Olympic marathon star Paul Pollock heads a classy 700 strong line-up for Saturday’s Bangor Aurora Classic 10k road race which is sponsored by Ards and North Down Borough Council and promoted by North Down AC.
Pollock from Annadale is a World, Commonwealth, European and Olympic performer. He blasted through the field in Rio passing more than 60 athletes in the final 15km to finish 32nd in 2:16:24.
Paul came 17th in the European Half Marathon and 14th in the World event at Cardiff. He recovered from injury to compete in the Olympics. He knows the Bangor course well having scored four victories since 2008.
The chief opposition should come from Kenyan ace Freddy Sittuk who is used to head to head battles having narrowly defeated Scott Rankin in both the Waterside and Belfast Half Marathons.
Sittuk is a former winner of Belfast and Derry Marathons and showed plenty of speed when winning the important Frank Duffy 10 in Dublin. Laganside winner Mark McKinstry from North Belfast can take third. David O’Flaherty can challenge along with defending champion Francis Smart, Jamie Budde and Ben Caughers all from the home club.
Lindsey Gordon and Paul Rowan second and fourth last time can feature along with Conor Curran, Dennis Scott, Martin Willcox and top juniors Craig McMeekan and Ethan Dunn.
Laura Graham has been brilliant all year. The Mourne runner added the Belfast Half Marathon crown to her National, Larne, Omagh, Newry and Ards victories and looks to be unstoppable.
Like Sittuk and McKinstry Laura is headed for the Dublin Marathon next month where another national title could be on the cards.
Louise Smith, second in the Belfast race on Sunday, should dispute the rostrum places with the promoting club’s Jodie Smith an impressive winner of the Les Jones 10k and Coleraine champion Cathy McCourt.
Former junior star Katie Moore, Julie Balmer and Catherine Roberts are also in the North Down line-up while Debbie Matchett will also go well.
The wheelchair section should go to young track champion Jack Agnew who came second last year.
The athletes start in Castle Park then move through the town to the front, Ballyholme and the outskirts of Groomsport before returning to finish in Ward Park.
There is a great prize last covering all categories with the action starting at 11 o’clock.