Home News Athletics Northern Ireland celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Belfast City Marathon

Athletics Northern Ireland celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Belfast City Marathon


Every day this week Athletics NI will count down to the 30th Anniversary of the Belfast City Marathon taking place next Bank Holiday Monday. NI’s top marathon runner Gladys Ganiel has interviewed a number of key names past and present and these will be featured on the website/blog and facebook- one every day this week. So far it includes Greg McClure heading for his 50th Marathon, Teresa Duffy: NI’s fastest ever female Marathon, a Q & A with Matt Shields and the winner of the 1st Marathon in 1982 Sue Boreham with more to follow! Click on www.niathletics.org

Triple Belfast Marathon winner John Mutai will once again be aiming to capture a 4th title in Monday’s 30th running of the Deep RiverRock event (Start at the City Hall at 9am) . Governing body Athletics NI are celebrating their 30 year partnership with the event.

However this year the 44 year old Kenyan will face probably his toughest opposition yet in a bid to capture a possible £6,000 first prize which includes a roll over fund to break the course record.

Last year Mutai had to settle for second place after arch rival Urga Negewo of Ethiopia simply tracked the Kenyan for the entire 26 miles before unleashing a sprint finish to snatch a 6 secs victory. With an 18 year age advantage Negewo should fancy his chances of beating Mutai again even though the older man recorded another consistent 2hrs 16 mins marathon last autumn. This dual may not however occur as Negewo is still awaiting his visa to travel to the UK.

In any event both men might well have to play second fiddle to Ukranian Andriy Toptun who ran a world class 2hrs 12 mins time a year ago in Germany. In addition last autumn he ran under 2hrs 14 mins in the classy Dublin Marathon and followed this with a sub 2hrs 13 mins clocking to finish 2nd in Sacramento.

Given these credentials Toptun should be favourite to win on Monday and weather permitting possibly break Marty Deane’s 1985 record of 2hrs 15 mins 51 secs which was achieved over an easier course.Toptun will be aided in this task by pacemaker Matt Pierson of England who ran a 2.22 in London 2 years ago.

Other athletes who should be well to the fore include Kenya’s Jacob Chesire who ran 2.19 last October, twice Belfast Marathon winner Tommy Hughes of North Belfast,City of Derry’s Diarmuid Grant, Irish international racewalker Colin Griffin, Michael Fitzpatrick who ran 2.40 in last year’s race and Greg McClure who will be celebrating his 50th marathon.

While the Women’s field has not quite the same high quality lineup there are still 3 athletes who will be determined to deny Colchester’s Sarah Stradling a repeat of her victory from last year. 35 year old Sarah will almost certainly have to improve on her 2.44 PB in Belfast if she is to win again.

Kenya’s Rael Kimaiyo ran 2.43 in Nairobi recently which is worth several minutes faster at sea level. Vira Ovcharuk of the Ukraine achieved a time under 2.38 in Rome a year ago while Russia’s Elena Kozhevnikova will be taking part in her 5th marathon in 12 months with her best time being a 2.41 win in Moscow.

Local athletes include City of Lisburn’s Heather Ardis and North Belfast’s Lisa Sturgeon who recently competed in London.

Running mania has reached new levels with a record 20,000 runners taking part in Monday’s various events. This includes a record 3,570 in the Marathon itself and some 12,100 in the 5 person relay teams. Full blogs and interviews on www.niathletics.org along with results on the day.