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Clitheroe for Great North Run

Clitheroe for Great North Run

Clitheroe for Great North Run

European Indoor 3,000m champion, Helen Clitheroe believes her appearance in next month’s Bupa Great North Run could signal the beginning of a serious road running career after the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Clitheroe is having one of the best years of her track career, highlighted by her Indoor gold medal in March and at the weekend gaining the 5,000m qualifying standard for the IAAF World Championships in Daegu, starting on 27 August.

Now, on returning from South Korea, the experienced British international and former Commonwealth 1,500m bronze medallist will make her debut over the half marathon distance in the Bupa Great North Run on Sunday 18 September.

Clitheroe has already shown her potential for a road racing career when an outstanding winner of the Bupa Great Manchester Run over 10k in mid-May, before switching back to the track and concentrating on the forthcoming World Championships.

The 37-year-old veteran admits she is excited about the prospect of competing in the Bupa Great North Run from Newcastle to South Shields, where the opposition will include one of the world’s leading distance running performers, Jessica Augusto, the Portugese winner two years ago.

“I haven’t done a half marathon and honestly have not considered what time I think I can do,” said Clitheroe.  “I’m not going to set myself any real targets and I’ve just got to start and see how it feels.

“It will be a big test and I’m quite excited about the race. But I’m not going to put pressure on myself and I think it will be a good experience for the future.”

Clitheroe, speaking of her versatility this year, added: “After (London) 2012 I will probably set my sights on road running. I mean it can be my future and everything I do at the moment, I just seem to continually surprise myself.

“So there’s no reason, if my body will let me carry on for a few more years, why I will not be running more on the roads than in the past.”

The Preston Harrier, recently returned from a spell of altitude training in Font Romeau where she met up with Paula Radcliffe, the world marathon record holder, hasn’t ruled out eventually moving up to the toughest of all endurance distances.

“I’ve not asked her about marathon running but she’s pretty open about giving advice. When we’re together we tend to chat more about life rather than athletics.  It’s nice to be friends with her.

“I’m not going to say ‘no’. I can see it happening although I would never have believed I’d say that because I’d never ran further than 10k. It’s a natural progression and worth a try and definitely even worth doing a serious one.”

Clitheroe, believing altitude training has played a significant part in her career, added: “It’s something I’ve done for years but this is the first time I’ve been there back to back.

“I haven’t had the opportunity to do that before but this year I’ve been there in January, April and then just had another two weeks now.  It’s a shame I couldn’t do it when I was younger.”

Clitheroe, who finished ahead of Augusto in their 5,000m clash at Crystal Palace on Saturday, isn’t reading too much into that result knowing the Portugese star is an established road runner and was eighth finisher in the 2011 Virgin London Marathon.

“She’s an athlete who I really look up to because she’s very good at a variety of track events and it’s great to see a European athlete as strong as she is,” said Clitheroe.

“She’s run her first marathon and is a role model in terms of how she’s stepped from the track onto the roads and improved. She’s the kind of girl you can look up to.”