Alyson Dixon, after just ticking over in training since her Rio Olympic marathon performance, showed she is heading back to her best form with a good run in Saturday’s Kielder 10k.
The 38-year-old Sunderland Stroller finished second overall in a field of 942, to win the women’s race in a time not far off her own course record.
She clocked 36min 22sec to finish just 23 seconds off her 2012 mark of 35.59, on what is a testing course.
“There was a point at around 3k where I thought I had a chance of breaking my own record,” said Dixon.
“I was thinking it could be touch and go. Then, coming up to the last 400 metres, I realised it was off, so I just relaxed and enjoyed that last little bit.
“I haven’t been doing any real sessions since Rio, just going out for a run, so I am quite pleased with the way it went.
“My last few races have been the Rio Olympics, Great North Run and last week’s Disneyland Half Marathon, where I jogged round with Paula (Radcliffe).
“This race is just as good as any of them. It’s just a beautiful setting here and I’m back in the North East. I get fantastic support and it’s pretty special.”
Last year’s champion, Sunderland Harrier Jess Fox, 18, recorded a personal best (40.25) behind Dixon in 14th overall. In 2015, she recorded 41.01 for her win.
“I felt good until the last couple of miles when my legs felt heavy, but I was delighted with my PB,’’ she said.
The race winner was fell runner David Beech of Blyth, who clocked 35.02 to beat Dixon by 80 seconds. In third place, with a good run, was a delighted Sunderland Harrier Michael Edwards in 37.29.
Edwards led a group of Harriers towards the front of the field, followed by Darren Stoker in 13th (40.21). Tony Allinson was 16th (40.52), Dean Phillips 34th (43.40), Karl Robinson 43rd (44.46) and Gary Fox, the father of Jess, finished 43rd (45.06).
Sunderland Strollers’ Carl Smith finished 15th (40.30).
At the opening North Eastern Harrier League fixture at Wrekenton on Saturday, defending First Division champions Sunderland Harriers got off to a poor start.
They finished ninth of the 10 competing clubs, with only Morpeth Harriers behind them. The best runs came from Jason Waite in seventh (34.25), Michael Heskett 30th (36.10) and fast pack man Ian Dixon 54th (31.57).
Durham City Harrier James Askew won in 31.34, with Gateshead’s Conrad Franks the fastest on the course in 21st (30.49).
Sunderland Harriers fared better in the Second Division of the Women’s League, finishing second to Heaton.
The counters were Alice Smith in 12th (27.27), medium pack runner Nicola Woodward 30th (26.08) and Rachael Moore 54th (28.46). Birtley’s Chloe Price won in 24.09.
Houghton Harriers won the under-15 boys’ team race, with Henry Johnson second, Will Bellamy fifth and Matthew Cleugh 10th .
The under-15 girls were second through Lydia James in third, Anna Pigford fourth and Eva Hardie 18th.