Alyson Dixon eyes Championship inclusion

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ALYSON DIXON will target a place in the World Half Marathon Championship when she contests the Bupa Great North Run on Sunday.

The Sunderland athlete needs to achieve the standard of 73 minutes to be considered for the UK team for Bulgaria next month. She has a best for the distance of 72.31 from the 2011 Bath Half Marathon.

She said: “I know that if I can get a PB then I will be in with a shout of a place on the GB team for the World Half Marathon Championships.’’

The 33-year-old Chester-le-Street club member has hit form at the right time after an injury and illness ravaged summer. She was soundly beaten by Durham City Harrier Rosie Smith in the Newton Aycliffe 10k in June and it was then that her problems started

She was diagnosed with an under active thyroid gland before running into a metal barrier and splitting her head open while out training. With blood pouring down her face she was left sitting on the side of the road until a passer-by stopped to help.

As her health improved and with a good spell of four weeks training behind her, she entered last week’s Tees Pride 10k at Middlesbrough. She showed she is back to her best by winning the women’s race in a time just six seconds outside her personal best for the distance. She clocked 32.32 with Smith a street behind in second (34.38).

Dixon added: “I have built up my training to the 95-100 mile a week mark and now incorporate a weekly rest day (Friday) into my programme. I am feeling so much better for doing this than what I was feeling while trying to do low miles with short fast reps.

“I have been feeling really good in training, maintaining a good pace on my tempo runs (averaging 5.45 min/miles) and getting some strong hill sessions in. I was hoping for a PB in the Tees Pride 10k race and as it turned out I ended up 6 seconds outside of my best. But I’m still happy. It was hot and I suffered in the last 3k. I also ran the best part of the race completely by myself.

“Hopefully, I can convert this into a good half on Sunday. When I set my current half PB I had just ran 33.26 10k at Dewsbury. I had also just come back from a month in Kenya. During that half (Bath) I set off a little too quick and went through the first 10k in 33.28 so hopefully with a bit better pacing and some better weather, I should be able to nail a good one.’’

While Dixon will be contesting only her second Great North Run, she finished eighth woman in 2010 in 74.15, Sunderland Harrier Eddie Maddison will be running his 32nd having competed in everyone since the first in 1981.

Maddison is no slouch when it comes to the GNR – as a 39-year-old he recorded his fastest time of 1hr 13min 24sec and as a 49-year-old he recorded an impressive 1hr 16min 30sec. Now he says he will be happy to break two hours on Sunday for the journey from Newcastle to South Shields.

He has been working at the Harriers’ as a Run England team leader, taking novices out for a training spin to introduce them to keeping and fit and the joys of running.

The 64-year-old said: “I haven’t done the training I normally do for the GNR, as I have been busy taking out my group of runners. It has been very enjoyable watching them improve but my training runs have not been as long as I normally do. I will be happy to break two hours.’’

Maddison has got every one of his GNR T-shirts neatly tucked away in his loft hanging on hangers, having never worn them and, after Sunday, he will have to push them along the rail a bit to make way for his 32nd.