It’s part of the business of the circuit, obtaining a large enough cluster at the head of the field to excite the masses behind: supply and demand with the both parties hoping for returns from their respective investment.
Now, Great Britain’s leading finisher over 26 miles at London 2012 has pushed her shoe on to the other foot. The 15th edition of the Edinburgh Marathon will take place this morning with Ross – not officially retired from competition but uncommitted to a full-on return – responsible for beefing up the entry list as its elite organiser.
“It’s harder than I’d thought,” the still youthful 33-year-old admits. “It involves a lot of communication with a lot of athletes and agents. You have that disappointment when they have to pull out, even more so when it’s not their fault. We had two Ethiopians this time who couldn’t get a visa approved.
“But when you get that, you have to do the best you can and ensure the athletes who come over give it their all.”
The men’s race looks likely to be between Kenya’s sub-2:10 runner Joel Kositany and Ukraine’s Ihor Russ, who was 48th in last summer’s Olympics in Rio. With the event holding a Bronze Label status from the IAAF, there are minimum criteria to fulfil by those taking part. It’s a burden that has seen rival organiser Great Run, which launched the Stirling Marathon with much fanfare last Sunday, opt out of the certification and tailor its invitations – and budgets – to suit itself.
Yet it is a challenge Ross embraced in the wake of the injuries which ruined any hope of a second Olympic outing. “I felt like I needed a break after so long devoted to running,” she says. “But it’s nice to be involved now in a different way, being on the other side. There were parts of my engineering job I enjoyed but it wasn’t something I wanted to go back to as a career. Instead now, I’m taking what I learnt as an athlete and putting it in a perspective.”
Eddah Jepkosgei of Kenya will go for a repeat of her 2016 win in the women’s event with Scottish veteran Hayley Haining returning after finishing second 12 months ago.