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Kenyans dominate Belfast City Marathon with record-breaking performances

Kenyan athletes triumph at Belfast City Marathon setting new records and demonstrating their dominance in long-distance running.

Kenyan athletes reigned supreme at the Belfast City Marathon by smashing records and leaving their competitors in awe on Sunday.

Beatrice Jepkemei and Mathew Kiplimo emerged as the champions in the women's and men's races respective.

Jepkemei, 26, delivered a stunning performance breaking the women's race record with a remarkable time of two hours, 35 minutes, and three seconds. 

Her outstanding achievement shaved off one minute and 47 seconds from the previous record set in 2012 by Ukrainian Nataliya Lehonkova. 

Despite facing a fierce challenge from Morocco's Lalla Aziza Alaoui Selsouli in the final stretch Jepkemei held her nerve to secure victory, finishing 17 seconds ahead of her rival.

In the men's race, debutant Mathew Kiplimo showcased his potential by claiming victory in a time of 2:14:44.

Kiplimo's triumph was all the more impressive as he overtook long-time leader Aweke Ayalew of Bahrain in the final mile, crossing the finish line a mere eight seconds ahead of Ayalew. Moses Kilmulwo of Kenya completed the men's podium, finishing in 2:15:10.

Last year's women's champion, Ethiopian Shewaye Woldemeskel, put in a commendable performance to secure third place with a time of 2:39:58, holding off a challenge from Glady Ganiel, the 2022 winner from North Belfast, who finished fourth.

The ideal running conditions set the stage for outstanding performances, with over 5,000 runners participating in the full marathon and an additional 12,000 taking part in the relay event. 

Jepkemei and Woldemeskel dominated the women's race from the outset, with Jepkemei surging ahead after the 22 kilometers mark to secure her lead.

In the men's race, Kiplimo, Ayalew, and Kenyans Matthew Kemboi and Moses Kimulwo formed a leading quartet until the halfway mark. 

Ayalew and Kimulwo then broke away, with Ayalew appearing poised for victory until Kiplimo unleashed a remarkable burst of speed in the final mile to claim the title.

Local athletes also made their mark on the event, with Annadale Striders' Eskander Turki finishing as the top Northern Ireland-based athlete in ninth place, clocking an impressive time of 2:22:22 in his marathon debut. 

Additionally, 64-year-old Tommy Hughes delivered a standout performance finishing 25th overall with a time of 2:36:37. 

Hughes who represented Ireland at the 1992 Olympics has set numerous world age-group records in recent years.

(05/06/2024) Views: 137 ⚡AMP
by Festus Chuma
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Belfast City Marathon

Belfast City Marathon

The event has grown with the inclusion of new sponsors which now include Deep River Rock, Belfast City Council, U105, ASICS, Daily Mirror, Translink, Athletics Northern Ireland, Linwoods, Belfast Live, Centra, White's Oats, Podium 4 Sport, U105 and Tayto. The route will remain the same - starting at the City Hall and finishing at Ormeau Park. The race starts at...

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Defending champions return to defend Belfast Marathon crowns

A RECORD 5,500 runners are expected to take to the streets of Belfast on Sunday, May 5 for the sold-out Moy Park Belfast City Marathon, making it the biggest to date.

The 2023 winners, Morocco’s Mohamed Oumaarir and Kenyan Shewaye Wolde Woldemeskel, will be there to defend their respective male and female titles.

Oumaarir, who ran a time of 2:22:54 for the overall victory 12 months ago, will lead a strong contingent of international and local athletes. These include former Great Britain and Wales steeplechase representative Adam Bowden, who finished runner-up in last year’s event.

There are three interesting entries of east African origin. Former Ethiopian and now Bahrain national Aweke Ayalew finished 11th in the 2018 World Half Marathon Championships, recording a world-class time of 61 minutes and 19 seconds. More lately he clocked 2:07:12 in the 2019 Frankfurt Marathon, making him the fastest man in the field.

The Kenyan duo of Mathew Kemboi and Moses Kilmulwo also boast impressive credentials. Kemboi finished fourth in last November’s Istanbul Marathon in a time of 2:13:48, while Tuyange was 15th at the Barcelona Marathon last month in a time of 2:12:43.

