20/03/2003

Marathon organisers expect record turnout

Organisers for the Belfast City Marathon are expecting a bumper turnout for this year's event, after receiving up to 40% more entries than on the same time last year.

With just over six weeks to go until thousands of runners once more take to the streets of Belfast, the largest increase is in the number of male entrants – which has virtually doubled compared with the same period. There also is a 30% increase in the number of teams entered for the Marathon Relay.

Danny O’Connor, Chairman of the Belfast City Marathon Organizing Committee, said: “The Marathon is growing year on year, and a large part of the upsurge in early entries for this year’s event can be attributed to the high level of online entries which we are attracting, particularly from outside Northern Ireland.”

In addition to the home nations, the 22nd Belfast City Marathon already has attracted entries from as far afield as Australia, Bosnia, Brazil, Canada, Nigeria, Spain, Sweden and the US.

This year's Belfast City Marathon will also be undergoing the biggest facelift in its history, with a new starting point and a new starting time.

The 22nd Belfast City Marathon, sponsored by Belfast City Council and the Ulster Pork and Bacon Forum, will start at Belfast City Hall at 9.30am on Monday May 5.

The associated Wheelchair Marathon, Team Relay and Marathon Walk, will start at the same time as the main event. The Fun Run, in aid of the Special Olympics World Games Belfast Host City Programme, will start 30 minutes later, at 10am.

“Bringing the Marathon start into the City Centre is a hugely positive step forward, not only for the Marathon itself, but for the City of Belfast as a whole," said Mr O'Connor.

"The change in time also brings Belfast into line with other major marathons, such as Dublin and London, which traditionally have enjoyed morning starts.”

Details on how to enter can be obtained from the Marathon Office on Belfast 028 9027 0345. Online entry also is available at www. belfastcity.gov.uk/marathon

Entries received after April 4 are subject to a surcharge of £10 or €17, and no entries will be accepted on the day of the event.

(GMcG)

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