The route of today’s Belfast City Marathon could be lined by brollies as showers and blustery winds are forecast to hit runners.
Some 17,000 people will be pounding along the city streets this morning to run, jog, walk and hobble the 26-mile course of the Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon.
Almost 3,000 runners are competing in this year’s event, a third up on the previous year. Meanwhile 2,150 relay teams will also be taking part alongside 2,300 walkers and 1,300 fun runners.
Runners from Kenya, Ukraine, North America and eastern Europe are among the international competitors signed up for the Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon.
Gareth Harvey, a forecaster with Meteogroup, said the running conditions are not ideal.
“It’s not looking very good — quite a wet morning,” he said.
“The rain may not be particularly heavy and perhaps not persistent, but there could be a lot of rain and drizzle around during the course of the morning.”
There could be something of a reprieve into the afternoon, which will be a relief as runners head towards the shores of Belfast Lough — but the rest of Northern Ireland won’t fare so well.
“The rain will be tending to dry out by early to mid afternoon but it looks like it will stay fairly wet across the rest of Northern Ireland,” Mr Harvey added.
“Temperatures will be around 12 to 13C which isn’t too bad for running conditions. It will be fairly blustery all day and those winds will probably stay overnight. It will be fairly cloudy again in the evening, probably staying largely dry but there could be a few patches of drizzle, and with more general rain arriving by Tuesday morning.”
The runners will set off from the City Hall at 9am, racing home to the finish line at Ormeau Park many hours later. The route takes in all parts of the city, from Sydenham to the Falls Road and Whitehouse to the Ravenhill Road.
While most roads will stay open throughout the event, the area around City Hall will be closed to through traffic between approximately 7.30am and 9.30am.
Disruption can also be expected along the Albertbridge Road, Holywood Road and Sydenham Bypass until shortly after 11am.
Leading today’s entry list is Kenya’s John Mutai, who won in 2007 and 2008. His main challenger will be Ukraine’s Vyachesla Prikhadko.
Brewer Diageo has entered employees from five African countries to run to raise awareness of the “Water of Life” programme to help some of the 400 million Africans with restricted access to safe drinking water.
Allison Offor from Diageo said employees were coming from Togo, Ethiopia, Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast and Gabon to run the marathon and raise funds to improve living conditions in three villages.
“Access to clean drinking water is something that the vast majority of people here take for granted but a lack of clean water and adequate sanitation is a problem that many communities throughout the developing world face on a daily basis,” she added.
Women and children have to get up at four or five in the morning and walk for hours to find the nearest water source — which then doesn’t even necessarily provide clean water.
Ms Offor said: “This affects the entire social landscape as children are missing school or mothers are away from their families, resulting in poor education and a drop in population growth.”