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Woods bids to retain Great North Run title

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Shelly Woods
Wheelchair racer Shelly Woods returns to action following her medal-winning performance for the Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland team at Assen 2006 when she competes in two road races later this week.
 
The 20-year-old Blackpool athlete rounded off her campaign at the International Paralympic Association Athletics World Championships in Assen two weeks ago by winning a bronze medal in the T54 marathon.
 
But she hasn’t had time to rest on her laurels as she has been training hard to defend her BUPA Great North Run title on Sunday (1st October).
 
Woods won the women’s wheelchair race in style last year, setting a course record of 50.07 to take her first Great North Run victory.
 
Before bidding to retain that title there’s the small matter of aiming to win another road race in the north east of England – the Tunnel 2k International on Thursday (28th September).
 
The Tunnel 2k sees wheelchair racers race 2km through the Tyne Tunnel – a route that begins with a drop, followed by a steep incline.
 
Woods was runner-up to Australia’s Eliza Stankovic in last year’s race, finishing in 6.48.9, with the Aussie crossing the finish line in 6:27.6.
 
“I want to defend my title at the Great North Run. It’s such a great race and I look forward to it every year,” said Woods. “There’s a lot of competition this year, so I know I’m going to be pushed really hard.
 
“I’ve been hitting the hills since Assen and I’m climbing pretty well,” she added. “It will be good to see what I can do against the other girls.
 
“The Tunnel 2K is a great race to do as well though because it’s really fast downhill and then it’s a tough climb, so you get the best of both worlds,” she added.
 
The start list for both events is scheduled to include Italy’s three times London Marathon winner Francesca Porcellato and Canada’s Diane Roy, gold medallist in the marathon in Assen.
 
Sweden’s Gunilla Wallengren, who won four successive Great North Run titles from 2001 to 2004, bids to wrestle that title from Woods on Sunday.
 
Eliza Stankovic – who beat Woods into second place at last year’s Tunnel 2k – is also due to contest both events.
 
The Tunnel 2k race starts from the south side of the Tyne Tunnel, and is scheduled to begin at 9pm on Thursday 28th September. Further information is available at the website tunnel2k.com
 
The Great North Run starts in Newcastle and concludes in South Shields on Sunday 1st October. The elite wheelchair race begins at 10.10am. Further information is available from the website gnr.realbuzz.com
 
Both events also feature strong entry lists for the men’s wheelchair races.