IN PICTURES: Belfast Marathon – Can you spot anyone you know?

For the elite global athletes taking part, Monday’s Belfast Marathon was about testing their physical endurance to the limit.

But for many others, it was largely an opportunity to keep the memories of lost loved ones alive by fundraising in their names, with one telling the News Letter that the event made them feel they are “not alone”.

The runners in Belfast city centre

The runners in Belfast city centre

Setting off at 9am, a vast mix of embarked on the 26-mile course around Belfast, with about 3,000 taking part in the main marathon and an estimated 10,000 running it in relay stages, followed by walkers and fun-runners.

(Click here for video of all runnings setting out).

As well as the top tier runners seeking glory on the podium, many others told the News Letter tales of personal strife which had driven them to get involved.

Aisling Creaney, 35 and from Craigavon, was part of a group called Team Oran, named in memory of her six-year-old son who had died of a heart condition on October 7 last year.

The mass of runner along the Holywood Road

The mass of runner along the Holywood Road

Team Oran had consisted of two separate relay squads, plus another group taking part in an eight mile walk, all to raise roughly £3,000 for the Childrens’ Heartbeat Trust.

Mrs Creaney said: “It’s brought all our neighbours and our family and friends together. There’s about 40 of us here today, and it’s to keep Oran’s memory alive...

“Being here in Belfast among everyone, you feel like you are not alone. There’s a lot of people here raising money in memory of their loved one.

“It’s such a community event, and we will be taking part annually for the forseeable future. It keeps Oran’s spirit with us. It keeps him alive. It’s keeping him close by our hearts.”

Aisling Creaney, pictured at the 2015 Belfast Marathon, where she was walking (and two relay teams were running) in memory of her son Oran

Aisling Creaney, pictured at the 2015 Belfast Marathon, where she was walking (and two relay teams were running) in memory of her son Oran

Donal MacManus, a 40-year-old Lisburn pharmacist, was raising cash for Helping Hands, which aids the work of the children’s section of the Royal Victoria Hospital.

One of his colleague’s sons, Ross Maxwell, had died from complications linked to Down’s Syndrome, and had been cared for at the hospital.

“To be honest, I’m very surprised by the day itself - I’ve never been at a marathon before”, he said.

“I got a real buzz from doing it. Obviously the main objective was to raise the money, but I really enjoyed today as well.”

Runners pass the 22 mile mark in Oxford Street

Runners pass the 22 mile mark in Oxford Street

Paul McCarthy, a 43-year-old health service manager from south Belfast, was running a relay stage in memory of Paula Darragh, a 36-year-old friend and mother-of-three who died of cancer last July.

He anticipates that roughly £1,000 will be raised for Marie Curie Cancer Care thanks to the efforts of him and others.

He said: “When you’re running round and want to stop, you think about how she’s not with us any more, and what the family went through, and it drives you on, I can tell you.”

Philip Johnston and David McCleary – both 31, from Lurgan and working in IT – were among those raising cash for Macmillan cancer.

Both had been affected by the disease; Mr McCleary through losing his grandfather Bobby Black, and Mr Johnston through losing his mother Hilary.

“I think because we’ve all been touched by it at some point, with people that we know who’ve had cancer,” said Mr Johnston.

The wheelchair marathon begins

The wheelchair marathon begins

“There’s lots of good people out here running for all sorts of different charities. At the end of the day, whatever, you’re running for, it’s always a good cause.”

Faye Dunwoody, a 24-year-old Newtownards solicitor, was raising money for cancer charity Anthony Nolan in memory of her uncle Mike “Muddy” Watters, who died of leukemia on January 14, 2014.

“It’s a great day, a great atmosphere – and it didn’t rain!” she said.

See Morning View.

