OLYMPIAN Nick McCormick has his sights set on a second victory in tomorrow's big Leeds Abbey Dash 10K after being pipped at the post last year.

The 31-year-old Morpeth Harrier, who competed over 5,000m in London this summer, was denied victory 12 months ago by clubmate Jonathan Taylor, but there was so little between the two athletes they were both credited with the same time - 29 mins 22 secs.

Now McCormick, victorious in 2005, hopes to go one better at the head of a 9,000-strong field - the biggest in the 28-year history of the race from Leeds City centre to Kirkstall Abbey and back - before leaving next month on a ten-week training stint in Australia.

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It is not clear if Teessider Taylor will defend his title after his exertions last weekend in Burgos, Spain, where he led the England team home in a superb 12th place on his senior international debut in the IAAF fixture, finishing exactly a minute behind reigning World Cross Country champion Imane Merga, of Ethiopia. He may choose to save himself for next weekend'sUK Athletics European Cross Country trials in Liverpool.

n Great Britain marathon international Alyson Dixon, who set new course records this year winning the Tees Pride, Kielder and Heaton Memorial 10ks, has left Chester-le-Street to join Sunderland Strollers.

Another record turnout could be on the cards in the second Start Fitness North-East Harrier League fixture today at Blaydon. Morpeth Harriers lead Division One from defending champions Gateshead after a clear-cut victory at East Cramlington at the end of last month, while Tyne Bridge head the women's table..

A bonus of £100 is on offer for any man beating 49 minutes and woman running faster than 55 minutes in tomorrow's 60th Brampton-Carlisle road race, which incorporates the North of England championships.