Callum Hawkins aims for World marathon progress as Laura Muir targets new record

Callum Hawkins competes in the Great Edinburgh Cross Country race
Hawkins hit the front at the start and led for most of the race in Holyrood Park

Callum Hawkins believes his Edinburgh Cross Country performance shows he's on course to better his Olympic marathon position at the World Championships.

Hawkins, ninth in Rio, was narrowly beaten into second place on Saturday by the USA's Leonard Korir in the 8k race.

Though he admitted afterwards that was "bitter-sweet", he knows the signs are growing ever more encouraging.

"Hopefully at the Worlds I can improve on what I did at the Olympics," the 24-year-old told BBC Scotland.

Hawkins finished two places better off in Edinburgh compared to the 2016 event at Holyrood Park.

"Last year I used this as an opener, to start my season off when I was training for the London Marathon," he said. "To be in a better place than I was then shows I can maybe even improve on this.

"This year the depth of the race, the standard, was a lot higher so to actually improve on my position from last year shows how much I've come on, how much of an improvement there's been."

In finishing second, he not only became the first Briton to beat Sir Mo Farah in any race in seven years, he also finished ahead of last year's winner, the American Garrett Heath.

"To be fair it's not Mo at his best because clearly he's in winter work at the moment, he's not 100%. But to beat Garrett Heath and even to be so close to Leonard Korir - he's a quality athlete," added the Scot, from Elderslie in Renfrewshire.

Callum Hawkins is pipped to victory by American Leonard Korir
Hawkins saw Leonard Korir pass him on the finishing sprint

"I was pretty disappointed when I got pipped at the line but I'm pleased just with the way the race went. I made it hard, did what I planned to do before. It's a bit bitter-sweet but that's racing."

Like most athletes of his pedigree, everything he does just now is geared towards one clear goal.

"The World Championships in August is my main aim," he continued. "Hopefully I can go and do the New York half-marathon in March, that would be my next goal, and after that it'll be 100% on the World Championships.

"The crowd here were loud enough. I can't imagine what the crowds at the World Championships in London are going to be like. To have such a big event in your home country, in the capital, will be incredible."

Despite an off day for Farah, Hawkins paid tribute to the inspiration he has given British athletes, showing them they can compete with the world's best.

Laura Muir celebrates winning the relay event with Great Britain at the Great Edinburgh Cross Country
Muir kept her winning streak going with a strong anchor leg in the relay event

Another Scots runner aiming to do just that at London 2017 is Laura Muir, who produced another strong display to bring the British 4x1km relay team home in first place.

"I am really pleased; it was all I was hoping for," Muir, who ran her leg in around 2:52, 10 seconds faster than last year, told BBC Scotland.

"Having that role as captain, I just wanted to do well for the team, so I am glad I could do that and bring the team home."

After a three-week training stint in South Africa, next on Muir's agenda is setting another indoor record at 1000m next month, to add to the recent British indoor 5,000m and British 1500m records she already holds.

"I am hoping to run a really fast time at the Birmingham Indoor Grand Prix (on 18 February) and possibly get Kelly's British record over the 1K indoors (a time of 2:32.96, run in Birmingham 13 years ago)."

Beyond that, the 23-year-old confirmed the possibility of running both the 1500m and 5,000m at the World Championships.

"I am thinking about it, definitely," she added.

"I think I have shown I have got the talent for the 5K as well. We won't know until the summer when I start racing the world-class girls where I am placed, and if I should do that in London. But the timetable works, so it is an open idea."

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