TOP 100 RUNNERS:

1 Joel Kositany 2:19:36

2 Gideon Kimosop 2:20:29

3 Tamas Janos Nagy 2:24:19

4 Eddie McGinley 2:24:52

5 Mostafa Channi 2:25:07

6 Andy Wacker 2:26:39

7 Vincent Chepyegon 2:27:22

8 Berhan Gebrehmichael 2:40:57

9 Telmo Silva 2:43:12

10 Ben Morrow 2:44:26

11 Keith Purdy 2:45:44

12 Stephen Wylie 2:47:29

13 Delfim Pimentel 2:48:05

14 Colin James 2:48:39

15 Andrew Greaney 2:49:22

16 Alistair Duffield 2:50:41

17 Brian O’Kelly 2:50:59

18 Khadja El Aaribi 2:51:03

19 Lawrenc O’Hara 2:51:40

20 Phil Wood 2:51:50

21 Michael McMillan 2:52:33

22 Pat Byrne 2:52:49

23 Ronan Dunphy 2:52:57

24 Darren Moore 2:53:05

25 Ged McMillan 2:53:19

26 Gavin Byrne 2:53:33

27 Ruairidh Campbell 2:54:50

28 Steve Darby 2:55:01

29 Katalin Garami 2:55:40

30 Brian Kinsella 2:56:04

31 Ciaran Rea 2:56:05

32 Peter Rogan 2:56:34

33 Alan Johnston 2:56:40

34 Sharon Barlow 2:56:58

35 Michael O’Regan 2:57:01

36 Hannah Oldroyd 2:57:15

37 Teresa Mc Cluskey 2:57:17

38 Selwah Kangogo 2:57:25

39 Paul Thompson 2:57:51

40 David Proctor 2:57:54

41 Des Earls 2:58:07

42 Ryan Landy 2:58:27

43 Mark Willetts 2:58:32

44 Rowan Griffin 2:58:32

45 Keith Griffiths 2:58:51

46 Niall Farquharson 2:59:01

47 James Cox 2:59:11

48 Francis Tumelty 2:59:13

49 Gavin Megaw 2:59:19

50 Simon Reeve 2:59:32

51 Pat Quill 2:59:38

52 Geoff Smyth 2:59:40

53 Ian Duffin 2:59:46

54 Johnatha West 2:59:52

55 Shona Fletcher 2:59:54

56 Francis Mc Daid 3:00:01

57 Thomas Simmons 3:00:38

58 Andrew Guy 3:00:55

59 Aidan O’Neill 3:01:05

60 Gerrie Short 3:01:11

61 Kent Swann 3:01:30

62 Niall Mooney 3:01:49

63 Jamie Reisman 3:02:01

64 Phelim McAllister 3:02:01

65 Sean Pau Hughes 3:02:07

66 Pete Williamson 3:02:13

67 Noel McNally 3:02:29

68 Gabriele Frasconà 3:02:49

69 Gareth Fereday 3:03:34

70 Shona Crombie-Hicks 3:03:37

71 Ruairi Johnston 3:03:37

72 William McMillan 3:03:39

73 Thomas Gaile 3:03:44

74 Barry McCarroll 3:03:47

75 Conor Grimes 3:03:52

76 George Brady 3:05:18

77 Conor Diver 3:05:38

78 Mark Walker 3:05:45

79 Paul Tyrrell 3:06:06

80 Raymond Ryan 3:06:08

81 Ger Copeland 3:06:24

82 David Goodwin 3:06:43

83 Conor Hogarth 3:07:33

84 Peter Swann 3:07:43

85 Mark Kelly 3:08:40

86 Paddy Connolly 3:08:53

87 Mark Smith 3:09:01

88 Alistair Shaw 3:09:04

89 Joseph Rham 3:09:13

90 Victoria Hunter 3:09:19

91 Colin Anderson 3:09:42

92 James McStravóg 3:09:43

93 Roisin Hughes 3:09:47

94 Richard Dickson 3:10:24

95 Ed McGroarty 3:10:32

96 Colin McNally 3:10:32

97 Aidan Grier 3:10:47

98 Enda McGuinness 3:10:51

99 Ciaran McKenna 3:11:00

100 Kieran Mageean 3:11:07