Also taking to the field, will be GB’s Michael Young, who recently ran a time of 2:24:33 in December at the Valencia Marathon; William Strangeway, who finished third in the Murcia Costa Calida Marathon last year, recording a time of 2:20:32; and Welshman, Dan Nash, who won the Great Welsh Marathon on St Patrick’s Day in a time of 2:27.19.

Favorite for the first local prize is Annadale Strider Eskander Turki, who won the 2023 Moy Park Belfast City Half Marathon in a time of 1:09:10.

Dark horse here is the comeback kid Ed McGinley, who returned to the sport after an absence of nine years to win the Larne 10 Miles just over a week ago.

Conor Gallagher of St Malachy’s should not be ignored either given he was runner-up in the 2022 Belfast Marathon.

Turning to the women’s race, it will be Woldemeskel’s third time competing in Belfast, while Morocco’s Hanane Qallouj is no stranger to the Emerald Isle either, finishing sixth at the Dublin Marathon last October in a time of 2:37:20.

Others to watch out for are Qallouj’s compatriot Laila Aziza Selsouli, who finished eighth in the Marrakesh Half Marathon, and Kenya’s Beatrice Jepkemei, who recently ran 2:30:41 in the Linz Marathon.

North Belfast Harrier Gladys Ganiel heads the home challenge.

This year’s Moy Park Belfast City Marathon runners will be joined by 12,500 relay runners and another 1,200 participants in the 8-Mile Walk, all adding up to making it the biggest mass sport participation event in the north.

(04/25/2024) Views: 156 ⚡AMP
by Malcolm McCausland
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Belfast City Marathon

Belfast City Marathon

The event has grown with the inclusion of new sponsors which now include Deep River Rock, Belfast City Council, U105, ASICS, Daily Mirror, Translink, Athletics Northern Ireland, Linwoods, Belfast Live, Centra, White's Oats, Podium 4 Sport, U105 and Tayto. The route will remain the same - starting at the City Hall and finishing at Ormeau Park. The race starts at...

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The Belfast Marathon will be limited to 4,800 runners this year and just 200 Athletics Ireland runners will be allowed to run

A select number of Irish runners will get to compete at a 2021 National Marathon Championships in October, only it will mean travelling to the North as the event will be staged as part of Belfast City Marathon already set for Sunday, October 3rd.

Athletics Ireland announced on Thursday that only 100 male and 100 female entries would be made available, and interest in being sought “from athletes who have acquired suitable times over the last three years”. The closing date is Thursday week, August 19th.

Unlike the 2021 Dublin Marathon, cancelled for the second year running due to Covid-19, organizers of the Belfast event have got the go ahead. The total entry number is capped at 4,800.

Runners can also be included in the Irish National Marathon if they secure a regular race entry, which will cost them £63. Closing date for that is Friday, August 27th.

Last year’s cancellation of the Dublin Marathon meant there was no National Marathon for 2020, the event being staged as part of the Dublin Marathon for the last number of years.

Other National Road events did proceed this year, Tuam Athletic club organizing the National 20km walk championships in June, one week after the numbers were allowed post Covid restrictions, and 150 senior and junior athletes competing, including Tokyo bound Olympians Brendan Boyce and David Kenny.

The Belfast Marathon route takes in the four areas of Belfast; North, South, East and West, starting at Stormont Estate at 9am and finishing in Ormeau Park.

Given the date, reigning Irish men’s marathon champion Stephen Scullion from 2019 won’t be running as he is set to run the Boston Marathon, postponed from its normal date in April to October 11th. Reigning women’s champion Aoife Cooke from Cork may be in a position to defend her title, however.

In early July, for the second year running, organizers of the Dublin Marathon were forced to cancel the event outright given the still “many unknowns” around outdoor mass participation events for the rest of the year.

While always unlikely to be the full 25,000 sell-out entry of runners originally signed up in advance of the 2020 edition, postponed in May of last year due to Covid-19, there had been some hope and expectation a more limited entry will get the go ahead.

(08/13/2021) Views: 1,091 ⚡AMP
by Ian O'Riordan
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Belfast City Marathon

Belfast City Marathon

The event has grown with the inclusion of new sponsors which now include Deep River Rock, Belfast City Council, U105, ASICS, Daily Mirror, Translink, Athletics Northern Ireland, Linwoods, Belfast Live, Centra, White's Oats, Podium 4 Sport, U105 and Tayto. The route will remain the same - starting at the City Hall and finishing at Ormeau Park. The race starts at...

