Thousands of runners created a sea of colour on a grey day as they pounded the Belfast streets today as the city's 28th Marathon got under starters orders.
The weather may not have been kind but more than 17,000 people donned their trainers and running gear to begin the 2009 race outside the Belfast City Hall and finish in Ormeau Park.
As the hooter sounded at 9am cheers and shouts of encouragement broke out as the runners moved through the starting line.
An impressive 2,900 runners took part in the main Marathon today. They were joined by more than 2,150 relay teams, 2,300 walkers and 1,300 fun runners.
Balloons, steamers and music helped to create a carnival atmosphere for all the enthusiastic runners while people lined the streets to offer support for all entrants.
Among them was Ian Weir, (33) from Belfast was who was running the relay to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.
“I haven't run the marathon in about 15 years, but I've been looking forward to it,” he said. “There is a good crowd here and people are in good form. The atmosphere should carry a lot of people through.”
Chris Moore, from Bangor was hoping to raise funds for Millisle Primary school. “I just want to raise as much as I can.”
And among those running the full 26.2 mile route were teenagers Luke Williams and Josh Baird from Hillsborough. The two 18 year olds swapped the normal running gear for cavemen outfits.
Lynda Hughes was part of a relay team from Newry. “We are raising money for both Newry Hospice and Cystic Fibrosis.”
Among the most experienced and most travelled entrant was Coleraine veteran Peter Ferris, who ran his 319th marathon-an Irish record. He intends to run marathons at both the North and South Poles later this year.