Its all systems go for Sunday’s sixth staging of the SSE Airtricity Walled City Marathon according to Race Director, Noel McMonagle .
Speaking ahead of the event, Race Director said: “We are all set to welcome 1,400 marathon runners and another 200 participants in the associated Mini Marathon for 7 to 17 year olds, and are looking forward to another brilliant day.
“Our volunteer marshalls, feed and water station staff, First Aid and medical personnel are terrific assets and with a huge spectator input always guaranteed, we are confident of yet again showcasing the City and District.”
The Marathon starts at 8.30pm at the Everglades Hotel on the Prehen Road and the ‘Mini-Marathon’ at 9 45am from adjacent to the Gasyard Centre. Both events will share the iconic finish in Guildhall Square, the Mini Marathon runners coming in around 10am and the Marathon finishers from around 10.50am.
Spectators should get out early with the usual hot spots like both ends of the Peace Bridge, Fahan Street, the Diamond and the finish in Guildhall Square all expected to draw big numbers.
And what about the race itself? A trio of Kenyan men look set to contest the podium places, all have won here before and if they go for it, the course record could be threatened.
Dan Tanui won last year, Eric Koech in 2016 and Freddy Stuk took both the 2014 and 2015 honours. Freddy’s 2hrs 22m 34s remains the male course record from 2015 while Eric posted 2hrs 23m 47s in 2016 to pip Tanui by a mere three seconds.
Koech beat Tanui in the recent Belfast Marathon and took last week’s Buncrana 5K in style. Stuk has been relatively quiet but cannot be ruled out. His rivals’ Belfast times were 2hrs 18m 19s and 2hrs 20m 19s so on the arguably more difficult local course, a sub 2hrs 20m may be asking a lot.
Double female winner (2015 & 2016) Pauline Curley of Tullamore Harriers will not now be travelling. The former Irish Olympics Marathon runner is a late withdrawal so the 2014 winner, Anne Curley of Dublin, and Beechmount Harrier Gerrie Short who broke three hours in Belfast should now battle it out for the female honours.
Local women to look out for are Sandra McKeever, Gemma McGinty and Denise Ward of Foyle Valley while the City of Derry Spartans trio of Masters athletes, Mark Mullan, Paul McCafferty and James Crampsie will be among the local men out to impress on home ground.
“Hopefully the weather will be good for both runners and spectators,” added Mr McMonagle, “It looks like temperatures will not be as high as recent days which will benefit the runners and we will have measures in place for adequate hydration throughout the course. Dry and a bit of cloud will help and spectator support is also so important for the runners.
“All the hard training has been done so go out on Sunday, Good Luck and I hope everyone enjoys themselves runners, officials and spectators “