Five Scots will compete at the BUPA Great Edinburgh Cross Country with Central AC’s Andrew Butchart rewarded for his hard work throughout 2013 – and a first call-up at any level by Team GB and NI.
Butchart will race for the Senior Men alongside Kilbarchan’s Callum Hawkins in a match which features the United States and Team Europe. Euro Cross team gold medallists Steph Twell and Rhona Auckland are joined by Olympian Freya Ross as home crowd favourites for the Holyrood Park races on January 11.
It will be first Senior vests for the youthful trio of Hawkins, Auckland and Butchart. Hawkins and Auckland each finished seventh in the Euro Cross at Under-23 level.
Early in 2013, Butchart was called into the Scotland team for the Celtic Games in Wales and a fine run in Cardiff convinced him he had to change his attitude to progress in athletics.
The 22-year-old Physical trainer openly admitted he had been ‘lazy’ previously but, under the guidance of Central coach Derek Easton, he has improved his performance levels over the past few months.
‘I was on stand-by as ‘first reserve’ for the Under-23s for the Euro Cross after running well in the trial at Liverpool and ended up sitting by the phone for a week and hoping there might be a call-off,’ Andrew told scottishathletics.org.uk.
‘It never happened and it was frustrating. So to get word now that I will wear a GB vest in Edinburgh is terrific news and, really, it just tops off a good 2013 for me.
‘About this time last year I realised I had been a bit lazy with my training. I knew that if I wanted to be serious about my athletics then I had to step-up my training a bit more.
‘I was lucky in January when there was a call-off for the Celtic Games in Wales for the Under-23 team and I was called in for that one. I ran well in Cardiff and that day in the snow there kick-started things for me and helped convince me to change my attitude.
‘It led to a much better track season and hopefully now I’m carrying that on into cross country. I am certainly training harder now than I did in 2012.
‘We’ve a strong team ethic at Central AC. The guys all get on well together and training is both friendly and competitive. We push each other on.
‘It is great for Scotland to have five athletes picked. Callum Hawkins and Rhona Auckland did extremely well in Belgrade in the Euro Cross (each finished seventh in U23 race) and that kind of thing does act as a spur and an inspiration for other athletes. You start to think ‘maybe I could do what they are doing’.
‘I’ve run in the Inter-District race in Edinburgh on many occasions and it is always a good fixture with the TV cameras there and usually a bit of a crowd.
‘Now I will go there with a 12-strong GB team and one of your first goals is to try and beat a few of your team-mates and prove you can compete at that level.’