Northern Ireland Running

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Podium places for Danny Mooney and Natasha Adams at North West 10k:

North West 10k 2015:

Over the Bank Holiday weekend (Sunday 2nd May 2015), much of the attention was focused on the Deep River Rock Belfast City Marathon.  However, athletes from Northern Ireland have been in action elsewhere.  On top of the excellent performances that we have already featured (scroll down for related summaries), three local athletes secured podium places at the North West 10k in Letterkenny, Ireland.


Danny Mooney (Letterkenny AC) followed up his podium place at the Ballymote Elite Mile less than 24 hours earlier, where he recorded 4:10 for third place, with another prize-winning performance.  The Team Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games athlete stepped up in distance and looked strong as he completed the course in 33:56, securing 3rd place in the men’s race won by Eoghan McGinley (Rathfarnham WSAF) in 33:06 (1st place).


In the ladies race, the in-form Natasha Adams produced an excellent performance to seal victory in 35:21 (1st place; not only did this time see Natasha lead the ladies home, but it was enough to take an impressive 10th place overall.  City of Derry AC’s Catherine Whoriskey looked back to her best as she crossed the line in 38:43 for 3rd place.


Full Results:  North West 10k 2015 Results

Sharon Trimble-Bird claims top ten finish in Scotland:

Stuc a'Chroin 5000 Mountain Race:

On Saturday 2nd May 2015, Northern Ireland lady Sharon Trimble-Bird (Carnethy HRC/North Belfast Harriers) made a return to competitive racing at the well supported Stuc a'Chroin 5000 Mountain Race, in the southern part of the scenic but testing Scottish Highlands.


The 22k race which includes 1,500 metres of ascent and descent attracted nearly one hundred and fifty participants who negotiated forest tracks before moving onto some rougher ground prior to a descent into Glen Ample.  A steep heathery climb up Beinn Each took competitors onto a fantastic undulating ridge to Stuc a`Chroin Summit. Runners then made their way back to the Start/Finish area at the Strathyre recreation grounds, using a similar route. 


In wintry conditions, the Irish International Mountain runner ran well against quality opposition, finishing in an impressive 8th place with a time of 3:21:48.  Hector Haines (Hunters Bog Trotters) won the race in 2:08:33, with the ever consistent Jasmin Paris (Carnethy HRC) winning the female event, in a time of 2:40:43.


Full Results:  Stuc a 'Chroin 5000 Mountain Race 2015 Results

Joel Kositany & Berhan Gebremichael secure Belfast City Marathon titles:

Belfast City Marathon 2015:

On Monday 4th May 2015, tens of thousands of runners and spectators took to the streets of Northern Ireland's capital city, Belfast for the 34th annual running of the Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon and the associated Relay event.


In bright but breezy conditions, the seemingly endless field set off on the undulating course that would see them make their way from City Hall to the finish line in Ormeau Park, via East, North, West and South Belfast, as well as a section in Newtownabbey. 


The lead pack of Joel Kositany (Kenya) and Project Africa athletes Gideon Kimosop (Kenya) and Vincent Kiprotich-Chepyegon (Kenya) went through 10k in approximately 33:34, with American marathon debutant Andy Wacker (USA) just behind.  


Mostofa Channi (Morocco) followed, with Tamas Janos Nagy (Hungary) and leading Northern Ireland man Eddie McGinley (Annadale Striders) running side by side as they passed the 10k marker in 35:10.  In the ladies race, Berhan Gebremichael (Ethiopia) and Khadja Elaatiba (Morocco) looked classy at the head of the field. Behind, Northern Ireland ladies marathon record holder Teresa McCluskey (nee Duffy) and Hungarian athlete Katalin Garami (Hungary) had a small lead on Selinah Kangogo (Project Africa), Northern Ireland XC international Sharon Barlow (Ripon Runners) and Ballydrain Harriers new girl Shona Fletcher.


