Athletics: Murray-Ross delighted to kick off year at Holyrood

Edinburgh’s Freya Murray-Ross, the first Briton to finish in the London 2012 Olympic Marathon, is back living in Scotland and back in a British team – this time for the BUPA Great Edinburgh Cross Country in Holyrood Park tomorrow.

“It always feels right to start the New Year with this race and it’s great to be picked again – I think people are still getting a buzz off the Olympics.”

The 29-year-old Scottish cross country champion, who was married last September and quit her job in England to prepare for the London Marathon in April, faces 2011 and 2012 European senior champion Finnula Britton of Ireland and the second and third finishers in Hungary last month – Ana Felix (Portugal) and Adrienne Hertzog (Netherlands.

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The Edinburgh AC member, however, will have plenty of back-up in a match between GB and teams from Europe and the USA.

Her team-mates include: European Under-23 champion Jess Coulson (Stockport), who beat Murray-Ross on the roads in the Great Edinburgh Run last October and then triumphed in the cold in Budapest last month; Londoner Julia Bleasdale, who was eighth in both 5000m and 10,000m in the 2012 Olympics, and Scotland’s Steph Twell, who was so unlucky to pick up a bad 
ankle injury in 2011 and miss the Olympics altogether. Twell will be having her first major outing since having a plate
removed from her ankle last July.

Also in the GB team are Scots Rosie Smith (Hunter’s BT) and Beth Potter (Glasgow).

But significantly, and perhaps so that they do not end up as party poopers, the trio of world-class Africans – Olympic 5000 metres champion Meseret Defar of Ethiopia and Kenyans Vivian Cheruiyot, Olympic 5000m silver medalist and World Cross champion in 2011 and Linet Masai, 2009 World 10,000m champion – are running in a separate Elite race over 3000m.

In the same race are Dundee’s Laura Muir and Emily Stewart (EAC), who tussled in an indoor track 3k race at the New Emirates Arena in Glasgow last night, both setting indoor personal bests – the 21-year-old Stewart clocking 9:09.13 and 19-year-old Muir a sensational 9:02.0.

The nine-times European champion Sergiy Lebid (Ukraine) is back to captain the European team in the men’s 8k race along with last year’s runner-up Bobby Mack, the US captain, and Steve Vernon – skipper of a GB team which includes Scot Scott McDonald (Central).

Ross Matheson (Lasswade) is in the senior East team for the Inter-District 8k race with Dominic O’Hare (EAC) in the under-17 team and Josh Kerr and Robert Bough (both EAC) in the under-15.