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2021 Belfast City Marathon event will take place on September with virtual half marathon on regular May date

Belfast Marathon organizers hope this year's event on Sunday September 19, will have a mass field while a virtual half marathon will take place on the race's regular May Bank Holiday date.

Last year's event was cancelled because of Covid-19 after organizers had initially moved it back to September.

Like many city marathons including London, the Belfast organizers are now plumping for an autumn date.

They will hope the rollout of the Covid vaccine can make the event happen.

"Moving the Half Marathon virtually will enable everyone to get involved safely," said Belfast City Marathon chairman John Allen.

"It is important at this time that we try to keep some type of routine and we believe that this temporary change of order will help motivate people physically and mentally.

"The 39th Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon will now take place on Sunday September 19, and we are encouraging all to support our event as we work together to bring back some 'normality' safely.

"The 2021 race will return to a Stormont start and finish in Ormeau Park with a few revisions, including a new team relay changeover point on Montgomery Road."

The virtual Belfast Half Marathon will take place from 1-3 May with all runners completing their 13.1 miles close to their home, following government guidelines for exercise and social distancing.

Entrants must complete the distance in one session and upload their results before midnight on Monday May 3.

(01/28/2021) Views: 1,064 ⚡AMP
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Belfast City Marathon

Belfast City Marathon

The event has grown with the inclusion of new sponsors which now include Deep River Rock, Belfast City Council, U105, ASICS, Daily Mirror, Translink, Athletics Northern Ireland, Linwoods, Belfast Live, Centra, White's Oats, Podium 4 Sport, U105 and Tayto. The route will remain the same - starting at the City Hall and finishing at Ormeau Park. The race starts at...

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The 2020 Belfast marathon has been cancelled for the first time in the event's 38-year history

The 2020 Belfast marathon, which had been rescheduled for September, has been cancelled for the first time in the event's 38-year history.

The event, which began in 1981, was postponed from its regular May slot due to the sporting lockdown following the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Due to the unprecedented situation with the global pandemic of Covid-19, our fundamental priority must be your health and that of others; therefore at this time we do not believe we can stage our event safely or to the standard which you frequently rely on," read a statement on the official website.

"As organizers, we understand that this news will come as a disappointment for many, even though some of you may have been expecting it.  Consequently, this has been a very difficult decision to make.

In a bid to sustain our cherished Belfast City Marathon, organisers are deferring all entries to the 2021 event, scheduled for Sunday May, 2).

"Belfast City Marathon Ltd are also happy to consider deferral of entries to the 2022 and 2023 marathons. Please contact the Event Manager directly about this," concluded the statement."

(06/04/2020) Views: 1,290 ⚡AMP
by Michael McMullan
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Belfast City Marathon

Belfast City Marathon

The event has grown with the inclusion of new sponsors which now include Deep River Rock, Belfast City Council, U105, ASICS, Daily Mirror, Translink, Athletics Northern Ireland, Linwoods, Belfast Live, Centra, White's Oats, Podium 4 Sport, U105 and Tayto. The route will remain the same - starting at the City Hall and finishing at Ormeau Park. The race starts at...

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Will the 2020 Belfast Marathon take place as schedule September 20? It doesn’t look good

There now appears to be a major question mark over the 39th Belfast Marathon taking place on the revised date of Sunday, September 20.

Belfast Marathon organizers discussed the matter yesterday against a background of Tuesday's announcement that the Dublin Marathon set for Sunday, October 25 would not now take place until 2021.

The matter is further complicated by a statement yesterday from the organizers of the London Marathon which is rescheduled for Sunday, October 4.

Event Director Hugh Brasher said: "We can't be certain if the event can go ahead or, if it can, in what form it will take place. We cannot offer certainty."

Brasher indicated there would be another update on June 21.

It is understood that yesterday's meeting on the Belfast event discussed both the Dublin and London situations. It was agreed that while the position here would be closely monitored, it was necessary for a decision to be taken fairly shortly .

This is because the complexities of arranging such an event require a long lead-in time.

The organization of the race itself could be possible in September with appropriate social distancing arrangements in place.

However there are many other key players involved such as volunteers, marshals, sponsors, suppliers, the PSNI, health and safety personnel plus the necessary infrastructure, all of which require substantial planning.

