Rio-bound Sunderland Stroller Alyson Dixon’s aiming for Blaydon Race glory

Alyson Dixon.
Alyson Dixon.

Sunderland Stroller Alyson Dixon hopes to repeat her win of last year when she contests the Blaydon Race tonight.

After making her race debut 20 years previously, she at last claimed her first win in the traditional Geordie event which is always held on June 9.

And with no elite Kenyan challenge down on the entry list, the Olympic-bound marathon runner is the leading local and favourite to pick-up the £1,600 first prize.

Last year, the 38-year-old led all the way from the start in Newcastle to finish a superb 19th overall in a field of 3,700, clocking 29.34 for the 5.7 mile course to Blaydon.

She had finished second in 2010 and third in 2012, but this time she had 28 seconds on the runner-up Kenyan, Teresia Omosa, to celebrate a well-earned victory.

After qualifying for the Rio Olympics in the London Marathon in April, the tiny mighty atom has had a quiet spell.

After a well-earned two-week break, she has gradually been picking up her training.

Her only competitions since London, was her victory in her own club’s Pier-to-Pier race on May 22 and a run-out in the Sunderland Parkrun on May 28.

Shortly, she will be off to French Pyrenees for altitude training before competing in the European Championships Half Marathon in Amsterdam next month.

Justina Heslop (Elswick), Rosie Smith (Durham), Emma Holt (Morpeth) and former Wallsend runner Danielle Hodgkinson (Birchfield) are the other leading athletes.

Morpeth’s Jonny Taylor, eighth (7.57.96) in the Mo Farah British recording-breaking 3,000m performance at the IAAF’s Diamond League at Birmingham on Sunday, defends his title.

His main rivals are expected to be Tipton’s Ryan McLeod (Elswick), the son of Olympic 10,000m silver medallist Mick, who won the race seven times and Scott Beattie (Newham and Essex Beagles), fourth in the 2014 Great North Run.

Sunderland Harriers have a slight chance of getting among the team prizes with Steve McMahon, Matt Devlin, Steve Rankin and Kevin Jeffress involved in the four-to-count competition.

Jeffress was the first Harrier to finish last year in 13th position.

The Blaydon Race is an event steeped in local tradition. It starts at 7.15pm from Balmbras, Cloth Market, Newcastle, going along Collingwood Street and Scotswood Road passing Armstrongs factory and over Scotswood Bridge to finish in the Shibdon Road Playing Fields in Blaydon from about 7.40pm (5.7 miles).

The race was the inspiration of Dr James 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 a record of 4,000 people took part with more than 600 other hopefuls usually rejected. Last year almost 4,400 people entered.

All finishers will receive a commemorative certificate, t-shirt, souvenir programme, local beer, crisps, sandwich and soft drink. Many will receive spot prizes.