As the men negotiated the gradual uphill of the Antrim Road, Joel Kositany and Gideon Kimosop were inseparable, but the man who had kept them company early on, Vincent Kiprotich-Chepyegon had dropped off the pace and had been passed by Andy Wacker.  Tamas Janos Nagy, Mostafa Channi and Eddie McGinley followed approximately ninety seconds after, all within sight of each other – the gap to the rest of the field was now approximately six minutes.  Meanwhile, in the ladies race, Behran Gebremichael had opened up a good lead on the chasing Khadja Elaatiba, with Katalin Garami, Teresa McCluskey, Sharon Barlow, and now Hannah Oldroyd (England) all contesting the final podium place.

The field descended quickly towards Newtownabbey, through Gideons Green and onto the infamous toe-path and as they made their way into Duncrue Industrial Estate, Joel Kositany had the slightest of leads on Gideon Kimosop, with Andy Wacker and the seemingly refreshed Vincent Kiprotich-Chepyegon in pursuit.  Tamas Janos Nagy and Eddie McGinley were also looking strong and appeared to have closed the gap on the leading men, making for an exciting finale towards the City Centre and Ormeau Park.


By now, Berhan Gebremicahel was now in full control of the ladies race; although now further behind, Khadja Elaatiba still looked powerful as she made her way up the climb and across the road into Duncrue Industrial Estate.  Katlina Garami had now moved clear of Northern Ireland ladies Sharon Barlow and Teresa McCluskey, who in-turn, seemed to be leaving the tiring Selinah Kangogo in their wake.


As the atmosphere was building in the sunny Ormeau Park, Joel Kositany was drawing closer to the finish and as he made short work of the Ormeau Road, he opened up a lead of approximately 150 metres on Gideon Kimosop; as Joel descended towards the Embankment, he further increased this lead and made his way relentlessly towards the final turn into Ormeau Park.  The spectators watched as he  cruised along the Embankment and to loud cheers, the Kenyan, a two time winner of the event, made his way along the finishing straight to break the tape in 2:19:39 (1st place).  Gideon Kimosop took a well-deserved 2nd place in 2:20:32, before the fast finishing Tamas Janos Nagy, who had picked off several tiring athletes in the final miles, completed the top three in 2:24:22 (3rd place).

Local star Eddie McGinley set out his targets before the race; stating that he would like a highly placed finish, and he did just that after an exceptionally strong final few miles.  Despite the blustery conditions and the tough course, Eddie clocked an excellent 2:24:55, a mere three seconds outside his personal best (of 2:24:52) to secure 4th place and the honour of being the first Northern Ireland athlete home.  Ballymena Runners' Ben Morrow and Annadale Striders' Keith Purdy were the next local athletes home in 2:44:29 and 2:45:49 respectively.


In the ladies race, it was the outstanding Berhan Gebremichael who secured the title.  In the final stages, Berhan opened up a huge lead on the chasing ladies, showing no signs of tiredness as she powered into Ormeau Park to cross the line in 2:41:00 (1st place).  


Just over ten minutes later, Khadja Elaatiba took 2nd place in 2:51:01, before a smiling Katalin Garami claimed the final place on the podium, after running 2:55:43 for 3rd place.  Northern Ireland international Sharon Barlow sealed 5th place, clocking 2:57:01 in what was her first ever marathon. Despite claiming that this was “the first and last” attempt at the distance, the Scotland based athlete was very happy to be the first Northern Ireland lady home.  The evergreen Teresa McCluskey crossed the line just nineteen seconds later in 2:57:20, before Gerrie Short (Beechmount Harriers) completed the top three local finishers in 3:01:14.


In the well supported relay competition, it was St Malachy's AC who led the charge.  Their top quality team were the first of the relay teams to reach Ormeau Park, clocking 2:24:12 (1st place) to win the men's category.  Ballymena based Fit N' Running took the 'mixed' title in 2:34:43 (1st place), while North Belfast Harriers won the ladies relay in 2:52:06 (1st place). 


