Europe calling for McCormack
Fionnuala McCormack of Kilcoole will start the New Year by lining out with Team Europe at Saturday's Great Edinburgh Cross-Country at Holyrood Park.
McCormack, who has two wins and three seconds in this race to her credit, will join a squad that includes her great rival Karoline Grovdal of Norway.
Also pencilled in for the team are Yasemin Can and Meryem Akda, first and second at the European Cross-Country Championships for Turkey last month and Romanian sensation Ancuta Bobocel.
Running for Britain are Steph Twell and Gemma Steel.
Team Europe will take on squads from Great Britain and the USA over four races - a senior men's 8km, senior women's 6km, junior men's 6km and junior women's 4km. Leading the British men's squad is two-time double Olympic champion Mo Farah, who finished second in this race last year behind the American Garreth Heath.
He will take on European champion Ali Kaya and his Turkish team-mate Polat Kemboi Arikan.
European junior champion Harriet Knowles-Jones of Great Britain leads the entry for the women's junior race. Irish athletes have not made the Team Europe senior or junior men's squads.
Also scheduled is the popular mixed 4x1km relay, in which Ireland finished a close third last year. The winners were Scotland led by Laura Muir, who is scheduled to lead her team again.
Teams from Europe, USA, Wales, and England as well as Scotland and Ireland will compete this year. The Irish team has yet to be announced, but all four from last year - John Travers, Eoin Everard, Laura Crowe and Kerry O'Flaherty - must fancy their chances.
A week later, on Saturday January 14, an even larger Irish entry is expected at the annual Antrim International Cross-Country in atGreenmount (11.0), where Fionnuala McCormack is also scheduled to run.
Last year, McCormack finished a fighting third in chilly, slippery conditions. Kenya's Alice Aprot Owunakee won the race.
Also expected to run are Olympic steeplechaser Kerry O'Flaherty of Newcastle AC, Irish cross-country champion Shona Heaslip from Riocht AC and DSD's ageless Maria McCambridge.
Africans dominated the men's race last year although teams from both DSD and Clonliffe did well. A full programme of juvenile, junior, senior and masters races is scheduled. Late entry is still open at £8 adult and £5 junior individuals. See www.athleticsni.org