Alyson Dixon goes for her hat-trick of wins in Friday’s Blaydon Race when 4,600 runners will be “Gannin Alang the Scotswood Road” on their way to Blaydon in celebration of the famous song.
The Sunderland Stroller faces a tough challenge in her quest for her third win in a row, with her marathon rival Sonia Samuels included in the field.
Dixon beat the Sale Harrier in the 2016 London Marathon, but finished behind her in the Rio Olympic marathon in the same year.
This was the last time they met as Samuels did not contest this year’s London Marathon where Dixon retained her British marathon title.
Dixon, 38, has only competed once since she clocked a personal best in the April’s London Marathon when finishing 14th overall in 2.29.06.
That was in the Sunderland Half Marathon when she jogged around the course, alongside Paula Radcliffe, in 82.58 to win the race early last month.
The most recent performance from Thomas came in the London 10km on May 29, where she finished second to Jo Pavey in a personal best of 33.18.
Dixon’s best for the distance stands at 32.17 and with the race over 5.8 miles, this could be in her favour.
With a £600 first prize and £1,000 for the first runner to finish the race who is a first claim member of a North East club, the Silksworth athlete has the opportunity of winning £1600 plus £50 for being first veteran over the age of 35.
Dixon, along with the five other marathon runners, who will represent Great Britain at this summer’s World Athletics Championships in London, have each been awarded a £5,000 training grant by London Marathon Events Ltd.
Dixon said: “I’d like to thank London Marathon Events for their support in my preparation for London 2017.
“The training grant will allow me to prepare at altitude for longer and make sure that I am in the best condition I can be for London.”
Among the other leading women on the elite start line are Morpeth Harrier Emma Holt, Birchfield Harrier Danielle Hodgkinson, Durham City Harrier Rosie Smith and Jacky Penn (NSP).
Johnny Taylor defends his race title and leads a strong group of runners from Morpeth Harriers. They are Carl Avery, Nick Swinburn, Peter Newton and Over-45 Ian Hudspith.
Sunderland Harriers have a record of 41 runners entered with Kevin Jeffress, Kevin Calvert and Ian Ritchie the leading men.
Sunderland Harriers have had two winners of the famous race, with Brian Rushworth winning it three times in 1985, 1995 and 1996. Paul Campbell won in 1991.
The Blaydon Race is a 5.8 mile race from Newcastle to Blaydon that is steeped in local tradition. It takes place on June 9, every year starting on Collingwood Street in Newcastle, heading west along Scotswood Road and finishing in Blaydon.
The race was the inspiration of Dr Jim Dewar of Blaydon Harriers, who organised the first 24 races starting in 1981.
In the early years, the race attracted around 250 entries, but by 2004 around 4,000 were taking part.
Last year, a record 4,600 people entered the race with many hopefuls missing out on entry night.
All race finishers will receive a commemorative certificate, T-shirt, souvenir programme, local beer, crisps, sandwich and soft drink. Many will receive spot prizes.
The race starts in Collingwood Street at 7.15pm. The finish is at Shibdon playing fields.
Houghton Harriers youngsters were in fine form in the British Milers’ Club paced races at Chester-le-Street.
Under-20 Alex Brown clocked a personal best in the A race in sixth with 4.06.83.
Under-15 double North East champion Henry Johnson was just outside his best when winning the C race in 4.07.30.
Senior Lee Dover won the E race in a PB of 4.17.85 and Under-15 Will Bellamy also recorded a PB in third (4.19.60). Adam Middleton won the G race in 4.37.29.
In the women’s race, Lydia James won in 4.57.93, with Nicole Phillips third 5.04.14, Eva Hardy fourth 5.04.59 and Anna Pigford sixth in a PB of 5.06.17.