Historic Derry double on the cards at Sunday's Walled City Half Marathon
The 35th staging of the venerable Waterside Half Marathon will bring around 2,000 runners out around the banks of the Foyle this Sunday morning.
The river hugging course introduced last year to popular acclaim, will see the runners start in the Ebrington site and after crossing the Foyle Bridge and the Peace Bridge, return to the Waterside and a St Columb’s Park running track finish.
It’s a 10 a.m. start - 9.55 a.m. for the Wheelchairs - and the first finishers should be on the finish straight by 11.05 a.m. with the rest of the huge field continuing to stream home until 1.15 p.m. or so.
Double Walled City Marathon winner, Kenyan Freddy Sittuk, is expected to face a strong local challenge in the person of the very much in-form Foyle Valley star Scott Rankin, who is in great shape and determined to push the affable African all the way for the top prize.
Defending female champion, Catherine Whoriskey of the City of Derry Spartans will start as odds-on favourite to repeat her 2015 win and has made it clear she intends to do so in style with her first sub 80 minute clocking over the 13.1 mile distance.
What a day it would be if both local athletes did the business and delivered a historic double victory for home runners! A tough call perhaps but it can be done! Over to you, Scott and Catherine!
With a record entry and hundreds missing the cut-off date, the Waterside, organised by the Derry City and Strabane District Council in conjunction with the expertise of the local athletics fraternity, is a quality event and will bring spectators out all along the riverbank course to cheer the runners all the way home.
The testing Foyle Bridge section is compensated by the largely downhill and flat second half of the course and overall, spectators have many decent vantage points to take in the action as it unfolds on both sides of the river.