Double Olympian Alyson Dixon is back on marathon duty when she contests the 123rd Boston Marathon in the States on Monday, April 15.
This is the oldest annual marathon in the world and the Sunderland Stroller is included in an elite women’s field, on what is said to be one of the world’s most challenging races.
Included in the field are 11 women who have personal best times of under 2.23.0, compared to Dixon’s best (2.29.06) from the London Marathon in 2017.
She competed in two marathons last year, finishing sixth (2.38.19) in the searing heat of the Commonwealth Marathon in Australia, in April. But she failed to finish the Chicago Marathon in October.
Since then she got back on track with good victories in the Brampton to Carlisle 10 mile Road Race and the Heaton Harriers 10km in November, plus the Saltwell 10km in December.
So far this year, she has only competed twice in winning the Dalton Park multi-terrain 10km and the Northumberland Half Marathon last week.
She will finalise her Boston plans by taking in the Port of Blyth 10km which incorporates the British Masters’ 10km Road Race Championships on Sunday, April 7. There she will be competing as an Over-40 Master.
This will be Dixon’s 10th marathon and by all accounts one of the most challenging with 22 elite women runners included.
Heading them are: 2018 winner Desiree Linden of the United States; Edna Kiplagat of Kenya, a two-time World Championships Marathon gold medalist, three-time Abbott World Marathon Majors series winner and 2017 Boston champion; Fellow Kenyan Caroline Rotich, the 2015 Boston, Prague and Las Vegas winner; and another Kenyan in Sharon Cherop, the 2012 Boston, Hamburg, Toronto, Torino and Singapore winner.
Challenging the Boston champions are 2.19 Ethiopian marathoners Aselefech Mergia, a London champion and three-time winner of Dubai; Mare Dibaba, the 2015 World Championships Marathon gold medalist, 2016 Olympic Marathon bronze medalist, Bank of America Chicago Marathon champion, Beijing and two-time Xiamen winner; and Worknesh Degefa, a Dubai champion.
Only two British men have won at Boston. They are: 1970 Ron Hill 2.10.30, 1984 Geoff Smith 2.10.34 and 1985 Geoff Smith 2.14.05. There have been no women winners.
Sunderland Harrier Jacqueline Etherington is competing with distinction in the six-day World Masters Indoor and Outdoor Championships at Torun in Poland.
Etherington said: “I ran the W40 3km on Sunday to finish fifth in a PB of 10.50.31 and yesterday I ran the 8km cross country and won individual bronze and team bronze. Totally unexpected, I can’t quite believe it!”
She now completes her stay in Poland by competing in the 800m heat today and the 1,500m on Saturday.
Sunderland Harriers expected tough going in the Northern Athletics 12-stage Road Relay Championships at Birkenhead after half the team turned down selection due to other commitments.
But the eventual team performed better than expected in finishing 26th out of 63 competing teams.
The Sunderland team was: Steve McMahon 43rd 26.44, Sean Mackie 38th 12.52, Steve Rankin 39th 27.43, Nathan Reed 34th 12.19, Andy Powell 26th 25.15, Chris Bell 24th 12.58, Rob Walker 23rd 26.08, Paul Blakey 22nd 12.55, Kris Cantle 22nd 13.39, Jason Waite 21st 13 47, Chris Davison 25th 15.43 Jimmy Johnson 27th 16.33. Long legs were stage one, three, five and seven.
Leeds City won (3.06.43) with Morpeth Harriers in fourth (3.14.33), heading the North East club’s.
Tyne Bridge were 10th (3.21.03), Gateshead 13th (3.25.02), Darlington 24th (3.35.29), Sunderland 26th (3.36.36), Heaton 28th (3.37.34) and Blackhill Bounders finished 44th (3.50.41).
The fastest runners on the course were: Long leg: Emile Cairess (Leeds) 22.46, Short leg: Philip Sesemann (Leeds) 10.54.
Sunderland Harrier Calum Thom, after just over a year in the sport, had his most significant result yet when finishing runner-up in the Trail Outlaws Kielder Dark Skies Marathon. He recorded 3.01.05.
Runners were given the opportunity to race under the darkest night skies in England.
Kielder was awarded gold tier Dark Sky Park status by the International Dark Skies association in December 2013, making it the perfect venue for the ultimate starlit running challenge.
Thom split two Norwegians in the winner Stian Dahl Sommerseth (2.52.01) and third placed Sander Pedersen Markussen (3.09.23).
Sunderland Stroller Dan Anderson was 11th (3.39.16) and Rachel Ball finished eighth woman in 4.05.23. There were over 400 finishers.
In the Dark Skies 10km, won by Morpeth Harrier Lewis Timmins (69.11), Sunderland Harrier Gemma Frost was first woman in sixth overall (77.06).