Liz McColgan has urged organisers to keep the Great Edinburgh International XCountry in its present home after it was revealed that Saturday’s edition might be the last in Holyrood Park. The decision by City of Edinburgh Council to withdraw financial support has cast doubt over the event continuing to take place in the capital.
The event, which is widely considered second only to the world cross-country championships in terms of prestige – is set to move elsewhere in the UK. Although the annual backing, understood to be more than £100,000, comes at a time when authorities are being asked to make deep cuts to budgets, the decision to push out the capital’s lone world-class event is a major blow to the sport.
Former world champion Liz McColgan, expressed her disappointment at the potential move. She told the Scotsman: “It’s just a shame really as it’s an established event with TV coverage. So great for the city, for Scottish athletics and the athletes, to have this calibre of events where kids and club runners can compete then watch the elite athletes compete. Events like this inspire people so it’s a big loss to Edinburgh and athletics in Scotland.”
Scottish Athletics chief executive Mark Munro echoed McColgan’s thoughts: “This year, the public were running from point to point to watch Laura Muir’s victory in the 4x1km relay. Quite simply, it’s an event that brings the athletics community and general public together,” he said.
“While understanding the financial challenges we all face just now, it is extremely disappointing that the City of Edinburgh Council have made the decision to remove their financial contribution. We will work with Great Run Company and Event Scotland to see if there are opportunities to continue with the event elsewhere in Scotland.”
This latest development comes after conformation that the Great Edinburgh Run has also been scrapped in 2018 due to cost concerns. This action removes two of the capital’s three mass participation events at a stroke.
Government agencies have signalled their intention to try and find an alternative home in Scotland for the cross-country meeting which has been in its present site for the past 14 years and has featured elite runners such as Olympic champions Kenesisa Bekele, Eliud Kipchoge and Mo Farah, who called the venue 'amazing'.