Eric Koech edges out Dan Tanui to claim victory at SSE Airtricity Walled City Marathon

Eric Koech was victorious in the Walled City Marathon
Eric Koech was victorious in the Walled City Marathon

Eric Koech and Dan Tanui gave Kenya the top two places in the fourth SSE Airtricity Walled City Marathon in Londonderry, while Pauline Curley defied the very warm conditions to break her own Ladies record.

Freddy Sittuk was supposed to be going for the hat-trick of victories but was still in Nairobi with visa problems.

Tanui has been making a habit of breaking records recently with Koech always on his heels and the pair set off strongly and were soon clear of the field.

They stormed through half distance together in 73:03 just outside record schedule but were five minutes clear of the rest who were headed by Ciaran McGonagle, Chris McGuinness, Niall Farquharson and Benny Mullan.

Defending Ladies champion Pauline Curley was already up among the leading men as she came through two minutes before Hannah Oldroid.

The pace increased in the second half. As they came off the Peace Bridge in the 21st mile the tall Koech looking very aggressive was a couple of strides ahead of Tanui.

They battled all the way as they came round the city with Koech proving the stronger in the finishing straight at Guildhall Square to cross the line just three seconds in front. The second half was almost three minutes faster than the first.

McGonagle from Rosses held on for third ahead of Farquharson, Rob O’Brien and top local McGuinness with Benny Mullan, James Crampsey and Mark Mullan following.

Curley from Tullamore continued in splendid isolation and had only four men ahead of her as encouraged every step of the way by the huge crowd she crossed the line to knock six seconds off her own record.

Hannah Oldroid from Saltaire Striders came second with Claire McGuigan in third.

One very popular happening at the end. As he crossed the line one local athlete dropped to one knee and proposed to his girlfriend who accepted to tremendous applause.