Sunderland Stroller Alyson Dixon rewarded for her marathon effort

Vicky Younger, who is in the Sunderland Harriers over-35 womens team.
Vicky Younger, who is in the Sunderland Harriers over-35 womens team.

Sunderland Stroller Alyson Dixon is one of five marathon runners who have each been awarded a £5,000 training grant by London Marathon Events Ltd.

They received the cash after they gained Olympic selection in the Virgin London Marathon to represent Great Britain in Rio.

Dixon and former Wallsend Harrier Sonia Samuels join brothers Callum and Derek Hawkins and Tsegai Tewelde, who all booked their places on the plane to Brazil.

As part of London Marathon’s continued commitment to improving British marathon running, all five athletes will use the £5,000 to support their training in the final months leading up to Rio.

Dixon, 37, who confirmed her place at her first Olympics by finishing as the first Brit in the women’s race, said: “It was a lovely surprise when I found out.

“People think because you are running at the London Marathon and going to the Olympics that you don’t have to worry about money.

“But that’s not the case and this money takes away a lot of worries about finding the money for massages, for travel and all the important things.

“I’ve had great help over the years from the London Marathon. This year alone I’ve been to training camps in Kenya and Font Romeu and that has been a big factor in getting me to Rio.”

Samuels, 36, the second British woman to qualify, added: “There are so many special people and organisations behind the scenes whose input allows me to compete at the sport’s highest level.

“London Marathon is one key organisation whose help I am incredibly thankful for.”

Hugh Brasher, Event Director of London Marathon Events Ltd, said: “Improving the standard and status of British marathon running was one of the founding pillars of race founders Chris Brasher and John Disley.

“We are delighted that the five were selected following their performances and that these training grants will help further their final preparations for Rio.”

Dixon, who has had nearly a fortnight’s break from training following her London selection, returned to action with a gentle run out in the Sunderland Parkrun on Saturday.

She paced her club-mate Dawn Elliott, an over-55, to a personal best (21.58) with both athletes on the same time in 38th and 39th positions, with the Silksworth athlete allowing Elliott to get the verdict.

Dixon will be in more serious mode on June 9, when she is expected to return to competition proper when she defends her Blaydon Road Race title.

At the Parkrun, the first three, all Sunderland Harriers, all clocked personal bests. They were Andy Powell (16.12), Jake Jensen (16.33) and Ian Ritchie (16.52).

The Wallsend Gordon Smith Relays (3×2 miles) takes place tonight at 7.30pm and Sunderland Harriers have a strong A team entered that will be in the hunt for prizes.

The three man team must include at least one veteran man and Sunderland’s choice is Michael Thompson, he will be joined by Andy Powell and Nathan Reed.

The B team is Steve Rankin, veteran Alan Hodgson and Michael Edwards.

The new race location is at West Allotment Country Park, Silverlink North (fast, flat course).

Registration (from 6pm) at the Spud and Lettuce Café, Silver Fox Way NE27 0QJ. Presentation and buffet after the race. No changing facilities available.

The National Masters Road Relay Championship will be held at Sutton Coldfield on Saturday, the six-man over-35 Sunderland Harriers team will be selected from Ian Dixon, Steve McMahon, Kevin Jeffress, Steve Gordon, Steve Graham, Mark Head, Matt Jones and Dave Lash.

The four-man over-45 team could look like this: Brian Bewick, Tim Field, Alan Knebel and Micky Thompson. The over-55s is from Paul Merrison, Steve Coxon, Paul Collins and Tony Thompson.

The over-35 women’s team is Nicola Woodward, Judith Thirlwell, Colleen Compson and former pentathlete Vicky Younger, who has changed direction to endurance running. She finished a creditable 15th in the Sunderland 10k two weeks ago.

Houghton Harrier Philippa Ellis scored a winning double in the Cyril Elliott Open meeting at Middlesbrough.

She won the under-15 hurdles (12.98) and javelin (21.69). Sunderland Harrier Declan Murray won the under-20 400m in 54.92.

The North East Counties Track and Field Championships take place on Saturday and Sunday at Gateshead Stadium, starting at 10am on both days.

On Sunday, the Raby Castle 10k starts at 11am.