Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland's Laura Graham favourite for Belfast marathon victory

 

By Brian Hill

Kilkeel running star Laura Graham is tipped to set a little bit of marathon history today when she takes the start line as hot favourite in the 36th Deep RiverRock Belfast Marathon.

The race has a massive entry of 2,600 for the main marathon and some 1,800 five person relay teams.

Irish Marathon champion Graham looks set to emulate the victory of local girl Barbara Brewer who took the title back in 1999 in a time of 2hrs 59 mins.

Laura will be in intent on crossing the finish line in Ormeau Park in a much quicker time. This is despite the fact that the 31-year-old mother of four raced in the hot, humid conditions of last Sunday's London Marathon to record her second fastest time of 2 hrs 42 mins 38 secs.

This however will not be a new experience for Laura as she also raced in the two marathons a year ago despite there being eight days between them.

In Belfast Graham finished second to Berhan Gebremichael of Ethiopia in a time of 2.48.56 which was only 53 secs slower than her run over the much easier London course.

Radka Churanova of the Czech Republic was third in Belfast last year, nearly three minutes behind Laura. Kenya's Salome Jepkoech has a PB of two hrs 38 mins but has not raced since 2010.

Laura's coach Ryan Maxwell stated: "Laura took a lot of positives from her performance in London.

"She is recovering well in preparation for Belfast and that is the priority."

A winner in the Men's event is something of a lottery with several African runners vying for the top rostrum position.

Whoever is first over the line - all the athletes will struggle to break the course record which stands at an impressive 2.13.41 recorded by Ethiopia's Urga Negewo in 2012.

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