Team Scotland’s Chris O’Hare is coming home to Edinburgh over the festive period – and will race veteran track legend Bernard Lagat at Holyrood Park.
The European Championship bronze medallist is lined up to compete on Saturday 10 January in the Scottish capital at the Great Edinburgh XC.
It is now confirmed that Chris – who graced this event as a teenager in the Inter-Districts as an Edinburgh AC athlete for the East – will line up in the 4k race that day.
He will face a world class field which includes 40-year-old Lagat, 2008 Olympic champion Asbel Kiprop and reigning World Cross champion Japhet Korir.
‘Very excited that my first race of 2015 will be at the Great Edinburgh XC in the 4k race #hometown,’ tweeted O’Hare, who was short-listed for our KUKRI Athlete of the Year award for 2014.
In point of fact, Chris is already a Holyrood Park winner because back in 2007 he won the U17 Inter-District race – with Callum Hawkins the U15 gold medallist and another athlete who featured at Glasgow 2014, Emily Dudgeon, a medallist in the U15 Girls. Jake Wightman, a fourth Commonwealth Games ‘wannabe’ was in the U13s seven years ago.
It was quite an event that year with Sergiy Lebid beating Mo Farah over 4k and Kenenisa Bekele winning the longer men’s race.
Action from January 2014
American Garrett Heath, who is from Minnesota, will face a stellar cast of major championship medal winners when he returns to Edinburgh to defend the 4km international title.
Heath produced an inspired performance to emerge as surprise winner of the 2014 race in the Scottish capital, but the 29-year-old will have to contend with a field loaded with top athletes.
Heading the list is Kiprop, the Kenyan who won the 2008 Olympic 1500m title and will aim for a third IAAF World Championship crown in Beijing next summer. Kiprop prevailed in the Edinburgh mud in 2012 but was one of those pedigree contenders surprised by Heath in 2014, finishing third.
The 2015 field also includes the reigning world cross country champion Japhet Korir. The Kenyan became the youngest ever senior men’s world cross country champion when he triumphed as a 19-year-old in Bydgoszcz, Poland, in 2013 and will be aiming to defend his crown in Guiyang, China, in March.
The Kenyan presence is further strengthened by the two Commonwealth 1500m champions: James Magut, who won in Glasgow in 2014, and Silas Kiplagat, who was victorious in Delhi in 2010.
Then there is the world number one in the 3,000m steeplechase, Jairus Birech, who was surprisingly beaten by Kenyan team-mate Jonathan Ndiku in the Commonwealth Games final at Hampden Park in July – and Yomiuf Kejelcha, the 17-year-old Kenyan who won the 5,000m title at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Eugene this summer.
At the other end of the age spectrum is the remarkable Peter Pan figure of Bernard Lagat, who turned 40 on December 12.
The Kenyan-born American, who achieved a famous 1500m-5,000m double at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka, Japan, starts life as a forty-something athlete still as a major championship medal winner. He claimed the 3,000m bronze medal at the World Indoor Championships in Sopot, Poland, in March this year, taking his collection of medals in that event to five.
The quality in the field does not end there. The lineup also features 2006 Commonwealth 5,000m champion Augustine Choge, 2012 Olympic 5,000m bronze medallist Thomas Longosiwa and 2008 Olympic 5,000m bronze medallist Edwin Soi, all Kenyans.
The European challenge is led by Krystian Zalewski, the Pole who took silver in the 3,000m steeplechase at the European Championships in Zurich in August.
The Great Edinburgh XC will be shown live on BBC One from 13:00 to 14:35 and the race schedule will also feature an appeareace by Mo Farah, Britain’s Olympic, World and European 5,000m and 10,000m champion.
The popular Great Winter Run, held on a scenic 5k course that loops around Arthur’s Seat, provides the public with a perfect opportunity to dust off the New Year cobwebs before watching the world’s best test themselves in the international cross country races.
Check out the full list of entrants for the International 4k
For entry to the Great Winter Run see the website.