Sunderland Stroller Alyson Dixon aiming high in Gold Coast Marathon
Sunderland Stroller Alyson Dixon will line up for her second Commonwealth Games Marathon on the Gold Coast in Australia on Sunday.
She goes into the race determined to put in a performance that she will be proud of after her previous Commonwealth Marathon in Glasgow in 2014 ended in disappointment.
She was running with the leaders when she felt a twinge in her calf at 10 miles. She managed to put the pain to the back of her mind, but by 14 miles she was lying at the side of the road in tears.
The 39-year-old told Fast Running: “I had medal hopes going into the race as my training had been going really well. I had been feeling good until I was forced to stop.
“I was devastated as I was representing my country and I felt that I had let everybody down.
“I’m delighted with my second Commonwealth selection and this will allow me to put Glasgow behind me.
“I am going into the race to be competitive and I want to finish as high up the field as possible.
“It would be great if I could finish in the top three or five. But I’ll pace my race and hopefully make my presence felt. I don’t want to be an also ran.
“I still think I can run faster and I have no plans on hanging up the racing flats just yet.”
If Dixon can raise her form to that of her performance in the 2016 London Marathon where she recorded her PB of 2.29.06, she could be within a shout of a medal.
With the top Kenyans not interested in competing, preferring the big city marathons and a big pay day to competing for free on the Gold Coast, this will leave the race wide open.
The Australians with the fastest two runners in the field in Lisa Weightman (2.25.15) and Jessica Tengrove (2.27.01), could be the runners to beat.
The best of the Kenyans is Sheila Jerotch (2.27.34), while her team-mates’ best times are way down the pecking order, with Helen Musyoka on 2.35.58 and Shelmith Muriuki (2.38.18).
Dixon goes into the marathon with only two races under her belt this year and one was a two mile relay leg in the North East Road Relay Championships at Hetton Lyons Country Park on February 17.
There she clocked the fastest female time of 11.53, 20 seconds outside her best on the course.
Than March 4, she finished sixth (73.34) in The Big London Half Marathon, missing out on World Half Marathon selection.
Dixon is self coached, but Paula Radcliffe and her husband Gary give her a helping hand with her sessions.
She enjoyed her friendly race with Radcliffe in the Sunderland Half Marathon last year, which ended in a winning sprint finish for the Silksworth athlete.
She added:”Paula has helped me so much with my training over the last three years and I will never be able to repay her for everything she has done. Getting to run around Sunderland with Paula was so special.”
After the dust had settled on that bad experience of Glasgow, Dixon was fired up to come back and show everyone just what she was capable of.
Her personal best then over the distance stood at 2.31.08. She went on to beat that time twice over the next few years.
She recorded 2.29.30 at the 2015 Berlin Marathon before she won the British title at the London Marathon, ending 2016 ranked as the UK’s number one marathon runner.
She then went on to compete in her second Olympics, finishing 28th in Rio in 2016, after her 24th place in London in 2012.
Last year, Dixon competed at her second World Championships in London where she led the field for most of the race.
“At one stage I had a massive lead, but I wasn’t thinking about a medal, I was just enjoying the moment knowing I would probably not get that opportunity again.
“The years on from Glasgow have been amazing and I have achieved so much. If I am to compare myself to four years ago, I’m definitely fitter, faster and stronger,” she says.
Dixon is joined in the marathon by former Wallsend Harrier Sonia Samuels (Sale Harriers).
The Women’s Marathon is on Saturday at 10.20pm (UK time).