SUNDERLAND Stroller Alyson Dixon goes into the Brighton Marathon on Sunday in the form of her life, writes Kevin Carr.
The 34-year-old has recently smashed her personal bests over 10k and the half marathon and impressed many in the Elswick Harriers’ Good Friday Road Relay.
The former Brighton course record holder will be targeting a qualifying time (2:31) for the Moscow IAAF World Championships in August. She will also be bidding to stake a claim for selection for the Commonwealth Games to be held in Glasgow next year.
Brighton was the scene of Dixon’s greatest performance, when she won the 2011 event, setting a then course record and personal best of 2:34:51to qualify for the World Championship in Daegu, South Korea.
Afterwards, she embarked on a complete change to her career, leaving her long-time coach, Scottish great Liz McColgan, and changing clubs from Chester-le-Street to the Strollers. She also moved into the gym, introducing strength and conditioning work to her training schedule.
Dixon, who has been training over 120 miles a week in preparation for Brighton, saw her new approach quickly reaping the results she was hoping for.
In the Leeds Abbey Dash 10k in November she won in a PB of 32.53, smashing her 10k best by 31 seconds. Then, last month in the Bath half marathon, she finished third in her quickest time of 71.20.
She said: “I‘m very excited to see how I can convert this half marathon time into the full marathon. I am fully aware that it does not always ensure a fast marathon time. But with the strength and my marathon focus, I have placed on my training, I believe that I can do well.’’
On Good Friday, she showed a good turn of speed to beat Olympic 1500m finalist Laura Weightman to the fastest time by two seconds in the Elswick Harriers road relay.
This event was included in a long training session and she continued with this tough schedule two days later by running the 14 miles to the start of the North Tyneside 10k before going onto to win the race at Whitley Bay, finishing just seven seconds outside the course record.
Dixon, who stands just 5ft 2in and weighs 6st 4lb, faces a tough challenge in her bid to replicate her success of 2011. But, seeing that the race route has been improved since she won in 2011, Dixon can expect to mount a serious attack, over the faster course, on her lifetime best.
Facing her is Uganda’s Dorcus Inzikuru, who lifted the world steeplechase title in Helsinki 2005, before adding the Commonwealth Games title a year later. This will be her debut marathon. The fastest in the field is Ethiopian Aregu Lechisa who lifted the Nice-Cannes title on her debut last year when she set a time of 2:31:56. From Flagstaff, Arizona, comes Emily Harrison who sliced almost ten minutes off her previous best when she recorded 2:32.55 to finish third in the Medtronic St Paul Minnesota race in 2011.
Belarus’s Sviatlana Kouhan, who is not down to defend her title, slashed five minutes off Dixon’s course record with her 2:29:77 last year.
H South Shields Harriers host their Sand Dancer 10k multi-terrain race on Sunday. The course consists of one large and one small loop on coastal footpaths.
The course record is held by Durham City Harrier Ian Crampton from 2009 with a time of 33 minutes.
The race is becoming more popular every year with an entry of 300 anticipated this year.
All competitors will receive a cup of soup and bun after the run. A Fun Run starts at 10.30am and the Sand Dancer 10k is off at 11,00am. Late entries are available from 9.30am from Gypsies Green Stadium.