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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 September, 2004, 11:24 GMT 12:24 UK
Major meet for Edinburgh
World Champion Benita Johnson
Benita Johnson will run in Edinburgh next year
A major international cross-country meeting is to be held in Edinburgh just over a year after it staged the highly-successful European Championships.

The Scottish capital will stage the showpiece Great Edinburgh International Cross Country meeting on 15 January.

The UK's premier event in Holyrood Park replaces the Great North Cross Country which has relocated from Newcastle.

World cross-country champion Benita Johnson will fly in from Australia to compete in the meeting.

Two days after winning the BUPA Great North Run, Johnson was in Edinburgh to inspect the tough course over which Paula Radcliffe won last year's European title.

And Johnson is eyeing a possible head-to-head with Radcliffe, as both athletes aim to bounce back from disappointing Olympic outings.

"I'm hoping Paula might be there," said Johnson. "I'm sure we'll see her back at her very best.

"It's our summer back home and obviously I'll be racing on the track so I'm hoping to get a tough race when I get here.

"The more big names they bring out, the better it will be for me. I need the competition.

"So I'm hoping there will be Paula and plenty of African runners and other top Europeans who I'll come up against in March when defending my title."

Brendan Foster, chairman of the race committee, was a little sad to see the event leave Newcastle but believes Edinburgh is a great venue.

"Of course there are some regrets at the decision for the move," said Foster.

"But we are delighted to be making what is a relatively short transition from the north-east of England.

"Scottish athletics is once again becoming revitalised and the fact that apart from the elite races there will be others for all age groups, strengthens my belief it is the right decision."



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