03/05/2002

Belfast City Marathon preparations in full swing

Final preparations are under way for the start of the Belfast City Marathon, which is shaping up to be the most competitive in recent years.

A record number of almost 9,000 people are expected to take part in Belfast’s 21st Marathon on Monday, May 6.

Some 1,225 runners - 930 men and 295 women - have entered the main Marathon, with a record-breaking 1,200 teams, representing a total of 6,000 runners, also signed up for the Marathon Relay.

In 2001, 981 runners started the full 26-mile course, while 933 teams participated in the Relay.

A further 848 competitors will be taking part in the Marathon Walk – an increase of almost 50% over last year’s entry of 578 walkers.

More than 850 people also will be taking part in the associated Fun Run, organized by ChildLine Northern Ireland.

Kenyan Wilson Cheriuyot, winner of the 2000 Belfast Millennium Marathon and runner-up in last year’s event, is seeking to become the fifth man to win the Belfast City Marathon for a second time. However, he will face stiff competition from fellow Kenyan Hilary Lelei, who has his eyes firmly set on the course record of two hours 15 minutes and 51 seconds, set by Belfast’s own Marty Deane back in 1985.

Head of the local list are Northern Ireland’s top long distance runners, Alan McCullough, who will be looking to improve on last year’s fourth place finish, and David Brady, who followed his fellow North Belfast Harrier home in fifth place in 2001.

Top of the women’s entry list is Mary Jennings, winner in 2000 and runner-up to Lancashire’s Debra Curley 12 months ago.

The veteran Dubliner is seeking to become only the third woman to win the Belfast City Marathon more than once.

(AMcE)

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