Dixon has her eyes on the bigger prize

Alyson Dixon.
Alyson Dixon.
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ALYSON DIXON’S busy racing programme continues tomorrow when she makes her debut in the Sunderland City Half Marathon.

The Sunderland Stroller has ruled out a fast time after easing back on her training before she started her build-up for her expected appearance in the Commonwealth Games marathon.

The 35-year-old Silksworth athlete, who will be having her fifth race since the end of March, is almost certain to be selected for the Games in Glasgow on July 27.

She tops the half marathon and 10k (32.35) UK rankings and clocked her best time for the half in the World Half Marathon Championships in Copenhagen in March, recording 70.38.

She also has the fastest time of all the England Commonwealth marathon hopefuls with her 2.31.08 from Brighton last year.

Dixon played down selection, though, saying: “I’m still uncertain of selection for the Commonwealth Games, so the half marathon has come at a good time for me personally.”

“I don’t think I’m in good enough shape to do a personal best if I’m honest, but it’s a nice course and it will definitely help with my training.”

Dixon, who won the Sunderland City 10k last year (36.55) and in 2012 (37.05), is intending to pace one of her male clubmates to a quick time.

She added: “I’ve been out running around the race route recently and the course isn’t as hilly as it has been before.

“Hopefully I’ll finish around the 74 minute mark. I’m hoping there’ll be a strong group of runners around me and that the weather is good.”

Sunderland Harriers’ hopes of retaining the club challenge team title, with a first prize of £500 and an all expenses paid trip to the Rock n’ Roll Dublin Half Marathon in August, have been dashed.

An out-of-form Michelle Avery and Nathan Reed, runner-up last year in the 10k, will both miss the race, which is decided on two men and one woman counting in both the 10k and half marathon.

Reed is competing in the British Students championships at Bedford, where he goes in the 1500m.

The Sunderland half marathon team will be headed by Mark Hood, the runaway winner last year and the only runner from the half marathon and marathon to complete the full course.

He will be backed by new recruit, Seaham’s Kevin Jeffress, who has joined the club from Tyne Bridge Harriers. He has a best for the half marathon of 74.39.

The leading light in the race will be Leeds City athlete Derek Hawkins, who has already been selected for Scotland for the Commonwealth Marathon. He has a best for the distance of 64.07 from the 2012 Great North Run.

The 10k will see Craig Isherwood and Michael Barker as the possible Sunderland counters with 15-year-old Jessica Fox, the club’s leading female, who makes her debut over the distance.

The 10k starts at 10am and will precede the Sunderland City Half Marathon which is due to start at 10.25. Both races start and finish from the Stadium of Light.