TOP Wearside athlete Alyson Dixon was on the front line to get a charity challenge off to a flying start.
The World Championship runner, who is bidding for a place in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games next year, was happy to run the first relay at Seaburn as part of the Save the Children World Marathon Challenge.
Around 30 people gathered on the promenade opposite the Marriott Hotel for the challenge on Saturday afternoon organised by Run England SeafRUNt Smilers running group.
The challenge brings together squads of people running in relay to complete the full distance of a marathon and teams from more than 50 countries across the globe have been taking part, hoping to become the world champions.
David Savage, who runs SeafRUNt Smilers said: “The idea is to raise funds for the charity, enjoy the competition and have a bit of fun at the same time.”
Runners were sponsored to take part and all the money will be donated to Save the Children.
David, a 44-year-old quality engineer from Roker, said they don’t have a figure for how much they would like to raise, just hoping it is as much as possible.
Alyson said: “I was asked if I would come down and support it, which I was happy to do because I am always keen to get people into running and also it is for a really good cause.
“I think it will give people an idea of just how fast marathons runners run.”
The 35-year-old Sunderland Stroller ran the first 200m leg of the race then passed the baton to members of the smilers.
Another Wearside team running in the Save the Children World Marathon Challenge will be a group of under 18s from Sunderland College, who will be running around the Washington Campus on Wednesday.
Laura Mitford, enrichment officer at the college, said: “As well as giving the young people an exciting sports event in which they can take part, it’s a great way of getting everyone to work together for a common, fund-raising goal.”
A separate event will also take place at Seaburn, near the Marriott Hotel, today organised by Run England SeafRUNt Smilers running group.
Group leader David Savage, said: “As well as giving us another exciting sports event in which they can take part in, it’s a great way of getting us all to work together for a common fund-raising goal.”