Athletics: Masya hungry for fifth success

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BENSON MASYA, from Kenya, will bid to become the Bupa Great North Run champion for a fifth time this Sunday, despite struggling to win a place in the starting line-up.

The race co-ordinator Peter Elliott was initially unable to slot him into the field, but Masya was squeezed in as a late entry after a couple of withdrawals.

"I have always said the Great North Run is my favourite race - you just have to look at my record since my first win in 1991," Masya said.

"I love the event, the people who organise it and particularly the spectators whose support for me has been nothing short of brilliant."

After winning in 1991, Masya successfully defended his title the following year when his time of 60min 24sec became the quickest ever recorded for the half marathon. Now Masya, who is still only 28, is greedy for another success.

"Contrary to what people may think, money is not important to me when it comes to the Great North Run. I cannot tell you how hurt I felt when I thought I was going to miss this year's race. Fortunately I pressurised Peter and although I accepted he was planning to fetch in some other runners from other parts of the world, I was praying he would include me."

Running against Masya on Sunday will be Paul Evans of Belgrave, who is a race regular and was the first Briton home for the fifth successive time a year ago. Also competing will be a host of British international cross-country and marathon runners including Dave Lewis, Mark Croasdale, Colin Moore, Dave Tune, Mick Hawkins, Andrew Pearson, Dave Long and Bill Foster.

The Nationwide Football League managers Peter Reid (Sunderland), Peter Jackson (Huddersfield), Lennie Lawrence (Luton) and Ian Butterworth (Darlington) will also compete in the event.