Walled City Marathon runner-up Chris McGuinness smashes personal best

Almost 1,000 runners get ready for the 2019 Walled City Marathon
Almost 1,000 runners get ready for the 2019 Walled City Marathon
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WALLED CITY Marathon runner-up, Chris McGuinness smashed his personal best record as he became first local across the tape at the Guildhall Square on Sunday.

It was the Foyle Valley athlete's best ever performance at his hometown course as he finished less than six minutes behind the runaway winner, Kenyan Eric Koech.

McGuinness finished in an impressive time of 2:40:20 despite the windy conditions as almost 1,000 runners took part in the seventh staging of the popular event.

He was well positioned in fourth spot at the halfway stage after a steady 1:21:11 run but he swiftly kicked into gear and closed down the leading pack on his way to a second place finish.

"I felt really good and comfortable at the halfway stage," he said. "I was fourth at that stage. Myself and Mark Mullan were third and fourth and I just decided about 14 or 15 mile in I would pick it up a wee bit and see how I felt.

"I knew I had the wind with me coming up the Limavady Road so the plan was to catch the guys in front going up Limavady Road.

"Coming down through Waterfoot Park I said to myself by the time I get to the Peace Bridge I want to have passed the guy in front of me (Shane O'Donnell), so once I knew I passed him at the 20 mile mark it was just about keeping my head from there on in.

"So I'm delighted. I took a couple of minutes off my PB as well. I know if it had of been better conditions and a different course I would've been around the 2:35 mark so I knew I should've been able to run 2:40 no problem. So I'm happy with that.

"I knew I had a good chance of being first local. It was really windy at times so it's good to get it done and out of the way."

Shane O'Donnell of Rossess AC finished closely behind in 2:42:54 while Gary Hegarty (unattached) came fourth in 2:45:46 and City of Derry Spartans' Mark Mullan followed in fifth (2:49:04).

Shantallow man, Mullan was first local man home in the 2018 race, narrowly missing out on a podium finish in a time of 2:49:11.

And while he shaved seven seconds off that 2018 clocking this time around, it was only good enough for fifth place.

For the experienced City of Derry Spartan it was a tough day at the office and he said he felt he was 'going backwards' as he struggled to battle with the blustery conditions.

"It was nearly the exact same time as last year," said Mullan. "It was a hard day. "Anytime you were running into a head wind it was like you were going backwards.

"I ran probably the first 15 or so mile with Chris (McGuinness) so we were able to work together a bit.

"When he lifted it I just had to dig in and it was a hard day."

Mullan was sitting comfortably in third place behind Koech and O'Donnell at the midway point in 1:21:10. However, from there he began to drift off the leading pack.

"I remember about mile 16 and I was looking at Chris and I thought it was way too fast for me so I had to dig in and Chris, off he went and he had a cracking race so fair play to him."

Mullan's main focus was the Dublin marathon next October and so he was happy to get another 26.2 miles under his belt.

"Derry for me was never about a time," he claimed. "It was a dry run for Dublin. It's a great day out and I love the craic in Derry but it's a hard course. With weather like that it made it all the harder."