Two-time Olympic champion Meseret Defar will make a rare foray into cross-country running in the new year when she lines up for the 3km race at the Bupa Edinburgh Cross Country, an IAAF Cross Country Permit Meeting.
The race will take place alongside a loaded match between Britain, Europe and the USA in Holyrood Park on January 5. Although it is believed that this will be Defar’s first cross-country race since 2002, she will be aiming to continue a rich vein of Ethiopian success.
Eight years after her Olympic 5000m victory in Athens, the 29-year-old – who notched up another title in London's Olympic Stadium this summer – will be determined to continue in the footsteps of her fellow countrywomen, Tirunesh Dibaba and Gelete Burka.
Dibaba, who retained her Olympic 10,000m title in London, has won the Edinburgh race on two occasions, while Burka, a former World junior cross-country champion, scored a hatrick of successes beginning in 2006.
Defar will easily recognise at least two of her rivals in Edinburgh as the Kenyan pair of 2011 World Championships 5000m and 10000m gold medallist Vivian Cheruiyot and 2009 World Championships 10000m winner Linet Masai will be on the start line alongside her.
"Their victories were of course over six kilometres, a distance which now features in the match between Britain, Europe and the USA," said Andy Caine, elite athlete manager for the meeting.
"The 3km distance will suit Defar who, despite her lack of cross country experience, has an unmatchable pedigree over the distance, having won the IAAF World Indoor Championships title on four occasions, as well as being the reigning Continental Cup champion.
"It will be interesting to see how she copes with the conditions, which on previous race days have featured plenty of snow and mud with of course the odd man-made obstacle thrown in. Especially given the fact she prepares for racing indoors, rather than cross country, during time spent away from the track season."
Caine confirmed Defar will certainly not have everything her own way. "I promise there will be an outstanding line up with big names, especially from Kenya, due to confirm their participation after the Christmas break," he said.
Organisers for the IAAF