Steph Twell: Edinburgh Cross Country 'perfect place' to test yourself

Steph Twell, Callum Hawkins, Mo Farah, Garrett Heath and Fionnuala McCormack pose before the 2016 Edinburgh race
Twell (seated) will return to Edinburgh this year along with Callum Hawkins, Sir Mo Farah, last year's men's winner Garrett Heath and former women's race winner Fionnuala McCormack
The Great Edinburgh International Cross Country
Venue: Holyrood Park, Edinburgh Date: Saturday 7 January
Coverage: Live on BBC One TV, HD and online from 13:15 GMT

Steph Twell believes competing in the Great Edinburgh International Cross Country will give her the 'true grit' needed to pursue her 2017 ambitions.

The Scot, 27, is targeting success at the European Indoor Championships in Belgrade in March, and the World Championships in London this summer.

But she is relishing starting her year in the mud of Edinburgh's Holyrood Park, which hosts Saturday's event.

"I love it. It's something I have grown up with," Twell told BBC Scotland.

"There is something so pure and so simple about cross-country running. There is nothing quite like that, and I think Britain - and Edinburgh - does it best.

"It is an encouraging landscape right in Holyrood Park, it is fantastic to have that support and I think it gives you true grit. You come away thinking 'If I have raced here, that is a good sign'."

Twell, who missed out on the women's 5,000m Olympic final in Rio last summer, will compete in the women's event over 6km, along with other leading Brits Gemma Steel, Jessica Judd and Beth Potter, with Sir Mo Farah and Scot Callum Hawkins among those aiming to end American Garrett Heath's winning run in the men's 8km event.

"Aerobically, it gives you a really strong test," Twell said. "If you can cover the ground quickly on even the toughest terrain, I think that is a really good opportunity.

"Over the years I have adapted the amount of cross-country running I have participated in, and I haven't done the long course in Edinburgh for a good few years.

Mo Farah comes second in 2016 Great Edinburgh Cross Country

"I really enjoyed doing the relay over 1km last year, but I have missed the longer women's race.

"I have cut myself a bit of slack post-Olympics but I really want to start testing myself again and Edinburgh is the perfect place to start doing that.

"It is the nicest one to stretch the legs out, burn the lungs a little bit and start pushing harder over difficult terrain to get ready for the track season."

Laura Muir, who is entering the mixed 4x1km race at Holyrood, will captain the British team, fresh from breaking the British 5,000m indoor record in Glasgow on Wednesday.

"I am sure Laura is buzzing because it was pretty impressive - it was a great solo running performance," Twell added.

"In 2010 when I raced 4:02 [over 1500m], I also ran 14:54 [over 5,000m] so I know the two events complement each other nicely. They do work together and you have to be strong anaerobically as well as aerobically."

British team

Senior Men

Ben Connor (coached by Spencer Duval)

Ellis Cross (Mick Woods)

Sir Mo Farah (Alberto Salazar)

Alex George (Paul de-Camps)

Dewi Griffiths (Kevin Evans)

Callum Hawkins (Robert Hawkins)

Charlie Hulson (Steve Vernon)

Mahamed Mahamed (Peter Haynes)

*Jack Martin (David Turnbull)

*Graham Rush

Jonny Taylor (Gordon Surtees)

Andy Vernon (Nic Bideau)

*Replacements for Ross Millington (illness) and Adam Hickey (injury)

Senior Women

Charlotte Arter (James Thie)

Lauren Deadman (Bill Foster)

Claire Duck (Mike Baxter)

Rachel Felton (Christopher Frapwell)

Emily Hosker-Thornhill (Mick Woods)

Jessica Judd (Mick Judd)

Rebecca Murray (Alex Stanton)

Georgina Outten (Andrew Walling)

Beth Potter (Mick Woods)

Gemma Steel (Rob Denmark)

Steph Twell (Mick Woods)

Pippa Woolven (Luke Gunn)

Junior Men

Scott Beattie (Mike Bateman)

Hugo Milner (Chris Woodhouse)

Jonathan Shields

Sam Stevens (Alan Maddocks)

Sol Sweeney (Catriona Helen Tavendale)

Alex Yee (Kenneth Pike)

Junior Women

Phoebe Barker (Richard Owen)

Cari Hughes (Andrew Walling)

Harriet Knowles-Jones (Paul Roden)

Amelia Quirk (Beverly Kitching)

Erin Wallace (Dudley Walker)

Victoria Weir (Simon Anderson)

Mixed 4x1km Relay

James Bowness (William Parker)

Laura Muir (Andy Young)

Charlene Thomas (Aaron Thomas)

James West (George Gandy)

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