Belfast athlete, Stephen Scullion remains the favourite for Sunday’s classic Waterside Half Marathon.
And he will be joined by another Clonliffe Harrier, Tudor Moldavan, a Dublin based Romanian athlete who was runner-up in last month’s National Half Marathon championship and who fancies the trip North as an opportunity to crack the 68 minute barrier for the first time.
Scullion of course will expect at least a sub 66 minute run and if the weather conditions are reasonable on Sunday, the revamped course could certainly deliver that and more.
The local stars will also be keen to show their paces and the City of Derry Spartans and Foyle Valley runners who toe the line will be determined to shine on home turf. Keith Shields, Scott Rankin, Declan Reed, Greg Roberts, Emmett McGinty and Chris McGuinness are the top local men in the massive field which stands at well over 1,300 individuals and close to 60 Relay teams.
The women’s race will also be full of quality.
The 2010 and 2011 winners, the Spartans Anne Paul and North Down’s Julie Balmer are in the field alongside former track star, Kelly Neely of City of Lisburn who has recently made a successful transition to road 10K and longer distances. Marina Campbell, Martina McMullan, Jackie McGinley and possibly Miriam Bridge are others with expectations of featuring at the sharp end of the 13.1 mile challenge.
The local Spartans and Foyle Valley boys are expected to battle for the men’s team title. The Clonliffe challenge could be serious if they dig out a third scorer and North Belfast have a reasonable squad already entered.
Team Title Challenge
Lisburn have Christine Quinn backing up Kelly Neely and, with a third runner, may be a threat to the local clubs but the all-round strength of City of Derry should prevail.
Inishowen AC’s evergreen Pauric McKinney will seek to belie his M45 status and chase a top six finish and Newry City Runner, Don Travers, leader in the Pure Running Half Marathon series which concludes at the Waterside, will have the honour of wearing race number one on Sunday.
Paper Entries Close
With paper entries not closing until tomorrow (Saturday), they will be taken at Lisnagelvin Leisure Centre until 6 p.m. today and then at the U3A Foyle building in Gransha tomorrow between 12 noon and 6pm,.
Therefore more serious contenders may yet emerge for this 32nd staging of the enduring Waterside classic.
There will be absolutely no entries accepted on race day!