National pride inspires Shaun to put vest foot forward for England

Highgate Harriers’ Shaun Dixon says he was inspired to success by his England vest on Sunday after coming third in his first race for the national team.

The 30-year-old received his first England call-up last week after coming second in Highgate’s penultimate Metropolitan League race – just behind Great Britain Nielson Hall – and he took full advantage of his chance to impress.

Dixon clocked 34 minutes 32 seconds to finish third out of 79 competitors in the McCain Cross Challenge in Cardiff.

That left him just 30 seconds behind the current UK number one, Andy Vernon – and another England international Frank Tickner (34:09) was the only runner to overtake him.

“It was all quite inspiring, wearing the vest, and I was keen to make sure that I played a role in the race,” Dixon told Ham&High Sport.

“I wanted to be up there challenging because I was wearing the England shirt, I wasn’t just a normal club runner.

“That really pushed me on to just go and be brave and impress myself on the race, and I ended up having a really good run.

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“I was having a bad patch on the second lap and I just thought ‘I’m not going to let anyone beat me in this vest’, so I put an extra kick in. It really did inspire me and I’m really pleased.”

Dixon, who works as a corporate running coach, has been with Highgate since 2009 and lived in Kentish Town until last year – and he says his England call-up was the realisation of a long-term ambition.

“I’d been running quite well all season without actually having a stand-out race,” he said. “I’d been consistent since September without ever really getting up there and winning anything – but I knew I’d had some good Christmas training and I was in good shape coming into January.

“It was really nice to get the call because it’s something I’d been thinking about for a long time, and I jumped at the opportunity.

“I got an email from Eamonn Martin, who was the last English winner of the London Marathon [in 1993]. He also won the 10,000 metres for GB in the Commonwealth Games in 1990.

“It was quite late notice. I got the message on the Monday and the race was that Sunday, but I made sure I could make it. It’s not the sort of thing you turn down!

“I’m hoping it will lead to something else but I haven’t had another call yet.

“I’m really delighted with how I ran and I’m hoping to have another opportunity to pick up where I left off.

“The National Championships is in February and then it’s the UK Championships at the beginning of March, and I can’t wait for both of those.

“I’m hoping for quite high field positions. It’s a chance to get picked for GB teams and England teams so fingers crossed I should be in and around those and I can continue my progress.

“I’m hoping to run some quick times on the track this year, and to get some more England vests, but my real goal is the Frankfurt marathon in October.

“If I can run a fast time there then hopefully it will lead me on to bigger and better things.”