ALYSON DIXON has just returned from her second visit to an altitude training camp in Kenya in preparation for attacking the World Championship marathon qualifying time at Brighton on Sunday.
Her final touches to her 120 miles a week training regime, were forged at former Great North Run star’s John Mutai’s training camp after she spent four weeks there in February.
The Sunderland athlete needs to clock at least 2.35 to put herself forward for consideration for Daegu, South Korea, where the women’s marathon opens the championships on August 27 at 9am.
The 32-year-old, who competes for Chester-le-Street AC, topped the UK women’s 2011 ranking lists for both the 10k and half marathon earlier this year. She is now second in the 10k rankings with her winning 32.28 performance in winning the Dewsbury 10k in February and third with her Bath half marathon time (72.31).
Her Bath performance on March 6 gave her much encouragement for Brighton, as 12 seconds behind her was Louise Damen, the National Cross Country champion.
“It has given me a lot of confidence in beating Louise Damen,’’ she said. “When I raced her in the Great North Run last year she finished a minute ahead of me.’’
Dixon, coached by Scottish marathon great Liz McColgan, clocked her fastest time when she ran 2:42.50 in the New York Marathon in November.
Among her rivals at Brighton are Michelle Ross-Cope, team bronze medallist at the European Championships and Edinburgh marathon winner, Sarah Gee.
City of Stoke’s Ross-Cope, 38, led home the medal winning UK squad in the stifling heat of Barcelona last summer in only her third race over the distance. In the Delhi Commonwealth Games just 11 weeks later she was also first UK runner home in sixth.
“I’m really looking forward to running in Brighton,” said Ross-Cope. “With the experience of Barcelona and Delhi under my belt, I am focused on attacking my best time.” Her personal best of 2hrs 36min 02sec was set in London 2009, her first attempt at the distance.
Reading Road Runner Gee, 46, reduced her best for the distance by over seven minutes with her run of 2hrs 38min 14sec in Edinburgh.
H Sunderland Harriers are one of four North East clubs that have qualified for the National 12-Stage Road Relay Championships at Sutton Coldfield on Saturday. The Wearsiders join Northern champions Morpeth Harriers, Gateshead and North York Moors.
This will be the first time that Sunderland’s leading athletes Patrick Martin and his brother Jack, Mark Hood and Gavin Massingham have been in the same relay team. All four athletes intend doing a long leg of just over five miles in the 50-mile road relay over six short legs (3 miles) and six long legs (5.1 miles) at Sutton Park.
Mark Hood has clocked 26.53 (2003) for the long stage and Patrick Martin has a fastest time of 27.05 from 2008. Jack Martin and Massingham make their debuts over the distance.
The fastest times set on the course by a Sunderland Harrier are: Graham Smith 25.44 – 1985, Brian Rushworth 25.45 – 1991 and Malcolm Price 25.49 – 1998.
The rest of the Sunderland team is Jake Archer, Damien Weston, Norman Younger, Paul Redman, George Harden, Alan Hodgson, Noel Hitchcock and Jason Waite. Hodgson celebrated his call-up by chopping two-and-half-minutes off his previous best 10k by clocking 37.33 at Blyth Valley on Sunday.
H South Shields stage their Sand Dancer multi terrain race on Sunday at the The Leas at 11am.