)

Patrick Dever (Andy Bibby, Preston)

Nick Goolab (Craig Winrow, Belgrave)

Andrew Heyes (Steve Vernon, Hallamshire)

Mahamed Mahamed (Peter Haynes, Southampton)

Jack Martin (David Turnbull, Stockport)

Chris Olley (Mark Hookway, Tonbridge)

Alex Teuten (Roderick Lock, Southampton)

Andy Vernon (Nic Bideau, Aldershot Farnham & District)


Senior Mixed Relay:

Alex Bell (Andrew Henderson, Pudsey & Bramley)

Adam Clarke (Geoff Watkin, Aldershot Farnham & District)

Tom Marshall (James Thie, Cardiff AC)

Laura Muir (Andy Young, Dundee Hawkhill)


U20 Women:

Phoebe Barker (Richard Owen, Tonbridge)

Niamh Brown (Mick Woods, Aldershot Farnham & District)

Cari Hughes (Andrew Walling, Swansea)

Khahisa Mhlanga (Mick Judd, Chelmsford)

Eloise Walker (John Lees, Edinburgh)

Erin Wallace (Dudley Walker, Giffnock North)


U20 Men:

Jake Heyward (James Thie, Cardiff)

Ricky Lutakome (Nick Hancock, Sutton & District)

Tom Mortimer (Christopher Brown, Stroud)

Hugh Sadler (David Bedwell, Bristol & West)

Lachlan Wellington (Vince Stamp, City of Portsmouth)

Matthew Willis (Self-coached, Wrexham)