There will be a new course for Sunday’s 8th Newry City Marathon and Half Marathon which are expected to attract huge entries.
The events are sponsored by Newry Credit Union which is now in its 51st year with help from many local businesses. All the races will finish outside the Credit Union in Hill Street.
The organisers hope to have reigning champion Gary O’Hanlon in action where he will face strong challenges from former winner Don Travers and Chris Denton.
O’Hanlon, from Clonliffe, also won the Half Marathon in 2011. He came third in the Omagh event this year before taking the Hilltown 10K. He is a proven winner.
Travers, from Newry and a former champion cyclist, won the Marathon in 2010 and was second for the last two seasons. He has been in good form winning the Dundalk to Newry Half Marathon to add to his Groomsport success.
Denton of Springwell was third in the Newry Marathon in 2012 and also third in the Half Marathon last time. He took silver in the Centenary McArthur Marathon in Dervock two years ago. He will be in the medals shake up along with 2010 runner up Nigel Grier from Dromore.
The Ladies race can see a repeat of the 2013 race when Helena Dornan of Ballycastle had a runaway success.
The Men’s Half Marathon looks to be really competitive with holder Andrew Considine, Stephen Duncan, Eamon White and Desi Foley all highly rated.
Considine from North Belfast backed up his Newry win with 4th at Lisburn and 6th at Ards while Masters champion Duncan of Omagh, the four times Waterside winner, recently took the inaugural Strabane to Lifford Half Marathon.
Eamon White also North Belfast has a great record in this race with two 3rd places and one 4th. He came third in the Masters. Desi Foley comes to Newry after a runaway success at Banbridge.
Greenmount Barrie Atkinson, Nat Glen, Geoff Smyth and Mark Wright will all be in contention for high places.
Last year’s Half Marathon winner Julie Balmer is unfortunately injured but there will be a red hot favourite in Heather Foley.
The triathlon star won the Dundalk to Newry race before adding victories at the Termoneeny and Ballynahinch 10Ks she will be hard to oppose with Diane Watson and Sarah Benton possibly the closest.
The Marathon course consists of two laps between Newry and Warrenpoint with the Half Marathon doing one circuit.
The start times are: Marathon - Credit Union 9am, Half Marathon - Greenbank Industrial Estate 10.30am, 10 miles Walk - Greenbank Industrial Estate 10am and Fun Run - Credit Union 11am.
The second round of the Northern Ireland Ulster Youth Development League is being held on Saturday at the Antrim Forum starting at 10am.
Competition is for boys and girls at U13, U15 and U17 levels plus some senior events.