Podium Places:

Top 3 Men:  1st Joel Kositany (Kenya) – 2:19:39, 2nd Gideon Kimosop (Kenya) – 2:20:32, 3rd Tamsa Janos Nagy (Hungary) – 2:24:22


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Berhan Gebremichael (Ethiopia) – 2:41:00, 2nd Khadja Elaatiba (Morocco) – 2:51:01, 3rd Katalin Garami (Hungary) – 2:55:43


Northern Ireland finishers:

Top 3 Northern Ireland Men:  1st Eddie McGinley (Annadale Striders) – 2:24:55, 2nd Ben Morrow (Ballymena Runners) – 2:44:29, 3rd Keith Purdy (Annadale Striders) – 2:45:49


Top 3 Northern Ireland Ladies:  1st Sharon Barlow (Ripon Runners) – 2:57:01, 2nd Teresa McCluskey (Beechmount Harriers) – 2:57:20, 3rd Gerrie Short (Beechmount Harriers) – 3:01:14


Full Results:  Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon 2015 Results - Photos from the Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon will be added to our Photo Gallery in the coming days.

Cathal McGreevy and Gavin Mulholland perform well in USA and England:

Miwok 100k (USA):

On Saturday 2nd May 2015, Warrenpoint man Cathal McGreevy (Team Purple) took on the iconic Miwok 100k ultra marathon in the Marin County, California (USA).  


Starting at Stinson Beach the course covers 62.2 miles of trail with approximately 12,000ft.  Cathal paced himself well, reaching the 30.2 mile mark in 96th place in an impressive 5:18:00.  He (Cathal) had a strong second half, arriving back at Stinson Beach to cross the finish line in 12:29:00 for 83rd place.  There were almost five hundred starters and the race was won by Benjamin Stern (USA) in 8:50:00 (1st place). 


The Cake Race (England):

Also on Saturday 2nd May 2015, Northern Ireland international Gavin Mulholland (Calder Valley AC) secured a podium finish at Saddleworth Runners' Cake Race, a popular mountain race in England.  The course covered 10 miles in distance and incorporated 1,700ft of ascent, which Gavin completed in an impressive 1:03:30 (2nd place).  The race was won by Ben Mounsey (Calder Valley AC) in 1:01:04 (1st place).

Local athletes compete at events in Ireland, England, USA and the Bahamas:

Athletes from NI compete at events in Ireland, England, America and the Bahamas:

This weekend (Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd May 2015), athletes from Northern Ireland have been in action at events across the world, with major competitions taking place in Ireland, England, America and the Bahamas.  As always, the local stars have produced outstanding performances, whilst competing against top class opposition.


IMC Greystones Track & Field Meeting (Ireland):

On Saturday 2nd May 2015, a number of athletes from Northern Ireland travelled south to Greystones in County Wicklow for the Irish Milers Club (IMC) Greystones Track & Field Meeting, hosted by Greystones AC.


Competitors braved wet and blustery conditions as they pursued their ambitions of a solid start to the outdoor season and there were several excellent performances.  The most notable came from Emma Mitchell (Banbridge AC), who followed up her impressive nineteen second personal best over 3,000m last weekend with another quality showing – Emma led the field home in the 1500m, breaking the beam in 4:29.87 (1st place).


There were three familiar faces in the 5,000m race won by Irish star Kevin Mulcaire (Ennis Track Club) in 14:08.65 (1st place).  Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) recorded 14:43.96 (7th place), finishing just ahead of NI & Ulster Intermediate XC and 10k (Road) Champion Conor Duffy, who ran 14:55.20 (8th place).  Declan Reed (City of Derry AC) followed in 15:14.70 (11th place), while Martin Cox (Project Africa) crossed the line in 15:27.64 (12th place).


In the 800m, Luke Dinsmore (Springwell Running Club) clocked 2:06.72 for 5th place; the race was won by Conor Dunan (Ratoath AC) in 1:57.82 (1st place).  North Down AC's Rachel Gibson and Springwell Running Club's Aife McSheffrey both ran well in the ladies 800m, with Rachel running 2:16.50 (5th place) and Aife 2:20.45 (9th place).


