14th August 2016

Marathon Effort

14 August 2016

Alyson Dixon and Sonia Samuels both ran smart races to secure top 30 positions in the Rio 2016 Olympic marathon, a race with over 160 starters.

Taking on a relatively flat course, the big challenge was the Brazilian heat and humidity, but the British duo paced their races to perfection to move through the field throughout the race.

Running together the two north easterners passed through halfway in 1:16.23, occupying 50th and 51st positions, the pair already moving up from the 70s at 5km and 60s at 15km. Continuing to work together they moved up a further 10 places over the next 5km before Dixon started to edge ahead.

The pair continued to press, and by 30km Dixon was up to 30th, with Samuels just three places further back. They weren’t done there though, continuing to pick off those who were suffering for being overzealous in the early stages, with Dixon finishing 28th in 2:34.11 and Samuels 30th in 2:34.36.

Up at the front there was a group of six athletes still locked in battle until the late stages, with Kenyan Jemima Sumgong eventually prevailing in 2:24.04. To put the British ladies run’s into perspective, the pair were 10th and 12th European runners home, and afterwards Dixon said:

"It was absolutely amazing – you expect it to be, but that was just totally unreal out there – everything I expected and more. Crowds were amazing – so many people with union flags shouting your name, and saying ‘come on Sunderland!’

"It really lifts you – and I didn’t really go through a bad patch until right at the end, the last 800m when my calf started to cramp but at that point you just shake it off. You finish and come into this stadium and you’re lifted again."

Samuels was also pleased with her run on her Olympic debut, something that she has been working towards for 26 years.

"I don’t mind the heat – I prefer that to the cold so it was a good day for me! I went off quite conservatively but then we got a little group together at halfway that was working together, sharing water – just helping each other along.

"I’ve got to say, it was amazing – just to be part of this, is so worth all that hard work.

"It’s good for your confidence to work together, given that you’re going past people all the time- I think only one person came past me in the whole race and that gives you such confidence to keep pushing, so it was really good to work together.

"If you think about 20 years of going out in the cold and dark and just believing that one day you are going to make it here – that’s s how much it means to me now. My main goal was to be part of the Olympics and I made that – but you always want to come out and perform and I think I did myself proud today."