One of Scotland's big running dates of the year is approaching fast. As recreational runners make their final preparations for the inaugural Simplyhealth Great Castle Run, a field of top internationals get ready for the Simplyhealth Great Stirling XCountry.
Saturday 12 January will see a sell-out field of 1,600 face a testing 7k course in the open race where participants will be running in waves of approximately 200. Later hundreds of spectators and millions of TV viewers will catch top class international action across three feature events (the Women's 6K, the Men's 8K and the 4 x 1K Relay, the innovative event where mixed teams compete for the Stewart Cup). The Simplyhealth Great Stirling XCountry pits the best of Great Britain against Europe and the USA.
Local hero Laura Muir will be joined by Charlotte Arter, who claimed a World fastest time for a female runner at parkrun last Sunday, in the UK team in the women's race while Andy Vernon spearheads the UK men's select.
There will be an interesting dynamic in the USA men's team where 2016 Olympian and back-to-back reigning event champion Leonard Korir will be joined by Garrett Heath, who has won the Great Edinburgh XCountry three times and will be looking to put in a strong performance. Anne-Marie Blaney features for the USA in the women's race.
Defending champions Europe will again be strong with Isaac Kimeli and Anna Moller the athletes to look out for.
Live BBC coverage for the Simplyhealth Great Stirling XCountry is as follows:
- 13:23 Women's 6K
- 13:55 Men's 8K
- 14:35 4 x 1K Relay
The big international races are free for spectators and there is an event village with food, drink, big screen etc. With the Castle Run action and X-Country race Saturday is set to be a great experience for those running and spectating and for those who are just coming along to enjoy watching a great day's sport on a bracing winter's day. Just the thing to blow away those festive cobwebs!
Full details of the Great Stirling XCountry are available here.
Great Run's next big Scottish event is also in Stirling with the Great Stirling Run being staged on 28 April. Many of Saturday's participants will be gearing up for April's marathon and half marathon.
Find out more about the Great Stirling Run at the event website