Kipsang goes for the Hat Trick in Belfast Marathon
29 year old Kipsang from the famous Rift Valley area in Kenya had a point to prove in last year's Marathon following an impressive victory back in 2013.This was however followed by an emphatic defeat to Freddy Sittuk a year later which Joel put down to exhaustion as a result of 4 marathons in the previous 8 months.
He made no such mistake 12 months ago when he broke away with two miles to go from rival Gideon Kimosop who has recently been prominent in local races with wins in the Larne and Omagh Half Marathons. Joel enjoyed a one minute victory margin and immediately declared he was going for a 3rd victory this year. He certainly starts as favourite again particularly following his classy 4th place finish in a marathon in Germany last autumn in 2 hrs 13 mins 15 secs.
While Kimosop has unfortunately been side lined by injury Kipsang will need to keep a wary eye on highly talented youngster Zeleke Bekele of Ethiopia. The 19 year old just lost out by one second in his marathon debut in China in a useful time of 2.15.23.
Also making a welcome return to Belfast are Tamas Nagy of Hungary who was 3rd last year plus Morroco's Musafa Channi who was 5th behind local star Eddie McGinley.
The Marathon's international flavour is also reflected in the Women's race which includes last year's 3rd place finisher Katalin Garami of Hungary plus team mate Helen Csonge. Belgrave's Sophie Carter who ran a PB of 2.48.29 in London last year is also racing.