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Tees Pride 10K set for a thrilling encounter
DEFENDING champion Matty Hynes must win a battle royal if he is to retain his title in tomorrow's big Tees Pride 10K in Middlesbrough.
The 25-year-old North York Moors athlete will be lining up in his first 10K this year against in-form Ethiopians Wondiye Fikre Indelbu and Yared Hagos - first and second in last month's Darlington 10K - as well as Irishman Paul Pollock, third in the Great North 10K in June in a time of 30 mins 37 secs, and New Marske's Dominic Shaw, winner of this year's Middlesbrough 5K.
Hynes has been plagued by tendonitis in his foot, which has drastically restricted his competitive action. He has not raced on the roads since winning the classy Alsager five mile race on February 3 in a personal-best 23 mins 57 secs - still second fastest in the UK this year - while his last race on the track was in the British Milers Club Grand Prix in Manchester in June, where he was fourth in the 5,000m in 14 mins 2.83 secs, again a lifetime best.
Paralympian asylum seeker Indelbu has gone from strength to strength since settling on Teesside, where, after a series of park run outings, he showed the prowess which won him a silver 1500m medal in London by finishing third in the Middlesbrough Riverside 5K. After that he won the Aycliffe 10K (32.18) in June, the New Marske Victorian 10K (31.22) in July and then last month's York 10K (31.16) and Darlington 10K (30.10).
The 25-year-old, who lost an eye and his lower right arm in a grenade attack on his home in Africa when he was nine years old, had a tremendous tussle at Darlington, just out-sprinting fellow countryman Hagos, the course record holder, by one second.
Hagos, 32, will be seeking revenge on a course he knows from last year, when he finished seven seconds behind Hynes, who won in 30 mins 13 secs.
Tees Pride race director Jimmy Wattis, expecting a record field of nearly 5,000 runners, said: "We expect a real ding-dong battle at the front end of the race with so many top athletes involved."
Great Britain international and UK 10,000m track champion Alyson Dixon, who slashed over a minute off the course record on her race debut at Middlesbrough last year, winning in a time of 33 mins 34 secs, is expected to defend her title as part of her build up to next month's Frankfurt Marathon. The 34-year-0old Wearsider finished seventh in last Sunday's big Tilburg Women's 10K in Holland in a time of 33 mins 54 secs.
*Sunderland Harriers host their 30th Farringdon Cross Country Relays today, when Durham City's Great Britain international Rosie Smith is expected to begin her winter season after victories in the last three meetings on Wearside.