The newly crowned ‘World Athletics Elite label’ Antrim Coast Half Marathon – the inaugural event was won by Sir Mo Farah in 2020 – is celebrating its new global status with one of the best fields ever assembled in the UK or Ireland.
Four-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Mo won in a time of one hour and 27 seconds but was unable to defend his title last year due to a foot injury.
Headlining the women’s race on August 28 – and returning for a second year – will be Yalemzerf Yehualaw, the Ethiopian sensation who smashed the World Record at last year’s event, only for it not to be officially ratified, and recently broke the women’s World Record over 10k with a time of 29:14 on the road in Cannes.
Elite race organiser James McIlroy, an 800m semi-finalist for Team GB at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, said: “The whole of Northern Ireland is delighted Yalemzerf is returning this year, and she’s continuing this year where she finished last year with a new WR in Cannes over 10k metres.
“Her plan is to debut over the marathon in Hamburg in April, before returning to Northern Ireland where she’s going to receive an amazing reception…everyone loves her, so hopefully she can feed off the reception she’ll be getting on the way round and go even faster this year!”
In addition to Yalemzerf, the race will have three women who have run 65-67 minutes over the distance.
Returning this year will be national teams from Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and England.
The men’s race will target a UK all-comers record and currently has four sub 59-minute and nine sub 60-minute men all confirmed.
It is headlined by last year’s winner, Ethiopian record holder and fastest half marathon debutant of all time Jemal Yimer who will target the race after Boston Marathon at the end of April.
The youngest ever New York City Marathon and World Marathon champion, Eritrean Ghirmay Ghebressalassie, will be making his first appearance on the super-fast Antrim Coast course.
From a UK standpoint all eyes will be on recently crowned World Indoor 3000m bronze medallist Marc Scott, who will be returning for a third year. The two-time European record holder has finished second and fourth at the event and will be looking to take his current record-breaking form into this year’s event and go one better.
With 12 nationalities already confirmed in the elite race other confirmed starters include last year’s third placed Shadrack Kimining and new Ethiopian sensation Gizealew Ayana – just 19 years old – who finished second in the Poznan Half Marathon last year in 59:39 in his debut at the distance.
With record numbers expected in the main race, organisers are delighted to welcome back five-time Olympian Jo Pavey who will be leading the two-hour pacing group. Jo will be joined in pacing duties by some other stars of the track to be announced in the build-up to the race.
This year’s event has partnered with One Tree Planted and has committed to planting a tree for every person who enters the main race.
Both elite races and the main race will be streamed live.
The event will be introducing a classic street mile on the Saturday evening before race day targeting a sub 4 min mile to kick off the weekend of running.