MARATHON: Winding up for Sunday’s Walled City Marathon

Freddy Keron Sittuk races across the Peace Bridge on his way to victory in the Walled City Marathon on Sunday.
Freddy Keron Sittuk races across the Peace Bridge on his way to victory in the Walled City Marathon on Sunday.
  • Five Kenyan athletes are expected to be gunning for glory at the Walled City marathon on Sunday
  • Around 1,500 runners will compete in the gruelling 26.2 mile circuit
  • Retired American Army officer Rich Holmes going for his 500th marathon
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JUST 48 hours now to Sunday’s SSE Airtricity Walled City Marathon and the spectacle of some 1,500 or so pairs of feet pounding around the 26.2 mile circuit on both sides of the Foyle.

Add in the close to 300, seven to 17 year-olds in the supporting Mini Marathon and a real feast of running is on the cards come the weekend.

The up front action in the Marathon should see the five Kenyan men in the field prominent from the gun, it’s an 8.30am start from the Everglades Hotel, and the main local challenge should come from Greg Roberts.

Another Kenyan, Selwah Kangogo will square up to former Irish Olympic marathoner, Pauline Curley of Tullamore Harriers for the female honours with Curley, who won in Limerick earlier this month in 2hrs 48m 48s the favourite.

Defending champion, Freddy Sittu ran a winning 2hrs 26m 38s in Limerick and on familiar terrain must be a contender again on Sunday.

However the Omagh based, Gideon Kimosop won Wilkies Run last week in a sub 25mins clocking for the local 5 miler and ran sub 2hrs 21m for the runners-up slot in Belfast in early May, and on that form will be a serious threat.

Factor in three other Irish based Kenyans and Greg Roberts who lest we forget has a 2hrs 21n PB and we could have a real cracker on our hands.

Getting the pace right will be key and weather conditions will also be significant. More likely than not the early stages will be cagey with the second half of the race more likely to see a break or two as the mind games unfold.

The challenging course is obviously also a factor with some testing climbs capable of making or breaking even the best and while Kimosop may be the form man predictions are perhaps best left unsaid for now.

So in the men’s race it’s Sittu, Kimosop, Somba, Kimutia, Chepyegon and Roberts to look out for up front and Curley and Kangogo in the women’s race.

Other locals to keep an eye on are Gary Slevin, Paul McCafferty and James Crampsey who should be fighting it out behind the lead group with an eye on the local pride and prizes.

Stories to tell

Blind runner Tommy Barcley chairman of Seapark AC in county Down will generate much interest and support as will the man wearing number 500, retired American Army officer Richard “Rich” Holmes going for his 500th Marathon, here on our streets.

Tyrone man Philip Anderson will be continuing his quest to run 52 marathons in 52 weeks and of course there will be many, many others with stories to tell.

Wheelchair athlete Karol Doherty from Carndonagh will once again push his chair round the course and be cheered all the way, especially on the inclines and certainly on Fahan Street as he climbs up to enter the Walled City around the 25 mile mark.

Race start time is 8.30 a.m. at Prehen with the first finishers expected in Guildhall Square around 10.55 a.m. and the final finishers could be on their feet until close to 3pm.

The Mini Marathon runners go from the Gasyard Centre at 10 a.m. and will be finishing also in the Square, between 10.05 a.m. and 10.30 a.m. - they will start in three separate waves, with the youngest in the first wave.

There will of course be traffic management measures to facilitate the progress of the runners and motorists and spectators are asked to please co-operate with the PSNI and the event Marshalls during the day.

Finally the Race Organisors are confident that communities all along the route will turn out to support the runners, they did so in huge numbers in the past two years, something much appreciated by the runners, and no doubt that support will be seen again this Sunday.