Last year's Belfast Marathon had a record 4,000 entries and a grand total of 18,000 participants including the Marathon Relay. This makes it easily the biggest mass participation sports event in the province.

With the cancellation of other marathons scheduled for this autumn it now appears more than likely that Belfast will become yet another casualty with a likely rescheduling to the normal May date next year.

(05/21/2020) Views: 1,402 ⚡AMP
by Brian Hill
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Belfast City Marathon

Belfast City Marathon

The event has grown with the inclusion of new sponsors which now include Deep River Rock, Belfast City Council, U105, ASICS, Daily Mirror, Translink, Athletics Northern Ireland, Linwoods, Belfast Live, Centra, White's Oats, Podium 4 Sport, U105 and Tayto. The route will remain the same - starting at the City Hall and finishing at Ormeau Park. The race starts at...

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Belfast Marathon organizers apologize after course is 460 meters too long which is better than too short making it a non race

Belfast City Marathon organisers have apologised after admitting that Sunday's course was 0.3 miles longer than it should have been.

Belfast Marathon chairman David Seaton blamed "human error", saying the lead car diverted from the route.  "Approximately 460 additional meters were added to the officially measured course of 26.2 miles," he said.

"This was due to human error, with the lead car diverting from the official route."  Earlier, John Glover, the event's course measurer, said runners had twice been "taken off the measured route".

"The route run was 469 metres in excess of the route measured and approved by the Association of International Marathons," said Mr Glover.

In a statement, Mr Seaton said "protocols will be put in place to ensure this never happens again."  He added that race organisers were in the "process of adjusting runners' times to reflect the correct distance".

Following Sunday's race, a number of questions were raised on social media about the new course's length.

Kenyans Joel Kositany and Caroline Jepchirchir took victory in the first Sunday running of the event.  Kositany secured his fourth Belfast men's triumph as he crossed the line in two hours 18 minutes 40 seconds.

Jepchirchir repeated her 2018 win as she set the fastest ever women's time in Belfast, clocking 2:36:38.

This 38th staging of the event took place on a new course.  Event chairman Seaton said that the mistake will upset a number of competitors.  "I can understand if you have been aiming for a sub three-hour marathon time and because of the mistake you have ended up being just outside three hours on the clock, that you are going to be annoyed,” he said.  

"It's a hiccup that we obviously could have done without. But I don't think it should overshadow what was a very successful day with the numbers up significantly because of the new Sunday date.

"People have been coming up to us congratulating us on the day and saying it was a great event with the spectator number also well up on previous years."

(05/12/2019) Views: 1,909 ⚡AMP
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Belfast City Marathon

Belfast City Marathon

The event has grown with the inclusion of new sponsors which now include Deep River Rock, Belfast City Council, U105, ASICS, Daily Mirror, Translink, Athletics Northern Ireland, Linwoods, Belfast Live, Centra, White's Oats, Podium 4 Sport, U105 and Tayto. The route will remain the same - starting at the City Hall and finishing at Ormeau Park. The race starts at...

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Belfast Marathon more than doubled the number of participants on their new flatter and faster course

Kenyans Caroline Jepchirchir and Joel Kositany took the victories in the first Sunday running of the Belfast City Marathon.

Jepchirchir set the fastest ever women's time in Belfast, with a 2:36.38 clocking, as she repeated her 2018 win.

Kositany secured his fourth Belfast men's triumph as he crossed the line in two hours 18 minutes and 40 seconds.

This year's event was staged on a new course which organisers hoped would ensure faster times.

Jepchirchir's time was 12 seconds inside the previous Belfast course record set by Ukraine's Nataliya Lehonkova in 2013.

However, Kositany's winning time was almost five minutes slower than Negewo Ararisa's 2012 Belfast course record.

Kositany, who previously won the Belfast event in 2013, 2015 and 2016, finished eight seconds ahead over compatriot and last year's winner Eric Koech with 2017 victor Bernard Rotich completing an all-Kenyan men's podium three further seconds back.

The race has been held on a Sunday for the first time in its 38-year history.

It began at 09:00 BST at Stormont Estate in east Belfast, and ended in Ormeau Park in south Belfast. 

Belfast City Council agreed on changes to the route in June. Areas not previously covered included the Lisburn Road, Andersonstown and the Waterworks.