Payton Jordan ‘Stanford’ Invitational Track & Field Meeting (America): 

On Saturday 2nd May 2015, Northern Ireland and Ireland international Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) lined up alongside some of the world’s top athletes at the prestigious Payton Jordan Invitational Track & Field Meeting in Stanford, America.  Competing in the 'stacked' 10,000m event, Paul covered the distance in 29:15.51 (15th place).  After the race, Paul, a man who expects the highest of standards from himself, described his performance in the race as one of his worst to date.  The race was won by Team GB's Andy Vernon in 27:42.62 (1st place).


British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) Outdoor Championships (England):

In England on Saturday 2nd May 2015, Ballymena & Antrim AC duo Christine McMahon and Jonathan Browning represented Queen's University at the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) Track & Field Championships at the famous Bedford Stadium in England.  Up against tough opposition, both Christine and Jonathan managed to secure their places in upcoming finals.


In 400m hurdles, Commonwealth Games athlete Christine recorded 60.02secs (1st place) to win Heat 2; this was the second fastest qualifying time of the day. Meanwhile, in the 100m, Jonathan covered the distance in 11.08secs (1st place) to secure victory in Heat 3 - Jonathan's time was the fifth fastest qualification time of the day.  The talented pairing will now look forward to finals on Monday 4th May 2015.


Ballymote 1 mile Race (Ireland):

Also on Saturday 2nd May 2015, Northern Ireland's Danny Mooney (Letterkenny AC) travelled to Ballymote (Ireland) for the Corran AC Sub 4 mile Challenge, which was part of the Corran AC Ballymote 5k Team Challenge event.  Commonwealth Games competitor Danny recorded 4:10 for the classic distance, which was enough to secure 3rd place in the race won by Ireland international John Travers (Donore Harriers) in 4:04 (1st place).


IAAF World Relay Championships (Bahamas): 

In the early hours of Sunday 3rd May 2015, City of Lisburn AC star Amy Foster was in action for Ireland at the prestigious IAAF World Relay Championships in the Bahamas.  Amy and her team mates Sarah Lavin (UCD AC), Steph Creaner (Celtic DCH) and Phil Healy (Bandon AC) claimed 5th place in the 4x200m event in a new Irish national record of 1:36.90.  The race was won by Nigeria in 1:30.42 (1st place).


The ladies will now look forward to there 4x100m competition and will have an added incentive, knowing that a top eight finish in their event will automatically secure qualification for both the IAAF World Championships in Beijing in August 2015 and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.  Amy will again be joined by fellow Irish 4x100m record holders Sarah Lavin (UCD AC) and Phil Healy (Bandon AC), while the always impressive Celtic DCH duo Catherine McManus and Steph Creaner will add further talent to the team. 


Full Results:  IMC Greystones T&F Meeting 2015 Results – Jordan Payton (Stanford) Invitational T&F Meeting 2015 Results (Currently Unavailable) – BUCS Track & Field Championships 2015 (Heats) ResultsBallymote 1 mile 2015 Results IAAF World Relay Championships (4x200m) 2015 Results

James Hamilton and Kelly Neely impress at Active Financial NiRunning Mile:

Active Financial NiRunning - BMC Mile 2015:

On Friday 1st May 2015, NiRunning hosted our increasingly popular 'NiRunning Mile' event, which this year, was sponsored by Northern Ireland based company Active Financial and organised once again in conjunction with the British Milers Club (BMC).


In perfect running conditions, a record number of over one hundred and fifty participants turned out at the home of athletics in Northern Ireland, the Mary Peters Track (Belfast) for the 4th annual running of the event.  Although the sub four minute barrier was not broken on this occasion, the gathered spectators were treated to an exciting night of racing, which ended with Ballymena Runners' fast improving James Hamilton recording the fastest time of the night.


Competing in Race 7A, James held off strong challenges from junior stars Craig McMeechan (North Down AC) and Daniel Dawson (Dromore AC) as he claimed a well-deserved victory in 4:33.61 – the race was so close that both Craig and Daniel's performances were enough to ensure that they secured 2nd place and 3rd place in the overall standings, with Craig clocking 4:34.56 and Daniel 4:35.24; not bad for a man running his fourth race in six days!


