Commonwealth hopefuls top Sunderland Half Marathon start list

The Northern Echo: CONFIRMED STARTER: Wearsider Alyson Dixon will compete in next month's Sunderland City Half Marathon CONFIRMED STARTER: Wearsider Alyson Dixon will compete in next month's Sunderland City Half Marathon

TWO British athletes with Commonwealth Games ambitions will start as favourites for next month's Sunderland City Half Marathon.

Wearsider Alyson Dixon and Scotsman Derek Hawkins have both been confirmed for the Half Marathon on May 4, and will head a strong field of athletes from the North-East and beyond.

Having already achieved the Commonwealth qualifying time, Dixon is in pole position to represent England in the women's marathon at this summer's Games in Glasgow.

Hawkins has already been selected for the Scotland team in the men's event, and will hope to fine tune his preparations on the streets of Sunderland.

The Half Marathon is part of the Run Sunderland Festival, which also features the fourth Sunderland City 10k.

Dixon, who is a Sunderland Stroller, said: “It’s great that Sunderland now has an established festival of running and I’m really excited about racing the half marathon.

“I’ve won the 10k the last two years and I’m looking forward to hopefully adding my name to the roll of honour for the longer distance. I’ll be looking to record a solid performance to back up my chances of selection for the Commonwealth Games.”

Hawkins, who hails from Paisley, said: “I chose Sunderland because I ran the 10k a few years ago so I know it is a flat course and it fits perfectly in my build up for Glasgow 2014.

“It falls two weeks after I return from a block of altitude training, so it's ideal to find out how that training phase went in a racing environment and will give me an insight to my fitness as I enter the final 12 weeks of my preparation.”

Around 4,000 people are expected to take part in the events on May 4, and the deadline for booking places on the Half Marathon and 10k is midnight on April 23. For more information, visit www.sunderlandcity10k.com.

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