Paul Pollock returns to one of his favourite courses on Saturday to defend his title in the Bangor Classic 10K Road Race.
The event, sponsored by North Down Borough Council and Northern Leisure Trust, has attracted over almost 1,000 entries.
World championship representative Pollock had a runaway success last year and also came first in 2008, 2009 and 2010, he has his eyes firmly set on next year’s Commonwealth and European Games.
The 27-year-old was the second European to finish in the Moscow World Marathon coming 21st in 12:16:42 just 12 seconds outside his best set in Dublin.
He has had victories at Lisburn, Ards and the Seeley Cup and is the reigning Northern Ireland 5,000 metres champion. He should win comfortable and may dip under the thirty minutes barrier.
Keith Shiels, the man in form, should provide the closest opposition. The Foyle Valley athlete won at the Waterside and Dungannon to follow up his Dessie’s Run and Ballymena successes.
Eddie McGinley, second to Stephen Scullion at the Belfast Half Marathon, is an unlikely starter but Brendan Teer third in that race may be in the line up. He won at both Dundrum and Duncrue.
Paul Rowan, former Waterside and Omagh winner, makes a rare appearance and can take a high placing along with Francis Marsh and Stephen Wylie from the promoting North Down club, Ben Morrow and Richard Coey.
North Down Mayor Andrew Muir, a regular competitor, will be in action as will former Rugby International Jan Cunningham.
Julie Turley makes a welcome reappearance after an injury blighted 18 months. She took the Titanic title in 2012 and just lost out to Olympian Pauline Curley twelve months later.
If fully fit Julie should win from half marathon queen Julie Balmer winner at Newry, Ards and Groomsport. She was a good runner up to Aileen Reed in the Belfast race on Sunday.
Julie Balmer should be joined on the North Down side by Jessica Craig second at Bangor last time and Rachel Gibson. Geraldine Branagh, Denise Logue and top F50 Gillian Douglas will also go well along with Amanda Perry and Jodie Smith.
The race starts at Castle Park then goes into the town, along the front to Ballyholme and Groomsport, before returning to the finish in Ward Park. There is a large prize list in all categories including £400 for the first man and lady.
Entries will be taken on Saturday at the new venue of Marquis Hall in Abbey street with the action starting at 11am.
Meanwhile, Gladys Ganiel-O’Neill competes in Sunday’s Berlin Marathon hoping to run the Commonwealth standard of two hours forty. The 36-year-old has recently set personal bests for both 10K and half marathon and certainly has the potential to get the time.
Elsewhere, Titanic Ultra winners Nicki McPeake and Helena Dornan will be fancied for the 65K Causeway Coast Series on Saturday. Justin Maxwell and Petra Tolova will challenge.
Chris Denton and Patricia McKibben should go strongly in the marathon with Dermot Mathers and Dungannon winner Karen Alexander favourites for the half marathon in a busy afternoon.