American riches are in Alyson Dixon’s sights

Alyson Dixon.
Alyson Dixon.
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Sunderland Stroller Alyson Dixon has been selected for the European team to contest the inaugural Peachtree Cup 10k in America on Saturday.

In the new competition, four international teams of six top athletes, including three men and three women, will race the clock and each other, vying for the team prize of $42,000.

Dixon’s selection comes on the back of her first Blaydon Race win on June 9. She said: “I’m excited to represent Team Europe and hoping to help them to victory.

“This will be my final race before I start my marathon training.”

A strong African team look to be the clear favourites to have the honour of being the first international team of having their name engraved on the Peachtree Cup.

The teams represented are USA, Africa, Europe, and Asia, representing nine countries and four continents.

Team members’ individual finish times will be added together and the team with the fastest cumulative time will be declared the winner.

The Peachtree Road Race will have a total prize purse of $98,500, with $81,000 of that amount set aside for the team competition.

The remaining prize money will be awarded to individuals in the men’s and women’s open and masters races.

The AJC Peachtree Road Race is an event that takes place every July 4, in Atlanta, Georgia. The first Peachtree was held in 1970 and featured 110 finishers.

The AJC Peachtree Road Race is now the largest 10K running event in the world with 60,000 participants.

Team Europe will be captained by Italy’s Daniele Meucci, the 2014 European marathon champion.

The other team members are: El Hassane Ben Lkhainouch of France, 34, the 2014 national champion at 10,000 metres in a personal best of 28:29.49; Stepan Kiselev of Russia, 28, the 2008 Under-23 national champion at 10,000 metres; Dixon, 36, the 2013 national champion at 10,000 metres, and who has twice represented Great Britain at the World Championships in the marathon; Christelle Daunay of France, 40, the 2014 European Marathon champion, who owns national records at five distances: 10,000 metres, 15K, 20K, half marathon, and marathon and Elena Nagovitsyna of Russia, 32, a 2012 Olympian at 5000 metres and a three-time national champion.

Sunderland Stroller Ashleigh Bennett, a 3hr 30min marathon runner, battled injuries and fatigue to complete Scotland’s torturous West Highland Way 95 miles race from Milngavie, beyond Loch Lomond, to the finish at Fort William.

She said: “We set off at 1am on the Saturday. I was feeling nervous and tired, as like most people, I had been up since Friday morning.

“I had tried to snooze Friday night, but it was impossible, I was full of nervous excitement.

“I couldn’t believe how hard I was finding the first 12 miles, especially considering I was going a bit slower than I did two years ago when I ran the Fling.”

On her epic journey, she passed the first checkpoint at Balmaha on Loch Lomond then through Auctertyre near Tyndrum (51 miles) and Bridge of Orchy 60 miles and Glencoe, (70 miles).

And with arguably two of the toughest stretches of the trail still to come, Bennett was suffering with her quads and an ankle injury, but a change of socks and into road shoes put her ready for the climb up Devil staircase.

The six-mile descent had big boulders and some steep drops to negotiate, it was there that she started to get IT band issues in her left leg.

She added: “As you can imagine I found this hard, even harder when it changed to a compact trail. I just tried to keep moving, but with none of my usual downhill speed.”

Then it was onto Kinlochleven, followed by the remote and stony section of the old drove road through the Llarig Mor.

“Even with my two injuries, I knew I could finish inside the 35 hour cut off.

“Climbing seemed to be the only time my injuries were not agony, unfortunately most of the last 15 miles is downhill.

“Once we climbed out of the forest we were back onto rocky tracks. I was moving ok, but not brilliant.

“As I approached the finish I could only manage to walk now, the running was just too painful and yes, a sub 24 would have been great and it was on the cards, but I was happy just to keep going and be able to finish.

“Then, I was on to a mixture of climbing and descending some big steps, which were hard to negotiate in the dark, I was having to move sideways, as this was less painful.

“During this last section I was overtaken by quite a few, as they were all pushing for that sub 24, which I had decided not to, as I was in damage limitation mode.”

The last big climb, now done, and that meant another painful descent, approximately four miles of sheer torture.

Bennett continued: “The last mile was along the tarmac to the leisure centre, my support crew were all there to see me come in, finishing in 24.08 for eighth woman home and 63rd in the race.

“I felt quite emotional and drained. I can certainly say I didn’t feel too good, so I didn’t hang around.

“I went straight to the bed and breakfast for some well deserved rest before the presentation of the awards of a goblet for finishing the race.

“I found it very hard, but I am pleased to have achieved what I did. My crew/support, were all amazing!”