Aly Dixon is up at the very top of her sport – but the Olympic marathon runner is thrilled to see the sport growing at all levels.
A new study has shown there are now 2.49million people taking part in athletics in England each week.
The number of people aged 14+ who take part in athletics, including running, on a weekly basis has risen 5% in the year to April 2016 Sport England’s Active People Survey has found.
This means there are over 1million more people taking part in the sport each week compared to 10 years ago.
The latest figure for those aged 16+ taking part on a weekly basis also rose to 2.35million.
“You can’t go anywhere these days without seeing someone out running,” said the 37-year-old, who will make her Olympic debut whe she runs the marathon in Rio, on August 8.
“They may be doing a 15-minute mile or a five-minute mile, but they are all out there with their trainers on running.
“It is great to see people taking part and enjoying running.”
Dixon can often be seen out with the people of Sunderland on a Saturday morning taking part in the city’s Parkrun from the Everyone Active Silksworth Community Pool, Tennis & Wellness Centre in her home area of Silksworth.
“You just have to come down here at 9 o’clock on a Saturday morning and see over 200 people doing the park run,” said Aly, who believes it’s vital for top line athletes to encourage everyone of all ages to get out and enjoy running.
“I’ll come down and run, sometimes I’ll pace runners.
“The week after doing the London Marathon I was down pacing one of my club-mates to do a 22-minute 5K.
“For me it might be easy, but for them it’s their best and if you can help someone achieve their PB it makes you feel that little bit better.
“A lot of sports people get a bad name about being stuck up and not caring about anyone else, but I like to be out there helping.
“I help coach at Sunderland Strollers, I’m out on the track on a Tuesday night with a stopwatch if I’m not training myself.
“I’ve had a lot of joy when other people are achieving themselves, it makes it all more worthwhile.”
Dixon has arrived in France to take part in her pre-Olympic camp in Font Romeu in the French Pryrenees.