The quickest lady of the night was Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games star Kelly Neely (City of Lisburn AC).  Kelly lined up alongside 2013 NiRunning Mile runner up Jessica Craig (North Down AC) in the 'mixed' Race 7B and smashed Rachel Gibson's event record of 5:13.49 (2014) when she led the ladies home in an excellent 4:58.93 (1st place).  Jessica slashed eight seconds off her time from last year when she secured the second fastest ladies time of the night in 5:08.58 (2nd place).  Race 7B was won by the ever improving James Trainor (Dub Runners) in 4:47.42.


The honour of taking the final place on the ladies 'overall' podium went to Orangrove AC's Lyndsey Pronger.  However, it was a fiercely contested affair, with less than one second splitting three ladies – Lyndsey ran 5:45.77 in Race 6B, while Natalie Connolly (Dub Runners) and Leann Gibson (Orangegrove AC) crossed the line in 5:46.18 and 5:46.70 respectively in Race 6C.  This meant that Lyndsey just about edged 3rd place in the ladies overall standings.

Despite the hype surrounding the prizes for the top three fastest male and female athletes of the night, there were numerous notable performances throughout the programme, with many athletes setting out to achieve their own goals, all with personal bests in mind.  


Emma Kelly, from sponsors Active Financial, was the first winner of the night when she won Race 1 in 8:32.65.  Junior athletes Harry Moore (Unattached) and Ben Mellon (Derry City Track Club) claimed victories in Race 2 and Race 3 respectively, with Harry running 7:16.06 and Ben 6:37.40; 8 year old Hannah O'Toole (East Coast AC) turned a few heads in the same race when she ran 7:08.90 to lead the ladies home.  Toirleach Gourley (Sperrin Harriers) recorded 6:22.41 for the classic distance in Race 4; Belfast Running Club's Abi Savage also impressed with a 6:43.07 finish.  In one of the most popular miles of the night, the 6-7 minute mile (Races 5A, 5B and 5C), Gerard McAleenan (Club Pulse Runners) won Race 5A in 5:38.56, while Jonathan Davis (Unattached) and Ciaran Johnston (Unattached) sealed victory in Race 5B and 5C when running 5:37.61 and 5:55.51 respectively.  East Coast AC's Allyson O'Toole (5:50.12) and Newcastle AC's Sam McNeilly (5:55.53) also ran well in Race 5B and Race 5C.


In a close Race 6A, Mark McManus (East Coast AC) left it until the final 800m before moving clear to win in 5:04.37.  North Down AC's Craig McDermaid impressed with a 5:06.66 finish in Race 6B, while his young North Down AC team mate Jamie McMeechan cruised to victory in Race 6C, clocking 5:11.04.


Overall Podium Places:

Top 3 Men:  1st James Hamilton (Ballymena Runners) – 4:33.61, 2nd Craig McMeechan (North Down AC) - 4:34.56, 3rd Daniel Dawson (Dromore AC) – 4:35.24


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Kelly Neely (City of Lisburn AC) – 4:58.93, 2nd Jessica Craig (North Down AC) – 5:08.58, 3rd Lyndsey Pronger (Orangegrove AC) – 5:45.77


Full Results:  Active Financial NiRunning - BMC Mile 2015 Results (Photo's from the event will be added to our Photo Gallery as soon as possible... more than likely Saturday 2nd May 2015)


Note – We (NiRunning) would like to say THANK YOU to everyone who supported our event; we would also like to extend a special thank you to all the volunteers and officials who made the event possible.  Your continued support is very much appreciated.

Weekend Preview: Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon and more... 

Weekend Preview:  Belfast City Marathon and more…

The May Day Bank Holiday means only one thing, the Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon!  It’s that time of the year again, when tens of thousands of athletes take to the streets of Belfast (and Newtownabbey) for Northern Ireland’s biggest running event.  


Although it will be the main focus of the upcoming long weekend, there are other events taking place – this includes our own Active Financial NiRunning Mile.  Athletes from Northern Ireland will also race in Ireland, America and the Bahamas.


