Belfast Marathon: Kenyan aiming for record fourth victory
Almost 17,000 participants are expected to set off from Belfast City Hall this morning in a bid to complete the 37th Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon.
The event has seen a surge in the number of marathon entries this year with around 3,000 expected to take on 26.2 miles of Belfast.
This year has also seen an increase of Team Relay participants, with around 2,200 five-person relay teams taking part.
Numbers are further boosted by those taking part in the wheelchair race, eight-mile walk and fun run.
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Returning to compete on May Day is Kenya’s treble Belfast City Marathon winner Joel Kipsang, who will be aiming for an unprecedented fourth victory.
The 30-year-old is from the famous Rift Valley area of Africa which has historically produced many world-class distance runners.
He came to the fore in Belfast back in 2013 when he took his first victory from fellow Kenyan James Rotich in a time of two hrs 19 minutes 28 secs.
Kipsang then followed this up with a second win in 2015 in a similar time and then achieved his treble the following year with a win over Eric Koech in a fast 2.17.39.
Joel, who considers Belfast his favourite event, has used his local knowledge to advantage on two occasions by making key breaks for the lead in Corporation Street with only three miles remaining.
The women’s race will see the return of Radka Churanova of the Czech Republic. The 40-year-old also considers Belfast a favourite venue with third place in 2016 and fourth one year ago behind local winner Laura Graham.
The Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon is sponsored by Athletics Northern Ireland, Daily Mirror, Belfast City Council, Translink, Daily Mirror, ASICS, Intersport, Centra, Belfast Live and U105.
Sampling partners are Musgrave Retailers, Deep RiverRock, Linwoods, Tayto and White Oats.
Mencap Northern Ireland is the official charity partner.