Eric Koech back to defend Belfast Marathon crown

Eric Koech on his way to victory in last year's Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon.
Eric Koech on his way to victory in last year's Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon.
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Defending champion Eric Koech from Kenya leads a star-studded group representing Africa and Europe who will be competing in the 38th Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon on Sunday.

Koech, who is 37, has a best of 2:16:33 for the distance but hasn’t completed a marathon since winning last time from compatriot Dan Tanui.

Two former champions, both from Kenya, are in the line-up. Joel Kositany - a back-to-back winner over 2015 and 2016 - and Bernard Rotich, who came first in 2017 at both Belfast and Dublin.

Gideon Kimosop has won the Belfast Half Marathon on three occasions, plus was runner-up over the full distance in 2015.

Mostafa Chanel from Morocco was twice fifth in Belfast, while team-mate Abdel El Mouaziz matched that in 2017. Add Ignas Brasevicius of Lithuania and another Kenyan, Italy-based Gideon Kurgat, towards a fascinating roster.

With the new faster, flatter course starting at Stormont, the fastest time of 2:13:41 set by Urga Negewo in 2012 will be under threat.