Kenyans likely to dominate SSE Airtricity Walled City Marathon event

Freddy Sittuk has won the Walled City Marathon for the past two years
Freddy Sittuk has won the Walled City Marathon for the past two years

Kenyan athletes look set to dominate the fourth running of the SSE Airtricity Walled City Marathon in Londonderry on Sunday.

The event – also supported by Derry and Strabane Council and local businesses – has attracted over 1,500 entries.

Freddy Sittuk, Dan Tanui and Eric Koech all have claims to victory in what will be a thrilling contest with records distinctly possible.

Sittuk, just back from Kenya, has won the race for the past two years and set the record of 2:22:34 last time.

He is a former winner of the Belfast Marathon and came first in the Belfast Half Marathon.

Project Africa runner Dan Tanui has been in record smashing form winning the Strabane-Lifford and Buncrana Half Marathons, the Ballyclare 10K and Buncrana 5K in a blistering 13:57.

Team-mate Eric Koech was runner up in each of those events but showed marathon form with a second in Belfast in May. He could have been waiting for this race.

Chris McGuinness, runner up in the Larne Half Marathon, will head the home squad. He came fourth two years ago. James Crampsey never out of the top seven and Mark Mullan can also feature.

2008 Olympian Pauline Curley from Tullamore returns to defend her title having set the record of 2:47:29 twelve months ago. The double Waterside winner makes a habit of winning in Ulster with victories in Bangor, Omagh, Larne, Lisburn and the Titanic in her list.

Anne Curley from Donore – the 2014 winner – and Ards winner Hannah Oldroid from Saltires look to be the closest challengers with Claire McGuigan, third in 2014, Sandra McKeever the winner at Inishowen and possibly Martina McMullen 2nd in 2013 as top locals.

The event covers all parts of the historic city ancient and modern including walls and peace bridge before finishing in Guildhall Square.

The race starts at 8.30am and there is also a Kids Mile Mini Marathon from 9.45am.

Meanwhile, the cream of young athletics talent will be heading to the centre of Ireland on Saturday for the GloHealth All Ireland Schools Championships at Tullamore.

In the Senior Boys there can be medals for Craig Newell Larne Grammar in the sprints, record breaker Christopher O’Donnell in the 400, double champion Roland Surlis St Pats Cavan at 800 along with Jack Agnew BRA in wheelchair sprints.

In the field there should be wins for U20 record holder Andrew Barkley of Belfast High in discus. Jack Magee Ballyclare High at javelin and Stephen McCorry BRA at hammer.

In the Intermediates sprinter Aaron Sexton of Bangor Grammar and Brendan O’Donnell St Eunan’s at hammer look good. Methody can challenge for overall team.

Megan Marrs of Stratherne will take the 100 hurdles in the Senior Girls with medals chances for Amy Hamill Oriel at 800. Caitlin Maguire Dominican in sprints, Toni Moore Sacred Heart Omagh in steeplechase and Lydia Mills Ballyclare High at long and triple jumps.

In the Intermediates record breakers Janine Doyle St Columbus in sprints and Ellie McCartney BRA at pole vault can take medals. Stratherne, Methody and Ballyclare High will challenge for overall team medals.