OLYMPIC marathon hopeful Aly Dixon has been given a cash boost as she bids to be part of this summer’s games.
The Sunderland road runner, who is entirely self-funded, was given £500 by organisers of this May’s Marathon of the North, which is taking place in the city.
Aly is now in Kenya for a month-long training camp which it is hoped will help improve her running times and force her way into the Olympic squad.
Marathon legend Charlie Spedding and former Olympian Steve Cram were on hand to pass on the funds at the Stadium of Light.
She said: “All my training is entirely self-funded and the support I have received from the Marathon of the North and many other people and organisations including the University of Sunderland and the Sunderland Strollers running club has been overwhelming.
“Amazingly one Irish woman who read my story in Athletics Weekly even sent a cheque for 1,000 Euros.
“And as I was made redundant last year and was out of work for nine months, people’s generosity in helping me fund my training has proved absolutely essential.
“My trip to Kenya alone is costing me over £1,500 but hopefully it will be the difference between running for Britain in the London 2012 Olympics and not.
“Being out there with the likes of Paula Radcliffe and Mo Farah is going to be hugely beneficial.
“Although I’ve got a massive task ahead of me to qualify for the Olympic team, I’m up for the challenge and am giving everything I’ve got to get there.”
The Marathon of the North route, which was revealed in the Echo, will start at the Stadium of Light before taking in much of the city.
The second Sunderland City 10k event will also take place at the same time on Sunday, May 6.
Entertainment and music events will help create a festival of running over the Bank Holiday weekend.
“The Marathon of the North has supported me fantastically and it is a brilliant event for Sunderland and athletics in the region as a whole,” added Aly.
“I know that entries are already through the roof and the route looks like it could yield some fast times.”
To enter the Marathon of the North or Sunderland City 10k, go to www.marathonofthenorth.co.uk or www.sunderlandcity10k.com.
Twitter users can follow @sunderland10k and @marathonofnorth for updates.