2017 Champion Laura Graham returns on May Day to defend her title
05 May 2018
Kilkeel's Laura Graham and Joel Kipsang Kositany are favourites for Monday's 37th Deep RiverRock Belfast Marathon which features some 17,000 participants.
There is a huge increase in entries with some 3,000 expected in the main marathon and 2,200 five person relay teams. There is also an 8 Mile Walk plus a Fun Run.
32 year old Laura will be making her 3rd appearance in the event following a runner up spot in 2016 and victory last year by almost 5 minutes in a personal best time of 2 hrs 41 mins 46 secs.
Graham is currently the fastest Irish marathon runner following her superb 14th place in last Autumn's Berlin Marathon where she ran a huge personal best time of 2.37.05. She then followed this just over a month later with a successful defence of her Dublin Marathon title.
Laura's opposition could include 2016 Belfast winner Berhan Gebremichael should she receive her travel visa in time. Berhan defeated Laura by some 30 secs in that race but has competed infrequently since.
Also racing is Radka Churanova of the Czech Republic who was 4th in Belfast last year and 3 rd in 2016. Kenya's Caroline Jepchirchir ( PB of 2 hrs 49 mins ) and Ukraine's Christina Bogomiagkova ( 2 hrs 48 mins ) are also entered.
A winner in the Men's event is much less clear cut though 30 year old Kenyan Joel Kipsang can certainly claim substantial local knowledge with 3 previous wins and a runner up spot to his credit. His current form is however unclear as his last notable race was his Belfast victory two years ago in a time of 2 hrs 17 mins 39 secs.
2nd finisher in that race was Eric Koech who is also scheduled to race on Monday.
Another threat could be yet another Kenyan Dan Tanui who will be desperate to add a victory in Belfast to his two previous rostrum places.Dan who was 2nd a year ago is a member of the Ciaran Collins Project Africa scheme .He is has previously raced extensively in the Province.
Other names which should be well to the fore include Ethiopia's Tsegaye Alemu who has a 2 hrs 13 mins marathon PB plus the Moroccan pair Mostafa Channi and Abdelhadi El Mouaziz who have finished in the top five in Belfast.
For further details and updates on the biggest participation sporting event in Northern Ireland please visit www.belfastcitymarathon.com or follow the Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon is sponsored by Athletics Northern Ireland, Daily Mirror, Belfast City Council, Translink, Daily Mirror, ASICS, Intersport, Centra, Belfast Live and U105. Sampling partners are Musgrave Retailers, Deep RiverRock, Linwoods, Tayto and White Oats.
Mencap Northern Ireland is the official charity partner of the 2018 Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon and they urge you to #MoveIt4Mencap. 41,700 people in Northern Ireland are living with a learning disability. Mencap are the voice for people with learning disabilities, by challenging yourself in this year’s Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon you will help Mencap support even more people with a learning disability through their education, employment and family life programmes. The money you raise will help Mencap provide its live changing services to local people all across Northern Ireland. To find out more information about Mencap services in Northern Ireland; and about the people with whom we work please visit www.mencap.org.uk/ni