Alyson Dixon showed she is in fine fettle before she starts her marathon build-up for the Rio Olympics by recording an outstanding victory in the Blaydon Race last night.
The Sunderland Stroller finished a superb 18th overall, the same position as last year, in a field approaching 4,000, to win the women’s race by nearly one minute.
After making her Blaydon race debut 21 years ago, she retained her title to claim only her second victory in the traditional Geordie event, producing her trademark “Borini” celebration as she approached the finish line in front of massive crowd
Her time of 29min 48sec was only eight seconds slower than her triumph last year and she was happy with her performance before she starts her marathon training proper on Monday.
The 38-year-old said: “I had a hard training week last week, so it was a good run.
“I’m happy with my time and it has given me a lot of confidence before the real work starts.
“It was a fast start and, once the race settled down after about 200 metres, I was in the lead, but I had to work hard as I was never sure how far my rivals were behind me.
“It took me 20 years to win my first Blaydon Race, so 21 years and two in a row feels good.
“I wanted to come back and win it again.”
For making her 5.7-mile journey from Collingwood Street in Newcastle to Blaydon a triumphant one, Dixon’s bank balance has been boosted by her winnings of £1,600.
Her altitude training gets underway with the rest of the British marathon squad in the French Pyrenees in Fort Romeu on Monday.
Behind Dixon came Durham City’s Rosie Smith (30.47) and in third place was Elswick’s veteran Justina Heslop (31.07).
Penshaw Hill race winner Emma Holt (Morpeth) finished fourth (31.45) and Birtley’s Tracy Millmore was fifth (32.17).
Race favourite Jonny Taylor was forced to pull out of the race the day before after suffering horrific back injuries after being savaged by a dog while out training.
In his absence, Morpeth’s Peter Newton (27.11), who finished seventh last year, got the better of Ryan McLeod (27.28) to win the race after pulling away in the final mile.
Morpeth’s super veteran Ian Hudspith, 45, finished an outstanding third (27.31).
The first Sunderland Harrier was Steve Rankin in 15th (29.28), while Kevin Jeffress finished 23rd (30.11) and Matt Devlin was just behind in 24th (30.12).
Result: 1 Peter Newton (Morpeth) 27.11, 2 Ryan McLeod (Tipton) 27.28, 3 Ian Hudspith V45 (Morpeth) 27.31, 4 Tadela Geremew (Elswick) 27.50, 5 Andy Burn (Jarrow & Hebburn) 28.08, 6 Mark Fenwick (Tyne Bridge) 28.09, 7 Thomas Straughan (Morpeth) 28.26, 8 Sam Hancox (Mortpeth) 28.26, 9 Conrad Franks (Gateshead) 28.30, 10 Ross Floyd (Morpeth) 28.48, 11 Ian Harding (Morpeth) 28.55, 12 Chris Smith (Morpeth) 29.02.