Friday, January 6, 2017

Heath leads Team USA into Edinburgh for Saturday's Great Edinburgh XCountry challenge...

EDINBURGH, Scotland—The first big international test of the 2017 season gets underway Saturday morning at 5:15am Seattle time (1:15 pm local time) as Garrett Heath (above/photo courtesy BBC) of the Seattle based Brooks Beasts leads Team USA into battle at the Great Edinburgh XCountry challenge meet at fabled Holyrood Park.

Heath rolls into Edinburgh having won the last three versions of this race, and once again, the road to victory goes directly through Great Britain’s Mo Farah, the reigning world and Olympic champion at 5000 and 10000 meters, and member of the Beaverton-based Nike Oregon Project.

In last year’s race, Heath shot past Farah before the final hill with 400 meters to go, and took advantage of Farah’s slight slip on the hard right turn heading into the final downhill stretch, winning by two seconds over the 8k course in 25:29 to Farah’s 25:31.

Heath told members of the media at the pre-race presser, “I felt pretty good. And honestly it wasn’t until the last 50 metres that I thought I had much of a shot. I had a step on him but I kept waiting for him. I could hear the shouts of ‘go, Mo.’ You know what kind of kick he has and I kept waiting for it to arrive. So when I got to the end and won, I couldn’t believe it. It was just unreal.”

He told reporters, “I love being in Edinburgh. It feels a bit nostalgic for me, a bit like the kind of races I did in high school. You have to get stuck in. When I’m back in Minnesota, it’s -10°C and so it feels a bit warmer coming here. But I look forward it each time.”

Heath is the only athlete with Washington ties on the Team USA squad competing in Edinburgh, which features a junior women’s 4k race, a junior men’s 6k, a mixed 4 x 1k relay, and a women’s 6k. The mixed 4 x 1k relay will be added to this year’s IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Uganda in March. ($) will offer live streaming coverage of the Great Edinburgh XCountry challenge beginning at 5:15 am Seattle time.

NOTE:  USA Track & Field, and the Great Edinburgh XCountry challenge organizers contributed to this report.

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