Stephen Scullion bids for his second success in the seven days when he competes in Sunday’s 32nd Waterside Half Marathon from Gransha Park, Derry.
The event which is promoted by Derry City Council and City of Derry Spartans with help from Autobar, Seagate and O2 is expected to attract more than 1500 competitors on a very fast, flat course.
Scullion smashed the record at the Omagh Half Marathon with a very quick 64:46 and is certainly capable of a sub 66 minute clocking at the Waterside.
The national 10K champion has won the Titanic and Laganside.
The opposition is high class. Tudor Moldovan from Romania came second in the Irish Championships and also followed Declan Reed at Enniskillen while Derry based Kenyan Freddy Sittuk is a possibility. He won at Larne and Longford.
Reed was second in last year’s Waterside behind Stevie Duncan who has been injured. Declan leads a strong City of Derry team which includes Greg Roberts runner up in the Walled City Marathon, Emmet McGinty, Noel Logan third last year and Northern Ireland 10,000 champion James Brown.
Scott Rankin third at both Seeley and Laganside races is in the Foyle Valley team which includes Keith Shiels winner of Dessie’s Run, Pius McIntyre and Chris McGuinness.
Clonliffe will go close in the team if they have a third runner to join Scullion and Moldovan while North Belfast have Andrew Considine, Conor Curran and Gareth Grew. Former national champion Pauraic McKinney will take the M45s.
Julie Balmer, Ann-Marie McGlynn and Kelly Neely spearhead a competitive line up in the Ladies.
Julie is the undisputed queen of half marathon running. The 2011 winner has crossed the line first at Larne, Ards, Dervock and Groomsport and could run below 84 minutes.
Ann-Marie McGlynn the former junior champion has made a big impact. She won over tomorrow’s distance at Omagh and also took the Strabane 10 Miles before winning the Northern Ireland and Ulster 800 metre title on the track.
Kelly Neely the double Commonwealth 800 and 1500 runner improves with each race at the longer distances. She won at Portaferry and Cookstown after placing second at Larne and Ards and can run another best.
Anne Paul a former double winner can lead City of Derry to the team title with support from Marina Campbell and Jackie McGinley.
Other athletes to watch include Martina McMullan, Portglenone winner Geraldine Quigley, Miriam Bridge and former track champion Christine Quinn. Last year’s winner Fiona Stack is unlikely to race.
There is a huge prize fund of £5,000 plus covering all groups. The race includes the 9th and final round of the Pure Running Series with 18 runners having completed all competitions to date.
The half marathon and three person relay with 60 teams entered start at 10.30am, the 10 miles challenge walk opens the programme at 10am while there is also a 1.5 kilometres family fun run within the grounds at 10.45am.
Also on Sunday the Extreme Titanic Series 101K Race starts from Titanic Quarter at 6.30am. The race heads to Donaghadee before returning to the Quarter.
Simon Reeve, Sean Goodman, Barry Thornton and Nick McPeake will all go well while Everest mountaineer Hannah Shields should take the Ladies from Helena Dornan.
The 50K and 25K runners will join in along the coast. Matthew Wilson and Joanne Curran can win the 50K with Chris Collins, Andrea Heaslip and Sarah Steer fancied at 25K.