Sunderland Strollers set for a busy day

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SUNDERLAND Strollers face a busy weekend with hosting their Pier-to-Pier race on Sunday – the same day as some of their runners are in marathon action.

The Ashbrooke club are expecting about one thousand runners to make the 7.5 miles trek from South Shields to Roker.

The run starts on the beach at South Shields at 10.00am and continues along the cliff top paths past Marsden Rock, Souter Point Lighthouse and then onto the beach at Whitburn before the leaders finish at Roker Pier just after 10.30. Runners must keep off the highway.

There is a thermo flask and cups to all finishers. Entries on the day are accepted up to 9.30am at £15.

The Strollers, while the Pier-to-Pier race is underway, will also be out in force in the Edinburgh Marathon. Only in its eighth year, it is the second-largest UK marathon with about 15,000 entrants expected for the fast course.

Phil Watson and Vicki Booth, who have trained together since Christmas clocking up to 70 miles training weeks for the last month, lead the contingent in the Scottish capital.

They are looking at a time of around 3.20 – depending on the weather. Tony Allen is having his third attempt at the distance and is hopeful of beating the four hour mark for the first time.

Paul Baldesera and Chris Watson are regular marathon runners while John Tinn, Nichola Todd and Iren Zochiou are having their first attempt at a marathon and will be happy to complete it.

The Edinburgh relay race, the ‘Hairy Haggis’ is held in conjunction with the marathon with over 4,000 runners (1,000 teams of four) taking part.

The team relay was introduced to give athletes of all abilities the opportunity to run along the same course as the marathon without having to run the 26.2 miles individually. Teams of four will run, splitting the marathon distance between them with the longest leg of about eight miles. The Strollers have one women’s team entered who will be happy to complete it. They are Trish O’Neill, Jill Woodall, Audrey Duncan and Sharon McGee.

Kevin O’Neill started training for the marathon and was going well until he broke down with a calf and ankle injury after the Prudhoe cross country in March.

He is considering dropping down to the half marathon and will now turn his attention to the Dublin Marathon in October. Kevin Blyth is also doing the half marathon as he thinks it is too soon to tackle another marathon after his London performance.

Further afield, Paul Jackson and Phil Outram are in the Lakes for the Coniston Marathon, expecting a time of around 3.40. They have adapted their own training regime where they only run four times each week, with one long run, one session, and two jogs.

On the international scene, John Aitken is doing the Saltzburg Marathon. He is expecting to do about 4.30.