Marathon ‘will be back bigger and better in 2021’

The Walled City Marathon was cancelled due to poor entry figures and the lack of a commercial sponsor.

Tuesday, 4th February 2020, 9:42 am
One of the more colourful runners during Sundayâ€TMs Oâ€TMNeills Walled City Marathon in Derry.

The marathon, which has become one of the city’s most popular annual sporting events, had been due to take place on May 31.

Gerry Lynch, a member of the organising committee, told the ‘Journal’ that the reasons for cancelling the race were ‘perfectly clear’.

“There was no headline commercial sponsor and no immediate sign that was going to be resolved. There were also indications that early entries were poor.

“It was decided it would be better to hold off for a year rather than hold a poorly funded, poorly attended event. It is disappointing, but we have set standards and we want to keep those standards.”

Mr Lynch added: “We will be back bigger and better in 2021.”

He said that opening up the marathon to relay teams has been debated in the past and is an issue that remains up for debate.

“Perhaps it is something that would add the numbers and excitement of the event,” he said.

SDLP MLA Mark Durkan, who has run the Walled City Marathon a number of times, has said he is ‘disappointed’ the event will not take place this year.

“For me, the marathon was one of the highlights of 2013 City of Culture year - it has had a real transformative impact on many people, inspiring them to discover the physical and mental health benefits of running and led to the birth of a few new running clubs.”

“I would hope more could be done from a council perspective in terms of partnership working going forward. DCSDC have a great track record for organising events like these. I will do all I can to work with the organisers and others to ensure the return of an even bigger, better event next year.”

A spokesperson for Derry City and Strabane District Council said it was disappointed to hear that this year’s Walled City Marathon was not going ahead.

The spokesperson confirmed that an application for funding for the event under its Headline Events Fund was received and is being considered as part of the funding process, with a decision expected to come before members of the Business and Culture Committee in the coming weeks.

The spokesperson said it would be meeting with the organisers in the next couple of weeks to discuss plans for the event in 2021.