Active Financial NiRunning Mile (in association with BMC):

The weekend action kicks off tonight (Friday 1st May 2015), when runners from across Northern Ireland will descend on the home of athletics in Northern Ireland, the Mary Peters Track in Belfast, for the 'Active Financial' NiRunning Mile in association with the British Milers Club.


Now in its fourth year, the NiRunning Mile has grown in stature and with a programme of races to suit athletes of all abilities, a record turnout is expected. NiRunning's Ryan Maxwell explained, “for me, the NiRunning Mile is something that we have grown from our website's first days. To watch it grow in popularity and prestige, whilst attracting the continued support of the BMC makes me extremely proud. I would love to see runners of all abilities come along and make the night one to remember. After all, everyone needs a mile time!”


Finn Valley AC's Mark Hoy currently holds the men's record, which currently stands at 4:19.03; North Down AC's Rachel Gibson's 5:13.49 is the ladies record. Proceedings will kick off at 7pm and entry is available on night, priced at £3. Full details can be found at www.nirunning.co.uk/nirunning-mile


The timetable is as follows 7pm: 10 minute plus Mile, 7.15pm: 9-10 minute Mile, 7.30pm: 8-9 minute Mile,7.45pm: 7-8 minute Mile, 8pm: 6-7 minute Mile, 8.15pm: 5-6 minute Mile, 8.30pm: Sub 5 minute Mile, 8.45pm: Elite Women’s Mile, 9pm: Elite Men’s Mile.  Entry for each race will close 15 minutes prior to its scheduled start time.

Payton Jordan ‘Stanford’ Invitational Track & Field Meeting (America):

On Saturday 2nd May 2015, Northern Ireland and Ireland international Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) will compete alongside some of the world’s top athletes at the prestigious Payton Jordan Invitational Track & Field Meeting in Stanford, America.


The event has proved success for local athletes in the past; just last year (2014), Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) claimed a podium place in the 3,000m Steeplechase.  This year, Northern Ireland Half Marathon record holder Paul Pollock will compete in the 10,000m event, which includes respected Team GB athlete Andy Vernon, amongst others.


IMC Greystones Track & Field Meeting (Ireland):

On Saturday 2nd May 2015, a large number of athletes from Northern Ireland will line-up in one of the season's first outdoor track and field meets, the ever popular Irish Milers Club (IMC) Greystones Track & Filed Meeting in Ireland.


NI & Ulster 10k Champion Conor Duffy (Glaslough Harriers) and Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC), a silver medallist at the same competition, will compete at the event alongside multi-award winning City of Derry AC star Declan Reed, Martin Cox (Omagh Harriers), Chris Madden (City of Lisburn AC), Neil Johnston (Springwell Running Club), Oisin Donnelly (Omagh Harriers), Andrew Wright (Willowfield Harriers), James O'Hare (Annadale Striders), Emma Mitchell (Banbridge AC), Christy Conlon (Beechmount Harriers), Aife McSheffrey (Springwell Running Club), Rachel Gibson (North Down AC), Jake Harbinson (City of Lisburn AC), Luke Dinsmore (Springwell Running Club), Callum Crawford-Walker (Lagan Valley AC), Adam McComb (North Down AC) and Ryan Henry (Willowfield Harriers).  A full start list for the event is available HERE.


Slieve Gullion 10k Trail Race:

On Sunday 3rd May 2015, Slieve Gullion Runners will host their Slieve Gullion 10k trail race in County Armagh.  The event will take place within the confines of the scenic Slieve Gullion Country Park close to Newry.  Although pre-registration is closed, entries will also be accepted on the day.  The race will start at 12pm.


IAAF World Relay Championships (Bahamas):

On Sunday 3rd May 2015, Northern Ireland 100m and 200m record holder Amy Foster (City of Lisburn AC) will represent Ireland at the IAAF World Relay Championships in the Bahamas.  Both Ireland’s 4x400m men’s and 4x100m ladies teams will have the added incentive going into the classy competition, knowing that a top eight finish in their events will automatically secure qualification for both the IAAF World Championships in Beijing in August 2015 and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.  Amy will be joined in the strong 4x100m line up by fellow Irish 4x100m record holders Sarah Lavin (UCD AC) and Phil Healy (Bandon AC), while the always impressive Celtic DCH duo Catherine McManus and Steph Creaner will add further talent to the team.

Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon:

Bank Holiday Monday, Monday 4th May 2015, will bring the 34th annual Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon. The popular and always well attended event will attract approximately fifteen thousand competitors and even more spectators to the streets of Belfast and the neighbouring Newtownabbey, as athletes from all over the world cover an undulating 26.2 mile route in search of top honours, personal bests and personal achievements.


At the head of the pack, there has been much talk of the Kenyan contingent, with Linus Maiyo, Gideon Kimosop, Vincent Kiprotich-Chepyegon and 2013 winner Joel Kositany all named as starters, it does indeed make for an interesting battle.  Interestingly, 2014 Champion Freddy Sittuk is a late withdrawal.


A man who has stayed out of the spotlight (until now) could well be the one to upset the proverbial apple-cart and become the first ever American winner of the Belfast City Marathon.  Team USA’s Andy Wacker, arguably better known for his reputation as a mountain-trail runner, forged a good friendship with Northern Ireland athletes at the WMRA Long-Distance Challenge in Pikes Peak (America) last year and will make is marathon debut in Belfast.  Andy has never raced competitively outside the US before but in his own words, “there was no way I could turn down an offer to represent the US and travel to such a beautiful and historic place.”


His Half Marathon personal best currently stands at 1:03:26 (2013), with his most recent effort of 1:05:36 in Texas being part of his nine month build up to his first attempt at the 26.2 mile race. The humble and down to earth athlete will go into the race with no time expectations, but with a personal goal of testing himself against the other world class athletes who toe the line; Andy adds, “being my first marathon, I’d like to keep the pressure off and my expectations vague.  Instead of a specific time goal, my goal is to compete to the best of my ability, against the other world class runners.  I would love to win the race, and I think if I place top three, the time will take care of itself.”

Despite not having tested himself over the classic distance before, Andy has been training specifically for it with fellow American Jeffrey Eggleston (a 2:10:52 marathoner) under the guidance of Coach Mike Aish and the highly respected Renta Canova, so there is no doubting that he is ready for the race.  Andy told us, “I have run several runs over 20 miles, and worked on endurance building repeats like 10 x 1 mile and 12 x 1k.  Last fall, I also ran several half marathons to build strength and gain long distance road racing experience.”


To win, Andy (pictured right - photo by www.coloradorunnermag.com) will have to use the off-road strength that saw him claim third place at the infamous Pikes Peak Ascent at the back end of 2014, alongside his speedy edge, to outpace the aforementioned Kenyan line-up, of which, two will know the course very well.  


As mentioned above, Freddy Sittuk is a late withdrawal - according to respected journalist Malcolm McCausland, this is due to tiredness and poor recent form.  However, Joel Kositany, a winner here in 2013, after running 2:19:28, will start.  Of all the men listed, Joel boasts the quickest personal best of 2:09:50, which was set in 2012 – his most recent effort was a 2:12:35 at the Tiberias Marathon at this year (2015).  Linus Maiyo clocked a personal best of 2:11:34 at the Barcelona Marathon in 2013, which saw him claim third place, while County Tyrone based Gideon Kimosop and Vincent Kiprotich-Chepyegon hold 26.2 mile bests of 2:16:44 and 2:18:32 respectively.


Local hopes will rest on the exceptionally talented Eddie McGinley (Annadale Striders) – despite facing world class opposition, the 32 year old has indicated to the media that he will be concentrating on his own race and instead, focusing on improving his own personal best of 2:24:52 and getting somewhere close to the fourth place finish which fellow NI man Thomas Frazer (St Malachy’s AC) achieved two years ago.  The much talked about Belfast City Marathon course, albeit not perfect for personal bests holds its own benefits, some of which Eddie pointed out in a quote on the Athletics NI website, "I work and train in the Duncrue area.  I will also be running with some of my training mates which should help, along with the tremendous crowd support, which is always there for a local runner".  Given the strong line-up, it is fair to say that the current course record of 2:13:41, set by two time winner of the event Urga Negewo (Ethiopia) 3 years go, will be under threat.


