Garrett Heath takes Mo Farah at Great Edinburgh XC! by Cathal Dennehy for RunBlogRun

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BBC sports.jpgGarrett Heath & Mo Farah, courtesy of BBC Sports TV (great coverage!)

On December 11, Garrett Heath waited until the last 200 meters to go by Jonathan Pierce to take the USATF Club XC win! " I had nothing left with fifty to go" noted a smiling Garrett to me that fine day.

This morning, waking up in Salt Lake City to Cathal Dennehy's fine story and the news that Garrett Heath moved up from 4k to 8k in Edinburgh, in absolute crap weather (perfect for cross country) and he and Mo Farah dueled it out.

Today, Garrett Heath won. That is a pretty good opening for the Stanford grad, now Brooks Beast dude.

Just a suggestion Garrett, with the VO2 max you have, Danny Grimes, one of my old partners in athletics (we ran our first 10,000m together in 1976, he was first, Bob Lucas second and me third in hs division, winner was the late Homer Latimer) noted you have a stupendous oxygen capacity, you need to look at the 10,000 meters. You just out dueled the best long distance racer on the planet.

Garrett Heath is a real nice guy. He is also highly competitive and possesses the racing skills and guts to race well over 5000 meters and 10,000 meters!

But now, to the race!

By Cathal Dennehy

America's Garrett Heath handed Mo Farah a shock defeat at the Great Edinburgh Cross Country on Saturday, the 30-year-old Minnesotan surging away from the double Olympic champion on the final climb of the 8000m contest.

Farah, a former European cross country champion, found the going all too soft for his liking in Holyrood Park and he sat deep in the pack through the first half of Saturday's race, allowing his British teammates and American rivals to set the pace out front.

As the field set out on the final lap, it was the winner of the 4000m event here last year, Garrett Heath, who looked the strongest, sitting on Farah's shoulder before unleashing a decisive surge with 600m to run.

"It's been a surprise," said Heath. "I don't think you can ever expect to beat Mo Farah. The guy's got an amazing record and he's nearly impossible to beat. I was confident that I was fit and I wanted to give myself a chance, but I can't say I was confident I was going to beat him. I just love cross country, particularly this course."

For Farah, defeat didn't come as a huge surprise, and the 32-year-old was looking on the bright side as he spoke to assembled media afterwards.

"Nobody likes losing but when you get back in training you think about it, so it can be a good thing," he said. "It's better to lose now than lose in August. It gives you motivation. To lose to someone like Garrett, who's proven himself coming back here year after year to win on this course, he's not a bad athlete.

"It was slippery. It was tough, but this is cross country. That's what you get. When Garrett went, I just couldn't respond. He was a better man on the course here and when he put his foot down, it was just bouncing off the ground quicker. I wasn't that comfortable. There were a couple of times I nearly slipped.

"I'm not at my peak, but it was important to get my head around things and get a race behind me. When you do a lot of training it's important to test yourself, and I can go back into training camp now and get some good mileage behind me and some good track sessions."

Farah noted afterwards that his next race will be at the Glasgow Grand Prix on February 20, and after that he will target a half marathon in March, with the three current options being the Lisbon Half Marathon, the New York City Half Marathon and the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff. "I'm not going to do another cross country for a while," he admitted.

In the senior women's 6000m race, Fionnuala McCormack (nee Britton) raced to the lead on the first of four laps, stringing the field out behind her like stretched elastic, ensuring that the race would be a suitably gruelling contest, but in the end it was Great Britain's Kate Avery who reigned supreme.

McCormack led into the second lap as the rain pelted down on the runners, with Avery and Spain's Trihas Gebre nestling in her slipstream. Soon, though, Avery moved to the front, slowly pulling McCormack away from the rest of the field as they raced uphill in Holyrood Park.

On the third lap, Avery began to slowly draw away from McCormack, taking several quick glances behind to check what damage she was inflicting on the Irish athlete.

On the fourth and final lap, McCormack simply couldn't claw back the deficit, and Avery took a well-deserved win in 21:09, four seconds clear of Britton (21:13). Britain's Gemma Steel finished third in 21:31.

"It was tough," said McCormack. "Like the European Cross Country [where McCormack finished fourth], it was one place off where I wanted to end up. It's cross country. It doesn't tell you too much in one way, but it's a nice place to start the year. The cross country season went pretty well given where I was coming from."

McCormack will look to get back to winning ways when she tackles the IAAF Antrim International Cross Country in Belfast next Saturday.

In the mixed 4x1km relay, Scotland were helped to a decisive victory by a storming last leg from 1500m runner Laura Muir, who led the host nation to victory in 11:34 over Great Britain (11:33), with Ireland coming home third a further second adrift.

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