Senior figures from the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and UK Sport are in Edinburgh this weekend as part of the final preparations for the IAAF World Cross Country Championships which take place on March 30, 2008.
Organisers of the World Championships have worked closely with Nova International in the staging of this years BUPA Great Edinburgh International Cross Country event, testing plans and infrastructure ahead of welcoming the Worlds in a little over two months. The course, which will be almost identical to that planned for the World Championships in March, will also be under close inspection by senior officials from the world governing body of athletics, who have flown into Edinburgh to see the venue ahead of the World Championship weekend.
Commenting on this weekend’s International cross country race and the forthcoming World Championships, Paul Bush, Chief Operating Officer at EventScotland said: “We are really looking forward to another successful BUPA Great Edinburgh International Cross Country and welcoming some of the world’s most prolific athletes to Scotland. The Edinburgh course is undoubtedly considered one of the best in the world – recognised by the fact it will host the pinnacle of cross country racing, the World Championships, at the end of March.
“We have worked closely with partners and event organisers, such as Nova International, to develop a strong reputation for Edinburgh as a venue to some of the best cross country events in the world.
“Following the hugely successful European Cross Country Championships in 2003 and the continued success of the BUPA Great Edinburgh International Cross Country, we are confident Scotland will deliver the best World Cross Country Championships yet.
“What’s more, this weekends event will be broadcast live on BBC, with highlights broadcast across the globe, providing a perfect stage to showcase some of Edinburgh’s natural and built assets.”
With Keninisa Bekele, two-time winner of the BUPA Great Edinburgh International Cross Country and favourite to secure a hat-trick of wins this year, confirming he will race for a sixth World title in March, the stage is set for an exciting weekend on and off the course.
Geoff Wightman, Chair of the Local Organising Committee for the 17th IAAF World Cross Country Championships, said: “Edinburgh has become one of the classic cross country venues, with an accessible urban setting that provides a true test of cross country, great backdrops and perfect spectator viewing.
“We hope to cement this status by delivering an IAAF World Championship in March that will live long in the memory.
“This Saturday’s race and in particular the duel between Bekele and Tadesse, will set up the climax to the season when the last two World Champions will meet again to determine who is the greatest. We hope to share that build-up with 10,000 spectators, 4,000 participants in supporting races, 600 volunteers, almost 80 competing nations and millions of TV viewers around the world.”