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Ross down full-time road

FREYa Ross sees the new year as a new start, with new opportunities.

Not that 2012 was so bad, of course, with the lateness of her Olympic call-up proving no impediment to being first British woman home in the marathon. But the Scot, surnamed Murray until her autumn wedding, has opted to become a full-time athlete for the first time in a bid to accelerate her progress still further.

Having made a successful switch to long distances, she is now much in demand by event organisers, and with her new husband's career forcing the couple to return from exile in Durham, the engineer had the choice of finding a new job or dedicating herself fully to her sporting vocation.

"A month or two down the line, I might be completely bored with it and go, 'forget this'," the 29-year-old said. "But I'm going to give it a try and see how it works out and see what difference it makes."

Ross added: "I feel less stressed. I don't feel like I'm in a rush any more whereas before, I was trying to do 10 things at once and squeeze everything in. I never felt like I had enough time to do all those extra things that make a difference. I'd run to work, try to stretch quickly, grab a quick shower and then eat my breakfast while I was dealing with emails. It's nice to feel I'm doing things properly."

Ross was an astonishingly promising junior, finishing fourth in the 1500 metres at the Commonwealth Youth Games in 2000. But it is on the roads she has finally bloomed after years concentrating on cross-country.

She will return to the latter on Saturday at the Bupa International in Edinburgh's Holyrood Park, as one of five Scots in a Great Britain team that will take on Europe, the United States and an international field that will include Ethiopa's Olympic 5000m champion Meseret Defar.

Ross harbours high hopes over a terrain that was a regular training ground in her youth, but she will do just one cross more and call it a season, ruling herself out March's world championships in Poland. Instead, she will head to Colorado and spend nine weeks working under the close supervision of her coach, the former marathon world record holder Steve Jones.

"I've only ever been over there for four weeks before," Ross said. "I was never able to ask for much more time off work than that. So I thought I might as well make the most of the opportunity."

The Welshman has guided Ross by long distance for the past three years, providing guidance by phone and email and employing a no-frills philosophy that is far from new age. "That approach suits me," she says. "He's all about the hard work. He doesn't like to over-complicate things."

Being at altitude, Ross hopes, will double the dividend. "Because I'm going to be over there for a while, I'll try to get some races in as well as training with Steve," she said "I want to do the New York half-marathon and one or two others. Hopefully I'll see even more of the benefits of being at altitude when I'm there for a bit longer, especially in the winter."

First up, though, there is Edinburgh, where newly-crowned European champion Jess Coulson will be among Ross's team-mates. The two met just three months ago at the Bupa Great Edinburgh Run where Ross was usurped over 10km by a virtual unknown.

"It's good she's doing so well again," Ross said. "She was running well a few years ago, but had a few injuries. It's great she's now in a position where she's leading the team and we're all looking to feed off that. Hopefully all of us will have a good day and we'll win the team competition."

Spain's Ayad Lamdassem will defend the title he won last year in the men's race, but will expect a challenge from Hassan Chahdi of France and nine-time champion Sergiy Lebid in a strong European squad. Alloa's Scott McDonald lines up for Britain alongside Steve Vernon.

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