The new flatter route had led to a 60% increase in entries, organisers said with over 18,000 participants.

 

(05/05/2019) Views: 1,762 ⚡AMP
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Belfast City Marathon

Belfast City Marathon

The event has grown with the inclusion of new sponsors which now include Deep River Rock, Belfast City Council, U105, ASICS, Daily Mirror, Translink, Athletics Northern Ireland, Linwoods, Belfast Live, Centra, White's Oats, Podium 4 Sport, U105 and Tayto. The route will remain the same - starting at the City Hall and finishing at Ormeau Park. The race starts at...

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Current champion Eric Koech returns to defend his title at Belfast City Marathon this weekend

This Sunday's 38th Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon has broken all entry records and is fast approaching some 5,000 applications.

This is a clear result of both the historic switch to a Sunday event plus the attraction of an entirely new faster course which eliminates the old tortuous lengthy climb on the Antrim Road.

Current champion Eric Koech returns to defend his title from a year ago when he enjoyed a two minutes victory margin over fellow Kenyan Dan Tanui in a time of 2 hrs 18 mins 19 secs.

This win made up for the 37 year old's runner up spot in 2016 when he lost out to Joel Kositany.  Eric has not raced since his victory in Belfast as he is determined to repeat last year's result. 

However, this is far from a foregone conclusion such is the caliber of the opposition which is probably the best ever.  It includes three times previous winner Kositany who took the titles with some ease in 2013, 2015 and 2016.   However, Joel has bitter memories of last year when he was joint leader with Koech and looking comfortable with less than 3 miles to go.

He then suffered the athlete's ultimate nightmare of a pulled hamstring after which he painfully struggled to the finish for 3rd over 5 minutes behind the winner.

This experience has made him more determined to achieve a record 4 victories and finally surpass the 3 wins of John Mutai over ten years ago.

The 31 year old certainly has the pedigree to do this given the fact that he has the fastest marathon best in the field of under 2 hrs 10 mins.

Koech and Kositany will however have to keep a wary eye on yet another Kenyan Bernard Rotich.  He is also a former winner from 2017 when he secured victory in 2 hrs 16 mins which is the 3rd fastest time on the old course.

Thirty-two-year-old Rotich who was also second in 2013 is possibly the biggest danger of all next Sunday as he has the best recent form.  He followed up his Dublin Marathon victory of 2017 with a very useful time in the same race last October of 2.14.18.

Gideon Kimosop is also a Kenyan from the Rift Valley who has easily the most experience of racing in the Province.  He is a treble winner of the Deep RiverRock Belfast City Half Marathon and was 2nd over the full marathon distance in 2015.

(05/03/2019) Views: 1,976 ⚡AMP
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Belfast City Marathon

Belfast City Marathon

The event has grown with the inclusion of new sponsors which now include Deep River Rock, Belfast City Council, U105, ASICS, Daily Mirror, Translink, Athletics Northern Ireland, Linwoods, Belfast Live, Centra, White's Oats, Podium 4 Sport, U105 and Tayto. The route will remain the same - starting at the City Hall and finishing at Ormeau Park. The race starts at...

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New Belfast City Marathon route in 2019 will touch every part of the city

Next year will see a new look Belfast City Marathon after councillors agreed to changes to the iconic race’s route and usual race day at City Hall on Wednesday. The council’s City Growth and Regeneration Committee approved the plans with broad, cross-party support for the new look event, which for decades has seen thousands descend upon Northern Ireland’s capital city each May. Typically costing around £600k annually, the Belfast City Marathon normally takes place on a Bank Holiday Monday, however next year the starter’s pistol will go off on a Sunday morning. Chair of the City Growth committee, SDLP representative Donal Lyons, said the marathon is a great family day out and the 2019 routes should benefit local traders. "The change of day will go down well, because it will allow Sunday marathon runners the day to recovery on Monday and hopefully give Belfast a potential boost for the our tourism trade," he added. Sinn Fein's new council group leader Ciaran Beattie spoke following the meeting and said his party hope "route number one" of the two proposed routes will now go through a successful public consultation with few, if any, speed bumps. "We're really happy, this will be the most balanced marathon yet in terms of geography and it will touch every part of our city," he said. (06/30/2018) Views: 1,691 ⚡AMP
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