Keith Purdy (Annadale Striders) was due to run the Virgin Money London Marathon last week; unfortunately, the Belfast City Half Marathon podium finisher was unable to compete, so he’ll be hoping to impress on home turf, especially having run so well in the associated Half Marathon. Willowfield Harriers’ Brian Campbell is another local athlete who should secure a top ten place if he shows the same kind of form that saw him 1:11:17 at the Larne Half Marathon in March 2015.  Andrew Considine (North Belfast Harriers), Tommy Simmons (North Belfast Harriers) and Stephen Wylie (North Down AC) could also be there or there abouts.  Accomplished marathoner Ben Morrow will perform to his usual high standard, as will the ever consistent Phil Wood (Unattached), Phelim McAllister (Larne AC), Barry Shanks (St Peter’s AC), Michael Cultra (East Down AC) and Simon Reeve (North Belfast Harriers).  Delfim Pimentel (Unattached), Garry Morrow (Orangegrove AC), Paul Nesbitt (Unattached) and Kent Swann (North Belfast Harriers) all possess the ability to finish well within the infamous three hour barrier.

In the ladies race, Ethiopian runner Berhane Gebremichael looks like the one to watch – Berhane is better known for her achievements on the track but enjoyed a winning marathon debut in Ahmedabad Marathon (India), where she ran 2:39:11.  This will be Berhane’s first outing over the marathon distance in the UK and she’ll be hoping to celebrate that with victory and an improvement on her aforementioned personal best, which she is more than capable of achieving.  


Although Burton AC’s Shona Crombie, a runner up here in 2014, boasts a similar personal best to Berhane, this was set way back in 2005. Since running 2:53:54 in Belfast last year, Shona has recorded 31:00 for 5 miles, 1:26:09 for 13.1 miles and 2:16:04 for 20 miles, which would suggest a finish time just over the 2:50:00 mark here.


Another England based athlete, Shona Fletcher, who is a very recent addition to the Ballydrain Harriers squad, won the York Marathon last year in an impressive 2:43:38, which will no doubt put her in contention for a podium spot – quality performances at the Spen 20 mile race and the Snake Lane 10 mile race, where she won in 2:06:26 and 1:00:28 respectively, further back up Shona's CV.  Kenya’s Selinah Kangogo has been residing in Northern Ireland as part of the Project Africa scheme (alongside the previously mentioned Gideon Kimosop and Vincent Kiprotich) operated by NI man Ciaran Collins; during this time, she (Selinah) has claimed numerous victories, but probably the most impressive was a win at Jimmy’s 10k, where she recorded 36:13.  Selinah also finished in second place behind Breege Connolly (North Belfast Harriers) at the Larne Half Marathon in March (2015), after running 1:20:13.


Local lady Gerrie Short (Beechmount Harriers) will also finish well up the field and will be hoping to improve on her excellent outing here twelve months ago when she crossed the line in 3:07:57 for 4th place.  North Belfast Harriers’ Roisin Hughes, a 3:01:10 marathoner, will make a return to the 26.2 mile distance and should claim a top ten place; Amanda Perry (Ballydrain Harriers), Ann-Marie Larkin (Club Unknown), Gillian Cordner (Seapark AC) and Athanasia Sevastaki (North Belfast Harriers) should also run well.  Other Northern Ireland based athletes to look for include Anne Killen (Unattached), Claire Duffield (Unattached), Sharon Williamson (Kernan RC), Natalie Bowbanks (Unattached), Cara Hamilton (North Down AC), Helena Dornan (Ballycastle Runners), Gillian Abraham (Unattached) and Paula McKibbin (Murlough AC).


Parkrun:

As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty parkrun events will take place this weekend, for more information on these, or to locate your nearest event, please visit our dedicated ‘parkrun’ section within our fixtures page.

Remember - If you would like to catch up on our 'News' from April 2015, including the latest Hill & Dale Series event (Race 3 - Slieve Martin), you can use the navigation banner at the top of the screen (and scroll to April 2015) or click HERE.