Alyson Dixon to use Great North Run as preparation for Berlin Marathon

Oliver James.
Oliver James.
Have your say

Alyson Dixon will use Sunday’s Great North Run as preparation for the Berlin Marathon later this month.

In Germany, she has got her eye on the Olympic marathon qualifying time of 2.31 and selection for next year’s Rio Olympics.

The Commonwealth Games and World Championship marathon runner intends to run the Great North Run at target marathon pace as a final test before Berlin on Sunday, September 27.

The 36-year-old has already showed outstanding form after coming down to sea level after spending six weeks training at altitude in Font Romeu in the French Pyrenees.

She clocked her fastest 10k (32.17) in winning the women’s race in the Middlesbrough Pride 10k on Sunday.

She said: “The GNR is a perfect opportunity for me to have a final practice of race day drinks, kit etc.

“As I’m only running it at target marathon pace, it will also be a good test of keeping my head and not going off too fast at the start.

“With Berlin being a mixed race, there is a big chance of getting sucked along by men in the early stages, so I need to know how my pace feels and be strong enough to stick with that, rather than get into someone else’s pace.

“Hopefully, this block of training will come to fruit in Berlin and I will get the time I am after. If I do, it will stand me in a good position for selection for next year’s Rio Olympics.”

Dixon will be one of only five British athletes on the women’s elite start.

Gemma Steel, of Charnwood, is the leading UK contender after finishing a superb second last year in 68.13. Sunderland Harrier Michelle Avery is also among the elite, having a best time of 80.51.

Sunderland Harriers’ leading runner in the race is Kevin Jeffress. He finished 36th last year in 71.51.

Clubmate Eddie Maddison is among a select group, that have competed in every Great North Run since the first in 1981.

The Sunderland Harrier is one of 57,000 participants taking part in the World’s biggest half marathon from Newcastle to South Shields.

The group are known as The Great North Run All Runs Club and they will be going for their 35th appearance in the 13.1 mile race.

The South Hylton runner is facing one of his biggest challenges in the race after he tore a calf muscle in the Penrose parkrun while on holiday in Devon last month.

Ironically, it was his first race since last year’s Great North Run where he clocked 1.48.46.

The 67-year-old said: “It is certainly going to be tough on Sunday. I have been finding it difficult to walk never mind run.

“But there has been some slight improvement. I will finish, even if I have to finish on my hands and knees.”

His fastest time was as a 39-year-old when he recorded 1.13.24.

Sunderland Harrier Oliver James, on an athletics scholarship in the States, won his opening cross country race of the season in Lake Charles, Louisianna.

He was competing for McNeese State University in a four-way match in a 2x4k relay with team-mate, Kenyan Enoch Borr. James recorded 12.39 for the fastest time of the day.

Steve Rankin, won the Washington Running Club’s Trail race on Sunday, just a day after being on the Sunderland Harriers’ winning team at the club’s Farringdon Cross Country Relay and clocking the third fastest overall time.